Priti Blatant: The Home Secretary exploits the Bristol protests and Douglas Murray writes her a love letter

It's always the perfect moment for Murray to monster the left and clap for authoritarianism.

Douglas Murray — Dorian Gray reimagined by Leni Riefenstahl — has built his brand of belligerence in large part on obsessive fearmongering over immigration. It’s no surprise then that he adores Priti Patel, the Home Secretary whose heroes include Cruella de Vil and ED-209 from Robocop.

In his latest contribution to The TelegraphIn Priti Patel, we finally have a Home Secretary prepared to take on the Left on asylum — Murray writes:

For several generations, the subject of immigration has bubbled beneath British politics. Occasionally it has boiled up, though less so than in almost any other developed country. As mass movement of people has become easier and technology has allowed everyone in the world to know how the richest populations live, every country has been struggling with the same issue: how can the developed world have a fair and humane policy towards the world’s poor and dispossessed while retaining control of its borders? The problem is a difficult one: morally, strategically, politically. And it has been made unnecessarily harder by generations of Left-wing agitators deriding decent, concerned opinion as ignorant or “racist”.

While migration remains a toxic issue across continental Europe, the Brexit vote went a long way to quieting the British public’s concerns. Opinion polls show that immigration is now some way down the list of the public’s top concerns because we feel that, in voting to leave the EU, we in part addressed the problem. And, of course, for the past year, there has been almost no movement into the UK.

But there is one exception to that, which can be seen in the steady, significant flow of boats that has been coming across the English Channel. Last year almost 10,000 people arrived illegally into the UK via this route, an increase of several times over from the year before. As legal movement into Britain was impossible this illegal movement grew. A Conservative government that promised to “take back control” of our borders cannot fail to deal with this. Blaming the EU will no longer quite do.

So it is to Priti Patel’s considerable credit that she is this week launching a consultation to address the issue, with legislation planned before the summer.

This is the same old song Murray has been singing since his book, The Strange Death of Europe — imagine Enoch Powell with an iPhone — came out in 2017. The new note is that rather than seeing politicians universally as dismal failures in his chosen mission of keeping ‘them’ out and sending ‘them’ back, he says a kindred spirit in Priti Patel.

What remains is his argument that ‘the Left’ — an amorphous mass which exists in his rhetoric as a powerful ‘enemy within’ despite not having controlled the levers of power since arguably the Wilson government — is behind a ‘weak’ immigration policy.

Who are the “Left-wing agitators” he blames for dismissing “decent, concerned opinion as ignorant or ‘racist’”? Well, it’s easier if he doesn’t name them because then he’d have to start engaging with their actual arguments rather than the opinions of his ever-ready chorus of strawmen.

Murray uses a familiar tactic — the ‘Seemingly Big Number’ stratagem, in which a ‘large’ number is thrown around without context to frame an issue as more frightening and ‘out of control’ than it is in reality. In this case, Murray reaches for the number of people who have arrived in the UK by crossing the Channel in small boats — 10,000!

But though the UK’s annual population growth averaged about 400,000 over the past 20 years, a period in which 6 million additional jobs were created, 2020 was a very different year. Covid-19 pushed the death rate to the highest level for a century, birthrates are falling, and many foreign-born residents of the UK have left the country. The latest Office for National Statistics figures suggest that almost a million people have left — the largest annual fall in the resident population since World War II.

That context wouldn’t serve Murray’s argument though. Even if we did him the favour of looking only at the net migration figures for the year ending March 2020 — around 313,000 more people moved to the UK intending to stay for 12 months or more (257,000 of whom were coming to undertake formal study) than left the country — that 10,000 that he’s offering up as a scary figure looks a lot less frightening.

Next Murray turns to the familiar tabloid trope of immigrants being given ‘cushy’ accommodation when they reach the UK:

The problem at present is that once boats are in the UK side of the water, the authorities have an obligation to “rescue” them and their occupants and escort them into the UK. The arrivals are then put up in hotels and other accommodation. Despite the fact that all these arrivals have entered illegally – circumventing all legal routes – nearly all of them will stay. This system is deeply unfair and clearly rewards those who break the law.

Unsurprisingly Murray’s piece contains no mention of the “hostile environment” policy or Napier Barracks, the run-down former army base where asylum seekers are being held near Folkestone, which received a damning verdict from both HM Inspectorate of Prisons and the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration this month.

