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Immigration fail: When Theresa May tried to get illegal immigrants to "go home" with an ad campaign on vans driving through London, it caused national protest - and this response from the campaigning group Liberty.

Immigration fail: When Theresa May tried to get illegal immigrants to “go home” with an ad campaign on vans driving through London, it caused national protest – and this response from the campaigning group Liberty.

Remember when David Cameron pledged to get immigration into the UK down from the hundreds of thousands into the tens of thousands?

He and his party are trying to wipe that from history.

They’ve got a history of doing that with their mistakes. Do you also remember when the Tories’ pre-2010 election pledges were wiped from their websites?

On immigration, Cameron pledged to get it below 100,000 per year – but now his own spokesman describes it as an “objective” and Theresa May, the Home Secretary who was charged with achieving this feat, called it a “comment”.

A comment?

From The Guardian: “Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the home secretary made clear that the government was preparing the ground for a public admission of failure on the migration target.

“Asked to explain the missed target, May said: “When we made that… comment, when we said … we would be aiming to bring the net migration down to the tens of thousands and we wanted to do that within this parliament – yes we were very clear that was what we wanted to do.”

“The cautious remarks by the home secretary, who stumbled slightly as she referred to the net migration target as “that comment”, contrasted with the unequivocal “no ifs, no buts” declaration made by the prime minister in April 2011.”

In fact, it is possible that Cameron’s party should be glad that their plans to limit immigration have failed. Recent figures have reiterated the oft-made point that immigrants contribute more to the UK than they take from it – and the measures that the Tories have introduced backfired badly for universities, where the number of foreign Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics students has plummeted due to the UK’s “unwelcoming” stance.

The government has now announced a push to increase the number of British STEM students, and this is clearly to counter the loss to universities. The cover story is that they want more young women taking up the subjects.

Still, there are arguments that immigrants are taking jobs away from British-born people – and that their presence is pushing down wages.

But Mrs May can’t say that to the other EU member states without seeming racist, so she is calling on them to “reform” one of the fundamental pillars of the Union – freedom of movement – on the grounds that it encourages criminality.

She said: “There is a growing concern across the European Union of the way in which the freedom of movement is now being used.

“We’re seeing it being abused, possibly by criminal gangs who are trafficking human beings, we’re seeing it being abused through sham marriages.”

Why not just admit that freedom of movement is being abused – most clearly because people in the less-advantaged EU countries see it as an opportunity for a better life elsewhere?

It could be argued that the EU made a huge mistake in letting some countries – particularly in eastern Europe – into the Union before they were on a level with the rest of us, economically.

If we’re going to let these countries in, then it seems reasonable that we should protect ourselves from this kind of opportunism by working to bring their standard of living up to the same level as the rest of us before allowing freedom of movement to kick in.

It seems certain that far fewer people would want to immigrate into the UK if it offered no material difference in their quality of life.

Doesn’t that seem reasonable?

What a shame reason has nothing to do with the Conservative Party.

Cameron, May and the rest are going to continue pushing in the wrong direction, ever-harder as each successive plan fails.

Perhaps they are the ones who should be shown the door.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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