Even MigrationWatch think Maurice Glasman is over the top


8:35 pm - July 19th 2011

by Left Outside    


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Maurice Glasman recently called for a moratorium on all migration to the UK, as part of his Blue Labour project. Sir Andrew of Migration Watch UK called this “over the top.”

Yeah, they of “as seen in the Mail and Express” fame, oft also seen spurting bile against migrants. They think he is being “over the top.

I thought Glasman was a wag, but I thought he had some level of realism in his prescription. He is a man behind London Citizens, a group which avidly supports and actively lobbies for an amnesty for the illegal migrants already here. Yet…he proposes this.

I think he is either an idiot or a troll. Now I have read his academic work on Karl Polanyi, I’ve used some of it in fact, and he isn’t an idiot. But I don’t get what he’d get from trolling, he isn’t Rod Liddle. I genuinely can’t get my head round what this guy is up to, because he seems to not quite get Polanyi.

Polanyi, Glasman’s inspiration, is a thinker often associated with an anti-market mentality, but that is too simple. Polanyi thought the market was very destructive, particularly when money, land or labour were treated as commodities to be bought and sold. He was also concerned with society’s resilience to extreme changes; he was especially concerned with moderating the rate of change of grand societal changes.

This wasn’t because Polanyi thought all change was bad, but because he thought that the coping mechanisms which societies develop to deal with the winners and losers take time to appear. So moderating the rate of change was essential to ensure that people survived the process. That isn’t what Glasman is proposing.

Glasman appears to think migration has rendered such unmanageable desolation on society that it needs time to heal. That just isn’t tenable.

Many, many markets are impacting the life of working people in Britain and cutting migration to a stand still just isn’t the best way to spend political capital in protecting them. Migration would decrease, a bit, but illegal migration would increase, perhaps swamping any perceived benefits.

In addition to that, Glasman’s call to end migration completely goes against Polanyi’s idea that extreme change needs to be moderated. Dozens of Universities would shut down overnight if international students were prevented from studying, as Glasman proposes. My own University, LSE, has half its student body from overseas. There are no coping mechanisms in place to moderate the changes Glasman would impose.

In short, he seems a troll, bent on causing mischief. He proposes policies with no chance of adoption which are wildly impractical and he appears deaf to the words and lessons of his own political inspiration.

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About the author
Left Outside is a regular contributor to LC. He blogs here and tweets here. From October 2010 to September 2012 he is reading for an MSc in Global History at the London School of Economics and will be one of those metropolitan elite you read so much about.
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Reader comments


None of my business, but it’s no longer clear to me what the point of MigrationWatch is, if they think 450 million people should have the legal right to move here tomorrow, no questions asked. Do their funders and supporters know? I suspect from a quick surf around their website that the realisation has dawned that ‘fortress Europe’ is the least worst option for some of their backers – they get to retire to Spain and France, and other people get to come here to do the work, but at least mostly white people. It’s not a pretty story, and began when Mosley reinvented himself as a Europhile after the war.

On the substantive, it appears to me that there’s a bargain to be struck here, and taking everything Maurice has said on the issue and putting it into context (he doesn’t exactly help with this, but one also has to account for journalistic mischief), it looks to me a bit like this – as a proposal for the Labour Government of 2015.

We will regularise the status of people who are already here, including those who are here without permission but have done nothing else wrong – creating a pathway into citizenship. In exchange for public acceptance of this, we will appreciably reduce net immigration for the period of time it takes to do it – to somewhere near the global average (I’ll let you do the logical maths). During this period, we will play catch-up on all the things you need if you are going to have high net immigration, like housebuilding, employment rights, cohesion, infrastructure, and English language skills among existing migrant communities. When we, and the public, are happy that we’re in a situation where that is functioning, we’ll revisit the severity with which we restrict net immigration and see what happens.

That said, as I said to Sunny the other day, I don’t particularly think Labour should talk about immigration at all if it can help it. We are hated on it – on a scale our activists don’t even seem to begin to realise. Much as Maples said to the Tories in 1995(ish?), the best coverage would be none at all. Even if we come up with popular answers, they wouldn’t be trusted, and we’d lose votes merely for the fact of the issue being on the agenda. Cameron won’t be able to make it an issue, because he’s clearly going to fail to meet his promises so have little to campaign on either. In this case, a sordid elite bargain to keep an issue off the agenda is, I’m afraid, in our political interests.

2. Charlieman

Has the Fabian Review, source of Glasman’s quotes, been published yet? I was shocked the other day when a similar story was published in the Telegraph. I’ll reserve comment until the interview is published.

I see nothing within Blue Labour which is basically different from new Labour, it follows the trend at the time, now Blue Labour believes that immigration is what is driving the uneducated, the working class Glasman See’s himself as the voice of the lower class, he believes we are all against immigration, but in fact a lot of people are more worried over the people who get here stay here and end up working on the black market.

I see nothing in Blue Labour it’s just another name for New Labour,

And they banned me from their site for being guess what a Trot

Glasman and his deeply conservative ‘brand’ of Labour should have no place in the party.

5. marc dauncey

He sounds like he’d be better off leading the BNP with proposals like this.

6. Paul Fisher

when i first heard of blue labour, confused, i looked it up on wikipedia. At least some of it’s description did indeed read like a kind of BNP `lite’.

7. Paul Newman

Glasman is an all licensed fool in the court of Ed foolish and yet truthful in a way . Gordon Brown talked about Britain whilst selling us out to the EU and encouraging floods of foreigners to come here undercut wages take up housing and flood the services people think they have been paying for.
I cannot say I find the prospect of what you might call” National Socialism” appetising but I do understand that if Labour does not get back into a reasonable conversation with British people it is finished .

I really think Cameron is right here.
1 Cut the numbers
2 Get the issue of the table and
3 Let everyone get on with it .

This is not a bigoted intolerant country only saved by endless hectoring by pompous students , given half a chance it will sort itself out .
Hardly the first time Labour has played the race card though is it …Crewe by election ?

8. Oliver Hutchings

Left Outside:

“I think he is either an idiot or a troll.” Why? Perhaps you could deal with some of his arguments rather than engaging in silly personal insults.

“That just isn’t tenable.” Why exactly? Because you’ve stated it?

“Migration would decrease, a bit, but illegal migration would increase, perhaps swamping any perceived benefits.” I take it the ‘perhaps’ is put there in the absence of any actual evidence that, with effective border controls, illegal immigration would increase dramatically if legal immigration were stopped.

“Dozens of Universities would shut down overnight if international students were prevented from studying,” In my brief Google search, I could find no clarification on this point from Lord Glasman but ‘immigration’ doesn’t usually include temporary residence whilst studying.

Who are you anyway? A name would be nice.

LO,

If Glasman called for a moratorium on immigration, then he didn’t call for an “end [to] migration completely”. Right?

Beyond that, I’m not really sure what you’re point is here. I mean, I understand that you think Glasman is over the top, but why? Is it just because LSE will suffer? Something about Karl Polanyi?

Please explain.

Also, where exactly have Migration Watch been seen “spurting bile against migrants”? Can you provide any links?

“In short, he seems a troll, bent on causing mischief. He proposes policies with no chance of adoption which are wildly impractical and he appears deaf to the words and lessons of his own political inspiration.”

Correct. He’s not calling for a halt to immigration – he’s calling for calling for a halt to immigration because he thinks it’ll make Mail and Express readers who hate/fear ethnic minorities think Labour is on their side – and without actually having to do anything about it. This is a profoundly cynical tactic. Not just that, it’s also counter-productive even in terms of winning votes, at least if you don’t intend to actually do anything.

