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Why I’m defending Ed Balls over immigration


9:02 am - June 7th 2010

by Sunny Hundal    


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In August 2005 several hundred Asian women in West London went on strike because their employer – BA caterer Gate Gourmet – decided to sack them enmasse and replace them with Eastern European labour. I was reminded of that incident when I read Ed Balls’ article for the Observer yesterday on immigration.

I won’t disagree with the view that the New Labour government had been utterly craven and scared about making a strong and positive case for immigration. Or even for the policies that they had in place. They completely lost the public debate and their disgusting stances (child detention, denying an Amnesty) drove me to vote Libdem. So I don’t come from a position of sympathy.

But I still think Ed Balls has to be defended over his stance.

Why? Primarily because I think we have to accept we lost the debate on immigration and do something about it. We failed in pushing a coherent and positive narrative during those years and now have a situation where the public is very right-wing on the issue.

How right-wing? Well, despite Labour’s tough-talk during the election, the party polled about 30 points behind the Conservatives on that issue. It’s only because people don’t vote primarily on immigration (or if they do, they’re already hardcore Tory supporters) that it didn’t mean an electoral wipe-out for Labour. Nevetheless, that gap has to be closed somehow, whether by moving right-wards (which I’m not advocating) or creating an alternative vision.

Criticisms
The principal criticism of Ed Balls’ piece, by Owen Tudor and by Lenin, is that Balls is simply wrong on whether all this immigration depressed wages.

The technical response is that firstly it is an aggregate scenario that may feature very high local variations (especially in industrial Labour areas), and secondly that even if real wages went up broadly, they might have gone up faster without all that immigration (Owen recognises this.)

My other response is that we can’t afford to ignore people’s perceptions whether we like them or not. We have to accept that we lost the battle in shaping them in our favour. For example: someone might argue that there’s little official evidence that Muslims have faced more Islamophobia since 9/11. But if most Muslims are saying they’ve actually felt it, then we don’t ignore that as silly rubbish. The same applies here.

James Macintyre thinks Balls is going for the Gillian Duffy vote. Maybe. But any Labour politician would be foolhardy to ignore Labour’s traditional socially-conservative-economically-leftwing base.

Re-framing
What Ed Balls is doing, which is primarily why I like the piece, is that he is trying to push the debate towards protecting the rights of the most vulnerable workers. Even if he was making up statistics on the spot: the aim of trying to deal with immigration by raising employment rights and standards for the poorest is an excellent goal.

The question for Labour politicians is how can they talk about immigration on territory that favours them (securing workers’ rights) while not demonising immigrants or saying their children will destroy our culture and way of life (as Tories tend to do).

Immigration is a proxy for issues like wages, housing and public services. But rather than say we will drive them out of the country because they’re taking our resources and giving nothing back, he is trying to link that with protecting workers rights. I don’t see a problem with that.

I asked a few weeks ago: What is the progressive narrative on immigration?‘. We still don’t have the answer other than people mumbling ‘let’s talk about other things instead‘ or ‘it’s the media’s fault’‘ – I’m afraid that doesn’t work.

I agree of two criticisms here: that Labour didn’t do enough during their reign to protect agency workers (as Owen Tudor says), and that Labour needs to address the movement of capital as well as labour. But this wasn’t a bad start, and it was a lot more coherent than the others.

I also agree that sounding tough on immigration isn’t going to bring Labour back to power and hope the candidates are intelligent enough to realise that (maybe not Andy Burnham). Immigration has been an issue in this country for decades. But as William Hague, IDS and Michael Howard will tell you: that alone does not win you elections.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Immigration ,Labour party ,Westminster

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Reader comments


1. Owen Tudor

Well there are some good things in Ed Balls’ article, eg his opposition to the prevailing European cuts agenda.

But you’re being too kind to him. Ed is not arguing for more workers’ rights, although he implies that things might have been better if Labour hadn’t been so implacably opposed to the Temporary Agency Workers Directive for so long.

What Ed Balls actually proposed was a restriction on the rights of East European workers by using transitional measures. And since that would allow people to come in if they were self-employed but not if they were emoloyed, that would have led to little difference in the numbers of migrants but a huge difference in their status and rights!

There IS a coherent narrative about migration which addresses the concerns of existing communities AND resisting right wing arguments on reducing immigration. But it’s to be found in treating migrant workers equally, and better workers’ rights all round, NOT by treating migrants as ‘the problem’.

And if migrant workers are found being paid less than existing workers, isn’t that their employer’s fault, rather than theirs? Migrant workers don’t undercut terms and conditions. Bad employers do.

2. Richard Blogger

Migrant workers don’t undercut terms and conditions. Bad employers do.

Well yes, but it is more than just about protecting rights in one area. For example, I live near Coventry and Peugeot used to have a car plant at Ryton. This was a plant that had excellent productivity and industrial relations, but the parent company closed the site because they could get the same cars made cheaper in Eastern Europe. The site is now used for housing.

So it is not just a case of immigrant workers coming here, it is also about exporting jobs over there. The minimum wage has had considerable effects here, a minimum wage across the EU will remove many of the reasons for the migration of labour and the migration of jobs.

3. Owen Tudor

Richard’s right, of course (this dang web thing – it doesn’t encourage setting out entire political philosophies, only snapshots!) The original post I wrote on http://www.touchstoneblog.org.uk drew attention to the interplay between workers coming here and jobs going abroad. It further underlines why Ed Balls (and the Conservative Government) are wrong to argue that free movement of goods and services is ok, but free movement of labour isn’t. We need a level playing field of labour market rules across the EU, as well as a common market. The imbalances within the EU are coming home to roost in the current Eurozone crisis, but they’ve already come home to roost for many working people. We need better and more equal labour rights across the EU. Again, that’s why the Temporary Agency Workers Directive was so important.

I totally agree with Owen Tudor @1.

Like I pointed out here, the problem with Ed Balls’ piece was his staggering hypocrisy – especially that line about the importance of passing the agency workers directive…! I don’t recall Balls disagreeing with the rest of the Cabinet when the Labour government was actively wasting time to water it down or put it back (which is what they did in the end).

And given that we’re talking about a decision which Ed Balls’ government took 6 months ago, that alone is enough to write off his entire article as politicking.

But there are two other points where Balls’ words sound hollow:

1. That sweeping comment about 1 million British people working in the EU as being of a “different class”, so to speak (which is crass and superficial and ignorant of the impact of outward migration) while effectively meaning “one rule for us and one rule for them”.

2. The call for restriction in the Free Movement Directive, which – if Balls became leader, which won’t happen thank god – would place New Labour automatically to the right of the Daily Mail.

2.

“There IS a coherent narrative about migration which addresses the concerns of existing communities AND resisting right wing arguments on reducing immigration. But it’s to be found in treating migrant workers equally, and better workers’ rights all round”

It’s to be found in encouraging growth and development in the newer members of the EU so that they can provide high quality jobs to their workers and an export market for the UK.

