Politicians do need to talk about issues to play a part

COMMENT: Our public services can only take so much

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We don’t think there’s anything wrong with the Prime Minister raising immigration as a subject for debate.

Too often in the past this topic, and the questions it raises over how people from different backgrounds live together, have been ignored by politicians.

Many of them have seen immigration as a potential hot potato and simply swept it aside – but that is wrong.

Make no mistake about it, people are talking about immigration in homes, workplaces and pubs up and down the country.

If politicians don’t get involved, how can we expect them to make meaningful decisions, or shape the agenda to ensure that it’s not just the ignorant and misinformed attitudes that prevail?

Whether you do or don’t support what David Cameron said yesterday in the speech he delivered in Romsey, what’s clear is the issues he raised are fundamental to the future of this country.

The debate, however, must never be allowed to become a tool used to divide communities.

On that point, we should remind ourselves we are called the United Kingdom – even if in some towns and cities that unity might feel like it is missing at times.

We might be an island nation but we’ve always prided ourselves on playing a role on the world’s stage and that’s meant we’ve been a safe haven for those needing to seek asylum. We’ve also seen the benefits immigration can bring to our economy and communities as a whole.

There’s sometimes a perception that even talking about immigration policy can be inflammatory.

That shouldn’t be the case, because finding a better way for people to live together is definitely worth talking about.

It’s a shame, therefore, that Muslim community leader Yasin Rahim did not find the door held wide open for him when he asked to be able to attend yesterday’s event.

Without casting any aspersions on the people of Romsey, we do question whether a more multi-cultural location would have been a wiser choice in order for Mr Cameron to reach out to everyone in the community.

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