The inspectors castigated the Home Office for “fundamental failures of leadership and planning,” and noted that almost half of those held at Napier — 198 people — contracted Covid in January and February 2021. Similar concerns were raised about Penally Camp in Wales. Public Health England and Public Health Wales told the Home Office prior to the opening of both sites that there were serious concerns about Covid safety and the Crown Premises Fire Safety Inspectorate warned that Napier Barracks’ fire safety measures were inadequate.

Beyond the barracks, the idea that the system “rewards those who break the law” doesn’t survive even the slightest scrutiny. Asylum seekers aren’t allowed to work and funding legal representation in asylum cases is extremely difficult, if not impossible, because legal aid has been systematically undermined.

In 2007, the last Labour government introduced a flat fee for legal-aid asylum cases, which meant that lawyers received the same amount regardless of how much time they spent on a case. That meant that firms who put in the hours to get their clients a fair hearing were likely to be penalised while slapdash, half-arsed outfits were incentivised.

The coalition government further cut support for legal aid in 2013, particularly targeting the money available for immigration and asylum cases. Murray claims that everyone goes into the same system but that’s just not true. There’s a two-tier system — one perilous, complicated, and cruel route for the poor and an easy ride for the rich. If you’ve got £2 million or more to ‘invest’ in the British economy, you can get a Tier-1 Investor Visa and come to the UK for 3 years and 4 months with immediate family members. Everyone else has to navigate an ever-increasing (and changing) set of charges and hoops to leap through.

Of course, Murray, who happily regurgitates the myth of immigrants having a cushy time in cosy hotels — in fact, they’re sent to grim B&Bs across the country — is delighted by Patel’s plans for new “specially constructed facilities” and even shipping asylum seekers offshore:

This method – used by Australia to great effect – has already caused some noise. Left-wing activist, or perhaps just plain lazy, Home Office officials have leaked parts of these proposals in advance, hoping to stir up ire against their boss. Lobbying groups have been busy in the media dismissing these and others of the new proposals as inhumane or unfair.

I almost enjoy Murray’s idea of a cabal of hardcore leftists hiding within the Home Office, but again it brings credibility to breaking point as if it were a much-abused Stretch Armstrong in a malevolent child’s toybox. “What attracted you to this job at the Home Office?” “Well, I’d have to say how woke it is here.”

Just as Murray failed to mention the hostile environment policy and the brutal barracks, he also skips any mention of why people might be seeking asylum and the role British foreign policy has played in exporting misery. That’s just another lot of context he can’t quite fit in the word count. It would complicate his argument — immigration is bad! — and confuse his readers; deep thinkers who leave comments like this:

RICHARD MCNEILL 22 Mar 2021 7:17AM
Whether immigrants arrive legally or not has never been the concern. The fact is that native-born British people see their culture being eroded and their values and sense of belonging being bled slowly out of their lives as thousands of immigrants with different values. religions and even different languages gradually dominate their cities and towns. And they are told to shut up about it because unchallenged diversity is the new religion. 

Malcolm Muggeridge once wrote:" Posterity is likely, in my opinion, to see liberalism and all its legislative and social consequences as the working out of a collective death wish." 

Richard Prevett 22 Mar 2021 7:16AM
The best and simplest solution is for the migrants to be put up in the living rooms and spare bedrooms and kitchen floors of the people in the NGOs, the media, the Frankfurt-School politicians etc., instead of foisting them upon the least privileged amongst the British population (whose employment is threatened, to boot). 

The rich bleeding hearts in Holland Park, those who are keen to fund the people trafficking mafias, could start by teaching them how to use their Agas.

The two Richards will be back in the comment sections this morning, no doubt demanding the return of capital punishment, in response to the news from Bristol last night. A peaceful march through Bristol against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill during the day was followed by violence and destruction when night fell. Of course, the media coverage is whispering the first part and screaming the second, putting Priti Patel’s ‘outraged’ quotes front and centre.

A phrase that frequently appeared in tweets and on placards during last year’s protests about police brutality comes to mind:

Letting a demonstration be judged by its most violent participants but not judging a police force by its most violent cops is the language of the oppressor.

People who criticised the police for their actions during last week’s vigil at Clapham Common have snapped right back to accepting the police perspective on what happened in Bristol without question.

You can expect columnists to turn in favour of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill now. The significantly larger peaceful protest will be forgotten, while the violence is obsessed over and exaggerated. Just like Murray’s latest immigration piece, context will count less than rhetoric. And as ever, it’ll be the Left who are to blame.