Today was quite a significant day for Meg and myself as we shall see. As Thursday is our shopping day, I had got to the supermarket just before 8.00am and had got all of my shopping done and newspaper collected by 9.00am. Then we got everything put away which was quite easy in a light week and breakfasted. Then Meg and I made our way into town and paid a visit to the local branch of our bank. There we organised for a transfer of funds into the bank account of our solicitors. All of this was occasioned by the fact that my son and daughter-in-law had moved out of this house some year and a half ago and we have been busy disentangling our ownership details and finances so that things are now exactly as we would want them to be. Incidentally, it seems much easier to arrange things jointly as we did all those years ago then to disentangle them but our plans seem to be working out pretty smoothly so far although there are one or two things still to be regularised. Anyway, Meg and I are very happy to have got to this stage and to some extent, it is a weight of our minds as well. We celebrated by treating ourselves to a bowl of ice cream as we sat on the bench in the front of the house during a rare burst of sunshine before the skys clouded over again.
The media have been incredibly excited this afternoon as a small silver car has smashed into the gates installed at the end of Downing Street. It seems that the police responded with alacrity and professionalism and fortunately there was no random shooting involved. One can only imagine that in the US, the police might have used firearms first rather than any other protocols and the driver might have been shot dead rather than questioned. But the police have arrested the sole driver of the car and cordons have been erected along Whitehall. But at this moment, the police seem pretty relaxed so it does not seem that we have witnessed a terrorist attack in the making but perhaps just the results of a simple accident. Downing Street absolutely swarms with armed police but the reporters are saying there is now quite a relaxed attitude on behalf of the police so perhaps the incident will now gradually ‘unwind’ once it has been established that there is no terrorist intent.
Today was the day when the immigration statistics for the last year are to be published. There was a certain amount of ‘expectation management’ as a total figure of 700,000 and upwards has been frequently mentioned. But the published figures revealed that net migration rose to 606,000 in the year to December 2022, which figure is the highest on record for a calendar year. It comes despite a Tory 2019 manifesto commitment to ‘bring overall numbers down’. The figure was 488,000 in 2021. Net migration is the annual number of people arriving in the UK when both immigration and emigration are taken into account. The figures, published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) this morning, show that total long-term immigration was estimated at around 1.2 million in 2022, while emigration was 557,000. The government is making the (quite valid) point that the figures are swollen by the numbers of Hong Kong who were granted visas as well a similar offer to the Ukraine. A lot of visas have also been awarded to students and many universities are desperate to recruit as many overseas students as they are able. Students represent the largest part of non-EU migration at 39%. But the fees they pay were worth around £19bn in exports in 2020, more than aerospace exports. And that was in the teeth of the pandemic – it will surely be even more valuable now. Work visas are the next biggest chunk – and here, this is partly thanks to the skilled worker – largely for health and care. The public certainly do not want less less staffing in the NHS, for example. So public attitudes towards immigration seem a lot more nunanced than the days of the toxic Brexit debates. The Tories might care to reflect upon the fact that at the mainly white immigrants from the UE have more than been replaced by the non-white immigrants from India and Nigeria – was this ever their intention, one asks oneself?
On the other side of ‘the pond’ the Republican Ron Desantis , a Trump-light figure, was announcing his intention to run for President. He was due to do this in a novel fashion by having an on-line discussion with Elon Musk, the owner of Twitter on Twitter itself. But there seemed to be numerous technical glitches and the discussion did not start for about 20 minutes but not before threats were heard that the relevent technicians might be sacked on the spot. So this novel way to announce a candidature was a fiasco compared with use of the Main Street Media so Donald Trump himself must have been laughing at his opponent’s discomfiture. At this stage of the proceedings, Trump seems well ahead of his rival but this may not last of several other court cases some to fruition in the next few weeks.