"The Conservatives will next week ditch hardline policies on immigration that were widely seen to have backfired at the last election.  As they attempt to create a more “civilised” approach, David Cameron’s party will consult ethnic minority groups in big cities and begin to extol the benefits of migration, The Times has learnt."

The Daily Mail has quite a different headline for the same story: "Britain ‘suffering’ because of immigration, say Tories."

Reading through both articles, however, the facts about the Tory approach appear consistent:

  • Green_damian_3Damian Green is to begin a six month consultation on immigration policy – beginning with a visit to Muslim leaders in Coventry on Monday.
  • A series of ‘green papers’ will provide a "fair and detailed" account of the immigration situation in Britain.  It will highlight the positive impact of many immigrants but also  the negative effects of failed asylum seekers and illegal immigrants on Britain’s housing demand and pressurised public services.  The papers will invite specialist statisticians to analyse all of the data sources on the number of legal and illegal migrants.
  • There will be a promise of tighter border controls and the possibility of a new, dedicated border police service – to bring together police, customs and immigration services.
  • A crackdown on bogus language colleges and students who overstay their permits.
  • "A more rigorous points system to let in migrants with the right skills."
  • "Controversial" policies including quotas for immigrants and asylum seekers, processing immigrants on a foreign island and withdrawal from the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees are likely to be scrapped.

Damian Green – widely seen as on the left of the Tory party – was appointed shadow immigration minister by David Cameron to deliver a more moderate tone than had characterised Michael Howard’s 2005 campaign.  Shortly after becoming leader Mr Cameron told The Observer that genuine asylum seekers should be taken "to our hearts", fed, clothed and schooled.

Earlier this week ConservativeHome had worried about the reluctance of the party of engage with the public on immigration.  This roadshow deserves to be welcomed.