Taking this approach sends the message to the people who hate/fear ethnic minorities that you admit they’re basically right, reinforcing their view. However, despite this admission, because of some unknown factor (widely assumed to be fear of Muslims, the PC brigade, the EU, or some other conspiracy), you can’t/won’t do anything to punish these terrible threatening minorities. This will, in time, become abundantly obvious to those people whose votes you courted. So what happens? In future, they will vote for someone else who they think actually will punish the ethnic minorities (e.g. the BNP)…

11. Sunder Katwala

Here’s the Fabian Society interview in full … the fabian interview was also run at length in The Telegraph, for whom Mary Riddell also writes.
http://www.fabians.org.uk/images/Fabian-Review-Summer-INTERVIEW.pdf

And here’s my response on what blue Labour could say if it wanted to engage seriously with issues of immigration.
http://www.nextleft.org/2011/07/how-blue-labour-could-talk-about.html

It is interesting that Migration Watch now take a more moderate position than the Express and Mail editorials when it comes to the EU …

“In future, they will vote for someone else who they think actually will punish the ethnic minorities (e.g. the BNP)…”

Where have you got this from? The issue is, most people would like to reduce immigration–I think Glasman is right to take them seriously. Shouldn’t they get a say in the policies of their own government?

13. Leon Wolfson

@7 Ah right, Cameron is right then in excluding skilled workers, hammering the economy further. Got it. Can’t have the economy. And gotta crack down on those fee-paying *University* and pre-University English-studying students…

*shakes his head sadly*

The global talent pool is CRITICAL for many industries, especially in media and computing. We’re absolutely bleeding talent and economically in those areas. THIS is the plan you support?

14. Charlieman

I was going to say, ta, Sunder. As a foe in debate.

I hope that we meet again in polite discourse.

15. Leon Wolfson

I’m expecting to see Labour drop in the polls. Because people on the left will simply stop engaging with politics if Labour allow this “Blue” nonsense to continue. I certainly can’t vote for any party with this sort of nonsense going on within it.

It’s a especially stupid form of popularism, it won’t attract a significant body of votes from the Tories, and it WILL alienate a significant body of voters, permanently, since the LibDems are not a viable option any more. They’ll just stop voting and become disenchanted with the entire system.

I’m sure the Tories are laughing into their beer.

I really think Cameron is right here.
1 Cut the numbers
2 Get the issue of the table and
3 Let everyone get on with it .

This is not a bigoted intolerant country only saved by endless hectoring by pompous students , given half a chance it will sort itself out .

Nah, migration has been on the political radar for bloody years. On and off for about 130 years, since we stopped exporting people to the New World in fact. I don’t think reducing the numbers of migrants will stop people moaning about them. If anything it might encourage a minority “see we have to keep so many out, so there’s your evidence we have to keep out more.”

And pompous? I’m curious what makes you say that. Why make a serious point then start name calling?

If Glasman called for a moratorium on immigration, then he didn’t call for an “end [to] migration completely”. Right?

Well, nobody can commit to future policy, so calling for no immigration ever is like calling from budget cuts in 2020, pointless grandstanding.

LSE was just an example, perhaps not a wise one given the chip people have on their shoulder round here about being more-salt-of-the-earth-than-thow. Imagine the catering industry, or hospitality, or construction, or farming, or the NHS (especially the NHS), or any industry in London, each would be crushed by Glasman’s plan.

He makes no accounting for this. He appears to think that poor housing will be sorted out by keeping out builders, that the inadequate provision of healthcare will be fixed by keeping out doctors, that better jobs will be created by keeping out entrepreneurs. He disowns one of Polanyi’s greatest insight, that the rate of change matters in the name of embracing it! That irritates.

He also ignores the fact that Polanyi talks about society, not the nation. Now most policy occurs at the level of the nation, but society, culture, economics all occur at various levels of the cosmopolitan. Ceasing migration isn’t some protection for society, it will rend families apart and subject friends of mine to certain deportation when their visas expire, it will reduce growth and throw people into poverty as companies fail for want of labour. Its a terrible idea.

Yes people think migration is bad, and very, very few people actually migrate here compared to how many would if they could. Migration is always discussed as though we have some free for all, but we have the strongest controls we’ve ever had. They’ve not been ignored for crissake, they just have a terrible idea.

I feel like I’m meant to be apologetic that I disagree with lots of people and think their ideas should be kept as far from policy making as possible. But millions have that view about me! Politics is adversarial, I’m okay with that, I just wish people would stop moaning that migration isn’t discussed, or that the liberals have some sort of upper hand.

robert does it follow trends ,New labour was to scared to say that there’s too much immigration,and Blue laoburs constantly criticising new labour.

@ 10:

“Taking this approach sends the message to the people who hate/fear ethnic minorities that you admit they’re basically right, reinforcing their view. However, despite this admission, because of some unknown factor (widely assumed to be fear of Muslims, the PC brigade, the EU, or some other conspiracy), you can’t/won’t do anything to punish these terrible threatening minorities. This will, in time, become abundantly obvious to those people whose votes you courted. So what happens? In future, they will vote for someone else who they think actually will punish the ethnic minorities (e.g. the BNP)…”

Do you actually have any evidence that this is the case? ‘Cause at the moment, BNP voters are more likely to cite the lack of engagement with immigration concerns among the major parties as their reason for voting BNP. Your idea will just make the problem worse.

19. Paul Newman

Left Outside – Interesting you should think that by”Pompous student” I was referring to you 🙂 I wasn’t actually I just meant the general type. No personal offence intended anyway

“Glasman and his deeply conservative ‘brand’ of Labour should have no place in the party.”

Labour once had (has?) a deeply socially conservative strand in its thinking. That may be uncomfortable for the liberal-left but it doesn’t stop it being true. It was working class socialists who went in for temperance and working class Tories who were opposed. Similarly Labour’s working class supporters were strongly monarchist and none too keen on mass immigration.

Nah, migration has been on the political radar for bloody years.

On the “political radar”, but only insofar as as it is not possible to ignore something that isn’t there.

Well, nobody can commit to future policy, so calling for no immigration ever is like calling from budget cuts in 2020, pointless grandstanding.

You seem to be criticising him for calling for an end to immigration altogether, suggesting that this is ridiculous. But he called for a freeze on immigration, which is different.

Imagine the catering industry, or hospitality, or construction, or farming, or the NHS (especially the NHS), or any industry in London, each would be crushed by Glasman’s plan.

You’ve made this argument before. How? How would *any* industry be crushed? The economy is a dynamic process. It adjusts–that’s what economies do.

He disowns one of Polanyi’s greatest insight, that the rate of change matters in the name of embracing it!

But see how strange your position becomes here. Glasman, for wanting to slow the rate of immigration, which is permanently and radically changing the make up of the UK, is the radical. How so?

And I must admit that I’m mystified as to why you think we are short of builders, and what you think immigration will do to solve this problem. What’s wrong with the price mechanism? Don’t migrants need houses, doctors, etc? Think lump of labour fallacy.

Beyond that, it is quite clear that immigration is taking one society, which was culturally/racially/linguistically/etc etc homogeneous, and replacing it with one that is not at quite a fast rate. No one need find this ipso facto a good thing because of an economic argument that may or may not hold, or because it would be impolite to object to wholesale social engineering, or simply because we think they should.

