Britain’s Howard plays the cheap and easy card Aussie John style – with more than a little help from Lynton Crosby. And read on for Christian Kerr’s analysis as well.

Well, it’s official. Britain is being overrun by foreigners. So much so that Tory leader Michael Howard felt obliged to run a full page ad in The Sunday Telegraph (natural readership – retired military types who love huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’ and hate immigrants) saying the UK can’t cope with the influx.

I one had a conversation with someone who said they were depressed about “all these immigrants”. This person lived in a nice house, in a nice area, had a secure job and I reckon the only immigrant that had crossed her path in the previous six months was me.

This is exactly the constituency Michael Howard is aiming at. By playing the cheap and easy race card he knows he can push a few buttons in the electorate because his economic plans won’t stand up to scrutiny and other policies are either have no meat on the bones or disappear without trace. The issue of immigration figures large in opinion polls surveying people’s concerns about their daily life. Yet like the person I mentioned before, most of them can come up with nothing better than: “Well there’s too many of ’em, isn’t there?” Even the United Kingdom Independence Party — which wants controls on immigration — called the Tories’ plan as “irresponsible”.

You don’t have to be Einstein to detect the hand of Lynton Crosby behind this latest piece of garbage from a political “leader” who wouldn’t even be here if it wasn’t for Britain’s historical willingness to take in refugees. The parallels with Australia are being used widely by the media here. An Associated Press reporter told me AAP picked up his story on Howard’s stunt within minutes of it hitting the AP wire.

Of course Howard denies he is being racist, adding that his system will make the asylum system fairer for genuine claimants, but under his plans, refugees would have to apply outside the UK. So the oppressed will have no option but to find their way to a British Embassy (if there is one) and pray they A). Aren’t picked up by the people oppressing them or B). That Howard’s proposed quota hasn’t been filled and they are turned away.

He also wants to use the points system employed by Australia on issuing work permits.

It’s hard to work out what’s more depressing. The fact that John Howard got away with this kind of crap in 2001 (and we should all be ashamed at that). The fact that the Conservatives are so lacking in ideas they have to rip one off from the Liberals or the fact that the Tony Blair has not condemned the Tories on the grounds of bigotry, but that the plans don’t stack up in terms of cost.

There is a skills shortage in this country. Last year Blair made no apology for luring South African nurses away from their homeland because Britain could not recruit enough locally to work in the UK’s filthy hospitals. His own spokesman said there are currently 600,000 jobs going begging across the country.

Immigration works in cycles. People arrive with skills and do a job, or they arrive with no skills and do the jobs the locals don’t want to do. That’s how dishes get washed in restaurants and floors cleaned in factories. Australia was built in this way and is culturally richer for it – despite the undercurrent of bigotry that lurks not too far beneath the surface. Britain is no different and there is no evidence the economy or population is suffering major difficulty. As the Labour peer Lord Desai (also known as Meghnad Jagdishchandra Desai) reportedly once said, if there were no immigrants, who would clean the toilets?

Michael Howard claims 160,000 immigrants come to the UK each year. What he doesn’t say is that most of them come from the EU, Australia, New Zealand, the US and South Africa.

As for that last lot, you can ship them out straight away. They’re taking London bar jobs off Australians.

1. The Tories’ troubles with the hired help

Political correspondent Christian Kerr writes:

Perhaps the Conservative Party is only used to Australian nannies – or Aussie bar staff at the Palace of Westminster and the nearby watering holes.

The latest Lynton Crosby stories have that Barry McKenzie touch once again. They tell of an innocent Austral lad stumbling into trouble amongst the great and good of Pommyland, months out from an election.

Look at what The Times had to say yesterday abut the former Liberal Party federal director:

“Michael Howard’s election guru has told him that the Conservatives have no hope of winning the next general election.

“The crushing blow from Lynton Crosby, the Australian campaign expert hired by Mr Howard at great expense to bring about a surprise Tory victory, came as Mr Howard attempted yesterday to put immigration and asylum at the heart of the party’s election campaign…”

Poor Lynton was stung into action. “The Conservatives’ campaign director has denied a report claiming he warned Michael Howard the party could not win the next general election,” the Beeb reported.

The Times on Monday said Australian Lynton Crosby told the party leader to focus on trying to increase the Tories’ Commons presence by 25 to 30 seats.

“But Mr Crosby said in a statement: ‘I have never had any such conversation… and I do not hold that view.’

“Mr Howard later added there was not ‘one iota’ of truth in the report.”

You can read a wrap of the whole feeding frenzy in The Guardian, but this is the second time Crosby has got into trouble for this sort of thing.

He is fast becoming a household name in Britain, largely for all the wrong reasons. That isn’t really the British way.

Michael Howard has made much of his refugee past, of his family’s suffering at the hands of the Nazis.

The Tories have been squeezed off the middle ground by New Labour – a tarnished brand, but one with an irrepressible salesman in Tony Blair – and are under threat from the right from the anti-European Union and soi distant racists of the UK Independence Party.

Crosby is clearly trying to win back these latter voters by programming his boss up with sub-Tampa lines.

Does he realise that he’s making the British Howard look like an utter hypocrite, or can’t he look beyond his wedge obsessions?