We need to talk about immigration... again
Does the cap fit? Are those who are already here well integrated? Should we worry more about the growth that migrants are said to bring, or the damage they are said to do to trust in politics and in fairness? The truth is that, two and a half years into a Government that was elected - in part - on a commitment to reduce net migration 'from the hundreds to the tens of thousands' we still need to talk about immigration.
It's not that the Government hasn't tried - they have. It's that their efforts do not seem destined to achieve their stated aim - many claim that the 'tens of thousands' will surely be missed - and that sometimes those efforts have alienated key stakeholders in this debate.
The Mayor of London, no lily-livered liberal by most people's standards, has expressed concerns that the crack-down on London Metropolitan University risked damaging a key British growth industry - higher education. At the same time, a flurry of stories about men and women who have served Britain - as soldiers and as translators in our war in Afghanistan - being turned down for residency and sent home to danger and/or poverty have outraged many.
All the while, of course, nothing has been done - or will be done - about the source of the sudden late-90s and early-noughties leap in immigration. The rules and regulations of the European Union prevent the Government restricting the flow of inward migration from Eastern Europe.
When the 2015 election comes, all three parties will need to have something to say on immigration and that the cap alone may not wash with voters. To explore these questions - and to ask specifically how the Conservative Party might approach this difficult issue on the doorstep in 2015 - Demos and British Future will be co-hosting a unique event at Conservative Party Conference.
On the evening of Monday the the 8th we will be running a 'Dragon's Den' on immigration and integration. Policy suggestions from a host of thinkers and writers on these issues - including Ed West, Patrick O'Flynn and Ruth Porter of the IEA - will be debated and deliberated on by leading Conservative Party MPs and Peers - including Gavin Barwell MP, Kris Hopkins MP and Lord Popat of Conservative Friends of India. We'll also be inviting suggestions and ideas from the audience.
It's vital that we continue the conversation about immigration. To pretend the problem is solved by the cap will only create space that can be filled by those with less scruples and more resentment. It will also be to manifestly fail the British people - who, overwhelmingly, worry that immigration remains too high and integration too rare. We'll be starting that conversation in Birmingham next week - but it's one that will run and run.