Skip to content
By Frank McKenna

By Frank McKenna

God save us from gesture politics

As the government continues to over promise and under deliver on immigration, Frank McKenna expresses his contempt for the gesture politics he says the Conservatives are indulging in on an issue that is becoming increasingly important electorally.

The government’s gesture politics and deceit over the challenging issue of immigration would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious.

From throwing millions of pounds at the French to help ‘secure UK borders’ to the impractical nonsense of flying refugees off to Rwanda – and now an even more farcical, and expensive kite-flyer which would see asylum seekers housed in barracks and barges – the home secretary Suella Braverman and a government that has been in charge for thirteen years, continues to go big on rhetoric, but low on delivery on a problem that is becoming an increasingly important electoral issue.

Little makes my blood boil more than gesture politics. It is a lazy way of doing politics, it plays to naive galleries, offers nothing in terms of practical solutions, and is all about noise and bluster rather than doing the hard yards and finding solutions.

It is an affliction I often associate with the hard left. They promise that they can win an election, and then indulge in promoting policies such as soaking the rich with a 90% tax rate; introducing a living wage of £25 an hour; letting everybody work a three-day week – but the Right wing, populist wing of the Conservative Party have matched Labours Corbynistas as far as over-promising and under delivering is concerned.    

Putting aside the sunlit uplands that we were all promised during the Brexit campaign, on each and every KPI you can measure a government against, crime, NHS waiting lists, educational attainment, inflation, interest rates, and economic growth, the Conservatives have failed.

Which is why, rather than engaging in a mature and serious debate about immigration, they are throwing ‘red meat’ slogans around that make for good headlines in the Daily Express, but do nothing to tackle the crisis.

They do so in the hope of painting opposition parties as ‘soft’ on immigration. But given its track record, it is hard to imagine how anyone could get it any more wrong than the current government.

The tragedy is, Braverman, Sunak, and the rest of the cabinet know what needs to be done to start the long process of fixing a totally broken system. The problem is, it’s a solution that delivers results, rather than votes.

We need to start to process the applications of asylum seekers more efficiently. The backlog is anything between 18 months and three years depending on whose statistics you believe.

Some of those applicants are eligible for UK citizenship. Once they are processed, they can leave their hotels, stop costing the tax payer money, and start contributing to society, helping fill the 250,00 job vacancies which currently exist in the UK.  

Those who are not entitled to reside here can legitimately be returned to whence they came – not to Rwanda, but to their country of origin.

That’s not a policy that will play well to the readers of the Mail, the Express, or the Telegraph – but it’s the only one that is practical.

If you think I’m being overly harsh on the government in terms of its approach to what is, I accept, a complex issue, just ask yourself these questions. Since the grand gesture of a deal with the French, have the number of small boats coming across channel decreased? How many asylum seekers have actually been put on a plane to Rwanda? And, if we do pivot from hotels to barges, what would the cost of that be? And, if I still haven’t convinced you, then watch Yvette Coper totally annihilate the governments record and future plans on immigration in just four minutes.

Downtown in Business