Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cameron's immigration spiel

Me in The Guardian on Cameron's latest immigration spiel:

The increasing frequency with which Cameron is turning to immigration as a rallying theme is arresting. He needs it to inject excitement into a dysphoric party faithful and revive the flagging ideological props of the administration. He sidelined the anti-immigrant xenophobes before 2009. Now his speeches are increasingly littered with demagoguery – anecdotes about forced marriage being used to evade immigration controls being an example of note-perfect Powellism – and pander to the chauvinist sentiment once characterised by Christopher Hitchens as "John Bullshit".
Cameron may grow more attached to such rhetoric as the ideological self-confidence of the government evaporates, and as it becomes more embattled by adverse economic and political conditions. But the danger for him in doing so is that he isn't very good at it. His "toughness" looks ersatz because it is; his promises seem phoney because they are; he is unconvincing because he is unconvinced by his own rhetoric. There are others on the right who know better how to play with this fire, and Cameron is arguably giving them the ammunition with which to depose him when the time comes.