11:22 Wednesday 4th March 2015
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
PAUL STAINTON: We’ve been talking immigration this morning as UKIP Leader Nigel Farage has been setting out his party’s plans for a points-based visa system. Recently the party proposed a cap of 50,000 people a year, compared to the 300,000 currently entering the country. Now Nigel Farage is refusing to come up with a target figure this time, but he did say under the Auatralian system he supports 27,000 people would have been allowed to come here in the last year.(TAPE)
NIGEL FARAGE: That number will vary a bit every year. But all of those people that come will have to bring with them health insurance, and will not be able to claim benefits of any kind until they’ve been here and paid into the tax system for five years. And that I think is a fair way of dealing with people that want to come to Britain to work.
PAUL STAINTON: Now we had Rupert Read on from the Greens earlier, who said that there’s a better way to deal with immigration. That’s to sort out the problems at source, and then people wouldn’t want to come here. A sort of Utopian vision is what the Greens were presenting. We also heard from Heidi Allen as well, who threatened to quit if David Cameron doesn’t come up with the promised referendum in 2017.
HEIDI ALLEN: It’s such a fundamental position of constant integrity that David Cameron has made to the British people, and I’m a member of the British people as well. And if that came to pass, if a referendum, you know, obviously we need to be in power in May, but you know it would be going back on one of the things that’s most emotive to people in this country. And that would be deceitful.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. Well let’s get the view now of Jonathan Djanogly, the MP for Huntingdon. Jonathan, good morning.
JONATHAN DJANOGLY: Good morning.
PAUL STAINTON: Most of our listeners it has to be said, I would say, 95% of the people listening to this show, sixty odd thousand, are pretty much in favour of what Nigel Farage is saying this morning. Where stand you?
JONATHAN DJANOGLY: If this was Mr Farage just encouraging a sensible debate on immigration then that would be a good thing. But I have a significant problem with UKIP’s immigration policy, because it’s not just about policy, it’s also about the tone of the message. So Mr Farage may come across all reasonable today, but in the meantime his party has been putting out some pretty emotive stuff, including leaflets I have to say in Huntingdon. I’m looking at one here that was put out in Huntingdon. It says next year the EU will allow 29 million Bulgarians and Romanians to come to the UK. This is provocative scare tactic type stuff. So on the one hand they talk reasonably on the TV and the radio. On the other hand they’re going round putting out this form of stuff. And I think that’s a pretty mixed message. It scared a lot of people in my constituency. But it is now saying yes actually we should get rid of the cap. We need a debate as to how many we do have. And yes, I think that’s a debate we should enter into.
PAUL STAINTON: You say scaring people. The polls would say he’s striking a chord. 44% of people in a recent poll saying that they trust UKIP more on immigration than all the other parties put together.
JONATHAN DJANOGLY: Well I think the fact that they’ve just changed their policy again today shows that it is a series of mixed messages. By the way I’m not saying that there isn’t a problem with immigration in this country, and the Conservative Party has said that we’d need to have new laws that stop people who’ve come here for benefits and not to work that they should be excluded. But we also need to recognise that the reason for the increase is because we have a successful economy. And we’ve created two million jobs, which is more than the rest of the EU put together. And so yes, we have been a magnet for people within the EU wanting to come to work here.
PAUL STAINTON: But why do so many people trust UKIP on immigration? Is it because they strike a chord? Is it because you’ve treated it as not a problem for too long? You made a big mistake?
JONATHAN DJANOGLY: I think that we haven’t had an honest debate about this. My personal position is that I think we should move to a quota system. I think there should be annual caps. I do personally think the 100,000 overall cap for ever is not detailed enough. And I think we need to prioritise the areas where the UK needs help. An immigration policy should be put in place for our benefit for the sorts of work and jobs that we need to have filled.
PAUL STAINTON: And what sort of cap would that look like? What sort of figure do you think?
JONATHAN DJANOGLY: I think it should be debated annually by Parliament. And I think it should be done in different areas. So for instance there should be a cap for the number we need in IT, there should be a cap for the number we need in agriculture, and so forth. I think the overall numbers are misleading and actually avoid the underlying issues, which by the way Mr Farage has not been addressing either. The underlying issues are that in the medium term we need better training and apprenticeship programmes that indigenous people can be retrained for the jobs that we have open. And we need benefit changes to ensure that those UK people who can work should work. And we need better business productivity, so that we make better use of our resources. But in the short term we need to recognise that some of those jobs that have been created, you know, the two million that have been created under this government, are going to be filled from overseas.
PAUL STAINTON: If we pull out of the EU does that solve all of our issues with migration from the EU?
JONATHAN DJANOGLY: Absolutely not, and for the first time I heard Mr Farage recognise that by saying that actually if we pulled out of the EU we would need to take people from the Commonwealth countries. And that’s a fair debate to have. Where do we take people from? At least he’s not now saying that we’ll pull out of the EU and suddenly all our immigration problems will disappear, which is kind of what UKIP people are saying on the doorstep.
PAUL STAINTON: Do you think UKIP are racist?
JONATHAN DJANOGLY: No I don’t think they are as a party. I think they have people within it who are, and I think they have quite a number of those, and it’s an issue that they as a party have got to deal with.
PAUL STAINTON: Have you got proof?
JONATHAN DJANOGLY: Well anyone who saw the BBC2 programme a week ago would have got a taste of it I think.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. Can they be trusted? Would you go into partnership with them in government, if you had to?
JONATHAN DJANOGLY: Personally I find UKIP to be a lobbying group rather than a serious political party, so I would have serious reservations about going into a coalition with a group of people who can change their policy weekly.
PAUL STAINTON: Very popular though, aren’t they? very popular. It must worry you in Huntingdon as well. Tory MPs in Cambridgeshire are under threat from UKIP, aren’t they?
JONATHAN DJANOGLY: Well two years ago UKIP had a very good outing in Huntingdon and in Cambridgeshire in the county elections, and they won a lot of seats. But interestingly since then they’ve been doing pretty badly actually, and in last May’s elections they didn’t win a single seat in my constituency. And we’ve been winning all of the by-elections where we’ve been up against them. So I would actually think that they peaked locally about two years ago.
PAUL STAINTON: We shall see Mr Djanogly.
JONATHAN DJANOGLY: We shall indeed.
PAUL STAINTON: Not long now. Jonathan Djanogly, MP for Huntingdon. Not worried about his seat in Huntingdon. Not worried about the threat from UKIP. And he thinks the party has a number of racists within its body.