When someone says that they don't like Furriners coming over here, then I am inclined to think that they have a problem with Furriners. The exact species of Furriner changes: it may be Polish people taking our jobs or Muslim people taking our Christmas decoration or Bleck people out breeding us (you know that they say about Bleck men) and causing us to concrete over this once green and pleasant land. Me have hobby, it called breeding, white man pay for baby feeding, remember?
The Nasty Press has spent the better part of the last decade winding Voters up. There are swamps, floods and swarms of furriners coming over here until the "indigenous" people are a minority in their own land. And stopping "us" from celebrating Christmas and consuming HP sauce. And getting lots and lots of freebies. A lady on Newsnight yesterday opined "A new person comes in they get everything their houses things like that you know they get new beds new you know like everything television TV licence paid for now and again you know like and basically what do we get?"
Anyone, in any country, at any time, might say "The law about residency, naturalisation, right of entry, political asylum, and the eligibility of foreign nationals to claim welfare says 'X', I think it should say 'Y', because...."And someone else might reply "On the contrary, I think it should say 'Z'." Technically and lexically, they would be "having a debate about immigration." It's certainly true that if you transfer 100 unemployed persons from Paris to London, that's 100 less people for France to worry about, and a 100 more for England to worry about, and England might reasonably enough have words to say to France on this subject.
But that's not what "having a debate on immigration" means, because that's not what immigration means. Immigration is a shout word, a code word, a whole bundle of confused ideas bundled up in four syllables. (Where are these people handing out beds to furriners but denying them to indigenous folk?)
So Gordon meets a Voter, who is doubtless a reader of the Nasty Press. (Mr. Prescott appears to think that the Nasty Press might have put her up to it.) "You can't say anything about immigrants," she says apparently forgetting that the Nasty Press have been going on and on about little else for year. "If you say that, you're...."
If you say what, Mrs Voter? What is it that you want to say about immigrants, and what is it that you fear will happen to you if do? I suppose it's possible that Mrs Voter felt that she couldn't say that Immigrants make a real and valuable contribution to the vibrancy of our culture but feared that if she did she would be called a pinko by the Nasty Press. But I don't think that was what she had in mind. I don't think that was what she had in mind at all.
Inexplicably, Gordon Brown chooses to fight an election on terms which have been set by the Nasty Press, as if getting positive coverage from wierdo hang em flog em expatriates was possible or desirable. Maybe he really, really still believes that The Sun Backed Blair because The Sun had undergone a sudden conversion to Socialism, and is hurt and confused because lovely, lovely, Rupert has turned against him. He's not the first person to make off-record comments into a live mic. John Major described his colleagues as bastards. Tony grovelled to that nasty Texan thicko. It really, really, really, isn't news that politicians say one thing to peoples faces and another thing behind their backs. It's called "good manners". (And it really, really isn't sensible for John Prescott to say that broadcasting an off-record remark by the P.M is on the same level has hacking private phone conversations.)
The big question is this. Why does Gordon dance to Rupert's tune and spend an hour and a half apologizing? How is it that his first instinct once he starts running scared of the Libdems is to start accusing them of being "soft" -- soft (that is, liberal, progressive) on crime; soft (that is, liberal progressive) on nuclear weapons; soft (that is, liberal, progressive) on immigration? How is it that the only policy that the left wing party can think of is to look as nasty and right wing as possible?
I'm fine with him saying rude things about voters behind their back. I'm particularly fine with him saying rude things about the kind of voter who would like to say nasty things about furriners but feels she can't cos of plickle krecness. But when he gets caught out he should damn well have the decency to say that he called Mrs Voter a bigot because that's what he thought she was.
NOTE: He says that he called Mrs Voter a bigot because he had misheard something she had said. Does anyone want to look at the transcript and tell me what it was that he thought she had said?