Simon Carr: Even the unicorn blocked its ears to Gordon's ramblings


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The Prime Minister adventured to east London to stand on a podium in front of the great symbol of Britain, our coat of arms. This consists of foreigners, mainly. There are five or six immigrant lions, a unicorn that's claimed asylum from another dimension, and a whole bunch of text in French – and not ordinary French, you know, some of it's subjunctive.

Would any of this lot have had the appropriate skill levels to be allowed in to Britain under the first and second tier of Gordon's points-based system? Many felt we were self-sufficient in unicorns by the 17th-century. And as for those lions coming over here and eating our wildebeest. You don't believe it? How many wildebeest can you see in Shoreditch any more?

No, the PM's purpose was to set our minds at rest over immigration. Calm our fears. Soothe our nerves. Expose scaremongering.

And while he didn't renew his offer of "British jobs for British workers" he certainly led us to believe he had been tough on aliens and tough on the causes of aliens. While he was greatly in favour of people coming to Britain for "their net contribution", the numbers were falling rapidly, and this was not only a good thing, he also had a clever way to "reduce the overall need for migration".

What exactly was he trying to convey? If the news bulletins show extracts with him saying "as measured by the ONS long-term international migration series" and the "provisional figures of long-term passenger surveys" then we'll get one impression. If they show him saying we'll be self-sufficient in chefs and carers by 2014 – that'll be another impression. But if they show him saying that slackers, idlers, suicide bombers and fakers aren't welcome here – then we'll get the impression he was after.

The passages we couldn't listen to still made their point. He may be dull but he's no fly, fast-talking, off-the-cuff, back-of-the-envelope man, like some we could mention. No, he is master of the brief, and here it is: "Let me describe what is happening under Tier Five of the points system." The unicorn blocked its ears.

He also told us that the Tory proposals would only allow 40,000 people (and in practice only 15,000) to come in. A super-skilled applicant could be rejected in October because the quota had been filled in August.

Was this true? Where was the Tory rebuttal? On the Conservative web page, Chris Grayling "responded to Gordon Brown's speech " with two pars, no reference to the factual claims, and a list of 10 "worst failures" in which point seven had been superseded by the speech.

Again and again and again, they concede the argument. It's an unusual election strategy, let's see if it works.

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