As shambolic as our asylum policy is, the answer is not to open the borders. In many respects, that there are so few waiting at Calais is a sign that our border controls are actually working and the message has got out that if you get to Calais, you have reached a dead end. It's working as it should, which makes something of a mockery of Ukip's scaremongering.
If anything the ones in Calais are comprised of those who can't see any other option than the UK, or are determined to get in for more nefarious reasons. We are succeeding in keeping them out. While they make good TV during silly season, they are not actually central to our problem. It's a problem for Europe, but less so a problem for us. Our immigration problems are a wholly different strata of law and a wholly different type of migrant.
As to taking a share of Syrian refugees, it's a bit of gesture politicking that is neither here not there. It's an astute moving in building good relations with our neighbours. That's all. In terms of broader policy, it tackles only the symptoms, not the causes. It's one thing to say it's great for Germany to take 800k migrants. There is room and the former NATO bases are more than large enough. The question is, what about next year? Unless we turn off the tap by amending the 51 convention, they will keep coming.
Some have suggested abandoning any attempt to control the borders. There is certainly a case for liberalising border restrictions in that some migrants fear that if they come here on a limited visa they may not be let back in if they go home - so they remain here and disappear into the woodwork. Allowing free flow means that some migrants would, and very often do, go home. Certainly increasing the number of legitimate visas reduces attempts at forced entry. If anything irregular migration is a consequence of tight border controls. Nothing creates illegal immigrants quite like more immigration law.
But that is not to say we can or should open the borders. Some argue that humanity has the capacity to overcome the problems and that people are problem solvers. But the fact of the matter is that large influxes do cause problems and not short term ones either.
I like the idea that people are problem solvers. But as a rule they are entirely selfish in their solutions where the consequences of solving their own problems are somebody else's to deal with. That is why we have regulation of the civic sphere and planning to ensure basic standards of living and sanitation are upheld.
What we see when we have rapid influxes are entire communities who are wholly ignorant of procedure and pretty much do as as they want, from discarding refuse in the gardens, building over drain manholes, and then there's the antisocial behaviour that really does rip into community cohesion - the consequences of which are largely felt by the bottom decile. It's one thing for middle class urbanites to say "let them in" but the consequence of their moral posturing are felt by somebody else.
Already we have environmental health working overtime, not least to deal with overcrowding. You can take the lofty presumption that people do not equal more problems, but more people equals more cars - and more cars means more problems, more space constraints, massively disproportionate externalities and more pollution.
Then there is the aspect of safeguarding culture and heritage. Marxists certainly give me the impression that absolutely nothing is sacred and they would happily concrete over anything and everything is fair game. Immediate humanitarianism needs come first in their book. Again, that's a powerful moral sentiment, but at the same time, these are the same people who persistently complain about the lack of humanities and arts etc.
What makes Britain majestic is that some places and things are frozen in aspic. We do safeguard the distinctive and we do protect against urban sprawl in order to give people the cultural assets and the green spaces they need. Leave it to Marxists and they'd bulldoze everything until everywhere looked like the shit end of Croydon with no green spaces whatsoever. People who think Hackney Marshes constitutes a green space.
Part of what makes Britain something different is that the people here are custodians of something worth having. We have an island story that people come from all over the world to see. Preservation and cultivation of such assets are essential to the spiritual life of the island. I would argue that these things are the things that inspire us and are paramount.
While there is no theoretical upper limit, there will always be an absorptive capacity if we want to keep any semblance of social cohesion and preserve those features and freedoms that make Britain a desirable destination. That the open borders bunch would gladly see it wrecked makes them both philistines and hypocrites as well as fantasists.
We must always ensure that the rights of the settled are respected and that any influx that puts them in the minority, means the total breakdown of systems that facilitate the high quality of life we enjoy - those systems that make up the invisible government all around us that maintains those things we take for granted and are barely aware of. Without managing influx so that systems can keep pace, we very soon become that which most migrated from. Dirty, crowded, dysfunctional and unsafe.
In that respect, we are already overstretched, especially when I see presumably Pakistani youths in pyjamas battering each other with clubs on Hounslow highstreet in the day time and Somali gangs shooting at each other in Woolwich. Course, the pious bunch who would never venture to such places wouldn't see it, so again, it salves their moral problems but the consequences are visited on somebody else. In that regard, I find the open borders bunch not only risible, but contemptible.