Far better that long-term international migration becomes something unusual done for individual reasons, rather than the choice of the talented in an entire generation, as if Central and Eastern Europe is some kind of 21st Century Ireland. Fat chance of that given the hard right (liberal variety) appear to have seized control of the EU’s economic policy and other international institutions.

Sunny is quite right to emphasise the need for any renewed Labour Party to base its policy in the day to day life experience of actual and potential Labour voters, rather than the morally comforting reassurances of academics who succeed in proving that which they hoped to prove in the first place.

Having read Ed Balls’ article I agree he’s not exactly gone Daily Mail on us. The article notably doesn’t blame immigrants for most of the things the mainstream right wing do. There’s no mention of Shari’a Law in there, no mention of cultures being swamped, indeed no mention of crime. He’s clearly not attacking the immigrants as bad people.

The argument about undercutting wages: I can’t see how it can really be refuted (although if anyone here is an economist, by all means try to convince me) – it is surely clear that if you suddenly increase the supply of labour, the cost of labour falls. Ultimately it’s demand and supply. If we did actually have an ‘open borders policy’ (as Michael Howard types, again unlike Balls, continually insist they are) we would quickly see that.

My main problem with the article is that the only thing he does is attacks allowing immigration from the Eastern EU. He doesn’t propose any serious policy ideas beyond that. But as he well knows, there is very little any government can do about EU migration. When Eastern Europe joined the EU, they didn’t join to be junior members, getting free trade only without freedom of movement for their people…

7. Owen Tudor

This is what’s known as the ‘lump of labour fallacy’. Very sketchily, as the population rises, work expands, so the supply:demand equation doesn’t work. But that’s theory. The real objection to Balls’ comment is that wages simply DIDN’T fall during the period of highest inward migration.

“Why I’m defending Ed Balls over immigration” – you’re hoping for an advisory position as “top blogger” if he wins?

“The real objection to Balls’ comment is that wages simply DIDN’T fall during the period of highest inward migration”

That wages don’t fall in absolute terms during an economic boom when the minimum wage is being increased faster than inflation is not really evidence of very much at all, though. Even setting that aside, housing costs did rocket, so wages for a vast chunk of working class people did rise for all practical purposes.

As to the lump of labour fallacy, your formulation of it appears to assume a closed economy. Even assuming it holds, it’s an excellent argument for why high levels of intra-European migration are potentially bad news for the accession countries, as well as challenging for the UK.

10. Rowan Davies

I’d have found Balls more impressive if he’d said something about the dearth of social housing, which seems to me to be behind much of the indigenous hostility towards migrants. A progressive framing of the immigration debate would surely emphasise things like housing, better employment conditions, and investment in areas that suffer from low employment. Plus I actually rather liked the LibDems’ pre-coalition policy of regional employment passports for economic migrants – I mean, I’d rather see the unfettered free movement of human beings, but if the UK public’s not in the mood to stand for that, the passport idea sounds better than a blunt cap.

But as he well knows, there is very little any government can do about EU migration. When Eastern Europe joined the EU, they didn’t join to be junior members, getting free trade only without freedom of movement for their people…

I’m sorry but this incorrect. Britain was the only EU country not to impose transitional controls on migrants from the new EU ascession states. Germany, France, Holland etc all imposed limits because they were aware that an large influx of Eastern Europeans would have negative consequences for the employment prospects of the bottom 20% of their workforces.

The Left appears totally at sea about this issue. I can understand why they have a knee jerk anti-racist attitude towards immigrant bashing but they are not thinking clearly on this issue. The bottom 20% of our population faces enormous problems. They have negative assets, are much more likely to be unemployed and face multiple barriers in being able to re-enter the labour force. These problems have been hugely exacerbated by changes wrought by globalisation. We now have 20% youth unemployment. The last thing needed was a large influx of Eastern European labour – the great bulk of which was young highly educated and motivated- outcompeting them for the scarce number of jobs available. Large scale immigrantion of this type does depress wages and worse it often leads employers to just substitute Eastern European Labour for British Labour. Why would an employer want to employ a young British worker who has been unemployed when he can employ an East European worker who will be more motivated, pliant and will work for less.

There is nothing progressive about inviting in a large influx of foreign labour which will damage the life chances of the most disadvantaged in this country and the New Labour’s failure to see this clearly was a key factor in their dismal election showing. The people on the Left whowho support this kind of immigration should ask themselves why they are in the same company as the most swivel-eyed freemarket right.

In other words if you think you are a progressive and find yourself agreeing with Tim Worstall or Phillipe Legrain on a key economic issue it may be time to re-evaluate your thinking.

@10 Rowan Davies

Hmm. I often hear this trope, that if we built 1-2 million new council homes then we wouldn’t have the problem of the BNP etc – that if we gave the plebs cheap homes, benefits to live off, cheap beer in nearby local pubs and free England flags then they wouldn’t be so racist towards some poor shit who’s just travelled hundreds of miles to eke out a better life.

I’m not so convinced. What do the holy WWC want? Here’s a list:

– houses but not the crappy council homes everyone else has
– jobs that aren’t minimum wage but require no skills anyway
– schools where they can send their kids and not have to blame immigrant kids speaking non-English languages for their own lack of at-home education
– hospitals where they can go without queuing hours (because of all the sick immigrants with their AIDS) for a non-foreign doctor to remove their obese blubber and blackened lungs for free on the NHS

Give em all of that. Go on. Will they still be racist and resentful of immigrants afterwards? I think they will.

13. Rowan Davies

@11: ‘There’s nothing progressive about inviting in a large influx of foreign labour which will damage the life chances of the most disadvantaged in this country’ – I disagree with this. It all depends on whether you have an internationalist outlook, surely? Migration is the single best route out of poverty, according to Duncan Green (who knows a thing or two about economics). Why should progressives deny this route to people in less developed countries? And why should progressives frame this debate in terms of relatively poor people in the UK versus poor people elsewhere, rather than relatively poor people in the UK versus richer people in the UK? The progressive answer is surely to concentrate on the redistribution of resources within the UK, while allowing people in less developed countries to access better lives for themselves and their dependents.

@12: I absolutely agree that there’s a hardcore racist element in the anti-immigration debate, who won’t be mollified by any state action. But I don’t believe that the entire WWC, or even the majority of them, subscribe to those attitudes. I know plenty of WWC people (really, I do ;-)) and most of them are utterly sanguine about the presence of non-indigenous people in the UK. But where immigration hotspots *do* have an effect on their lives (as in the case of schools with large proportions of non-English speakers, where sufficient funding is not forthcoming to mean that this has no effect on the learning of other children), or where they *do* have legitimate grievances that are (often wrongly) perceived to be affected by immigration (as in the social housing situation), then effective state intervention would go a long way towards drawing the sting from the immigration debate.

