I woke this morning to incandescent rage. The kind of fury that forcefully reminds me that I am non-violent only by self discipline and not by inclination.

A couple of weeks ago now, Tory opposition leader Michael Howard gave one of his trademark vapid wittering speeches on the need to `cap asylum seeker numbers' and `control immigration.' For `cap asylum seeker numbers' and `control immigration' read `Keep England White.' Despite Howard's demure protestations to the contrary, his speech was a transparent attempt to court BNP voters  -- aka the neo-Nazis. Even David Aaronovitch -- who's far from the brightest bulb in the pack - has figured this one out.

But Howard is not the target of this morning's wrath. There is a special place in hell, surrounded by high concrete walls and festooned liberally with barbed wire, reserved for Home Office Secretary Charles Clarke and Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt. Long may they fester there, immured beyond hope and memory, languishing in fear and uncertainty, until at last they understand what it is to be imprisoned at Woomera, or incarcerated in the archipelago of immigration detention centres scattered across Europe, what it was to endure Sangatte.

For in their attempts to take the wind out of Howard's sails, the Labour Government has chosen to out-Herod Herod. Amid Home Office claims that "abuses of the [asylum and immigration] system had led to a feeling that `the fairness and hospitality of the British people has been tested" Clarke and sidekick Hewitt will announce that

in future only 'desirable' employees, such as doctors and teachers, would be granted the right to settle permanently - and even then only if they passed English tests - while others would be forced to leave when their work permits expired.

Apparently stern measures are required to prevent schools from becoming - shock - gasp  - horror - multilingual. Perish the thought.

Despite Immigration Minister Des Browne's not-terribly-convincing assurances to the contrary, it seems pretty likely to me that Clarke's anti-immigrant stance is a just a warm-up - the next step will be denying asylum-seekers any route to permanent residence. Certainly, the new laws to be announced apparently include moves to speed up the deportation of asylum seekers whose claims have been rejected.

Thus we have the obscene spectacle of a Labour government adopting Tory immigration policies that are themselves deliberately designed to curry favour with the British Nazi - oops I meant National - Party. What is there left to say to the Red Rose of Labour? For myself, I think William Blake said it all.

O Rose, thou art sick!
The Invisible worm,
That flies in the night,
In the howling storm,

Has found out thy bed
Of Crimson joy;
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.

Originally posted to dove on Sun Feb 06, 2005 at 04:23 AM PST.

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