The Devil rightly points out that not all immigration is bad. Nor all all immigrants crowding out social housing and services, or sponging benefits. Channel 4 commissioned a study from the ippr back in 2007 that quantified the economic contribution from immigrants to the UK. Not surprisingly, French architects were not filling social housing, Indian IT specialists were not languishing on benefits and American bankers were not filling the maternity wards. Immigrants from western Europe, the US, Canada, India, Australia, Poland and South Africa were net contributors on all counts. Immigrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Turkey, Iran, Portugal and Somalia were net takers on almost all counts, and add to these the eastern Europeans from Romania and Albania and the many Afghanis who have been recently arriving and were not picked up in the historic stats used by the ippr. In the middle somewhere are west Africans, Cypriots, Chinese and a few others.
Migration watch have shown that neither Alan Johnson's measures not the Conservatives' plans on managing immigration will cut the numbers by very many, and we're still on course for a population of 70m in a few years. The official immigrant figure of about a quarter of a million a year ignores the millions already here and uncounted, but having a major impact at local level on services.
The GLA economics unit produced a useful demographic projection of the London boroughs to 2026. What is depressing is that the greatest population growth is not amongst the groups who contribute most to the economy, but those who from the ippr's research take the most.
Alan Johnson may be intensely relaxed about the UK reaching a 70m population, but the people are not. A Yougov survey for Migration Watch found that 81% of us are worried about a 70m population; that 78% of us think Alan Johnson is out of touch with reality, and that 76% want to see immigration cut from around a quarter of a million a year to 50,000 a year or fewer.
The Devil's suggested measures to discourage immigration may appear harsh, totalitarian even. But I believe measures with this sort of boldness are called for. Our compassion will not diminish; we will donate our old clothes and shoes to workless immigrants, and soup kichens will see them fed. Switching government grants from the fake charities to the churches will see the revival of Christian missions in Newham and Tower Hamlets to provide health and medical services. And I would suggest a voluntary deportation grant of £5,000 a head with no return ever will provide an attractive alternative for many thousands.
But let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater; remember all those valuable and essential migrants from France, Germany, India, Italy, the US and the Old Commonwealth, and let's acknowledge exactly who we want and who we don't.