14. Rowan Davies

@11: ‘There’s nothing progressive about inviting in a large influx of foreign labour which will damage the life chances of the most disadvantaged in this country’ – I disagree with this. It all depends on whether you have an internationalist outlook, surely? Migration is the single best route out of poverty, according to Duncan Green (who knows a thing or two about economics). Why should progressives deny this route to people in less developed countries? And why should progressives frame this debate in terms of relatively poor people in the UK versus poor people elsewhere, rather than relatively poor people in the UK versus richer people in the UK? The progressive answer is surely to concentrate on the redistribution of resources within the UK, while allowing people in less developed countries to access better lives for themselves and their dependents.

@12: I absolutely agree that there’s a hardcore racist element in the anti-immigration debate, who won’t be mollified by any state action. But I don’t believe that the entire WWC, or even the majority of them, subscribe to those attitudes. I know plenty of WWC people (really, I do ;-)) and most of them are utterly sanguine about the presence of non-indigenous people in the UK. But where immigration hotspots *do* have an effect on their lives (as in the case of schools with large proportions of non-English speakers, where sufficient funding is not forthcoming to mean that this has no effect on the learning of other children), or where they *do* have legitimate grievances that are (often wrongly) perceived to be affected by immigration (as in the social housing situation), then effective state intervention would go a long way towards drawing the sting from the immigration debate.

Ed Balls has had a first class economics education. It therefore particularly bad that his article claims that free trade in goods and services is of general benefit but migration is different – he knows more than enough economics to know that in principle free trade (and capital movements) could depress the incomes of the least skilled in Britain and that in practice there is at least as much evidence – probably more – that these factors have harmed the incomes of the most vulnerable as there is for the effects of immigration. Politicians writing ignorant stuff about immigration is bad enough – those writing misleading articles when they are well aware of the real principles and evidence is even worse.

@Rowan

I get what you’re saying, but given the absence of available funds or the extreme shortage of them, what can be practically done? I am not sure we treat any sector of our society, not even the elderly, in such a way as to suggest we should spend squillions on giving them everything they want and never, not once, telling them that perhaps this money is better spent on other things?

The reasons for white poor boys being the dumbest, or for white poor teenage girls having the most pregnancies, or for white poor teenagers being the most boozed up, or for white poor workers being the most unskilled, etc etc can’t simply be addressed by chucking money at them. We need to create incentives for them to sort themselves out. New Labour’s taught us that massive public spending levels are unsustainable, so we can’t rely on them to solve social issues.

As regards to your point about the free flow of migration, surely the solution to a lot of this is to encourage our own jobless poor to migrate overseas?

What really irks me about WWC complaining about immigrants is their complete lack of willingness to have any respect at all for what economic migrants have to endure in order to put food on the table for their kids. Many people travel all around the world in search of a better life, because there are no jobs where they are. Why can’t WWC also do this? Who says they are entitled to anything they didn’t fight for or even try for?

If WWCs feel immigrants are taking their jobs, they should ask themselves: why? It isn’t just because immigrants are willing to work at a lower wage and worse conditions, (which unionisation and EU employment laws would combat) but it’s mainly because WWC don’t want those jobs. If you’re not willing to take the job that’s offered, you can’t complain if someone else does.

Many people travel all around the world in search of a better life, because there are no jobs where they are. Why can’t WWC also do this? Who says they are entitled to anything they didn’t fight for or even try for?

My guess would be you haven’t spent much time amongst the WWC.

18. English Mansion

“a minimum wage across the EU will remove many of the reasons for the migration of labour and the migration of jobs.”

Indeed. Is anyone campaigning for this?

Sunny, I generally agree with the thrust of your article, another thing worth bearing in mind that it wasn’t just Eastern Europeans willingly moving to the UK in search of jobs, an additional component was that there were a large number of businesses set up with the specific purpose of facilitating the recruitmentment of Eastern European Labour in the UK. This, I think is one of the reasons for the scale of the Eastern European immigration.

Owen@7 – The lump of labour idea is, ultimately a fallacy but the process of new employment opportunities being created is not an instantaneous one, it takes time for this to happen.

Andreas, yes that’s an often unexplored angle of the immigration debate. Probably because the way of dealing with it from an anti-immigration perspective involves additional regulation of the employment agency sector, which is ideologically difficult for many of those newspapers being hysterical about immigration. In the same way they complain about Eastern european migrants under-cutting locals, but say nothing about businesses re-locating production to eastern europe.

@blanco – stereotyping people according to their class and ethnic background = not any better when it means hating on white working class people.

I was thinking of supporting Ed Balls, but his article lost my vote.

One of the things I didn’t like about it was that all the policy proposals which involved reducing free movement of labour were spelt out in great detail, while he skated over the bits about agency workers, increasing skills, resisting savage cuts across Europe and all the progressive bits.

I got fed up with this kind of rubbish from senior Labour politicians a while back – rather than name-checking progressive policies as a kind of throat-clearing exercise before getting on to describe in loving detail how he plans to keep foreigners out, let’s have some actual detail about his plans for rights for agency and other temporary workers, or a transnational campaign against cuts, or new skills and jobs in areas of high unemployment, or telling us about somethign which is actually left-wing and is about giving people greater freedom, rather than stopping them when they try to make life better for themselves and their families.

got fed up with this kind of rubbish from senior Labour politicians a while back – rather than name-checking progressive policies as a kind of throat-clearing exercise before getting on to describe in loving detail how he plans to keep foreigners out, let’s have some actual detail about his plans for rights for agency and other temporary workers, or a transnational campaign against cuts, or new skills and jobs in areas of high unemployment, or telling us about somethign which is actually left-wing and is about giving people greater freedom, rather than stopping them when they try to make life better for themselves and their families.

I have a question for you Don.

Did you actually do any campaigning during the election?

If you had you would have realised that immigration was probably the most potent issue on the doorstep – particularly in deprived communities. This election was very surreal in that whilst the three main parties avoided the subject like the plague it was the number one issue of concern for many, many voters. Now I agree with you about the stuff on social housing, regulating the labour market etc. One of the great betrayals of New Labour was its love of “flexible labour” Indeed I would go much further in terms of labour protection and intervention to create long term sustainable employment, proper provision of social housing etc.

But that doesn’t alter the fact that forcing the bottom 20% of our population who suffer from very insecure employment prospects to compete with the cream of Eastern labour was a very bad idea.

24. Charlie 2

16. Blanco. The unions representing the unskilled and semiskilled together with the middle class government employee labour member with no industrial experience, failed to explain the impact of technological evolution and globalisation. Technology tends to do achieve two results , it replaces unskilled and semi -skilled labour with new machines and creates new industries, invaribaly requiring better education. Post 1945 , no Labour Party or union leader realised the impact of transistors, silicon chips and computers combined with the rise of Japan and Korea as centres of manufacturing.Consequently spending 11 years at school from the age of 5 to 16 and aquiring no education was no longer an option if one wanted a job, as unskilled and semi-skilled jobs greatly reduced in number.
Many if not all apprenticeships in high value manufacturing need good GCSEs in maths ,english and a science.

Even getting a job as a labourer ( i.e hod carrier ) on a construction became difficult as many more machines were introduced .

