by Rakib Ehsan
Monday, 25
January 2021
Debate
11:00

What the British Left can learn from Denmark

The Danish PM's 'zero asylum seekers' goal will neutralise the populist Right
by Rakib Ehsan
Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced that she had set a “zero asylum seekers” goal. Credit: Getty

Last week, Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced that she had set a “zero asylum seekers” goal for her administration in the name of social cohesion, stating:

We must make sure that not too many people come to our country, otherwise our social cohesion cannot exist. It is already under threat.
- Mette Frederiksen

Only 1,547 people have applied for asylum in Denmark 2020 — the lowest number since 1998. This figure is far lower than the total recorded in 2015, when 21,316 people applied for asylum in the Scandinavian nation at the peak of the European migration crisis. While the Covid-19 pandemic has played a part, this is also the result of the country’s movement towards a more restrictive immigration and asylum system.

Frederiksen, who has been leader of the Social Democrats since 2015 and Denmark’s Prime Minister since 2019, is not one to mince her words. Under her leadership, the Danish Social Democrats have sought to cultivate a shared national identity based on common purpose and mutual obligations. The party has also adopted a mature approach to public concerns over immigration and migrant integration. Frederiksen has now hammered home her belief that Denmark has historically made too few demands of newcomers to integrate into mainstream Danish life, respect the country’s legal system, and commit to the equality of the sexes.

The Danish premier is firmly of the view that in order to maintain the bonds of social trust and mutual respect needed to sustain Denmark’s comprehensive welfare state, and neutralise the electoral threat of the populist Right, a ‘restrictionist’ approach to immigration and asylum policy is required. A failure to do so will not only undermine forms of mutuality and reciprocity, but also opens up fertile ground for Right-wing populists — including the national-conservative Danish People’s Party (DPP).

And crucially, we cannot ignore the reality that asylum policy is now a public security matter in Europe. The October 2020 Islamist beheading of schoolteacher Samuel Paty, in the Parisian suburbs, was committed by a teenage refugee of Chechen origin. In the same month, a 20-year-old Syrian national who arrived in Germany to seek asylum, knifed a person to death in an Islamist terrorist attack in the city of Dresden. Closer to home, 26-year-old Libyan refugee Khairi Saadallah recently received a whole-life prison sentence over the June 2020 Islamist terrorist attack in Reading, in which three park-goers were stabbed to death in Forbury Gardens. European leaders simply cannot afford to overlook how liberal asylum systems and failed integration outcomes have fed the beast of Islamist extremism.

While internationalists on the contemporary British Left may judge Frederiksen negatively, they might do well to venture out of their own political ‘comfort zone’  — one which is more than happy to engage with people’s socio-economic concerns, but refuses to entertain legitimate cultural anxieties surrounding asylum policy, migrant integration, or public security.

Dr Rakib Ehsan is a research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society.

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Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 year ago

The party has also adopted a mature approach to public concerns over immigration and migrant integration.
so all those mouth-breathing xenophobes who warned about unfettered immigration’s impact on the host culture were right after all?

Pierre Pendre
Pierre Pendre
1 year ago

Diversity makes us stronger according to liberals and is therefore an unqualified good. This is clearly nonsense. Some forms of diversity, including racial diversity, create huge problems as Frederiksen has had the courage to admit. France’s Macron is desperately trying to get a grip on Islamist separatism but has probably left it too late after decades of elite acceptance of uncontrolled immigration. According to le Figaro, there have been 800 Islamist incidents since schoolteacher Samuel Paty was beheaded in the street last October.

From one end of Europe to the other, politicians have mindlessly parroted diversity in the face of their dissenting peoples shouting stop.
This is not because Europeans are racist but because they know that differing racial groups have to be mixed together with care if diversity is not to cause conflict. The central Europeans are refusing the EU’s orders to take their share of immigrants for this reason.

The racial hysteria crippling the United States is an example of where Europe is heading. Biden talks about racial equity but this is not what BLM and self-hating liberal whites have in mind. Blacks are too few to replace whites numerically but by castigating alleged white supremacy, BLM hopes to guilt-trip whites into conceding privileges to blacks which translate into black supremacy. Nobody in any society wants to share power with others except on terms dictated by them. BLM leaders reckon that whites need to show penance for their historic and irredeemable sins not through equity but by changing places.

