Thursday, March 12, 2009

Immigration - The ESU Debate

Was at the English Speaking Union's grand headquarters in London, Dartmouth House, last night to hear a debate on immigration. Dartmouth House has, in the past, been the scene of great public speaking nearly triumphs from the SGS speaking teams, but last night it hosted Damian Green MP, Phillippe LeGrain, Dr. Mark Pennington and Jim Black. The motion was that "This House Believes in a Liberal Immigration Policy", which means uncontrolled. Damian Green - still on bail for the heinous crime of trying to hold the government to account - was opposing, and made in fact the most eloquent and practical of the four cases. Acknowledging that the proposition had "better tunes to play" he nonetheless warned against leaving the case for any sort of control on immigration to extremist politicians, proceeding to make a pretty level headed one of his own.

One aspect of the debate was that each side's speakers seemed to come to their position from a different perspective to their colleague, thus the proposition's Mark Pennington was all for allowing uncontrolled immigration because it would mean the end of the welfare state, a position strongly rejected by his colleague. Green's colleague, Jim Black, meanwhile made an intervention about his grandfather telling his grandmother he was going to kill Germans, which I must confess I didn't understand, and which in the light of current events seemed a little ill considered.

SGS contributions from the floor included the Comrade Major asking, in his thickly accented Russian, for free immigration from Russia without fear or favour (I paraphrase - he pretended to be asking about something more neutral). The final vote from the well heeled audience went 27-26 in favour of the motion, showing that liberals still thrive in the salons of London, even if not in the wider voting public.

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