You may think it unfair that people have the temerity to question current immigration policy (I’m probably being unfair myself here, but that it is the impression you give in your final two paragraphs). However, there has never been such huge migration flows. It is not surprising, then, that people find this alarming, especially when they do not have access to the (at times!) more sophisticated economic arguments, and when the attitude of many of our educated class is similar to yours, namely, that we’re winning the argument in the media and setting the policy in practice, and if you don’t like it, I guess it sucks to be you.

It is hardly surprising that the EDL and the BNP find purchase in such an environment.

Don’t worry Paul, its only because I am a pompous student, wondered how you found me out.

23. Leon Wolfson

@20 – Well, yes, the “parties” are all coalitions, which is something only PR will fix. But I stand by my analysis of the current situation

@21 – Well, yes, there are people who are xenophobic bigots. The rest of us understand that trying to stop elements of multicultural societies from entering the UK is quite futile, and that we in fact have a very low percentage of immigrants for a Western country – under half that of America, for instance.

Oh, and the minor issue that being excluded from the free trade zone, which would be an condition that France and Germany would be sure to attach to a UK proposal to leave the free movement area (not to mention that Ireland would end up joining the Schengen area, and instating border controls), would cripple our economy.

And that’s before any of the *other* massively negative effects cut in. Like, oh, the fact that even the Office of Budgetry Fiddling agrees that migrants are economically positive, and only chance we have of avoiding a massive demographic crash.

“However, there has never been such huge migration flows.”

What rot. As a percentage of populations, there have been far bigger flows many times – we’re currently under half of Canada and Australia by that measure, for example. And in absolute terms… where do you think America came from, huh?

That the BNP and EDL have traction is due to your type’s pandering to them, no more and no less. Our economy is EXTREMELY brittle right now, it’d be very easy to end up going down a sharp slope, and this is precisely the kind of idioticy which can trigger it.

We’ve had this argument going for ages in one form or another.
There was this in 2004:

Discomfort of strangers
David Goodhart’s essay challenging liberals to rethink their attitudes to diversity and the welfare state has provoked a bitter debate among progressive thinkers.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2004/feb/24/race.eu

The French National Front were getting big support 25 years ago saying that it was a bad idea to keep bringing in immigrants from Africa.
But there isn’t really anything ploitical you can do about this that makes much diference.
People will migrate to better off countries no matter what. There are people from all over Africa in Johannesburg, and they come whether they are allowed to or not.

@23. Leon Wolfson,

On the contrary, it is a choice. The people who set policy choose not to restrict immigration; thus, immigration is not restricted. We could have other policies. Canada and Australia are both a lot more restrictive, and neither country’s economy seems to have exploded for lack of migrant builders.

Well, yes, there are people who are xenophobic bigots.

Really, you make my case for me. Here we see one strand of the liberal-left bad-faith argument boiled down to a stereotypical, almost straw man, essence. I am a knight of truth and justice, and therefore anyone who disagrees with me is some kind of monster whose opinions are not valid. In other words, this is a catch-22: unless you agree, you aren’t worth listening to.

We have very high rates of net migration relative to our own historical norm. That’s a fact, as far as I can tell. The data are on the ONS site, and I invite you to prove me wrong.

I don’t think that the notion that “migrants are economically positive” is particularly meaningful without qualification. Certainly some migrants are likely to be “economically positive”–others, not so much.

The EDL and the BNP have traction because they represent communities of people who are not represented by anyone else–you know, the “xenophobic bigots” you referred to at the start of your comment. I can assure you that I have no influence on anyone whatsoever.

26. Leon Wolfson

Canada and Australia are “more restrictive”, despite having much higher per-capita immigration rates and higher percentages of immigrants? What? Propaganda on your part, no more and no less – especially since the coalition is excluding many of the same sorts of skilled workers who get a free pass through their immigration systems.

And lol, you’re trying to make out YOU are not a xenophobic bigot and a supporter of the EDL and BNP’s views on this. Pathetic.

And in absolute terms… where do you think America came from, huh?

The Native Americans just called to say that’s really not a good yardstick to judge migration flows by.

28. Leon Wolfson

Really, so it’s totally relevant to my point of how many people moved to a country, huh?

Oh wait, it’s another irrelevant distraction. Low, as usual.

29. DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells

@Leon Wolfson

It’s a especially stupid form of popularism, it won’t attract a significant body of votes from the Tories, and it WILL alienate a significant body of voters, permanently, since the LibDems are not a viable option any more. They’ll just stop voting and become disenchanted with the entire system.

Quite, the five million working class votes labour lost whilst they were busy passing immigration bill upon immigration bill is for some reason taken as an indication that it wasn’t quite enough.

Oh, and the minor issue that being excluded from the free trade zone, which would be an condition that France and Germany would be sure to attach to a UK proposal to leave the free movement area (not to mention that Ireland would end up joining the Schengen area, and instating border controls), would cripple our economy.

This is what the [usually] unskilled, anti market types are counting on, they can’t compete so why should anyone else be allowed to? So what if it costs other people business/money due to defacto sanctions? Externalise, externalise, externalise.

If the market can’t allocate labour in the most efficient manner that a relatively free market allows, it’ll do so an inefficient manner which they hope will involve them. It’s basically the equivalent of date raping the economy; slip it a roofie and hope it does something it wouldn’t do if it were acting rationally.

30. David Moss

There’s no academic rationale for proposing per impossible to stop all immigration. It makes far more sense to see this as tactical maneuvering as part of the Blue Labour project. This is a policy so inconceivable, that it is obvious that MG will never have to serious contemplate its implementation or its effects. Rather, the idea is, I presume, to gain the support of all those ‘traditionally-minded’ ordinary folk, with an eye-catching solution to all this country’s problems and to show that Labour can out-Conservative the Conservatives (a policy which we ostensibly haven’t tried hard enough at since 1997).

@ 23:

“And that’s before any of the *other* massively negative effects cut in. Like, oh, the fact that even the Office of Budgetry Fiddling agrees that migrants are economically positive, and only chance we have of avoiding a massive demographic crash.”

What precise sort of demographic crash are you referring to here?

I find this rather strange. Many on the Labour Left and Centre were bounced into accepting, what is essentially a Right Wing economic concept of free movement of labour in and out of higher/lower wage economies, and dressing it up as some kind of Left Wing policy. When that had the desired (by Right Wing standards) effect of suppressing wages, terms and conditions and ultimately living standards of the poor, they decide to counter that by a socially Right Wing tactic of blaming Johnny Foreigner!

I would say this to ‘Blue’ Labour. If you want to ‘protect British jobs’ you do not start here. You start further down the line, you get at the worst employers and you tighten up employment law. You scrap zero hour contracts, you scrap the abuse of the minimum wage, you get at employment agencies and you scrap the abuse of ‘temporary workers’ as well.

And one more thing. Don’t use be bounced into facilitating Right Wing ideology and when it goes tits up allowing the media as painting the ideology as ‘Left Wing’.

People like the CBI were demanding nomadic tribes of itinerant labourers turning up to fill labour shortages, not the Left.

33. Robin Levett

Interesting to read this reference in the Express article:

the previous Labour government’s backing for mass immigration from Eastern Europe

What colour is the sky in his world? The previous Labour government negotiated derogations in the accession treaty directed precisely at limiting mass immigration from Eastern Europe; broadly speaking, an A8 national’s rights, from residence upward, were dependent wholly on their having and keeping a job. Mass immigration in the sense of hordes of Eastern European Johnny Foreigners coming over here and stealing our houses and JSA just wasn’t on the table.

