Scottish Tory Leader Pushes ‘Conservative Case for Immigration’, Ducks Debate with Farage

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party leader Ruth Davidson has used a newspaper column to push the “Conservative case for immigration”, implying fresh waves of newcomers are needed to support tomorrow’s pensioners.

Davidson complained in her Telegraph article that “Neither of the major parties of government has sought to have a meaningful and sustained discussion with the public about the merits and drawbacks of immigration” and said her party “must start – and sustain – that conversation”.

However, when challenged to debate the issue by Brexit campaign leader and former UKIP chief Nigel Farage on his LBC radio show, Davidson’s press team said she was “not doing any media”.

“Yes, that’s right,” said Farage. “The person that wants us to have a big, open, public, rational debate is not going to do any media, because she doesn’t want to have an open, rational debate.”

Farage upbraided the Remain campaigner for trying to overturn the Tory Party’s manifesto pledge to reduce immigration to “the tens of thousands” and accused her of treating the 13.5 million people who voted her party into office on the basis of that pledge “with contempt”.

Davidson’s article did note that “Under the last Labour government, net annual immigration to the UK quadrupled. Taken collectively, 2.2 million people came to settle – more than twice the population of Birmingham.”

She also conceded that “Housing, urban growth, public service provision were all affected” — and that, after taking the reins of government from Labour in 2010, the Tory Party “failed to hit its self-imposed ‘tens of thousands’ target in any year” — perhaps unsurprising given the revelations by former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne that “[N]one of [the Cabinet’s] senior members support the pledge [to reduce immigration] in private”.

Davidson acknowledged that “Brexit is a big reset button and should – in theory – make [hitting the ‘tens of thousands’ target] much easier” — but despite having previously conceded that mass immigration had been damaging and numbers were continuing to run near record levels, she went on to say: “[W]e have to ask whether the target continues to be the right one?”

The 38-year-old implied that the large reduction in unemployment — achieved despite claims the Brexit vote would throw 500,000 people out of work — means Britain must continue to bring in large numbers of people in order to avoid limiting the country’s “potential for growth”.

She also resurrected old arguments about the looming threat of an ageing population, with the projected changes to the “dependency ratio” of working-age people to pensioners a clear warning that “we need to take action”.

The well-worn argument that an ageing population poses a tremendous danger has been challenged in works such as The Imaginary Time Bomb: Why an Ageing Population is Not a Social Problem by Phil Mullan — as has the idea that mass immigration is a viable solution to the supposed threat.

For example, Home Office experts noted in the International Migration and the United Kingdom: Patterns and Trends report that “The impact of immigration in mitigating population ageing is widely acknowledged to be small because immigrants also age.”

The United Nations Population Division has also noted that, in order to maintain such a 4:1 dependency ratio to 2050 through immigration, the UK would have to import some 59,722,000 people, increasing the total population to 136 million.

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