It's not racist to ask other countries to take fair share
ENOCH Powell polarised public opinion as few others have done, before or since, with one speech on the problem of growing immigration back in 1968.
It cost him his place in the Conservative shadow cabinet and finished his prospects of resuming any career in government.
Immigration has never gone away as a UK political issue ever since and it has never been nearer the top of the pile than it is now.
And if you doubt that, then a regular study of the letters pages of this or many other newspapers and of the radio phone-ins would surely confirm that, as far as the public is concerned, it is a number-one worry.
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Three letters on this page reflect that. And today's front-page story on mounting pressures on Derby's Jobs Education and Training centre confirms that this issue is no mischievous fig of extremists' imagination.
The Normanton centre is known as JET but is in real danger of being grounded, overburdened by soaring numbers of Eastern European migrants hunting for work.
The number of users has almost tripled within a year and the pressures that brings create inevitable financial problems.
Derby City Council has felt obliged to give JET £15,000 to help, though there is understandable anger that the Department for Work and Pensions refused to help but found such a sum for a similar situation in Nottingham.
Powell made an incendiary speech. While we do not, for a moment, seek to justify the emotive language he used, he was right on one key point – immigration is a nettle many politicians are reluctant to grasp for fear of being labelled racist.
Perhaps more relevantly in 2013, they are mindful of the growing scale of the immigrant community vote and the danger to their electoral prospects if they antagonise it.
Powell also predicted rising numbers would eventually put an intolerable pressure on the economy.
Are we at that point already? Many would say we are. Others say it is wrong to blame immigrants for all the nation's economic ills.
What is beyond dispute is that the big cloud on the economic horizon is the prospect of many more of Romanian and Bulgarian migrants arriving in the UK next year, under new European "freedom of movement" rules.
Lots of them can be expected to head for the East Midlands.
JET chief executive Mohammed Sharief said that many Eastern Europeans already in Derby are in such a desperate situation that they can go full days without eating and have little or no income.
Eventually, politicians will have to pour some cold-water realism on these problems.
Movement of workers within the EC will have to be managed, rather than remaining free-range, and all the more prosperous countries must be ordered to take their fair share.
That would not be a racist or inhumane stance.
Powell made an inflammatory prediction of "a nation busily engaged in heaping up its own funeral pyre".
We cannot sit back, do nothing of consequence, and allow any such fire to be fuelled.