Political party immigration
Immigration is a heated topic. Both the Conservative and the Labour parties have been criticised for hiding from immigration, while Ukip has built its image largely on immigration based rhetoric.
Conservatives having failed to cut migration to their target as promised have faced criticism, with net migration figures higher than when the party took office. As 7 May approaches, immigration looks to be one of the most important issues for the General Election as each party tries to assert that they have the best policy.
The Conservatives have a continued goal to bring down net migration to below 100,000, though this is no longer a promise as it was at the last election. The party are also advocating welfare restrictions, with immigrants needing to wait four years before claiming certain benefits such as tax credits or accessing social housing. The party has also promised an in-out referendum on the EU by 2017, and to put reform of free movement rules at the centre of renegotiations.
The Labour party are asserting they will ensure stronger border controls with proper entry and exit checks. The party plan to reduce low skilled migration but not at cost of university students and high-skilled workers. The party will see employment agencies who only recruit abroad outlawed and increase fines for employing illegal immigrants. The party also intend to prevent benefit claims for first 2 years in the UK. The party have stated that an EU referendum is unlikely due to the economic repercussions of leaving the world’s largest single market.
The Liberal Democrats have declared themselves as the UK’s ‘only real internationalist party’. Nonetheless, the party is advocating tightening up on some areas of immigration. The party plans to reintroduce exit checks at borders, and some stricter benefits rules affecting Universal Credit and in-work benefits. The party will also require English language skills to be assessed for claiming benefits such as JSA and introduce compulsory language skills where English poor.
The SNP want a devolved government with control immigration in Scotland and the introduction of a Canadian-style earned citizienship system to attract highly skilled immigrants. The party plan to use immigration to improve the skills of the workforce and strengthen the education sector.
Plaid Cymru oppose a points-based system and support the right of asylum seekers to work in Wales while awaiting status decisions. The party plans to lobby Westminster with a view to shut down ‘detention’ centres.
UKIP have dropped their target cap of 50,000. The party plans to introduce an Australian-style points system, and set up a Migration Control Commission tasked with bringing net migration down to ‘normality.’ The party plan to increase border staff and introduce a five year ban on unskilled workers. The party also propose to leave EU, and cut down on immigration from Europe. The party proposes tougher English language tests for permanent residence, and to opt out of Dublin treaty, allowing the UK to return asylum seekers to other EU countries without considering their claim.
The Green Party want to reduce immigration controls. The party maintains that the creation of a fairer world would make people less likely to migrate. Under the party, migrants illegally in UK for over 5 years allowed to remain, unless they pose a serious danger. The party would also ensure more legal rights for asylum seekers.
With the elections growing closer, the parties are beginning to take a clearer stance on immigration. What is needed is not a focus on targets, but on the creation and implementation of a long term policy which takes into consideration wider ramifications of immigration, including the economic and social impact. In place of short sighted plans with aims to reduce net migration to meet arbitrary caps we need an open discussion of immigration and a system which is fair and which benefits both society and the economy.