They did this to us with the EU, dismissing our concerns as a “single issue” obsession. For years, we endured the sneers and the name-calling; we were “xenophobes” and “little Englanders”, and our cause was of no interest to the electorate as a whole.
Then along came Brexit and the 2016 referendum; to their great shock, this was a subject that the nation cared about and, despite a shambolic campaign from both sides, we ended up leaving the EU.
But no lessons have been learned. They are doing exactly the same with immigration, dismissing our concerns and resorting once again to stock insults, the most favoured being to brand us all as “far right”, closely allied with the free use of the “racist” epithet.
But, as Melanie Phillips wrote in The Times yesterday, “It’s not ‘far right’ to want curbs on immigration”, asserting that public feeling about an uncontrolled influx is being shown in Europe, noting that Tories are at risk as well.
For years, she says, proper discussion of all this has been paralysed. There has been an unholy alliance between progressives, who hold that the defence of national identity is racist, and free-market conservatives who support mass immigration to force down wage costs.
Yet, she argues that across Europe, the public is showing that what has been denounced as “far right” turns out to be the mainstream – which has been abandoned by the entire political establishment.