Am I the only person who thinks that the Lib Dem pre-coalition proposal for an amnesty was a good idea?!? I accept it requires more detail, but an amnesty would bring those out of the system, in to it. Balls, in my opinion, is getting his tone on most issues wrong. First Iraq, and now this. It is populist opportunism in its most lucid form.

“I have a question for you Don.

Did you actually do any campaigning during the election?”

Yes, thanks.

4% swing to Labour and majority quadrupled in the marginal seat where I ran the campaign.

And you?

I camapigned for the Greens in Brighton Pavillion…though I voted Labour in my Midlands constituency. Not due to any love for the Labour party I should add but just because I was worried that the Tories might sneak in. After seeing Blunkett & Reid’s performance the following week I realised I had made a bad decision.

How on earth did Mr Balls manage to remain in a government which he now tells us was failing in so many ways?

Testament to his moral courage and strength of character.

Vote Balls!

@bubby – agree about “labour protection and intervention to create long term sustainable employment, proper provision of social housing etc.”

I don’t think that electorally talking about immigration will impress people. But some good plans to raise wages for low paid workers, make sure they have jobs and somewhere decent and affordable to live are all things that people want to hear from us about. My problem with Balls’ article was the total absence of detail on any of these subjects.

@bubby – funny old world, don’t the Green Party support open borders and scrapping immigration controls?

“But that doesn’t alter the fact that forcing the bottom 20% of our population who suffer from very insecure employment prospects to compete with the cream of Eastern labour was a very bad idea.”

Forcing is the wrong term as it implies deliberate policy, it was an unforseen (at least unforseen by the government) side effect of EU enlargement, which lead to a greater level of migration than originally anticipated.

Secondly labour need to be honest about it – free movement of labour within the EU is a price we pay for membership, if we think the price is too high the only thing we can do about it is withdraw from the EU.

@bubby – funny old world, don’t the Green Party support open borders and scrapping immigration controls?

No they don’t – see the manifesto. I actually think that there immigration policy is badly thought out – and its not the only policy I disagree with. But realistically I don’t expect that if I support a party I will be required to support everything in its manifesto. However there is a species of blinkered Labour tribalist who does adopt this position. Not that I am accusing you of this Don.

Forcing is the wrong term as it implies deliberate policy, it was an unforseen (at least unforseen by the government) side effect of EU enlargement, which lead to a greater level of migration than originally anticipated.

Perhaps you could then explain then why no other major EU state allowed complete freedom of labour mobility for residents of the new EU eastern european states?

Well Sweden and Ireland also allowed immediate access. But I suspect it was because (1) EU rules only allowed time-limited restrictions, (2) the government felt restrictions on access to benefits would be sufficient to deter many, (3) at the time, the UK had low unemployment, with shortages in many sectors -particularly the seasonal low paid ones, (4) there was furious lobbying from the CBI et al for no restrictions, (5) this lobbying effort used the past examples of Spain and Portugal where the scare stories of waves of Spanish migrants turned out not to be true – hence the predictions made were that fewer Polish migrants would come than to be expected, (6) Many eastern european migrant workers were already here, and in countries like Germany, anyway, and (7) the enforcement costs of more restrictions would turn out to be too large to be worth doing (as cameron is going to find out).

34. DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells

Thankfully #12 has already elucidated my position so I don’t have to have the same conversation on this site for the third time in the past thirty fucking days.

Globalisation of ALL factors of production is here, the wwc can’t hide from it, they can attempt to delay it’s effects but that’ll only make things worse for themselves in the long run. Adapt or die, the world doesn’t owe them anything.

(1) EU rules only allowed time-limited restrictions, (2) the government felt restrictions on access to benefits would be sufficient to deter many, (3) at the time, the UK had low unemployment, with shortages in many sectors -particularly the seasonal low paid ones, (4) there was furious lobbying from the CBI et al for no restrictions, (5) this lobbying effort used the past examples of Spain and Portugal where the scare stories of waves of Spanish migrants turned out not to be true – hence the predictions made were that fewer Polish migrants would come than to be expected, (6) Many eastern european migrant workers were already here, and in countries like Germany, anyway, and (7) the enforcement costs of more restrictions would turn out to be too large to be worth doing (as cameron is going to find out).

If anyone thought (2) they were an idiot as it assumed that migrant labour would only be attracted by welfare payments – (3) is bollocks – we’ve had high structural unemployment for nearly 30 years except its been partially masked by large numbers on IB and changes to the estimation methods. Even during New Labour’s chimeric boom period there were many areas with stubbornly high rates unemployment (5) is also pretty daft as its wage differentials which will drive migration and Spain/UK differentials were nothing compared to Poland/UK differentials.

(4) is the one that really counts. Does anybody really think that Digby Jones gives a fig about the employment prospects of our poor?

Hi Owen: There IS a coherent narrative about migration which addresses the concerns of existing communities AND resisting right wing arguments on reducing immigration. But it’s to be found in treating migrant workers equally, and better workers’ rights all round, NOT by treating migrants as ‘the problem’.

My reading is that he’s not blaming migrants because he does say he is pro-European, but saying that he acknowledges it has had an impact on wages. I think whether or not it’s borne out by aggregate stats, there are enough people who feel this to make it necessary to acknowledge this.

We need better and more equal labour rights across the EU. Again, that’s why the Temporary Agency Workers Directive was so important.

I agree – which is why framing the debate in protecting workers rights goes towards that. And I think Ed Balls hasn’t gone over there completely but it’s a step in the right direction.

Claude: I don’t recall Balls disagreeing with the rest of the Cabinet when the Labour government was actively wasting time to water it down or put it back

He was in the Cabinet. They’re bound by collective responsibility.

would place New Labour automatically to the right of the Daily Mail.

The question isn’t where the Daily Mail is. The question is how do people regard immigration? Unfortunately: negatively.

John: hat wages don’t fall in absolute terms during an economic boom when the minimum wage is being increased faster than inflation is not really evidence of very much at all, though.

Yup.

Rowan: I’d have found Balls more impressive if he’d said something about the dearth of social housing

I’m sure he has something to say on that. But you cannot just ignore the I-word and skirt around it. If immigration is to be linked with housing or wages, fine. I’d rather it was linked with workers rights. But to try and ignore the issue and not address is head-on in some narrative is very risky.

37. Chris Baldwin

Perceptions my foot. Balls proposed policies and they were foolish ones.

38. the a&e charge nurse

“We need better and more equal labour rights across the EU” – a very tall order given that there are 27 states already within the EU, and accession of Turkey (with a population of 70+ million) by 2013, possibly.
This knockabout video is a humerous take on a serious subject (the growing European debt mountain) – if we accept its central message (that Europe is heading for a serious economic downturn) it hardly augers well for introducing universal working conditions across ALL territories?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOzR3UAyXao

Migration from Eastern Europe (to the UK) is primarily an economic phenomena.
I agree with Sunny that immigration is a PROXY for resource issues (jobs, houses, schools, etc).
To my mind widespread concerns, especially amongst the less well off in the UK, is one of the main reasons the battle for hearts and minds has yet to win over the majority.

‘Globalisation of ALL factors of production is here, the wwc can’t hide from it,’

Perhaps fair enough, if the same applied to the wmc…

For starters, try allocating tax-funded university education based on need and capability. Fill up Oxford and Cambridge with the brightest and most hard-working candidates worldwide, independent of citizenship or ability to pay.

Get rid of artificial trade barriers like national-level professional qualifications, have Polish lawyers compete on the same basis as Polish bricklayers.

40. Sandwichman

Owen Tudor @7: “This is what’s known as the ‘lump of labour fallacy’. Very sketchily, as the population rises, work expands, so the supply:demand equation doesn’t work. But that’s theory.”

It’s a stretch to call the fallacy taunt a “theory”, Owen. A better word would be platitude. Actual economic theory shows that the fallacy claim is itself a fallacy, based as it is on the unstated ceteris paribus assumption that everything else “remains the same” — including the ratio of labour to capital and land (natural resources). The latter assumption is every bit as crude and illogical as the alleged “belief in a fixed amount of work”.

I’m an immigrant myself (to Canada), so I am all too familiar with the unique challenges that “outsiders” face in finding a job that fully utilizes their qualifications. The labour market discounts the skills and experience of people who are less well connected socially. To argue that immigration has no effect on wages or unemployment is to claim that there is NO exploitation of immigrant workers by employers and the capital and land are created instantaneously as the labour force expands.

It is fascinating to see that the hoary lump-of-labour fallacy orthodoxy has become commonplace in the TUC. Back in March, Nigel Stanley invoked it in rebuttal to the New Economic Foundation’s report on working hours. For over a century, the lump-of-labour claim has been a centrepiece of reactionary employers’ propaganda against unions. Perhaps the leadership of the TUC decided, “if you can’t fight ‘em, join ‘em”?

Meanwhile, as the mainstream economists have been teaching their labour lieutenants to bleat the lump-of-labour refrain, scores of millions of jobs have been gratuitously aborted without a peep. I’m not talking about jobs taken by immigrants or sent overseas. These are jobs that could have been except for the economic fact that unemployment begets unemployment.

Prolonging the hours of work beyond those that would be optimal for output also destroys jobs. Economists today simply assume that employers adopt the hours that would be optimal. But that assumption flies in the face of neoclassical theory (Sydney Chapman’s Hours of Labour) and ignores the effect on hours determination of “quasi-fixed costs” for employer-paid benefits.

There is an uneven playing field for hours of work and traditionally one of the main objectives of the trade union movement was to counter that imbalance by fighting for shorter hours. In the U.S. that struggle was abandoned in favor of the illusion of higher wages from deficit-fueled economic growth. Things are not quite as bad in the U.K., perhaps because of your proximity to Europe. But without a strategy to oppose the conservative banner of austerity, you can say good-bye to your vacations — if you still have a job to take a vacation from.

41. DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells

Perhaps fair enough, if the same applied to the wmc…

For starters, try allocating tax-funded university education based on need and capability. Fill up Oxford and Cambridge with the brightest and most hard-working candidates worldwide, independent of citizenship or ability to pay.

Get rid of artificial trade barriers like national-level professional qualifications, have Polish lawyers compete on the same basis as Polish bricklayers.

This is indicative of the problem, you’re still looking to the state to ‘enforce’ things, competition applies to everybody, whether you’re a bricklayer or Prince Charles with his twatting biscuits. The higher comparative advantage one has (ie – skills) the less competition you face, the more you’re likely to earn in your field.

If you have little or no skills, you will face a shitload of competition, that’s equally true for the wwc as it is for the Vietnamese woman who stitched together their shoes.

Students aren’t a factor of production, ergo your education proposals aren’t required, though I agree it generally makes sense for the brightest to get the best education.

The wwc have benefited plenty from globalisation – mostly in the form of cheap foreign goods on Chinese/Japanese/German credit, they just want it all their own way (as #12 points out) holding the bizarre belief that the rest of the world should just bend over for them and I’m afraid it’s not going to happen.

Get rid of artificial trade barriers like national-level professional qualifications, have Polish lawyers compete on the same basis as Polish bricklayers.

Well that’s the crux of it isn’t it?

I wonder how middle-class lefties you’d have on here singing the joys of immigration if people were brought to do their job at half the cost.

Am I the only one discomfited by this “wwc” = “racist, ignorant, unskilled moron” line of thinking that permeates this discussion? Would any of you say the same about “bwc” or “amc” (I hate these tla (three letter acronyms) abbreviations anyway).

“The question isn’t where the Daily Mail is. The question is how do people regard immigration? Unfortunately: negatively. “

Sunny @36

But we’ve got to challenge that!
It’s like saying that most people outside the leftist blogosphere truly believe that local councils have banned England flags and football tops so, because, that’s a widespread perception, we have to find ways of going along with that.

I’m surprised by your defeatism.

Twenty years ago the majority of British people viewed LGBT equality negatively. It took time and effort to slowly revert the trend and change perceptions.

Imagine if the equivalent of Ed Balls in 1990 had decided to embrace the wrong stance on LGBT right purely because, to quote Sunny’s article, “we can’t afford to ignore people’s perceptions whether we like them or not. We have to accept that we lost the battle in shaping them in our favour.“…

One more thing. i totally agree with Don Paskini @22. He wrote:

“One of the things I didn’t like about it was that all the policy proposals which involved reducing free movement of labour were spelt out in great detail, while he skated over the bits about agency workers, increasing skills, resisting savage cuts across Europe and all the progressive bits.“.
Very true.

Again, Sunny.

“He was in the Cabinet. They’re bound by collective responsibility. “

If he truly believed in what he’s saying he could have done a Robin Cook or a Clare Short. He never did. Or he could have at least pushed towards different directions. He never did that either.

I’m surprise you decided to give this chap such an easy ride. The same can be said about every other Labour figure which you have criticised (ie Burnham). You ain’t gonna let him off just because “he was in the cabinet” though…

46. the a&e charge nurse

[44] “It’s like saying that most people outside the leftist blogosphere truly believe that local councils have banned England flags and football tops so, because, that’s a widespread perception, we have to find ways of going along with that” – how can you compare a very important issue affecting the very structure/fabric of today’s and tomorrow’s society and a trivial matter like football flags?

The results of this YouGov survey tend to support Sunny’s concerns, for example, the first question asked;
From what you know, do you think the current level of immigration into the UK is too high, too low or about right? – 78% responded, too high.

And – Would you support or oppose an annual cap on the number of immigrants allowed into the UK? – 83% supported a cap (55% strongly, while 28% tended to support a cap)

And – At current rates of growth and immigration the Office of National Statistics projects that Britain’s population will increase from around 61 million now to 70 million by 2029. Do you think this rate of population growth is too high, too low, or about right? – 75% replied too high.
http://today.yougov.co.uk/sites/today.yougov.co.uk/files/YG-Archives-Pol-SunImmigration-100322.pdf

Personally I think linking immigration to gay/lesbian rights is also problematic.

Claude you seem to be assuming that all opposition to immigration is just really ignorance or even racism and that the obvious solution is change the perception of those concerned about immigration.

Now its true that there is a great deal of racism in Britain and some of that racism is expressed via a hatred of immigrants. It also true that the tabloids stoke this racism incessantly.

But can you not see that part of the hostility to immigration – the concern about joblessness and job insecurity, housing etc is not simply reducible to racism?

The parallel with LGBT rights doesn’t realy work. Nobody on the liberal left would possibly argue against LGBT rights. But its not illegitimate to ask if imported labour would degrade your position in the labour market.

@47 bubby

“But can you not see that part of the hostility to immigration – the concern about joblessness and job insecurity, housing etc is not simply reducible to racism?”

Bubby I didn’t use the word “racism” once.

And this is because the concern about joblessness and job insecurity, which I totally respect (and which I share, given that I’ve been a casual since I can’t even remember when, I can only dream of owning a house etc…) should not be blamed on the “free movement” of workers within the EU, but on certain policies.

For instance, Balls could have mentioned wage differentials and the living wage, like even Ed Miliband (credit to him) has started to do without mentionining ethnicity, colour or nationality. Balls could have mentioned more as to why the Labour government dithered over and then ditched the Agency Workers Directive. Balls could have talked about the growing casualisation of the labour market (which people like John Cruddas acknowledged a while back).

These are the reasons why people are being undercut in the race to the bottom of our labour standards.

To just say that we should stop or limit Freedom of Movement within the EU (and only one way, “them to Britain” and not “us to their countries” which is what Balls implied, his most obnoxious bit in my opinion) is dog whistle politics. Which, lest we forget, Labour did aplenty for much of its spell in power. With what results? The likes of the Daily Mail will always say it’s not enough until barbwires are erected anyway.

49. DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells

To just say that we should stop or limit Freedom of Movement within the EU (and only one way, “them to Britain” and not “us to their countries” which is what Balls implied, his most obnoxious bit in my opinion) is dog whistle politics. Which, lest we forget, Labour did aplenty for much of its spell in power. With what results? The likes of the Daily Mail will always say it’s not enough until barbwires are erected anyway.

He didn’t imply it, he outright said it and this is the irrationality labour protectionists seem unable or unwilling to resolve – I should get the full virtue of the free market (movement, goods, capital). You have to face heavy regulation, you must support the workers and goods the market has otherwise rejected.

Which results in a rather large problem – who is supposed to be the latter part of that equation, who is the irrational conusmer? Who is the one who has to bear the weight of the now, legally mandated substandard goods and/or workers, sure as fuck isn’t going to be the readers of the daily mail.

Perceptionists can just fuck off, pandering to them has been tried, not only with globalisation but with crime too, it doesn’t sate anybody because, shock horror, people have realised they can lie to get their own way. That said Sunny’s friends in NL colluding with the media to whip up hate against foreigners certainly didn’t help matters.

50. Richard W

Yet another immigration thread that fills up with evidence-free anecdotal posts. All this nonsense about the effects of immigration on wages is tedious. The academics have studied it to death and can find no evidence that immigration depresses wages.

Large flows of migrant workers can have a short-run effect on unemployment and inflation. This is because labour market equilibrium changes in the short run, due to adjustment costs and the assumption that migration is initially unanticipated. In the receiving countries the assumption that the shock to migration is unanticipated means that the capital stock that is required for these additional workers is not in place when they arrive. Hence, labour demand is unchanged at given wages. As a consequence, new migrants either displace existing workers or become unemployed. Higher unemployment reduces labour’s bargaining power and negotiated wages and therefore the average wage level is initially lower as compared to where it would otherwise have been. In turn, this allows the amount of labour demanded and the level of employment to rise. The labour supply curve moves down the labour demand curve. This effect on unemployment in the receiving countries is temporary, and eventually labour demand shifts upwards, as capital accumulates, and unemployment returns to its long run equilibrium rate. The process of adjustment also involves lower inflation in comparison to base. Lower wages dampen inflation temporarily and the central bank will make a monetary response, reducing interest rates. Lower wages reflect lower productivity, which falls because, relative to capital, labour becomes more abundant and cheaper so that, for the same level of output, companies hire more and employment increases. As a result of higher levels of utilisation, the rate of return on existing capital rises. Because the rise in employment exceeds the initial decline in wages, household income and consumption rise. THE ONLY POINT OF PRODUCING IS TO CONSUME. As consumption rises and the profitability of capital increases, companies also start building up the capital stock and stepping up their investment plans, but the capital stock increases initially at a lower rate than total output expands because investment plans take more time than consumption to adjust. The subsequent increase in the capital stock restores productivity to at least its initial level or to a higher new steady state. Higher productivity ALWAYS results in higher wages. There is no way for a country to net increase its prosperity but through productivity gains.

The people of Britain do not like immigration because they do not like foreigners and all the other excuses are just a veil to cover that simple fact.

51. Praguetory

As far as I understand Balls is purveying the correct type of anti-immigrant rhetoric.

Richard W, I’d love to hear you give this explaination on Belfast’s Shankill Road (or Falls Road) where all the people in their little houses know each other going back decades.
And as I just saw two hours ago when I was out, in the terraced streets, people really do leave their front doors open to the street, where you can just walk in unannounced.
This kind of thing happens in the most stable long standing communities I would guess, and not in ones where there is the ”churn” like you get in the bedsitland areas of high immigration.

That might also be a factor Richard W wouldn’t you agree?

Just saw this story in the Guardian about young Afghan boys being deported back to Afghanistan.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/jun/07/child-asylum-seekers-uk-afghanistan

In my home area of Croydon, the unacompanied Afghan boys have become quite visible.
I wondered what was the best policy to both deal with them, and to deter all their brothers and cousins from making the same perilous overland trips to the UK.

A decision to start sending back 16- and 17-year-old asylum seekers to Afghanistan would also render academic many “age disputed” cases in which the UKBA claims adults are posing as children to avoid removal.

I know that last point could be called ”Daily Mail territory”, but it has been widedly documented too.

I think these kinds of stories (below) in local newspapers all over the country have made people more right wing on immigration than they might have been otherwise.

”Croydon Council welcomes judgement on young asylum seeker’s ages”

http://www.thisislocallondon.co.uk/news/4363030.Council_welcomes_judgement_on_young_asylum_seeker_s_ages/

53. Sandwichman

Richard W. @ 50: “The academics have studied it to death and can find no evidence that immigration depresses wages.”

Beware of academics who study an issue to death and “find no evidence.” Finding no evidence that immigration depresses wages IS NOT THE SAME THING as proving that it doesn’t depress wages. It could even mean that they models and initial assumptions used to look for the evidence aren’t suited to the task. The eagerness to tell the no evidence story AS IF it was a proof of the opposite story should set off alarm bells about the desire to find the elusive evidence. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along now.