At the same time as following Tory policy of increasingly restricting immigration of all kinds throughout their tenure in office, and making it as unpleasant as possible for those who actually managed to jump through the hoops, they also did their damnedest to increase the pressure by talking up Britain as some kind of immigrant’s paradise where you had pound-notes stuffed into your hands in the form of benefits as soon as you landed on these shores (as did the Tories). That is at least one reason why there is still pressure for increasing restrictions on immigration; people actually believed what they said and ignored what they did.

@ 33:

“At the same time as following Tory policy of increasingly restricting immigration of all kinds throughout their tenure in office,”

Really? ‘Cause the ONS seems to suggest that immigration increased significantly after 1997. Pretty odd for a party that “increasingly restrict[ed] immigration”.

http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=260

It’s really hard to discuss this the way that the debate becomes so polarised between right and left, with everyone spinning it. Mass immigration has never been popular, and particularly from the lower end where poorer people from the Caribbean, south Asia, and more lately sub-Saharan Africa, were arriving in the country with very little money, and moving in to the cheapest areas they could find.
And starting out on the lowest rung of the jobs market.
People have got on with it and learned to live together, but it was never something that the people who were already living in those neighbourhoods ever had a say in.

And I’m guessing that if you asked people who live in areas still lightly touched by immigration …. like the Durham former mining villages for example, whether they would like to have the multi-cultural make-over that east London has had, people might not be too keen on it. It would be a gamble, and what would be in it for them? To have their local school become like the former White Hart Lane school in Tottenham, which had a higher number of foriegn languages spoken by its pupils, than any place in the UK.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woodside_High_School_(London)

We are a very racist country we have often been told, so importing people who are going to face racism is bound to cause disharmony. They certainly got many things wrong in France, dumping all their immigrants out in the suburban housing estates, and I’ve seen thay do that in Sweden too. It’s very easy to make mistakes, and when you do there can be huge consequences.

At the moment I think that some neighbourhoods are struggling under the weight of newly arrived migrants. And they become run down and over crowded and a bit lawless because of it. Illegal immigrants in the black economy living side by side with legal residents in the grim bed-sit land. Dodgy landlords overcrowding their houses, and dodgy job agencies employing people who don’t have the right to work in the UK.
Many areas of London are now like this. From Croydon to Tottenham, and from Southall to Barking. I like these places personally as they make for a lively urban environment, but I know that not everyone likes the reality of it.
There is the tendency for areas to become run down, in the same way that it was a problem in New York a hundred years ago when people who had just arrived, would pile in to overcrowded accomodation.
And don’t forget the unemployment rate for young black people, who have left school and then been faced with the reality of the jobs market for unskilled labour.

Almost half of black people aged between 16 and 24 are unemployed, compared with 20% of white people of the same age, a think tank has claimed.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8468308.stm

36. Flowerpower

I’d support a moratorium on Maurice Glasman windbaggery. Why is he taken so seriously? His Tory equivalent (P Blond) is just a court jester. But Glasman got a peerage! Why?

37. Robin Levett

@XXX #34:

Hypothetical figures:

Are a set of immigration rules (set A) which would permit 50% of applicants to enter more or less restrictive than a set of rules (set B) which would permit 40% of that same population of applicants to enter?

Does it make any difference to your answer if the number of applicants doubles at the same time as you replace set A with set B?

Do you understand why reference to the ONS figures doesn’t answer the question whether Labour increasingly restricted immigration?

38. Leon Wolfson

@31 – Um…really, why are you asking? Because if you don’t know the basics, perhaps you should go away and read about them

@35 – .”Caribbean, south Asia, and more lately sub-Saharan Africa”

Yea, hence the total bar Labour imposed on accepting low-skilled workers from non-EU countries.

Look, again, immigration is a net economic gain. So, let’s make sure that we set aside a portion of that for targeted funding to relieve local pressures on services caused by immigration.

@ 38:

“Um…really, why are you asking? Because if you don’t know the basics, perhaps you should go away and read about them”

I assumed you ment an age-related demographic crash, but I wanted to be sure before replying to the point.

@ 37:

Do you have any evidence that the proportion of applicants allowed to immigrate has decreased since 1997?

41. Leon Wolfson

@39 – Er yes, what else would I have been talking about?

The UK /was/ in a good position to handle it. The new figures I’m seeing, because of the sharp limits on skilled immigration (which is NOT hitting unskilled immigration nearly as badly) put that into question.

42. Mr S. Pill

There should be a new rule: as with Spiked or Godwin, any mention of Glasman immediately means you lose the debate. What an utter tosser. If Miliband had any sense he’d distance himself from this clown without hesitation.

What Canada and Australia have is a working selection process. This is because what they also have is governments who try to maximise the welfare of their current population, as opposed to the welfare of everyone else at the expense of their current population. Yes, imagine that–a government that thinks its job is to safeguard the interests of the people it represents, rather than to set policies that radically re-engineer society on the basis of slim to no support whatsoever. Why, it almost sound like government by grown-ups. What bigots! What xenophobes! How soon can we arrange a regime change?

44. Leon Wolfson

@43 – And the UK has a points-based system for non-EU immigrants. Of course, it’s based off broken criteria and is excluding skilled immigrants. This is what you’re standing up for.

Both Canada and Australia have embraced immigration as a social good, contrary to your xenophobia. Despite having a “selection” process, again, their per-capita immigration rates are twice ours.

45. the a&e charge nurse

[38] “let’s make sure that we set aside a portion of that for targeted funding to relieve local pressures on services caused by immigration” – I do not think more money is very likely in the current climate?

Sunder [11] says Blu-Lab “might campaign for better pay and conditions in the care sector” (follow link to his longer post).
Sounds nice doesn’t it – but does this mean carers (especially the army of informal carers) should be paid the same as coppers or teachers – or does it mean being paid £7.60 an hour, rather than £7.50?

I suppose some sense of protectionism is understandable given the EU is reaching financial meltdown, populations have reached an all time, and unsustainable, high, while England at least no longer has the political will to educate our youngsters without saddling them with astronomical debt.

Sunder touches on the ‘Britain is full’ argument – some say that this is simply not the case, that there is enough for everybody – but how about 70, or 75 million?

According to this report, “Concern has been expressed about the present size of Britain’s population and its prospective increase. This concern stems from disquiet about … [among other issues] problems of pollution, congestion and noise; health, social tensions, individual stress and alienation; land use; [and]
the implications of increased demands on world resources … . ”
http://www.official-documents.gov.uk/document/cm80/8001/8001.pdf

46. Leon Wolfson

@45 – Well no. But it’s a policy I’ve long believed needs to be done, rather than the current patchwork approach, which demonstrably doesn’t work that well.

The population’s at an “unsustainable” high? Oh nonsense. The world population trends are well mapped, as is the food and production capacity…we have a distribution problem, not a sustainability one. Also a vision one.

@ 41:

Just wanted to be sure I didn’t accidentally post an irrelevant reply, that’s all.

Anyway, if by “Averting a demographic crisis” you mean “Allowing large-scale immigration to prevent the ratio of retired:working people from becoming too high”, then that’s an unconvincing solution to the problem. Immigrant workers will eventually become old and need looking after themselves, and the only two solutions to this are deporting them when they get to retirement age or bringing in even more immigrants to compensate. The first is not (as far as I can tell) what you’re advocating; the second is inherently unsustainable over the long run, and would lead to severe environmental and social problems.