It is EU policy to continue accepting mass immigration and no liberal dares to be the first to raise questions. Maybe this can change now that Frederiksen has said it’s time for a pause while we digest the immigration we’ve had which would make sense from the point of view of both Europeans and immigrants.

domsargent
domsargent
1 year ago
Reply to  Pierre Pendre

Frederiksen has said nothing about race or islam. Stopping asylum seekers is only racist if they are all from one race that is not your own. Stopping Islamic asylum seekers is not racist, but may represent some other form of bigotry. The idea that seems popular is to preserve the Danish welfare state – and therefore to exclude, or try to persuade (integrate) those who don’t understand or respect it. That would include British Conservatives.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 year ago
Reply to  domsargent

Frederiksen has said nothing about race or islam.
when she talks about ‘social cohesion,’ do you suppose the concern is that immigrant Swedes or Italians are going to upset the balance of Danish society?

Stopping asylum seekers is only racist if they are all from one race that is not your own.
How so? Immigration is supposed to first serve the host country, not the immigrant. It’s polite and neighborly to extend a hand to people escaping war-torn areas or genuine persecution, but the onus is still on the newcomer to adjust to the host, not the other way around.

colledge.david
colledge.david
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Quite!

D Ward
D Ward
1 year ago
Reply to  Pierre Pendre

Was reading the DT today via an app my library gives me. Nick Timothy had a column in which he said words to the effect of “we need one culture…”

I nearly choked on me cornflakes, as we all know, off by heart, that multi-culturalism is Good….

Richard Turpin
Richard Turpin
1 year ago
Reply to  Pierre Pendre

Very well said.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Pierre Pendre

I agree that cultural diversity is not un unmixed blessing. But the only thing the EU insist on is freedom of movement between EU members. As the Danish example shows nations can significantly restrict people coming in from non European countries should they wish. That was always a weakness of (some) Brexiteer arguments, in that the UK did not effectively control levels of non-EU immigration. Also, immigration is not legally the same as seeking asylum, though in practice it may be difficult to see the difference.

The French do indeed have a massive problem with their largely disaffected Muslim minority, but it is not now mainly because of current immigration but because of rights issued to citizens of the former French Empire, especially in North Africa.

Micheal Lucken
Micheal Lucken
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Likewise with the UK and the former rights and current sense of obligation from the British Commonwealth.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago

Every week I read different articles on race and immigration. The article above seems OK to me and so, does that mean I am racist?

Alex Wilkinson
Alex Wilkinson
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

No Chris, it means you’re normal.

What is racist is the never-ending appeasement and double-standard applied to black people by cringey, self-flagellating white liberals.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Wilkinson

That is truly something, isn’t it. The ones who scream loudest about someone else being racist are the first ones to treat minorities as pets and mascots who have no agency.

Ellie Marcell
Ellie Marcell
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Chris, it seems perfectly fine to me, too. Good to know I’m not alone.

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I think far to many people confuse race with culture. I have no problems with a multi-racial society. I believe there are many problems with a multi-cultural one. Having said that its good to share but it should be the immigrants that are doing the majority of adaption not the host nation.

Simon Burch
Simon Burch
1 year ago

Agreed. For the most part, culture is the issue and not race; we are misdiagnosing the problem.

William Cameron
William Cameron
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

No it doesnt. The “woke” will call us Racist but they will be wrong.

Dorothy Webb
Dorothy Webb
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I wouldn’t worry about it.

Peter KE
Peter KE
1 year ago

It is not just the left, the conservatives need to get to grips with so-called asylum seekers and illegal economic migrants and reduce them to zero.

William Cameron
William Cameron
1 year ago

Any party in the UK standing on the ticket of reducing annual immigration to the level of the Ugandan Asian refugee cris (ten thousand approx) and following Denmarks lead and banning asylum claims from European countries would win by a landslide.

Mick C
Mick C
1 year ago

There is zero chance of the British Left adopting this kind of language or policy, it is anathema to their political DNA. Even calling for a reduction in immigration is automatically viewed as a racist, right-wing dogwhistle.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 year ago
Reply to  Mick C

Pigeons learn faster than the British Left.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago

Yes, the Danes woke up a few years ago. Perhaps they will manage to save their society, which was one of the two or three most advanced societies the world has ever seen. Even so, they still have a large percentage of the population to try and civilise, which they are doing by attempting to inculcate ‘Danish values’ from a very early age i.e. babyhood. it will be interesting to watch.

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Do you think the Danes should be made to pay penance for their Viking days?

I’m sure at least one of my ancestors must have been sexually harassed by a raiding Viking.

I demand my reverse Danegeld!

