'What are you going to do about all the bloody immigrants?' is a question I have heard more than once on the doorstep and my personal answer is always the simple one. Nothing, nada, zip, zilch! We don't need to do anything that directly and specifically targets immigrants that come here to work. They are simply taking the wealth of jobs that exist because a rising number of arrogant lazy Brits refuse to take them.
Why the indigenous population chooses not to take these jobs of course is a problem that should be addressed and it has more than one cause. In the 16-25 category we have to tackle unrealistic expectations for a start. Sadly this is not as easy as it sounds in an education system that constantly re-inforces the view amongst many of this age group that they are far cleverer, and therefore deserve more than they actually do.
Throughout the rest of the population we have masses of people sitting around on incapacity benefit who could work in other jobs but just keep getting the certificate signed by the GP. Take a bricklayer by trade who is on such benefit. It may very well be true that he cannot go back to the building site for health reasons. That does not mean he cannot sit on a checkout in the supermarket.
The only way to resolve such a situation is to 'think the unthinkable' as Frank Field once did and introduce a genuine Welfare-to-Work programme that says if you don't take a job that you can do then you lose your benefits. I believe it was once called 'Making Work Pay' but at some point that concept was replaced by 'Making the Taxpayer Pay'.
Of course, the left winger will bemoan such schemes and cite examples in America where single mothers have to get up at 6am and don't get home until 8pm. That's called work I'm afraid and a lot of single mothers do it willingly already. Not to mention that in America there is vast distance to travel between home and work that makes the example fall on its face in a UK specific scenario, but I digress.
Handily there is also a knock-on to such a policy. If we get the indigenous population that can work into work with more stick and less carrot, then it will mean a less fluid job market for immigrants because it will no longer be economically attractive for them to come to Britain.
After all, immigrant labour, as important as it is, only occurs when the market conditions exist to encourage it. Brown has created a job economy reliant on it because he has actively encouraged large sections of the 'born here' population to sit on their backsides, or in the case of the young think they're too good to stack shelves in supermarkets.
We don't have an immigration problem in Britain. We have a benefit system problem. Tackling the cause not the sympton is the way forward.