Leon Wolfson,

Australia and Canada have immigration policies that reflect the needs of their countries. In my estimation, they are both working rather well. Simply because they have higher per capita rates in in-migration is neither here nor there. It would be easy to say oh, look at African country X, which has balanced migration, and is very poor. Therefore, anyone calling for balanced migration in this country is calling for similar rates of poverty by implication. But this is a silly argument.

Canada start with a quota, and fill it. Simple. Our system is a mess. Oh, but look, you agree:

the UK has a points-based system for non-EU immigrants. Of course, it’s based off broken criteria and is excluding skilled immigrants.

Xenophobe! Bigot! EDL supporter!

Also, despite hurling abuse in a free and easy manner (how liberal!), you seem not to have bothered to read what I wrote:

This is what you’re standing up for.

No, this is what I’m criticising.

49. Leon Wolfson

@47 – Except many immigrant workers are NOT here to stay, especially from the EU. Look at the way many Poles went home.

Also, population growth trends mean that buying 50 years is going to largely get us past the hump on the problem of growing populations. There’s also the minor batter of the demographic bump in old people…

50. Leon Wolfson

Minor *matter*. Darn new keyboard! Heh.

BTW,

Look, again, immigration is a net economic gain.

Evidence? Theory? Bueller? Bueller?

The new figures I’m seeing, because of the sharp limits on skilled immigration… put that into question.

I’d love to hear about these skilled migrants who don’t grow old–Peter Pan is saving the NHS and preventing a “demographic crash”? Now that is the headline of a newspaper I would pay to read.

52. Leon Wolfson

….

The Office of Budgetary Responsibility report, which included that little factoid about immigration and economics? Hello, do you actually FOLLOW this issue?

And skilled migrants are a net LIFETIME gain. Even when they stay and become eligible for benefits. Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll come with other excuses for the damage excluding them is doing us. It’s cost the UK around 2 billion alone in one small media industry since the elections…

Leon,

Post links to the report then. Even better, outline your argument with your model in the comments box. I’m more of a macro/monetary person than labour econ, but even so, I’m studying for a post graduate degree in economics and should be able to handle it.

Here’s a quote from the study by the House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs:

“We have found no evidence for the argument, made by the Government, business and many others, that net immigration—immigration minus emigration—generates significant economic benefits for the existing UK population”.

Or here, from a study cited by Chris Dillow, on the impact on wages:

“In this paper we find that once the occupational breakdown is incorporated into a regional analysis of immigration in Britain, the immigrant-native ratio has a significant, small, negative impact on average wages. Closer examination reveals that the biggest impact is in the semi/unskilled services sector.”

http://ideas.repec.org/p/fip/fedbwp/08-6.html

But I’m sure you’re already familiar with all these since you “FOLLOW the issue” so closely.

54. Robin Levett

@XXX #40:

Do you have any evidence that the proportion of applicants allowed to immigrate has decreased since 1997?

I have evidence that, while the initial thrust was to expand economic migration esentially to fill vacant jobs, subsequently policy even on that became increasingly restrictive; try reading the legislation since 1997, or perhaps this research paper would help – see page 19, where this passage appears:

Although migration routes for workers were expanded when economic migration was first explicitly recognised as a positive thing for the UK, this policy direction has now been somewhat reversed, with increasing restrictions on visa requirements, language requirements and the countries included in particular schemes. The JCWI goes on to suggest that many changes to immigration law and policy have been primarily concerned with control, emphasising migrants’ obligations towards or contributions to the UK rather than protecting individuals’ rights:

http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons/lib/research/rp2008/rp08-065.pdf

Asylum seekers didn’t even have a honeymoon period; Governemnt policy was to make life as unpleasant as possible for them, and to starve them out where they could. Restrictions on access to the benefit system (vouchers for less than standard rates of income support, with no change allowed to be given, for example), housing etc have all been introduced. On the voucher system , consider that David Blunkett, of all people, was quoted as saying that thit was “humiliating and demeaning” when being forced to scrap it – but not to increase the amount given to IS levels.

@ 54:

“Although migration routes for workers were expanded when economic migration was first explicitly recognised as a positive thing for the UK, this policy direction has now been somewhat reversed, with increasing restrictions on visa requirements, language requirements and the countries included in particular schemes.”

Somewhat reversed” — in other words, it was still more lax than before the Labour Party came to power. And if the government was so restrictive on immigrations, why were immigration levels so much higher in 2010 than they were in 1997?

56. Leon Wolfson

@56 – Er, economics. The UK isn’t as bad off as most places, or at least it hadn’t been before the Tory policy’s managed to reverse the recovery.

54. Robin Levett,

Regardless of how restrictive the policies were intended to be, in practice they accompanied higher levels of net migration than at any time in our history. Perhaps it was the case that these were laws that were restrictive enough, but not enforced properly; or the laws were enforced properly but were not restrictive enough relative to the flows that obtained in practice–or, more probably, I suppose, some combination of the two. In any case, the whole regime can be taken as a failure, if as you suggest, its objective was to restrict immigration.

[Although I note that the research paper you cite is quite late. Net flows started rising in the late ’90s.]

58. Richard W

The idea of migrant workers being negative for national wages is based on nothing but half-baked anecdotes. Migrant workers raise wages because they raise productivity. The notion that British firms in every sector want to employ migrant workers especially from Eastern Europe because they are cheaper does not pass the laugh test. They like employing them because they have a better work ethic and would be happy to pay more for that labour compared to domestic labour. So the cheap labour meme is bunkum.

The UK enjoyed the highest rate of productivity growth at the same time as immigration was rising. A recession hit the UK economy and simultaneously migrant labour from EE fell. Oh dear look what has happened to productivity and as consequence of lower productivity wages. If some sub-groups of workers are being out-competed by migrants. The solution should be for those groups to raise their game not employment and cultural protectionism.

http://www.voxeu.org/index.php?q=node/5729

http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2007/03/more_evidence_o.html

http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2008/07/immigration-and.html

http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2006/05/why_i_believe_d.html

59. Richard W

*The UK enjoyed the highest rate of productivity growth in the G7*

60. Richard W

The UK is one of the most successful countries in the world in terms of choosing their immigrants well, absorbing and integrating them as can be seen from this chart. Although what use is evidence when personal anecdote can be extrapolated to just making stuff up.

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_-EMpadQx4hM/TRKZ5kB-49I/AAAAAAAAAY8/c_2n4vdbkPk/s1600/immigrant.jpg

Richard W, what about the disproportionate unemployment rates?

http://www.bing.com/search?q=black+unemployment+uk&src=IE-SearchBox&FORM=IE8SRC

Thirty years ago there were riots in several English cities because of racism directed towards black people, and it seems like they are still getting treated unfairly today.

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=justice+for+smiley+culture&aq=0&oq=justice+for+smiley+

Richard W @ 58

The idea of migrant workers being negative for national wages is based on nothing but half-baked anecdotes.

Well half baked or not, I can tell you that we have seen a rapid rise in Polish/Eastern European immigrants and that wage rates have plummeted during that time. We have seen job loses too, but the influx of cheap labour have not increased wages round here, West Lothian in Scotland.

Migrant workers raise wages because they raise productivity.

No doubt the theory works well in text books and I dare say that in some idustries that holds out, but I know quite a few people who will tell me differently. Anecdotes? Yes, well that is true, but they cannot all be the exception the the rule, surely?

