What the Netherlands thinks today…

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL November 24, 2023
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Photo by Barth Bailey on Unsplash

What the Netherlands thinks today…Britain may already have in mind.

The day after the Netherlands handed anti-migrant, anti-Muslim politician Geert Wilders the chance to run the country, Britain came slap up against one of the main issues that seems to have been on the minds of Dutch voters.

Migration. Not just illegal migration; all migration.

Across the North Sea, in Britain, migration was the story of the day. The Office of National Statistics (ONS), revealed that net immigration hit a record 745,000 last year, much higher than was previously thought. This, despite years of the Conservative government’s repeated pledges to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands.

Both the Conservatives and the main opposition Labour Party agreed this was a problem. “Net migration remains far too high,” said a spokesman for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Labour leader Keir Starmer added nothing particularly new, save an adverb. The latest figure, he said, was “shockingly high”.

What emerges from this rare moment of bipartisan political agreement?

Just this basic fact: Britain’s two main political parties are conscious of the difficulties posed by the migration issue. Many Britons are worried their country is increasingly lost to them. It’s a potent sentiment, despite being vague and undefinable, hard to put into words, to quantify and to rationalise.

It lays itself open to immediate condemnation – hard line, insular, exclusivist are some of the terms routinely used – but that would be too reflexive a response.

Instead, better to talk openly about the problem perceived and barely articulated by many white Europeans, not least the Wilders-voting Dutch, the British and others.

Were the main political parties to do so, there would be less room for the Wilders on the European political landscape. As also the Nigel Farages.

The fact that Britain’s Conservatives and Labour, as well as the Netherlands’ main parties have not been able to honestly articulate and address their people’s concerns, means the Wilders wing of European politics can only flourish.