That is why politicians should be so very careful in how they use words: by using language carelessly, by stoking fear of migrants, they can seem to permit something that is rightly impermissible.
Do not imagine that this is a sentiment reserved for bovine thugs: it exists behind many polite doors and neat gardens in our own town. Time and again I heard “I’m not a racist but…”, beginning a sentence that revealed a fear of foreigners and a wish to see them gone.
Most carefully, people express concerns about school class sizes and GP waiting lists. These concerns might be legitimate but they are rightly levelled at us politicians, not at the migrants on whom these problems in public services are so often blamed.
After all, the average EU migrant is more likely to be in work, paying taxes, than us Brits, helping to build – both in money and in labour – the classrooms all of our children need. And those GP queues? They are more the result of British people getting older – not young fit Lithuanian men, who rarely need a doctor.
Wonderful bold words. I wish more politicians had the courage to confront anti-immigrant views.