If some sub-groups of workers are being out-competed by migrants. The solution should be for those groups to raise their game

Isn’t that a bit glib, though? If you are a fifty plus worker who has been made redundant and you are being ousted from the marketplace via a 24 healthy guy who share digs (and housing costs) with a half dozen others, and can sign a zero hour contract, in what way are you supposed to raise your game? knock twenty years of your age, perhaps?

OOPs, it appears my computer has suffered a bit of ‘hackgate’ too. I have a reasonable idea who did it, still.

64. Richard W

@ 61. damon

Immigration is not just black people. The problem is when you look at subgroups it leads to fallacies of composition. I could just as easily say look at the high IQ and higher educational attainment of immigrants from SE Asia. The issue is whether immigration per se damages or enhances us as a whole looking at the whole economy. I do not doubt some groups do not integrate very well. Moreover, some immigrant groups do better than others. Furthermore, some low wage workers may temporarily lose out. However, they gain overall from what would prevail from having a more productive economy.

These charts are of the US economy and the similar pattern but less pronounced would probably be seen in the UK. Much of the angst about immigration is because median wage growth for certain groups of male workers has been low. People put 2+2 together and come up with 5 and blame immigration because that is occurring at the same time. However, it is not immigrants who are to blame. What is to blame is a complicated story of technological change devaluing certain types of manual labour.
http://www.creativeclass.com/creative_class/_wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/skill1.png

Female labour has not followed the same pattern because they tend to do different types of jobs. So when people speak about stagnant median wages, what they are speaking about is stagnant median male wages. Moreover, the idea that if we had no immigration that would somehow raise wages for domestic workers is nonsense. The wages of median workers would be even lower.

http://www.creativeclass.com/creative_class/_wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/skill2.png

65. the a&e charge nurse

Been following Glasman’s comments into today’s Gruniard – he says “Blue” was chosen to echo “the blues”: it was a lament for the failures of New Labour and its misplaced optimism that “things can only get better”, a phrase that sounds ludicrous in our new age of austerity.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/jul/19/lord-glasman-radical-traditionalist

L.O. says “Glasman appears to think migration has rendered such unmanageable desolation on society that it needs time to heal” – I haven’t read anything that convinces me such an interpretation is tenable.

Glasman says,”people who live here are the highest priority. We’ve got to listen and be with them. They’re in the right place – it’s us who’s not.”

He claims integration and non-exploitation demand “stable communities”. Presumably this is reference to regarding economic migrants as more than units of production (in other words the antithesis to marketeers who remain in thrall to the exciting possibilities of cheap, highly mobile labour)

Given that places like London already rank as one of the most pluralistic cities in the world, is it such a bad thing to suggest slowing down and taking a moment to reflect on where we are, and how we arrived there?

66. Leon Wolfson

@65 – London. And ONLY London.

67. the a&e charge nurse

[66] less than a third of migrants settle on the smoke.
http://www.migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/briefings/geographical-distribution-and-characteristics-long-term-international-migration-flows-uk

7% go to Scotland and just 3% go to Wales. These shares have remained stable since 1991.

Richard,

Of course it isn’t half-baked. It follows from basic principles of supply and demand. Increase the supply and the supply function shifts out. In the long-run, of course, capital adjusts. But that’s in the long run. Then we add some more migrants and the whole process starts over.

Presumably the “anecdote” jibe was also aimed at me, though I’m not sure why, given that I cited an actual study of the UK labour market by Fed economists that found that the effect of migration was slightly negative for UK wages, and that this effect was most pronounced at the lower end of the income distribution. Quelle surprise.

Conditional on the immigrants in question being more productive than native equivalents, then obviously they will raise production. That’s what productivity means, so it’s just a tautology. It doesn’t mean that everyone is made better off.

If you listen to Russ Roberts interview with Bob Lucas at Econtalk, you can hear this exchange about half-way through (~25 mins):

Roberts: Some Americans worry that the Mexican will take that job away from, or at least compete with, the high school drop out, and drive down wages. People try to measure that, and there’s disputes about it empirically. What are your thoughts about it?

Lucas: [Without hesitation] It’s got to be true to some extent.

What an idiot, eh? Bob Lucas, Richard W thinks your position is laughable.

Let’s assume that the effect of immigration on average wages is very slightly positive, or very slightly negative, or that there isn’t one. I think that all three are basically equivalent. Taking any as given, there isn’t really an argument to the self interest of the average worker. (And BTW, simply admonishing the native worker to “stop complaining–try harder–be more competitive” has the faint air of the Victorian aristo, which I can dig, but still). But that doesn’t even speak to the actual effect on the actual worker (i.e. the non-average).

If you increase the supply of taxi drivers, or dry cleaners, then this is great for you if you take a lot of taxis, or wear a lot of suits. On the other hand, if you are a taxi driver, or a dry cleaner, then it kind of sucks.

And you can dress this up however you like, but it’s clear that there are winners and losers here. The skilled worker gets cheaper services, i.e. higher wages, because the non-skilled worker gets lower wages. Maybe the gains to the high skilled worker are even such that they more make than make up for the loses to the lower skilled, which could be a the case where the average wage goes up slightly. Great! Think the losers should just stop moaning and take their licks? Easily said when you’re winning, though–right?

70. Leon Wolfson

@69 – “I think that all three are basically equivalent”

Sure. If the effect on wages is small, then the real benefit is the stabilisation factor offered by a larger economy overall. But given that many of the EU workers involved are not in the UK to stay, but for a period of time, the longer-term effect on issues like pensions becomes positive.

The problem is when you look at subgroups it leads to fallacies of composition.

But differnt subgroups have such different affects locally. Eastern European farm workers in East Anglia must have made working conditions worse for the English locals who used to do that work. Whereas someone coming in to do a highly skilled job in IT or banking has a different affect on the jobs and housing market.
And rich Russians and people with money who have invested in property here, shouldn’t be used to bump up the average of what migration brings to the country. I don’t know if you were doing that Richard W.

I picked this book up in the States a few years ago.

”Mexifornia: A State of Becoming”

http://www.amazon.com/Mexifornia-Becoming-Victor-Davis-Hanson/dp/1893554732

And although the guy might be a bit of a nutter on some other subjects he writes on, in this book I thought he was quite thoughtful and just explained how the area in California’s Central Valley where he grew up, had been transformed by immigration from Mexico in the last 50 years.

You can blame the capitalist system for that of course, and the poverty that was drawing poor Mexicans to cross the border and work as field labourers, legal and illegal.
It never got as bad as he describes there in East Anglia, but we know that some have been living in camps in the woods and brewing their own vodka.

I won’t plug him too much as there are probably many holes in his analysis, but this was an article he wrote about ”Mexifornia” in 2002. It’s worth reading if you are interested in the issue.

http://www.city-journal.org/html/12_2_do_we_want.html

68. vimothy

“Of course it isn’t half-baked. It follows from basic principles of supply and demand. Increase the supply and the supply function shifts out. In the long-run, of course, capital adjusts. But that’s in the long run. Then we add some more migrants and the whole process starts over. ”

I take it you did not read the Vox link as they address the counterintuitive supply and demand function.

“Then we add some more migrants and the whole process starts over. ”

The economy is never in a static state. We add new migrants to the labour force every year even without immigration. They are called school leavers so the economy is constantly adjusting.

