The left has nothing to gain from ‘taking immigration seriously’: as soon as you put immigration at the top of your list of problems to be dealt with, you’ve accepted the far-right’s terms of debate, which means they’ve already won. However ‘tough’ the left may try to get, the right can always get tougher. Promising ‘controls on immigration’ (as if they didn’t already exist) did nothing to help the British Labour Party in 2015; Jeremy Corbyn said before the election last year that he didn’t think immigration to the UK was too high, and that there were more important things to talk about. It didn’t hurt.
On Sunday night, someone tried to set fire to a mosque in Padova. A 57-year-old local man has been arrested. At midday on Monday, Roberto Pirrone, a 65-year-old Florentine, left his house carrying a pistol. His intention, he later said, was to kill himself. But he didn’t have the courage for that, so instead shot dead the first black person he saw. Idy Diene, a 54-year-old man from Senegal, died where he fell on the Ponte Vespucci (that’s three bridges downriver from the Ponte Vecchio, named for Amerigo Vespucci, the migrant from Florence who gave his name to the Americas; the US Embassy is nearby). Pirrone was arrested. The Senegalese community in Florence took to the streets. ‘Salvini has sold his hate throughout the country,’ one of the protesters said, ‘and this is the result.’