David J
David J
1 year ago

Indeed. Or reparations from the Irish slavers, who at one point ran Dublin as the largest slave market in Europe.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 year ago

Mette Frederiksen is one of the best leaders in Europe. At a time when parties on the left were dying a death across Europe, she saw the common sense approach to asylum which, actually, was clear for all to see. However, while there was (and is) a wilful blindness by these parties in other countries (such as Germany) to concerns among their populations about the impact of asylum/immigration policies on their social fabric and welfare states, Frederiksen and her party grasped the nettle. And shot to power.

It seems to me that a lot of people don’t truly feel comfortable voting for the far right (or other so-called populist parties taking a strict line on immigration) but will do so if they don’t feel their concerns are being listened to. The Danish government have proven that socialist parties can carry the day, but they need to get over their squeamishness when it comes to socially and/or culturally conservative leanings of voters.

Fred Dibnah
Fred Dibnah
1 year ago

how does that work with an EU plan to distribute asylum seekers. Is Denmark to new Hungary?

Pete Kreff
Pete Kreff
1 year ago
Reply to  Fred Dibnah

The EU plan is highly flawed. If a migrant from Africa or the Middle East specifically wants to go to Germany, why should the EU send him to Romania or Portugal, say?

It is based on a false pretext that all countries in the EU are equivalent and turns the immigrant into a kind of second-class citizen who will bloody well go where he’s told to go.

It’s also hard to understand how the policy is supported by those who argued – in the context of the Calais migrant camps, for example – that it’s perfectly understandable that migrants want to end up in countries where a community of their countrymen already exists.

Pieter de Rijk
Pieter de Rijk
1 year ago
Reply to  Fred Dibnah

Denmark had already opted out of EU immigration rules, and confirmed this in a referendum, december 2015:

“Denmark rejected further integration with the EU in a referendum vote likely to be welcomed by eurosceptics across the continent.

With almost all votes counted, more than 53 per cent of Danes had voted No on Thursday to joining EU justice and home affairs policies. The nation currently has an opt-out on these issues.”

(https://www.ft.com/content/

Andrew Harvey
Andrew Harvey
1 year ago

But, really, who is going to scrub the toilets in my house if there’s no cheap migrant labor. Social cohesion is nice and all, but a clean house is far more important.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Harvey

LOL

LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Harvey

The French calls BoBo – espouses bohemian values and lead bourgeois lives.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Harvey

it’s a wonder things like that were possible prior to immigrant labor. In the US, people act that question in all seriousness, as though the jobs often held by Hispanic illegals were never previously done.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Harvey

My Ecuadorian housecleaner announced to me last Fall that she voted for Trump and encouraged her friends to do so as well. Surprise me. That said, she’s a smart cookie and will do well as she’s got solid values, knows what is really important in life.

Frederick B
Frederick B
1 year ago

It’s not just the Left which could learn from Denmark, so could our very own centre “right”. Boris’s new “points – based” immigration system (no cap on numbers, no need to advertise in Britain first etc.) has been described by Migration Watch as “appalling ” and ” a total sell out to the demands of big business”. And as for his “reckless” open door to Hong Kong……

John Brown
John Brown
1 year ago

It is also worth mentioning that the targets in both the Dresden and Reading attacks were gay men.

Mike Bell
Mike Bell
1 year ago

This pragmatic approach has general lessons for politicians:
Biden/Harris would do well to take some of the concerns voiced by Trump supporters and be seen to address them.
Boris’s appeal to Working Class non-Woke voters won the ‘Red Wall’. Could he do a similar thing with SNP?

Daniella Diaz
Daniella Diaz
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Bell

Hope not. Let the Scots do their own thing, if that is their democratic wish. No need to get hung up on the Union – it is past its sell by date. May 6 will be a big day.

Interesting comments from Brown today – he and fellow Scot Blair are to blame for the current constitutional mess. Just wish he would stop interfering.

Gary Richmond
Gary Richmond
1 year ago
Reply to  Daniella Diaz

Yup, a certain degree of collective amnesia from Brown and Blair

Pauline Ivison
Pauline Ivison
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Bell

Having seen Johnson’s true colours; sociopathic, narcissistic lying bully, I doubt the Scots would find him appealing. As a working class northerner I would never vote for a party of which he is a member, let alone leader. I am not alone in my views.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Bell

Pragmatism and ideology don’t mix, which is why The Left will fail in the end. It’s just going to take time.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

Perhaps – but history teaches us that by the time they fall, they have taken us all down with them.

Meghan Kathleen Jamieson
Meghan Kathleen Jamieson
1 year ago

I take the issues around immigration very seriously and I think they have been very much pushed aside in many western governments. I think capitalists have pushed this because it is good for their bottom line, and liberals in general have failed to understand that even with good will, social stability requires a certain amount of continuity in communities.