” Presumably the “anecdote” jibe was also aimed at me, though I’m not sure why, given that I cited an actual study of the UK labour market by Fed economists that found that the effect of migration was slightly negative for UK wages, and that this effect was most pronounced at the lower end of the income distribution. Quelle surprise. ”

Anecdote is not aimed at you in particular, but anyone who extrapolates personal experience to assume that the same must be true in general. Other studies find the opposite. Moreover, I suspect when you are speaking about wages you are assuming that productivity would have been the same in the absence of immigration in order to find a negative effect on wages. Much safer to assume the UK national productivity growth rate in the absence of migrant workers would have been around the productivity rate found in the UK public sector. In other words dismal, and if the national productivity rate was not rising neither would wages have been rising. Therefore, in the absence of immigration real wages would have fallen.

Some firms at the bottom of the profit distribution would increase their profits if we had tariffs or banned imports. Should we abandon free trade? If we would be worse off without free trade we would equally be worse off banning immigration.

” Conditional on the immigrants in question being more productive than native equivalents, then obviously they will raise production. That’s what productivity means, so it’s just a tautology. It doesn’t mean that everyone is made better off. ”

Here is a Krugman explaining in a Ricardo article how wages are determined by the national productivity level not the productivity of the individual firm. If immigration is raising the national productivity level and rate every worker is better off because the higher productivity allows the economy to generate a higher level of wage compensation. Wages are currently growing at a low level not because firms want to be mean to workers, but because productivity has fallen.
http://web.mit.edu/krugman/www/ricardo.htm

” Roberts: Some Americans worry that the Mexican will take that job away from, or at least compete with, the high school drop out, and drive down wages. People try to measure that, and there’s disputes about it empirically. What are your thoughts about it?

Lucas: [Without hesitation] It’s got to be true to some extent.

What an idiot, eh? Bob Lucas, Richard W thinks your position is laughable. ”

The old something has got to be true so it just is true even although there is no evidence that it is true.

Richard, in the social sciences there is plenty of evidence available for everyone’s pet theory. But where is your empirical study of the effect of immigration on the UK labour market, which is what we are discussing? I posted mine, and it says that I am right.

I did scan the Vox piece. Like you, they start, “Despite popular belief, often based on anecdotes and bodged analysis, there is hardly any evidence that immigrant workers have a negative effect on the wages of native workers”. It’s a cheap and lazy way to discredit your stupid morlock opponents without having to do any work. Oh yeah, and the claim about popular belief is also anecdotal. But in any case, it is not true. In fact there is a famous and long-running argument between Card, whom the authors cite in support of their proposition, and George Borjas, a Harvard labour economist and one of the top people in the field. Ottaviano and Peri, whose paper you also link to, are actually extending a model developed by Borjas in the course of this argument.

You can find a treasure trove of papers and wealth of evidence on his website here, if that’s your bag: http://www.borjas.com/

Maybe have a look at his (IIRC) ’94 JEL paper, “The Economics of Immigration”.

The economy is never in a static state.

Just so. But the point is ask, what would have happened if we had less immigration? If we would have had fewer un-skilled workers in the counter-factual than we have in fact, then it seems reasonable to assume that we would have had upwards pressure on the un-skilled wage–at least over some time-frame. Think about economic growth in, say, China. As more workers are pulled to the cities, the wage of the remaining agricultural workers is raised because their labour is scarcer. Or is it? Perhaps this IMO very standard story is false and nothing happens. That seems to be what you are saying. But why?

And look, D’Amuri and Peri make a very similar argument:

Due to the complementarity between these types of skills, the increase in the supply of manual tasks boosts relative compensation for complex skills, making them better paid.
Exploiting their comparative advantage, natives move to occupations requiring a relatively higher level of these skills.

So, good news if you’re a high-skilled worker specialising in “abstract tasks”. Bad news if you drive a taxi.

I’m not sure why you think that immigration has driven real GDP growth (as opposed to, I don’t know, vice versa). That seems like a big claim. Can you explain it a bit more?

Wages are currently growing at a low level not because firms want to be mean to workers, but because productivity has fallen.

That’s just as circular as your previous statement. If per capita real GDP is higher in state-of-the-word A than in state B, then the “average wage” is higher in A by definition. But nobody earns the average wage. Your actual wage is contingent on a lot of things besides the change in real GDP.

The old something has got to be true so it just is true even although there is no evidence that it is true.

I probably shouldn’t mention this, but when you are this patronising about someone whose contribution to economics you will never even come close to equalling, it makes you sound deluded, frankly.

And what’s more, there is evidence that immigration has an effect on wages. I have posted some of it, and I’m pretty sure that Bob Lucas has a better grip on the literature than you do.

[Richard, Please ignore the parting shots at the end of my comment above. They were unnecessary and intemperate. I don’t want to start a flame war or attack you personally.]

Anyway, the point is that the economic benefits are uncertain and unevenly distributed under any analysis. The standard arguments in support of immigration are autistic or Vulcan in nature, often being advanced along the lines of–you think high immigration is not in your best interest? Oh you’re so stupid, haven’t you read the latest theory paper that shows that there is an a small negative net gain on average in the short run and small positive net gain on average in the long run when capital adjusts in a model with yadda yadda yadda.

Because the economic argument is, well, somewhat academic for most people. If you want to re-engineer the UK population so that it is more “cosmopolitan” and less British (with the possible side-effect: you get a greater share of the national income), that’s great and all, but why should the rest of us partake in this little scheme? Per capita GDP or the median wage isn’t the be all and end all of existence. And remember, even if it is, the economic effect is far from unambiguous, even to labour economists familiar with the literature.

In my opinion the most important considerations are non-economic. Most people are happy with the population as it is. They don’t understand why it has to be made to change, why they have to be made to change. The economic argument that they are bashed over the head with is just a distraction to ensure that they’re looking in the other direction while we get on with engineering a new population. And it’s the huge change to the population that needs to be debated, not the moderate LR net gains or losses to the average wage.

75. Richard W

Here are a couple of studies that deal specifically with the UK in recent years.

http://www.ucl.ac.uk/economics/job-market/jobmarketcandidates/frattini/fratinni_jobpaper.pdf

http://www.theworkfoundation.com/assets/docs/publications/33_migration%20myths.pdf

I was not for a moment failing to account for the brilliance of Prof. Lucas. Although, there are two economics Professors with the surname Lucas. However, just because someone is a distinguished scholar does not mean I accept everything they say without evidence. That would be an appeal to authority.

I do not deny that some workers in some sectors could lose out in terms of wages or employment opportunities. However, I do not believe that the net effect is negative for the country as a whole. Moreover, please do not think I am ascribing attitudes to you that you do not hold. But my difference with anti-immigration people is I do not believe that a British worker is any more worthy than a Polish worker. Moreover, the British poor are not anymore deserving than the Indian poor or the folks in Malawi. The anti-immigration folks appear to suggest that they are more worthy. Moreover, money wages are not the only factor. From an utilitarian perspective if the welfare gain for the migrant worker is greater than the utility loss for the worker who lost out the migration is overall utility enhancing.

Furthermore, what is an immigrant but someone who has crossed an imaginary line arbitrarily drawn on a map. If the EU had never been formed and the border between Belgium and the Netherlands still existed. A person on one side of the line is a native and walking a few meters magically transforms them into an immigrant. There is nothing rational about that type of thinking. So, I just see the world as one big market and would prefer it if the very concept of immigrant did not exist.

