On March 3rd I attended the launch meeting and Press Conference for our Immigration Policy for the General Election. It took place in the Emmanuel Hall in Marsham Street, London. And I have to say it was just about the best such event I have seen in politics.
This was for two reasons: first, because it was clear that a lot of work had gone in to ensure we had a logical and workable plan, with clear answers to all the likely questions. And secondly because both Nigel Farage and our Immigration Spokesman Steven Woolfe MEP did an excellent job presenting the policy and fielding questions.
The press were obviously deeply upset that we had challenged their stereotypical view of UKIP by presenting a policy that was not only well-conceived and consistent, but which was clearly fair and reasonable and non-discriminatory. I was hugely impressed by the responses from Nigel and Steven.
One journo sought to question the “Spectacular U-Turn” represented by the fact that we were no longer necessarily talking a specific cap or target, but rather a whole policy direction — including a five-year moratorium on unskilled migrants. It’s typical media hyperbole that they can interpret a slight shift of emphasis, a small refinement, as “a spectacular U-Turn”.
During the event, I Tweeted a couple of photos. Quick as a flash, someone out there responded “Obligatory shot with a brown person to show you’re not racist”. I replied: “If we show all white faces, we’re racist. If we show non-white faces, that’s tokenism. So what do you want us to do?”.
Of course the press doggedly reported the “spectacular U-Turn” and failed to recognise a refinement of policy. Indeed the reporting was so misleading that I saw someone on Twitter complaining bitterly that “UKIP had lost interest in controlling immigration”. Nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed the new element of a five year moratorium on unskilled immigration represents a significant (and very welcome) toughening of our position.
Watch Nigel’s 8 min speech launching UKIP’s immigration policy: