Defend Sally Bercow against Migration Watch


4:30 pm - October 1st 2010

by Sunny Hundal    


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The right-wing lobby group MigrationWatch are taking Labour activist Sally Bercow to court over allegedly libellous comments she made.

According to Richard Wilson:

She is fighting the case with the help of formidable free speech advocates David Allen Green and Robert Dougans, who led the successful defence of science writer Simon Singh against an unfounded libel claim by the British Chiropractic Association.

MigrationWatch is the ultra-right group that wants to restrict immigration into Britain. It has been repeatedly pulled up for misrepresenting data and demographics to push their case.

According to Index on Censorship:

Bercow received a letter from Sir Andrew’s solicitors on 17 September, demanding an apology and legal costs for comments made on an 18 August Sky news newspaper round-up slot.

Commenting on a Daily Express story migration and youth unemployment, Bercow said the article grossly oversimplified the migration debate, and that such oversimplification was “dangerous propaganda”. She claimed that arguments linking immigration to unemployment had been used by fascists such as Adolf Hitler and British Union of Fascists leader Oswald Mosley. The Express article had quoted figures from a MigrationWatch study.

Bercow did not mention Sir Andrew, and made just a single reference to MigrationWatch in the allegedly libellous comment.

Mrs Bercow will go to court to defend herself against any libel proceedings.

The case is also likely to be closely watched as proof that English defamation laws need reforming.

Update: the case has already attracted widespread condemnation.

Jo Glanville, Editor, Index on Censorship said: “MigrationWatch should not be using our libel laws to silence criticism of their approach over immigration. Sally Bercow now faces the same ordeal as Simon Singh with potentially bankrupting costs, years of her life wasted in Court, all for expressing an opinion. It really presses home just how important the coalition’s pledge of a Libel Reform Bill is.”

Tracey Brown, Managing Director of Sense About Science, one of the charities in the Libel Reform Campaign, said: “Change in the libel laws cannot come soon enough. The High Court is not the place to decide the interpretation of research and data or the validity of criticism. Until we can debate these things freely and openly in our society we will have an impoverished public discussion and little hope of working out what the truth of a situation is.”

Joanne Cash, a leading libel lawyer and Conservative party activist in Westminster, said: “Political debate is essential to a healthy democracy. This seems an attempt to stifle such debate, which is no one’s interest.”

Labour MP Denis MacShane said on Twitter: “When Commons is back we must debate this attempt to stifle criticism of the new xenophobia.”

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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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Reader comments


I think the definition of libel may be a bit stretched here – don’t you actually have to directly imply the people bringing the case are nazis or whatever to have a chance of being successfully prosecuted.

Still nice to see the lunatic fringes and political minor celebrities can keep each other (and our courts) busy…

It seems to me that @SallyBercow merely pointed out that Fascist/Nazi agitators can appropriate inaccurate statistics on immigration to further their own political ends, as historical record bears out. There is no imputation of such an agenda being Sir Andrew’s motivation or that of his organisation. They would no doubt cavil at ‘far right’ but I don’t see how that can be a libel. It is merely an expression of Mrs. Bercow’s opinion,

Does this mean that she was served with a “Letter Before Action”?

That’s the usual bullying tactic: force your opponent to settle earlier, because it gets potentially (and progressively) more expensive if you defend the action. That AFAIR is the tactic used by a well known Tory MP, assisted by an equally well known right wing solicitor, against two former Labour activists.

The two apologised and stumped up a nominal amount in damages, as to go further could have bankrupted them. I suspect that Sally Bercow is made of sterner stuff.

Another instance of an area which would be a “quick win” for any party which wanted to show it had a progressive attitude and wanted to promote and protect freedom of speech and openness.

If only we had such a party eh?

Does anyone have a link to what she actually said?

6. margin4error

In football when a ref gives a decision against Manchester United and Chelsea (and others, but those two most notably), whether it was right or wrong, the players surround him and rant at him and try to intimidate him.

They never change the decision, but they make it hard for that referee to do it again, and make other referees wary of doing the same.

Migrationwatch are doing the same in the political arena. Mrs Bercow said nothing out of order, but it may make her and others wary of criticising Migrationwatch in future.

The court should kick the case into touch.

Dennis McShane, a man always ready to persaude me to support the other side of almost any argument:

“When Commons is back we must debate this attempt to stifle criticism of the new xenophobia.”

Well, maybe. But perhaps the sane amongst us will be more concerned with freedom of speech, and unless this was reported inaccurately above, with the fact that Ms Bercow made no comment about Migrationwatch or its staff directly linking them to anything. But then Mr McShane has never seemed capable of understanding that there is more to life than sprouting catchphrases and twisting facts to suit his agenda.

In fact, looking at the stages of this, I can’t see how this is stifling criticism of the new xenophobia (whatever that is – only being afraid of new foreigners – people from recent countries such as Eritria and the former Soviet republics perhaps? As far as I know xenophobia is xenophobia).

The Daily Express drew on figures from Migrationwatch in order to produce a story linking youth unemployment and migration. Without a link I can’t be sure, but it was presumably the Daily Express which made the connection explicit here.

Sally Bercow pointed out (accurately) that it was a normal fascist tendency to equate immigration with unemployment. Unless reported wrongly neither the Daily Express nor Migrationwatch actually engaged in any xenophobia here (opposing immigration is not xenophobic automatically, whatever Mr McShane might think).

Migrationwatch is threatening to sue Ms Bercow, presumably on the basis she compared them to fascists, which seems questionable. She nowhere accused them of xenophobia, unless again this has been misreported, and to assume that this is the basis of Ms Bercow’s comments is for Mr McShane to read more into them in exactly the same way as Migrationwatch has.

All in all, yet another example of Mr McShane imagining something that was not there (see, e.g. his assumption that a party attended a memorial for Estonia’s war dead including those who fought for the Nazis must mean that it was neo-nazi, ignoring the fact that all major parties (including Labour’s ‘sister-party’ attended this, and indeed ignoring Estonia’s difficult history in that period). Whilst I cannot see on the present evidence any basis for legal action against Ms Bercow, I can see a lot of basis for asking Mr McShane to shut up and consider his words a bit more carefully.

The Nazis tried to suppress free speech. MigrationWatch are trying to suppress free speech. Therefore MigrationWatch are like the Nazis.

Have I committed libel too? 🙂

…I can see a lot of basis for asking Mr McShane to shut up and consider his words a bit more carefully…

I sympathise, man, but BP had an easier job plugging the leak than we’d have to keep MacShane quiet.

10. Just Visiting

Sunny

A) It is a bit silly us discussing this when there is no transcript of what she said for us tio look at.

Not good for LC if we look like a bunch or hearsay and gossip merchants :<)

B) isn't Bercow bringing the debate to gutter level by resorting to Godwin's law?

Why can't she just attack the statistics and facts – and leave out the ad hominens?

C) She was being tribal – she compared MW to fascists – she could equally have compared them to communists of the past surpressing free speech…. USSR anyone?

@10

re point c)

She wasn’t having a go at MW for surpressing free speech, she was saying that their data was wrong/being misinterpreted and “she claimed that arguments linking immigration to unemployment had been used by fascists such as Adolf Hitler and British Union of Fascists leader Oswald Mosley” (quote from OP). Which seems within the fair comment defence if you ask me, but I’m not a lawyer… any word from Jack of Kent yet?

Personally I’d cite Arkell v Pressdram.

What’ exactly is the problem? If a country has growing unemployment, like ours, overstretched social services, like ours, and clearly has no shortage of population, why would it be unreasonable to suggest that an influx of people would simply add to the problem? Surely no one is saying that immigration is always a good idea…whether a country needs more people or not?

Isn’t it time we stopped thinking of immigration in terms of good or bad altogether? It’s simply economics. If a country needs more people it’s a very sensible idea. If it doesn’t, it’s stupid.

Asylum is totally different. We should always try our best to accommodate that.

Liberanos, we shouldn’t look at people (and population) simply on the basis of economic ‘need’. If we did, we could using your argument look at how many babies we need, and start imposing Chinese-style one child policies. I’d find this unethical, and I similarly find immigration controls unethical.

But if we are to think about controlling for economic ‘need’, we need more young adults to counter-balance the country’s ageing population. Have a play with this gadget: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/ageingintheuk/agemap.html Who are going to provide the products and service the increasingly elderly will need? Immigrants tend to be motivated young adults – ideal.

“it has repeatedly been pulled up”

aka attacked by one Teresa ‘Open Borders’ Hayter, author of the 1971 classic “Hayter of the Bourgeoisie” ?

No agenda there then …

And isn’t it the last government that got repeatedly pulled up .. by Migrationwatch?

The Government has the ability to control a much larger percentage of immigrants coming to the UK than it claims. This has emerged after think tank Migrationwatch asked the independent Statistics Commission to look at Government claims that 52% of immigrants are from outside the EU whereas Migrationwatch say the figure was 68%.

After reviewing the figures the Statistics Commission has agreed that the Migrationwatch figure is the more accurate.

Migrationwatch numbers were arrived at by looking at net migration of foreign nationals (the difference between the number of foreign nationals migrating to the UK and emigrating from the UK). The Government arrive at their 52% figure by including migration of British citizens which Migrationwatch say are not relevant to the debate about where immigrants come from.

The Statistics Commission makes the point that, for control of immigration purposes, it may be better to consider in-migration only. On this basis, even if returning British citizens are included, the Statistics Commission confirms that non-EU citizens make up the majority (58%) of immigrants to the UK.

Come on Sunny!

The party has been very on message about how dangerous immigrants are lately. Eespecially brown ones, who are definitely the most dangerous of all. Woolas and Burnham in particular deserve our praise in highlighting the threat these ‘people’ pose.

It therefore seems a bit hypocritical of you to complain about the indigenously good work that our comrades in Migration Watch are doing.

Duncan, there is nothing unethical about attempts to keep the population of one’s country below the level of mass starvation. By definition, unlimited ingress from a world of six billion would lead to that. So, as a thinking person, you would obviously impose limits before that state of affairs threatened. Which means you agree with the proposition of controlling immigration, just that you simply wish to enforce it at a later stage. This is why I object to the moral aspect of the discussion. There isn’t one. It’s simply a matter of degree…and economics!
As far as the youth immigration argument goes, it’s self defeating. The young grow old and simply add to the ageing profile in the future.

“Duncan, there is nothing unethical about attempts to keep the population of one’s country below the level of mass starvation. By definition, unlimited ingress from a world of six billion would lead to that.”

So much wrong with this!

First of all, most people don’t want to migrate, maybe 1/4 of the earth’s population would relocate if it could, everyone else would rather stay at home. I don’t want to move to America, even though it wouldn’t be too hard and I would almsot certainly be richer. Yes many Nigerians want to move here, but not all. How many Brazillians would move here? Americans? French?

Secondly, if the UK had Macau’s population density (a country which is not starving) then the UK could support 4,515,162,180 people, not ideal I admit, but sharply in contrast with what you suggest.

If you’re going to posit some totally farcical theory I’m going to refute you with an equaly farcical – yet completely valid – counterfactual.

Migration Watch are scum, they are not a thinktank seriously thinking about migration, they are propagandists.

18. Jimbo Squires

Migrationwatch post quotes from organizations that scotch Duncan Stotts ideas here
http://www.migrationwatchuk.org/briefingPaper/document/179

Did you get the link from Mark Eastons blog Duncan? Shame Mark Easton didn’t point out the counter arguments to his theory, but hes about as partisan as they come.

19. Alice Healy

Truth is generally a defence in actions for defamation. This particular alleged tort, is in the form of libel as it was broadcast, I believe. It only seems to have consisted of Mrs Bercow making a perfectly valid and correct statement. This amounted to a reiteration of something that even half educated people already know: Those who dislike immigration for various different reasons, tend to link unemployment to migration, it is a well known propaganda tool, which has been odiously repeated so many times throughout history, that no thinking person pays it any attention. Exactly how Mrs Bercow has fulfilled the necessary criteria for libel, I cannot see at all. The only element which is present, is the fact of publication; she repeated it. Was the claimant targeted? Was the statement defamatory? It seems doubtful, Then, most importantly, the overarching doctrine of TRUTH, should scupper the whole action. Mrs Bercow I hope, will continue to speak for reason.

20. Charlieman

“Sunny, you are a Nazi”

That statement is untrue, but it is not libellous. Abusive words are not libel.

“Sunny, you are a Nazi because you censored my post, contradicting your own terms for expression at LC”

That statement might get me in trouble. I have connected Sunny’s (in this example, hypothetical) actions with a vile accusation about his politics and motives.

21. gwenhwyfaer

Truth is a valid defence in libel cases, but it’s not often used if there are other defences to fall back upon. Why? Because if it fails as a defence, it is instead seen as an aggravating factor – essentially, equivalent to repeating and amplifying the libel in open court – and the damages awarded will be correspondingly higher. Far better to find some other grounds for having the allegation bounced out of court first; in this case, the simplest course of action would appear to be to simply let MigrationWatch try, and fail, to prove that they have actually suffered any damage from Ms Bercow’s remarks.

22. gwenhwyfaer

Ooh, Charlieman, beware – your first statement is indeed libellous, because Sunny Hundal’s public and professional reputation is predicated, at least in part, on his left-wing credentials, and by calling him a Nazi you directly attack those credentials, and indirectly attack his integrity. Indeed, because of his position, it may even fall into that class of statements for which no proof of damage is required – which is very bad, because proving the absence of damage is probably the easiest way to get a libel case slung out.

An assertion that Hundal had leprosy, on the other hand, would be rather less likely to be held as defamatory – leprosy isn’t such a big deal these days, and whether or not he has leprosy doesn’t have a whole lot of bearing on his professional reputation. In short, it’d be difficult for Hundal to prove that calling him a leper had caused him damage.

LO. You’re absolutely right. There’s rather a small possibility that six billion people would want to come here! But re-reading my posts would illustrate the actual point I made. Which was that a country which imposes no immigration control whatsoever would, by absolute definition, eventually have a theoretical population within the maximum available. For us, who knows? 100 million? 200 million? But at some stage, controls would have to be imposed. Surely, no one doubts that. Therefore, I say again. The only difference between us is at what stage those controls are imposed…before employment, housing and social services are threatened, or after.
Controls are not moral or immoral in any sense at all. Good or bad doesn’t come into it. They’re simply economic, sensible…and inevitable.

@ 23. Liberanos, you said

‘ Surely, no one doubts that. ‘

Well actually lots of people doubt it. Many people take the view that it is the whole concept of national borders that cause the problems. You might think in a world of no borders the whole Indian subcontinent would decamp to here. Another view of no borders is if people were free to move back and forward that is exactly what they would do. Most people are quite happy where they live for lots of reasons but no restrictions on moving back and forward would benefit all sides.

Most people would think it absurd to try to restrict internal movement within a nation state. Imagine the government telling someone in Newcastle that they were not allowed to move to Devon. Yet, they look at arbitrary lines on the map and restricting movement is somehow rational. There is nothing rational about it. I could imagine a world without borders and it would be a better world. However, it does create a problem for me. I believe a social safety net is necessary in an advanced society. However, a social safety net is inconsistent with a borderless world.

You need not be alarmed because none of us will live in a borderless world. There was an interesting discussion the other day on another website. What kind of things do we accept as normal today will no longer be acceptable to future generations? Some time in the future people will look back at artificial lines drawn on the map as quaint and quite frankly absurd.

25. Just Visiting

Richard W

You seem to be missing Liberanos point.

He is saying that if immigration was unchecked and it appeared to be on a trend towards a level at which the country could no longer function… that we would all agree that setting immigration limits would be the right thing to do.

No one can disagree with that.

You on the other hand are saying somethin gdifferent: you are saying that according to your worldview and your predictions of the future, such a level of immigration could never be reached.

You may or may not be right.

But the pragmatic view to take would be, to plan for the possibility that it could happen.
Better safe than sorry.

If you were willing to take that pragmatic view, then the dialogue between you and Liberanos could sensible move on.

Lastly – you say:
> You might think in a world of no borders the whole Indian subcontinent would decamp to here.

Which isnt helpful to this debate – it would take far less than 100% of the 1B Indian population come here to destroy the functioning of this country!

If you want to advocate your no borders approach Richard – it would be interesting to see some real statistics of the real costs of immigration – are there statistics for example showing the cost to the NHS of patients who have immigrated in the last X years.
Or the out of work percentage of immigrants versus non-immigrants.
And any statistics that break down immigrants into more useful sub-groups (ie sepaarte out immigrant merchant bankers, doctors and etc on 6 figure salaries into one group: and compare and contrast that group with the rest of immigrants)

There is almost no cosmopolitan utilitarian defence of restricting immigration to the UK. Nearly every immigrant that came here would improve their life significantly more than any possible damage done to incumbents.

60m current uk inhabitants + 60 million migrants from around the world = 60m slightly worse of people [1] + 60 million massively better off people = net gain in utility

If you value every life equally regardless of nationality then the only reason to restrict migration is not to defend the welfare state, or even school spending, but to safeguard the most minimal state possible.

We’re probably talking late C18th Europe where states reached a point where commercial life was possible and internal feuding eliminated. Up until that point states couldn’t control their nobility from trying to nobble each other and the sovereign, couldn’t stop merchants becoming pirates and couldn’t stop sovereigns becoming a Mafioso.

However, it wouldn’t reach that point, migration isn’t that disruptive, but until dislocation reaches that point you wouldn’t have a legitimate cause to secure borders because further migration would still increase aggregate welfare.

Now there might be other justifications for securing borders, but none which grant every human individual equal moral worth.

This is all academic of course, and I support (demand) freer borders for refugees of which there are currently around 30 million worldwide and any compromise I can get for economic migrants.

I don’t think it is a useful argument to have, whether borders are moral or not, they are here to stay and have been for a century, it is better to discuss what we want them to look like. They are unlikely to go anywhere and where progress can be made it is likely to be piecemeal like the EU.
___

[1] In fact, in the long term [2] they world would be much richer with open borders. At the moment the ingenuity and invention of a couple of billion people is wasted because they exist in microeconomies surrounding subsistence agriculture or are trapped in wage slavery. Move a billion people closer to the means of production and you’ll see productivity gains not only from from greater supply of labour but from greater innovation and invention too.

[2] Probably within my lifetime i.e. I’m poorer for the next 20 years than I otherwise would be, but exploding growth brings me back up to where I would have been and beyond after that.

27. Just Visiting

Left Outside

What you have written is just a blank statement of you worldview.
But you need to support it with evidence and facts.

Otherwise it is empty of value.

Statements like the following indicate that you are not taking a view based on facts as to how the world really is – but on how you would like the world to be. Your ideal world.

> 60m current uk inhabitants + 60 million migrants from around the world = 60m slightly worse of people [1] + 60 million massively better off people = net gain in utility

> Move a billion people closer to the means of production and you’ll see productivity gains not only from from greater supply of labour but from greater innovation and invention too.

@Just Visiting

Left Outside is completely correct. What he is describing is an economists view of the world. If the loss of utility for some is offset by the gain in utility for others at worst it will be utility neutral. Some low-paid workers in high income countries lose utility when immigrants move from low income countries to high income countries. However, the gain in utility for the immigrants is greater than the loss of utility. Therefore, the immigration is welfare utility positive. A nationalistic view sees one group as more important than another group.

I don’t know how you expect to be provided with facts and statistics when we do not live in a borderless world so I can’t show you evidence for something that does not exist.

“> 60m current uk inhabitants + 60 million migrants from around the world = 60m slightly worse of people [1] + 60 million massively better off people = net gain in utility”

If the population doubled, lets say the component of the average wage above the world wage halved (which would not happen, one reason among many is that the capital of the nation would not decrease so assuming a uniform halving is wrong but I’m doing this to make my job hard), but all migrants wages leapt to this new level.

UK income per capita is $34,619. World average income is $10,366. Dividing the difference by 2 gives $12,126. So new (unrealistic) UK wages would be $22,493

We can assume all migrants have the world average income to start with. So the surplus created for migrants is… $22,493 – $10,366 = $12,127

A $12,127 surplus for each migrant the same (except for rounding) to the $12,126 deficit which each incumbent would suffer.

However, not all dollars are equal and a more equal society, brought about by the free movement of people, would ensure that everyone could afford the necessities more easily and be relatively rich.

It would not be great for you or I, or many other Brits if the above assumptions held true, but in aggregate it would be better. Just a change to the UK income of circa mid-1990s for 120bn, rather than a mix of poverty and affluence.

If everyone’s utility is measured equally, then how can this be wrong?

Source

“> Move a billion people closer to the means of production and you’ll see productivity gains not only from from greater supply of labour but from greater innovation and invention too.”

I don’t see what argument there is against this. Perhaps I explained myself poorly. This paper may help.

As it happens, migration from poor to rich countries provides researchers with a marvelous (and so far strangely neglected) natural experiment. Typically, the number of individuals who immigrate to a country in any generation is too small to bring about any significant change in the electorate or public policies of the host country. But the migrant who arrives as an adult comes with the marketable human capital or personal culture of the country of origin; the Latin American who swims the Rio Grande is not thereby instantly baptised with the Protestant ethic.

[…]

Migrants might be more productive than their compatriots who did not migrate, so it might be supposed that the foregoing observations on immigrants are driven by selection bias. In fact, no tendency for the more productive people in poor countries to be more likely to emigrate could explain the huge increases in wages and marginal products of the migrants themselves. The migrant earns and produces much more in the rich country than in the poor country, so no tendency for migrants to be more productive than those who did not migrate could explain the increase in the migrant’s marginal product when he or she moves from the poor to the rich count$’ In any event, developing countries often have much more unequal income distributions than developed nations, and the incentive to migrate from these countries is greatest in the least successful half of their income distributions. In fact, migrants to the United States are often drawn from the lower portion of the income distribution of underdeveloped countries (Borjas, 1990).

It is difficult to exert helpfully. Essentially, migrants from poorer countries are slightly less productive than their western counterparts, but most of the reasons they are poor are the institutions of where they live. Put a poor African etc into a western country and they will become rich.

Verdoon effects also play a part, in a way, learning by doing. A subsistence farmer doesn’t learn much by doing their job. A migrant to the rich world will learn more the harder they work and the more they produce and create a virtuous circle.

The aggregate of this is a much wealthier world. Part of this involves the integration of the ex-poor in the pool of people who can innovate and invent.

It seems largely self evident, but I hope the above elucidates my point more fully.

___

Again, I don’t think I’ve been as clear as possible, but I hope you see where I’m coming from.

Fucked up, here’s the link to the paper referred to half way through http://www.fbird.com/assets/MancurOlson_on_Transition_Econ__732003152238.pdf

31. Just Visiting

Hi Richard

Well, for facts, could he quote some respected economists who have argued what he is arguning?

> 60m current uk inhabitants + 60 million migrants from around the world = 60m slightly worse of people [1] + 60 million massively better off people

And can he state what those experts have calculated as ‘slightly worse off’ means?
Does it mean lower standards of healthcare and education for all?

I’m no economist so could be quite wrong – but it’s hard to imagine that doubling the population would double our GDP.

32. Just Visiting

Hi Left Visiting.

Thanks for 30 – but I was less interested in more of your thinking – than reading what some respected economists have said about your scenario:

> 60m current uk inhabitants + 60 million migrants from around the world = 60m slightly worse of people [1] + 60 million massively better off people = net gain in utility

I didn’t see a link to anything in 30 on that theme ?

(I’m kind of applying the Wikipedia concept of ‘no Original Research’ – ie you’ve got to quote respected sources for any statement made.)

@ Just Visiting

I doubt there are any papers that specifically argue in favour of doubling the population. However, that is not the point I am making which is the loss of utility for some is offset by gains for others. I don’t pretend to know what the population of the UK should be. I can’t say how many babies people should have nor would I know how many immigrants there should be. I marvel at the brilliance of people who would not pretend to know how much carrots should be sold for, but can with such certainty know how many immigrants there should be.

Ah, there are few/no economist backing my position because the assumptions I used were so pessimistic as to be completely useless for the basis of proper policy work.

There’s a discussion of migration by an economist here: http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/10/17/the-case-for-open-immigration-a-qa-with-philippe-legrain/

Hello! Here’s a paper.

http://website1.wider.unu.edu/publications/dps/dps2003/dp2003-27.pdf

In this paper we have computed the worldwide efficiency gains from the elimination of restrictions on labour mobility. One of the key features of our model is the introduction of a segmented labour market, as we consider two types of labour, skilled and unskilled. When labour is heterogeneous, we consider the cases where both skilled and unskilled labour migrate, and when only skilled labour migrates. In our analysis, wages differ across regions because of the existence of barriers to labour mobility, and wage rates are equalized as a result of the elimination of restrictions to labour mobility rather than free trade. Our findings indicate that the elimination of global restrictions to labour mobility generates worldwide efficiency gains, that could be of considerable magnitude, ranging from 15 per cent to 67 per cent of world GDP. When only skilled labour is allowed to migrate, welfare gains are smaller since skilled labour is a small proportion of the labour force in developing regions; in this case, efficiency gains range from 3 per cent to 11 per cent of world GDP. The estimated costs of migration are smaller than the welfare gains when labour is homogeneous and also when both skilled and unskilled labour migrate. When only skilled labour from developing regions migrate, migration costs exceed welfare gains because of the large amount of qualified workers leaving these regions.

Migration also leads to a process of factor reallocation in which there are winners and losers. In the source regions, labour becomes more scarce relative to capital, and capital owners lose. However, not all workers are better off, since labour is a heterogeneous factor. Emigration will benefit workers whose skills are substitute to those of migrant labour, whereas it will hurt those workers whose skills are complementary to those of migrant workers. On the other hand, in the destination regions, labour becomes more abundant (less scarce) relative to capital, and capital owners benefit. Again, not all workers in the destination regions are worse off, because labour is a heterogeneous factor. Immigration will benefit those workers whose skills are complementary to those of the immigrant worker, whereas immigration will hurt those workers whose skills are substitute to those of immigrant workers.

The model was then extended by including: (i) transportation costs, since migration is a costly process; (ii) capital mobility, since capital markets have become more international in scope; and (iii) selective labour mobility, since some countries have introduced immigration control policies that allow migration flows from some regions and not from others. With the introduction of transaction costs, wages fail to equalize across regions, migration flows reduce and in consequence efficiency gains reduce as well. With capital mobility, global welfare improves compared with the scenario without capital mobility, as a result of a better resource allocation. With selective labour mobility, aggregate welfare improves and the magnitude of the gain depends on the size of the region in terms of the labour endowment.

Finally, our results have shown that the elimination of global restrictions on labour mobility generates considerable worldwide efficiency gains. Despite these gains, the liberalization of worldwide migration is far from realistic because of social and political tensions. High-income countries are very reluctant to open their borders to free migration because they do not want to become the destination of immigration of unskilled labour from low-income countries. In the short-run, countries regulate the flows of international migration by means of border controls, and work permits,among others. In the long-run, countries should concentrate their efforts in theelimination of the incentives to migrate, which could be accomplished by reducing income disparities among regions.

More migration, more wealth on aggregate.

35. Just Visiting

Left Outside

> Ah, there are few/no economist backing my position because the assumptions I used were so pessimistic as to be completely useless for the basis of proper policy work

Ok have you any sources, who have made cases (with if you say so: less pessimistic assumptions than your own) with details about your scenarios of:

> 60m current uk inhabitants + 60 million migrants from around the world = 60m slightly worse of people [1] + 60 million massively better off people = net gain in utility

> Move a billion people closer to the means of production and you’ll see productivity gains not only from from greater supply of labour but from greater innovation and invention too.

“Ok have you any sources, who have made cases (with if you say so: less pessimistic assumptions than your own) with details about your scenarios of:”

“60m current uk inhabitants + 60 million migrants from around the world = 60m slightly worse of people [1] + 60 million massively better off people = net gain in utility”

No, this has never been addressed as it is a completely useless and arbitrary set of assumptions. The paper above addresses the more general point. More migration, more wealth.

“Move a billion people closer to the means of production and you’ll see productivity gains not only from from greater supply of labour but from greater innovation and invention too.”

This I can’t prove at the moment, but I would really appreciate an argument as to why we cannot assume this.

Imagine:

Imagine a world economy of 1million people. They invent new things at a rate of 100 per year.

Now the population doubles. The stock of already acquired knowledge stays the same, the stock of capital remains the same but the number of people trying new things doubles.

If we assume that we can’t invent a computer without a series of other inventions first (paper) we can see that more people won’t necessarily increase the invention rate uniformly.

However, it is obvious that more people experimenting with the same stock of capital/knowledge etc will have more inventions than they would otherwise have had with fewer people. Perhaps this will only mean 10% more innovations a year, but this would lead to a rapidly increasing stock of wealth and flow of income.

I can’t work out where the burden of proof lies here. You are making an extraordinary claim that humanity is innovating as fast as physically possible and that million extra entrepreneurs would make no difference. Extraordinary claims need some factual basis, my claim is common sense.

Off to bed, but I shall return.

38. Just Visiting

Left Outside.

I’m confused. Of the very things you wrote yourself above, about 60M immigration to the UK – you now say:

No, this has never been addressed as it is a completely useless and arbitrary set of assumptions.

I’m not impressd by that time-wasting.
But anyway, lets start again.

You wrote:
>There is amost no cosmopolitan utilitarian defence of restricting immigration to the UK.

So have you any sources that are saying exactly that?

And are they explicitly saying that there is no conceivable upper limit on the immigration the UK could support?

39. Just Visiting

Just Visiting

> This I can’t prove at the moment, but I would really appreciate an argument as to why we cannot assume this.

Perhaps you mis-understood what LC is – it is not a forum of economists, discussing new theories and bouncing ideas of each other, and developing their thinking.

So it is not a forum where we can just ‘assume this’.
You need to quote some reputed economists, who say they are happy to assume it.

Without that, it is just “Left Outside’s own idea, that he has no evidence from experts in the field for – but would like to believe anyway”

Left Outside. I’m pleased to see that the argument you make for uncontrolled immigration has drifted somewhat from moral towards economic.

Although the end result of completely uncontrolled immigration would surely be adverse to the target state, and therefore I can’t agree with you, the argument is at least now on economic grounds and that, as I stated right at the beginning, is what arguments on immigration should always be.

Morality has nothing to do with it, which is why it is so tiresome to read about ‘wicked’ people…either at Migration Watch or some other economic institute.

40 Liberanos

Although the end result of completely uncontrolled immigration would surely be adverse to the target state

How so?

This is just an assertion with no supporting evidence.

Some might even call it prejudice.

BenM. I honestly don’t wish to revisit all the points I’ve already made. Suffice it to say, and I’ll make this my final word on this topic, that no state could possibly allow immigration without limit, since the space for growing food, building houses and disposing of human waste would ultimately be insufficient. The only question is where the limit is drawn. It’s not a matter of principle, just degree. And either way, has nothing to do with morality.

43. Just Visiting

Ben

Left Outside seems to have gone quiet, but not before (if I understand him right) allowing that 60M immigrants to the UK would not be sustainable.

Elsewhere, he suggests the ‘cost’ of immigration is that for every one new immigrant, one existing citizen must take a 30% drop in living standards.(I’m shortening what were long posts…)

24 hours without posting a comment and I’ve gone quiet!

I started my masters today, been to the pub, fixed a puncture and e-mailed an american professor of monetary history, so I’ve been a little busy.

I didn’t say “Elsewhere, he suggests the ‘cost’ of immigration is that for every one new immigrant, one existing citizen must take a 30% drop in living standards.(I’m shortening what were long posts…)”

What I said was, that even if, under phenomenally unfavourable assumptions, migration was to have the described effect, in aggregate for human welfare it would still be a positive event.

Just Visiting, you may not be happy with the assumption, “if more people get the chance to experiment more people will experiment” but I think it holds together fairly tightly. Where do you see the flaw, just so I can target my search for academic backing more tightly?

45. Just Visiting

Left Outside

Fair cop – 24 hours was premature of me.

> What I said was, that even if, under phenomenally unfavourable assumptions, migration was to have the described effect, in aggregate for human welfare it would still be a positive event.

This seems to be saying nothing though: ‘aggregate human welfare’ is not the whole story.
Whether the country can change smoothly the process is not to be assumed.

There seem to be 2 questions here:

i) what do you think is the level and speed of immigration, which would make the UK no longer remain viable as it stands (health,education,transport,housing etc would no longer support the population — cultural conflict would result from the fact that the immigrants are directly pulling living standards of natives down, and resentment problems may arise.

ii) are you suggesting that there will be a ‘natural balance’, such that immigration would slow down automatically, before the collapse of the UK as above?


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  76. Matthew 25:31-46 I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me +++ Alternatively titled; Those who treat immigrants like scum will probably treat everyone like scum, given the chance « Left Out

    […] that Migration Watch as suing Sally Bercow for libel does not surprise […]

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