It doesn’t seem like just 10 weeks since the
British people voted for Brexit. But as the dust settles, and initial
tempers subside a little, progressives are now searching for the real
lessons of June 23rd. Those lessons will have clear implications for the
contests across Europe between populist forces and parties of the
What went wrong on immigration during the referendum debate? Was the
crystallisation of the debate around that theme the sign of a genuine
loss of control, of a dishonest debate, of a lack of political
leadership? This week Policy Network publishes a trio of essays which
grapple with these very questions.
from British Future, argues that progressives can no longer ignore
public concern on migration. To do so risks taking progressives ever
further away from an effective public response to the populist
challenge. It isn’t good enough, he believes, to try and change the
subject – instead voters’ valid concerns will only be assuaged when they
hear a practical plan to handle the pressures of immigration better.
director of Full Fact, writes that “the immigration debate badly needs
fewer numbers and more choices”. More work can be done to provide better
information, but this must be backed up by a response to fears about
identity and culture.
Finally in a new milestone contribution to Policy Network’s project on New migration realities: inclusive narratives
, Maeve Glavey
explores the complexity of immigration trends and public opinion across
Europe. Contrary to widely held assumptions there is no one exclusive
type of voter worried about immigration, with young people not immune
from concerns. There are worrying levels of dissatisfaction with
governments’ perceived ability to manage immigration. However, there are
also positive trends towards the acceptance of diversity over time, and
robust understanding of the long-term benefits of immigration,
especially in the UK. These nuances can and should be recognised and
built on by those who defend the vision of a migrant-welcoming society
in the face of populist challengers.
All three correspondents believe that it is possible to build a more
positive, and more popular, narrative on immigration. However, this
requires carefully listening to the worries voters across Europe have
about specific aspects of immigration.