Richard W @ 75

I do not deny that some workers in some sectors could lose out in terms of wages or employment opportunities. However, I do not believe that the net effect is negative for the country as a whole.

Does it matter though? What comfort is there for the person who has just lost his and is trying to get another one, but cannot get back into the labour market thanks to an oversupply of young, healthy and mobile people into the workforce? Are you suggesting that he and his family should be proud of the contribution to GDP as the last of their possessions are packed up and transferred to a homeless hostel?

I do not dispute the fact that immigrant make a contribution to profit margins, but what you have to remember is in the past, we have had a pragmatic policy of quietly retiring people whose ability to make meaningful economic contribution was effectively over.

That policy is in the process of changing and you are about to have groups of young (and not so young) people who have been displaced from the labour market with little prospect of getting back into it.

If these people start to feel resentment or political movements start to foster and channel that resentment and he have conflict in this Country. There will be little point in the Country’s economists coming onto the streets waving books shouting ‘But, but, but the textbooks say its okay’.

The sad thing is, although we can all see this brewing and we can all see this happening before our very eyes, people like you won’t actually believe it until someone writes a book about it ten years after it has happened.

There’s 45% of 16 to 25 year olds unemployed in Spain I think.

78. the a&e charge nurse

[75] “But my difference with anti-immigration people is I do not believe that a British worker is any more worthy than a Polish worker” – do you mean Polish migrants in the UK, or do you mean ALL Polish workers, i.e. those plying their trade in Polska?

In other words, are you merely putting forward a possession is 9/10ths of the law sort of argument (by virtue of some people having got to England) or are your concerns with every worker in every other country?

Put another way – should we not be doing more to make sure the workers in Poland are earning as much as UK workers, rather than focussing on a minority who have sought to better themselves in more affluent economies?

Obviously once we have accepted the logic of such a position we cannot simply stop at Poland?

79. Robin Levett

@XXX #55:

in other words, it was still more lax than before the Labour Party came to power. And if the government was so restrictive on immigrations, why were immigration levels so much higher in 2010 than they were in 1997?

Demand.

@vimothy #57:

Perhaps it was the case that these were laws that were restrictive enough, but not enforced properly; or the laws were enforced properly but were not restrictive enough relative to the flows that obtained in practice–or, more probably, I suppose, some combination of the two. In any case, the whole regime can be taken as a failure, if as you suggest, its objective was to restrict immigration.

With which I broadly agree; and which makes a nonsense of using raw immigration figures as the sole arbiter of how restrictive a policy is.

But I must take issue with this:

Net flows started rising in the late ’90s

This isn’t completely true. Gross inflows had been rising since 1992; whether that led to a net inflow depended on the emigration figures, which fell at the start of the decade, but started to pick up from 1994-5. On one view, apart from a blip in 1992-3, net flows had been rising from the start of the 90s. (See fig 1 at p13).

80. DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells

If these people start to feel resentment or political movements start to foster and channel that resentment and he have conflict in this Country. There will be little point in the Country’s economists coming onto the streets waving books shouting ‘But, but, but the textbooks say its okay’.

The sad thing is, although we can all see this brewing and we can all see this happening before our very eyes, people like you won’t actually believe it until someone writes a book about it ten years after it has happened.

As far as I can tell he’s largely making a positive statement, not a normative one.

Some dead fella said it better than any of us could;

Instead of looking upon competition as the baneful and anti-social principle which it is held to be by the generality of Socialists, I conceive that, even in the present state of society and industry, every restriction of it is an evil, and every
extension of it, even if for the time injuriously affecting some class of labourers, is always an ultimate good. To be protected against competition is to be protected in idleness, in mental dulness; to be saved the necessity of being as active and as
intelligent as other people;
and if it is also to be protected against being underbid for employment by a less highly paid class of labourers, this is only where old custom, or local and partial monopoly, has placed some particular class of artisans in a privileged position as compared with the rest; and the time has come when the interest of universal improvement is no longer promoted by prolonging the privileges of a few.

If the slopsellers and others of their class have lowered the wages of tailors, and some other artisans, by making them an affair of competition instead of custom, so much the better in the end. What is now required is not to bolster up old customs, whereby limited classes of labouring people obtain partial gains which interest them in keeping up the present organization of society, but to introduce new general practices beneficial to all; and there is reason to rejoice at whatever makes the privileged classes of skilled artisans feel that they have the same interests, and depend for their remuneration on the same general causes, and must resort for the improvement of their condition to the same remedies, as the less fortunately circumstanced and comparatively helpless multitude.

81. Richard W

@ 76. Jim

Every time issues like this come up you confuse micro effects with the macro that I am speaking about. However, in your world of nothing being allowed to change if anyone is worse off means absolutely nothing would ever change. It is a Luddite world because every transformational technology displaces the folks who depended on the old technology for a living. Electricity would not have been allowed because it put those who lit gas lamps out of business. The logic of your position puts you historically arguing against the new motor car because the buggy whip makers would be put out of business. Widespread use of the telephone devastated an industry of telegraph boys. The internet has been disruptive for the newspaper industry putting many of them out of work. Earth moving machinery put lots of people who dug holes with shovels out of business. If the logic that the machinery should not have been allowed because some people were worse off is correct. Why not extend the logic and say instead of digging holes with shovels let them dig holes with spoons and more will be employed. We will be better off, right?

No new technology allowed because the new could damage the job prospects of those employed in the old. Moreover, no new entrants to the labour force allowed because that too could damage the job prospects of the existing workers. I know this is technology and you are speaking about people. However, the same fundamental logic applies.

There are thousands of other examples where the micro effect at the individual level is at some degree negative. However, the macro effect is positive. Do you see how how silly it is to use micro and macro interchangeably? Your arguments are fundamentally conservative. However, when should we have stopped and preserved the present as that which should constantly prevail ?

@ 78. the a&e charge nurse

“…do you mean Polish migrants in the UK, or do you mean ALL Polish workers, i.e. those plying their trade in Polska? ”

Both. If someone is arguing that we should not have Polish workers entering the UK labour market because it could be damaging for some British workers. That would be to look at one side only and ignore the benefit to the Polish worker. Moreover, there is a consumer of what the British and Polish worker has to offer. If both workers are providing plumbing services we are being asked to ignore the benefits to the consumer. Therefore, there are three interests in our scenario but we are being asked to concentrate only on the interests of one and ignore the gains for the other two.

” Put another way – should we not be doing more to make sure the workers in Poland are earning as much as UK workers, rather than focussing on a minority who have sought to better themselves in more affluent economies? ”

I agree if local economies were performing better there is less of a desire in people moving to more affluent areas. The best way for less affluent areas to raise their standard of living is to trade with more affluent areas. Unfortunately, the logic that says people should not cross borders should also suggest goods and services should not cross either. We should all be self-sufficient in everything and autarky should prevail. I realise that no one is actually explicitly saying that, but that is the logic of their position. Moreover, if international borders have logic preventing people moving. Why not have borders preventing workers moving between Manchester and Birmingham? Do Birmingham workers moving to Manchester not make Manchester workers worse off?

” Obviously once we have accepted the logic of such a position we cannot simply stop at Poland? ”

Strangely enough everyone from poorer areas do not just up sticks and move to more affluent areas. The ones who do move tend to be the brightest hard workers who almost by definition are the risk takers. The type of people our economy wants to encourage. That effect can be seen within a few generations with the descendant of immigrants outperforming the mean of the domestic population. That does not apply to all immigrant groups, but it is statistically significant.


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