The theoretical fable that Richard W. tells to reinforce the “finds no evidence” story is impressive for its comprehensiveness. It can be summed up, though, with a short run/long run contrast: in the short run, theory predicts that immigration depresses wages but in the long run theory predicts that immigration actually increases wages. Since a lot of water flows under the bridge between the short run and the long, it’s hard to find irrefutable evidence one way or the other. So finding no support for the null hypothesis, the investigator takes his theory to be “not refuted”. But, I repeat, not refuted is not proven, either. Where the semblance of proof comes is in the confident dismissal of doubt as “nonsense”.

But let’s not split hairs. Let’s go right to the point in all caps: THE ONLY POINT OF PRODUCING IS TO CONSUME. Well, that’s what Adam Smith thought and so did John Maynard Keynes. Ira Steward, the American theorist of the eight hour day agreed in spades. But from the standpoint of the employer, the only point of producing is to produce PROFITS. Greater productivity doesn’t always translate into higher profits. Sometimes an industrialist can reap a greater profit by restricting production and increasing the price. These are called monopoly rents and they occur for all sorts of reasons. The fine chain of events that Richard W. assures us happens in the long run, theoretically, depend on the assumption of perfect competition (not to mention rational economic actors with well-defined preferences maximizing their utility). Unrealistic, to say the least. But because “the academics have studied it to death and can find no evidence” to the contrary we would be foolish to suspect otherwise, Richard W. assures us.

But wait. What about the millions of jobs that theory tells us should result from the increased productivity resulting from reduced hours of work? The same theory that says immigration should increase wages and employment in the long run implies even more strongly that reduced hours of work will increase wages and employment in the long run yet economists don’t go there. Instead they invoke a bogus “lump of labour fallacy” claim against the prospects of combating unemployment with shorter hours!

How is it then that productivity drives employment and wages gains in all other circumstances but, paradoxically, “cancels out” employment gains in the case of shorter hours? Don’t ask me. Ask the academics who have studied it to death without ever asking the question!

I’m surprised by your defeatism.

Twenty years ago the majority of British people viewed LGBT equality negatively. It took time and effort to slowly revert the trend and change perceptions.

I’m sorry but this is silly. In one way that mirrors the right-wing Tories who still stubbornly stick to the view that homosexuals should never be accepted in society and won’t accept the changed realities.

The changed reality is that we lost the debate on immigration because of the lack of political courage on behalf of politicians and because the left didn’t have a narrative on this either. We avoided the issue and now it’s become an albatross.

All I’m saying is that we have to accept where things are as a starting point and then figure out where we want to take the issue and how.

Just screaming racist everytime a politician talks about it is not getting us anywhere and frankly I’m getting sick of that too. No doubt many Tories (and some like Frank Field and Andy Burnham on the edges) make subtle racial / cultural digs at the whole issue. I don’t believe Ed Balls is here.

I also don’t believe we can advocate near open borders without re-imagining the nature of the welfare state. People rely on the UK govt for services – and immigration makes them think (wrongly) that those resources are going elsewhere. We don’t have an effective strategy to make them think otherwise yet!

So, the key to getting to the situation we want to is to understand and accept where we are now and then have a strategy to go forward. Sticking to the old guns, which not many listen to, is becoming futile.

There’s another point I’d like to emphasis.

Immigration has always been complained about by the tabloids. They have never stopped screaming about it and yet race relations have gotten better over the last 30 decades. Tabloids also screamed about immigration following 1997 but it didn’t win IDS, Hague or Howard any elections / plaudits.

It’s only by 2010 it actually became a serious issue because people actually started paying attention to the tabloid hysteria. Why? Perhaps because it chimed with their own experiences.

My point is that we exaggerate the impact the tabloids have. No doubt their effect on the debate has been pernicious, but it’s also true that people don’t buy myths until it chimes with their experiences somehow. So my point is that blaming the media alone is useless: somewhere along the line we didn’t do enough to ensure that people’s experiences of immigration was positive. We need to deal with that too.

56. the a&e charge nurse

[50] “The people of Britain do not like immigration because they do not like foreigners” – what a crass, and insensitive claim to make – reducing a complex, and emotive issue to the kind of aphorism that would not sound out of place at a BNP rally?

God knows the Brits have their faults, but where I live there is a huge degree of integration between the various groups (evident in the school playground and amongst relationships between young people, and even one or two oldies).

Despite this some are now arguing for ‘balanced’ immigration with the overall objective of attaining roughly equal levels of migration and immigration.
http://www.balancedmigration.com/ourcase.php

According to this cross-party group of MPs/Lords, “England will soon become the most crowded country in Europe” (due to the scale of immigration).
Now surely such developments might outweigh the financial benefits associated with immigration which has been put at 62p per head, per week (per person).

Aren’t these the kinds of things we should be debating rather than bellowing racism because the majority of Brits (it seems) have yet to be persuaded that in the long run our immigration policy will prove either sustainable, or in the best interest of all concerned?

@Sunny, worth noting that the Tory lead as the party with the best policies on immigration fell between 2005 and 2010, as did the number of people thinking it was an important issue:

http://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/poll.aspx?oItemID=19&view=wide

In April 2005, they led by 18 points (35-17), in March 2010 they led by 11 (28-17). March 2005, 33% thought it was one of the most important issues facing Britain, April 2010 29% did.

http://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/poll.aspx?oItemID=56&view=wide#2005

58. Charlie 2

Richard W I would like to know of your experience of working in the construction industry, which because there is much self employment, is difficult to assess.
Where immigration decreases salary from £35k to £30k, or £25K to £20K/yr it has large adverse impact on living standards.

@41 DTW The wwc have benefited plenty from globalisation – mostly in the form of cheap foreign goods on Chinese/Japanese/German credit, they just want it all their own way (as #12 points out) holding the bizarre belief that the rest of the world should just bend over for them and I’m afraid it’s not going to happen.

This is precisely right. You cannot say all workers deserve equal rights but white British ones deserve more than Eastern European ones.

@50 Rich Q The people of Britain do not like immigration because they do not like foreigners and all the other excuses are just a veil to cover that simple fact.

This is pretty much it. The pet WWC Rowan Davies hangs out with in a bizarre middle class anthropological experiment might not express racist sentiments in front of her for fear of harming her polite bourgeois sensibilities, but many simply don’t like people who speak their own language or dress “funny” or pray to Allah.

Even if WWC (why can’t we just call them poor? Most of them don’t work so calling them working class is an insult to workers) had all the gleaming council flats and whites-only schools they want working immigrants to pay for with taxes, they’d still not like the funny-looking brown people with funny-sounding names and odd customs.

@blanco, do you realise how bigoted and ignorant you are coming across as?

bubby: “I’m sorry but this incorrect. Britain was the only EU country not to impose transitional controls on migrants from the new EU ascession states.”

I’m not saying it wasn’t a mistake to refuse the opportunity to apply transitional controls – it’s just that the opportunity doesn’t exist any more, and so it isn’t a sensible or useful policy.

Trying to apply them now would be shutting the door after the horse has bolted. It would also result in suddenly transforming tens of thousands of existing legal Polish residents into illegal immigrants requiring deportation. It would wreck EU relations, let alone relations with Poland, and so flies directly in the face of Balls’ stated enthusiasm for Europe.

