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LETTER : California example

From Mr Andrew Read

Sir: I wonder whether Michael Howard has been holidaying in California recently and chatting to its Governor, Pete Wilson. After all, it was Mr Wilson's support for Proposition 187, essentially the same scheme as that proposed by Mr Howard, and passed by the Californian electorate in November 1994, which hugely increased his popularity and led to his re-election.

By concentrating on the alleged amounts of state money "stolen" by illegals and ignoring the real debate, in particular the fact that much of California's economy survives on the back of poor immigrant labour, Mr Wilson transformed his electoral campaign. No matter that public service employees said that they would refuse to participate in naming names to the appropriate authorities or that the proposition has been challenged in the courts as unconstitutional: it got him elected.

If Mr Howard has been California dreaming, the lesson he will have learned is obvious. Dust down your scapegoats, there's an election around the corner!

Yours faithfully,

Andrew Read

London, N16