Grayling’s immigration cap is “completely Stalinist”

Chris Grayling's immigration cap policy was criticised last night at an ippr event. Liberal Democrat Chris Huhne described it as "completely Stalinist."

Chris Grayling and Chris Huhne clashed over the Conservative party’s policy of an immigration cap at an ippr event in London last night. The debate, the first of its kind, brought together the Home Secretary Alan Johnson and his two opposite numbers from the Conservative party and Liberal Democrats.

Grayling fleshed out some of the details of his policy revealing that, “Net migration will be very significantly lower than it is at the moment. We want to see tens of thousands rather than hundreds of thousands.” But Chris Huhne described the policy in stark terms:

“There is going to be one element of Conservative party’s economic policy that will be completely Stalinist. If the quota has been reached, what happens in August when football managers want to buy the next Robinho? We need a little more flexibility than that.”

In response, Grayling replied that, “If you have a rolling process with quotas being set at various stages, then yes you would have to wait until the next wave.”

Johnson said he was “keeping out” of that particular debate but answered a question from Left Foot Forward on the role of the Office of National Statistics in the national debate on migration statistics which has been covered repeatedly on this site:

“Projections don’t turn out to be true. Of course, the ONS should put out their statistics. Then you need a rational logical debate that isn’t driven by fear but is driven by facts.”

Chris Huhne went further and criticised 30 year population projections as “frankly pretty extraordinary.”

Earlier in the debate Huhne and Grayling declined to agree with Johnson that there was a mainstream consensus on four aspects of immigration policy: (1) There’s no sensible argument to stop immigration – it has added both culturally and economically; (2) There are communities that have been affected more than others; (3) The issue is shared with every other industralised country in the world; and (4) People who come to the UK should learn to speak English and pay taxes.

Grayling and Huhne united in criticising the Government’s handling of the decision earlier this decade to allow Poland and other “A8” accession countries to freely move to the UK. Huhne revealed that, “Front bench Liberal Democrats supported [the policy] in 2004. I didn’t.”

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10 Responses to “Grayling’s immigration cap is “completely Stalinist””

  1. ippr north

    RT @leftfootfwd: Chris Huhne describes Chris Grayling's immigration cap as "completely Stalinist" at ippr debate

  2. Alan Travis

    Re ONS and immigration I thought you might enjoy this snippet I wrote from last year’s release of the cabinet papers for 1978 at the National Archives:

    Denying a gift to Enoch

    Callaghan blocked the publication of official statistics showing that the “New Commonwealth and Pakistan” ethnic-origin population would almost double from 1.6 million in 1976 to 3 million by 1991, or 5% of the population. The prime minister said the figures drawn up by John Boreham, the registrar-general of statistics, seemed to be based on arbitrary assumptions, estimates, and projections backed by scarcely any evidence.

    “This isn’t statistics: its astrology. If this is the best the Astrologer-General can do, I would not publish,” he instructed. Callaghan’s press secretary, Tom McCaffrey, said he had no doubt that the figures would be front page news and “will give Enoch Powell and his supporters the opportunity to say ‘I told you so’.”

  3. Immigration Tips

    Grayling's immigration cap is "completely Stalinist" | Left Foot …: Chris Grayling's immigration cap policy was c…

  4. Will Straw


    Thanks, Alan. History repeats itself! What was the proportion in 1991?

  5. Roger

    A somewhat belated response but actual 1991 census figures for Great Britain (of course Northern Ireland would hardly make a big difference here) indicated that the total ethnic minority population was 3,015,000.

    The ethnicity question used in the 1991 census doesn’t allow a precise count of how many of these were of New Commonswealth and Pakistani origin but does indicate that 891,000 were black, 1,480,000 South Asian and 645,000 ‘Chinese and Others’.

    Probably reasonable to assume that 90% or 95% of the black and 100% of the South Asian groups fall into that 1978 definition which yields a figure of about 2.3 million.

    For the Chinese and others I’d guess its more like 50% if you count Hong Kong, Burma, Malaysia, Singapore etc as New Commonwealth – so that adds another 300,000 or more to give a total of around 2.6 million.

    So John Boreham was not that hugely out – particularly if that ‘3 million’ was rounded up.

    Plus statisticians had to work with very limited data pre-1991 census.

  6. Roger

    1991 census data is not that easy to quickly find on the ONS site but has a table with the breakdown.

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