I am also aware that there are supposed asylum seekers who are not what they claim, and I think it is better for all if we address the problems create refugees rather than just looking to move people around.

Having said all this, I am really uncomfortable with targeting people who have fled their country in fear of their own life, whether that is due to war, famine, or whatever. I would much rather reduce migrants that come here to fill employment gaps, or to start businesses, if it comes to that. Not all migrants are violent religious extremists, and it’s dishonest to paint that picture. What do we expect to happen to people who find their country is now underwater, or so dry it’s not really habitable by human beings? What about people who have been living in refugee camps for a generation because of non-stop wars that they had nothing to do with?

These are in many cases unfixable problems, and maybe there are no good solutions. But accepting zero refugees is not the answer and we ought to look on that kind of statement with some real disgust.

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
1 year ago

Somebody famous once said: ‘There is no such thing as a poison; there is only the dose’.

So, immigration is a good thing until you get too much of it too fast and it threatens to overwhelm the host culture.

Similarly, another famous person once said: ‘There is no such thing as evil; there is only the good at the wrong time in the wrong place’ (this is a close paraphrase, since I’ve lost the source to the original quote from Dr Rudolf Steiner).

So, refugees importing outdated cultural atavisms (like clitoridectomy, for example) represent evil for a modern host culture; but refugees bringing enlightened understandings of universal human rights (e.g. skin colour should be irrelevant) and ethical use of technology (watch out for the total-surveillance state) show a host culture that is having the odd problem here and there how it might improve itself.

Conclusion: Can we please stop trying to apply abstract universal principles in an inadequate, lumpish, unthought-out way to real on-the-ground detailed local problems?

And conversely: Can we please stop trying to use difficult local problems as excuses to jettison vital underlying principles?

Micheal Lucken
Micheal Lucken
1 year ago

It amazes me that Mette Frederiksen is one of so few leaders to recognize and acknowledge the inverse relationship between cultural diversity and social cohesion within a nation when so many political analysts know this as a given. Serious conflict is nearly always about cultural difference. They seem to think if they keep saying immigration and diversity is good for the economy it will work out fine here with no problems unlike everywhere else in the world that has large scale immigration and rapid cultural change foisted on them without their consent.

Simon Diggins
Simon Diggins
1 year ago

May I recommend Paul Collier’s ‘Exodus’ for a forthright examination of these issues.

Andrew Crisp
Andrew Crisp
1 year ago

Mette F. is no visionary, like most politicians she adopted the policy to get her in power, because right wing politicians were gaining popularity with a similar immigration stance. The destruction of the economy and culture she has wrought with the covid hoax, means she is just following orders.

Nick Lyne
Nick Lyne
1 year ago

The best way to defeat the right is by adopting more extreme policies than them.

Robin Banks
Robin Banks
1 year ago
Reply to  Nick Lyne

And what is the best way to defeat Marxists?

nfrenc11
nfrenc11
1 year ago

Should the differential not be between migrant labour from within the EU and not asylum seekers who should be (and mostly are) very vulnerable people seeking to escape. Can see that limiting economic migration has benefits but this is different to asylum seekers?

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
1 year ago
Reply to  nfrenc11

No. The differential should be between those who are willing to become part of the host nation and those who want the host nation to change to what they want.

William Cameron
William Cameron
1 year ago
Reply to  nfrenc11

Healthy single males in France are not asylum seekers by definition.

Niels Georg Bach
Niels Georg Bach
1 year ago
Reply to  nfrenc11

Of course you got at point. But 1) Denmark is in the EU, and the free market has made it more difficult to integrate male MENA fugitives because jobs are going to the better educated east europeans. 2) Some fugitives are vulnerable and need protection, but after a few years they aren’t fugitives, they are immigrants 3) a special problem is family reunions especially through marriage. a lot of the spouses are prevented by the family to join – or aren’ qualified to join the labour market.

Zigurds Kronbergs
Zigurds Kronbergs
1 year ago

How to neutralise the populist right by surrendering to them. No thanks.

Victor Newman
Victor Newman
1 year ago

So it’s the populist right versus the globalist authoritarian left?

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 year ago

It’s not surrendering to them. The reason why these populist right wing parties are doing so well is because people haven’t been listened to, had their concerns dismissed as xenophobic, racist etc and been patronised by a political class that thinks it knows better.

Really the answer is simple: listen to your people. This should be bog standard common sense, yet isn’t. You don’t have to entertain everything your voters want but taking a pragmatic approach on immigration/asylum à la Denmark will pay dividends in political stability long term – even if it’s controversial in the short term.