Jonathan (15): “It therefore particularly bad that his article claims that free trade in goods and services is of general benefit but migration is different.”

I thought that as well, and if he hadn’t made that claim I might have taken a fresh look at the Labour Party. To be fair to him, if Ed Balls as much as suggested free trade harmed the economic situation of *anyone* in the UK he would be treated as certifiable by the press, dismissed in much the same way as the Green Party. He would also lose vast quantities of campaign funding.

You could say free migration moves the Poles to the jobs, while free trade moves the jobs to the Poles. It’s critical though to remember that this isn’t just a problem for the Brits whose livelihood is damaged: either way, the Poles in question end up carrying out menial tasks for wages far below the value of the work to the employer.

Clearly it’s not a case of sneaky Poles coming in and ‘stealing our jobs’, as the right wing would like the working class to believe. The people benefiting are not the Poles doing the work, but the (often British) shareholders in the companies that employ the Poles, reaping the dividend of having managed to push down their labour costs.

63. Rowan Davies

‘The pet WWC Rowan Davies hangs out with in a bizarre middle class anthropological experiment might not express racist sentiments in front of her for fear of harming her polite bourgeois sensibilities, but many simply don’t like people who speak their own language or dress “funny” or pray to Allah.’

There’s a whole world of wrong here. These people are my friends, not my pets. It’s not an experiment, it’s my life – I live in a WWC area. Admittedly I wouldn’t become friends with people with bigoted instincts, so it’s a self-selecting group. (They are also all in employment. Hell, one of them has A Levels!)

I don’t doubt, as I said before, that there’s a lot of racism mixed in with anti-immigrant sentiment, but to write off every WWC/ white poor person as a workshy racist is nuts.

I’m sorry, could someone please explain how poster no.41s reasoning differs radically from Tebbits famous ‘get on your bike’ quote? Please explain to me how the british working class (sorry, I’m not a great one for artificially constructed divisions) ‘benefited plenty from globalisation’, perhaps you’d like to come to the west midlands, the valleys in wales, liverpool, the north east, etc. etc. and tell the generations of skilled workers that were thrown on the scrapheap with the ensuing social dislocation how lucky they’ve been
and blanco, were you battered in your student pub by some nasty ‘wwc’ thugs while you were in there drunkenly braying and dripping entitlement?
I swear to Christ, for a left wing site some of you make excellent recruiting sergeants for the bnp/edl….

It’s a good job we’ve got all these immigrants to blame joblessness on. After all, with only three stock market caused crises and the machinations of asset stripping capitalists that we’ve been observed for the last forty years to explain how come the working class in Burnley can’t get a living wage, without these convenient Polish people, we might have had to start blaming wealthy people!

Luckily, wealthy people own newspapers. And political parties. Crisis averted!

66. Matt Munro

@ 50 “The academics have studied it to death and can find no evidence that immigration depresses wages”.

They’ve also found that the much trumpeted “economic benefits” amount to and average of 2p (£0.02) per migrant per year in GDP, and the only reason they don’t depress wages is because the welfare system makes low paid work a no brainer if you’re entitled.

“The people of Britain do not like immigration because they do not like foreigners and all the other excuses are just a veil to cover that simple fact”.

Compared to who though ? Have you ever been to Spain, France, Germany, Holland or Italy – all far more pro-Europen than the UK all with leftish governments and all much less tolerant of foreeigners than we are. What exactly is your baseline for “tolerance” of foreigners ?

Nothing depresses wages as much as shutting down a factory and moving the entire production line around the world, where minimum wages and basic safety standards won’t apply. Also, I’ve found that the recession has had some cooling impact on my own earning. In comparison to that, I’d say a mere 2p per year gain (wherever that number comes from) seems like frightfully good value.

Or am I doing something wrong by comparing the impact of immigration to things that happen in the real world, rather than to magical gumdrop world where jobs grow on trees and central government ensures a living wage for all?


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Why I'm defending Ed Balls over immigration http://bit.ly/cfRhSX

  2. Ellie Gellard

    Well said Sunny RT @libcon Why I'm defending Ed Balls over immigration http://bit.ly/cfRhSX

  3. Humphrey Cushion

    Seconded>RT @BevaniteEllie: Well said Sunny RT @libcon Why I'm defending Ed Balls over immigration http://bit.ly/cfRhSX

  4. Thomas Staunton

    http://bit.ly/cAaZci definitely agree that increasing working (& housing) conditions will go a long way to changing the immigration debate

  5. Jonathan Taylor

    RT @libcon Why I'm defending Ed Balls over immigration http://bit.ly/cfRhSX <–I think this is about spot on @Marcuswarner

  6. Andrew Gwynne

    RT @abelardinelli: RT @Jon2aylor: RT @libcon Why I'm defending Ed Balls over immigration http://bit.ly/cfRhSX

  7. Anthony Barnett

    Tremendously well judged @sunny_hundal on Balls on immigration http://bit.ly/cjsoWH

  8. sunny hundal

    thanks! RT @AnthonyBarnett: Tremendously well judged @sunny_hundal on Balls on immigration http://bit.ly/cjsoWH

  9. Anthony Painter

    “@sunny_hundal: thanks! RT @AnthonyBarnett: Tremendously well judged @sunny_hundal on Balls on immigration http://bit.ly/cjsoWH” < Seconded.

  10. Jonathan Taylor

    RT @libcon: Why I'm defending Ed Balls over immigration http://bit.ly/cfRhSX >Spot on…

  11. R Gordon

    RT @ronggordon: @anpa2001 Have you read this? http://bit.ly/cjsoWH from @libcon <was literally typing a comment on it – spooky!

  12. R Gordon

    @ronggordon http://bit.ly/cjsoWH from @libcon <am not convinced that we bend what we think to suit 'traditional' labour voters

  13. Alex Belardinelli

    RT @Jon2aylor: RT @libcon Why I'm defending Ed Balls over immigration http://bit.ly/cfRhSX

  14. Tim Hardy

    A point that needs repeating: "Immigration is a proxy for issues like wages, housing and public services" @sunny_hundal http://bit.ly/a33ScW

  15. Ron Gordon

    @anpa2001 Have you read this? http://bit.ly/cjsoWH from @libcon

  16. newleader

    http://www.edballs.tk RT @mrpower Twat lll: Sunny Hundal defends Ed Balls immigration statements. http://is.gd/cGQzl Via @obotheclown

  17. Mike Power

    Twat lll: Sunny Hundal defends Ed Balls immigration statements. http://is.gd/cGQzl Via @obotheclown

  18. The debate on immigration continues | Liberal Conspiracy

    […] 1) By refusing to acknowledge that widespread perceptions on the issue have changed, and that may not entirely be driven by the Daily Mail and Sun. I explain this more here. […]

  19. sunny hundal

    @James_Gray_ Hi James, I addressed that in my posts: http://bit.ly/cEUqR0 and here: http://bit.ly/cfRhSX





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