Immigration: Miliband shouldn’t pander to the right’s fantasies


by Dave Osler    
2:21 pm - June 22nd 2012

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I remember home secretary David Blunkett chanelling Thatcher with his denunciation of asylum seekers ‘swamping’ British schools, and I remember self-professed veteran anti-racist Phil Woolas demanding tougher immigration controls. Boy, did those guys pull the wool over my eyes!

While ministers posed publicly as decently white racist riders on the Clapham omnibus, they were all the while dissing the plebs in Rochdale when they thought the microphone was switched off.

Not until the 2009 revelations from former Blair speechwriter Andrew Neather could any of us have guessed that New Labour was actually engaged in a clandestine plot to flood this country with foreigners.

Millions of people, Neather told us, were encouraged to enter Britain simply so that the government could ‘rub the right’s nose in diversity’. Cultural Marxism just doesn’t get more devious than that, right?

Neather’s unanswerable case was made on the basis of having caught sight of a draft report nine years earlier, highlighting if nothing else the chap’s monumental powers of recollection. That has to be proof enough for anybody.

None of this made it into the public version, of course, but that just underlines New Labour’s despicable sneakiness in this whole business.

Predictably, the hard right was not up for having its nose rubbed. Sir Andrew Green, chairman of the Migrationwatch think tank – that’s their designation, not mine –popped up in the Daily Telegraph to brand the whole thing a ‘conspiracy’ undertaken for ‘cynical political reasons’.

Over at the Daily Mail, Melanie Phillips delivered an equally damning judgement. Labour’s stance was ‘an attempt to change the very make up of this country without telling the electorate’, a ‘secret policy of deliberate national sabotage’, ‘elitist arrogance’, ‘an unalloyed act of treachery to the entire nation’.

Maybe it was all an awful lot of effort just to ensure an unlimited supply of nannies for north London yummy mummies, but hey, it paid off in the end.

All of which brings me to Ed Miliband’s speech today, in which he effectively concedes to the deranged misrepresentations of Sir Andrew and Ms Melanie.

Of course immigration is an issue among Labour voters, as anyone who canvasses for the party will be only to well aware. But the way to defuse it is not to denounce the Coalition for being insufficiently tough.

If immigration is placing strains on the housing supply, build more housing. If it undercutting wages – and the case isn’t proven – increase the minimum wage.

There are many things for which New Labour should be apologising to the electorate. But allowing more Polish people to live here is hardly one of them.

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About the author
Dave Osler is a regular contributor. He is a British journalist and author, ex-punk and ex-Trot. Also at: Dave's Part
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Reader comments


1. David Levene

So you criticise a speech where Miliband demands tougher minimum wage enforcement by saying he should have called for the minimum wage to be enforced.

HAS ANYONE ACTUALLY READ HIS SPEECH?

I feel more at home in this thread, thankyou.

“If immigration is placing strains on the housing supply, build more housing. ”

Might clash with environmental requirements.

We would build more houses and restrict immigration, bringing house prices down.

“If immigration is placing strains on the housing supply, build more housing. ”

Might clash with environmental requirements.

We could build more houses and restrict immigration, bringing house prices down.

Here we have someone claiming that there’s nothing wrong with current levels of immigration and that Labour should neither apologise for them nor try to mitigate them in any way.

At the same time, he suggests that the idea that current levels of immigration represent the result of conscious choices by policy makers is totally absurd. I mean, duh, really, only frightful loons like Melanie Phillips and Sir Andrew Green believe that sort of stuff, so it must be wrong. QED.

What can you say to such a person?

Rereading the OP, it’s actually a pretty classic example of what the Soviets used to call “crocodile laughter”.

We are told that the “hard-right” believe the self-evidently stupid idea that immigration policy is set according to a “nefarious” and “sinister” conspiracy run by “Cultural Marxists”. Oh my sides, but it’s all so wacky and implausible. Only a complete tool would be caught dead expressing anything remotely similar.

In reality, however, there is no conspiracy and never has been. This is just a jovial bit of distraction. Instead, the people in power thought that lots of immigration was a good thing. They still do. There’s no need to reach for the implausible to explain what happened (or rather, to rubbish any attempts to explain what happened, which is the OP’s goal). The mechanism couldn’t be any more straightforward. That’s what it means to be in power.

Another knee-jerk response:

n which he effectively concedes to the deranged misrepresentations of Sir Andrew and Ms Melanie.

How so?

If it undercutting wages – and the case isn’t proven – increase the minimum wage.

Not only does he focus on wages, but there are proven cases of wages being undercut (Gate Gourmet immediately comes to mind). Just because the aggregate situation (thanks to rich bankers coming over) was roughly equal doesn’t mean people on low wages weren’t hurt.

In claiming that immigration didn’t hurt wages, lefties are essentially using higher salaries of bankers to ignore the fact that poor people saw wages depressed. It boggles the mind.

8. Jim Monaghan

I have been searching all day for the chicken factory in Doncaster that Ed claims paid foreign workers £4ph and housed them 19/20 to a room and/or the union that “sorted” it. Can anyone help me with details? I’d hate to think that Ed just repeated an anecdotal immigration myth or, worse, made it up ;-)

“So you criticise a speech where Miliband demands tougher minimum wage enforcement by saying he should have called for the minimum wage to be enforced.”

No, the OP is saying that if there is a problem with foreign nationals taking jobs because they are cheaper, then the minimum wage has to go up. Miliband’s talking point was the “well duh” of ensuring minimum wages were adhered to. Which governments should be ensuring. Because it’s the law.

I remember home secretary David Blunkett chanelling Thatcher with his denunciation of asylum seekers ‘swamping’ British schools, and I remember self-professed veteran anti-racist Phil Woolas demanding tougher immigration controls…

It’s interesting that people who feel the Labour government were doctrinaire restrictions cite their words rather than what actually happened..

Yes, we need to raise the minimum wage. In Poland.

The minimum wage in Poland is approx. £2/hr.
Here of course it is £6.

So we can attract people who would in Poland be earning up to 3x the minimum wage. Indeed they would still be attracted at an (illegal) £4.

Such people are likely to be – let’s face it, they are – better educated, qualified, motivated, etc. etc. than those already here who would be attracted by £6.

Raise the minimum wage here and you will simply attract even better people from overseas.

Employers do not employ foreigners because they are cheaper, though they may in some trades hold wages down.
They employ them because they are much better.

And there’s not much we can do about it. Until wages in Poland catch up.

Sunny’s right to highlight the occasions where poor Polish workers bring down wages of poor British workers.

Thing is, unless they have the opportunity to migrate, poor Polish workers are poorer than poor British workers.

With immigrant labour, the poorer person gains and the richer person loses, which is a progressive outcome. It just happens that the two people are from different countries. It requires a nationalist outlook to see this as a game-changer.

13. Shatterface

If immigration is placing strains on the housing supply, build more housing.

If only we had a supply of cheep skilled labour. Oh, wait… A housing boom would help our own unemployed construction workers while disspelling the idea that immigrants who came here looking for work and didn’t find it were actually here for unemployment benefits instead

If it undercutting wages – and the case isn’t proven – increase the minimum wage.

I made this suggestion on the previous thread so obviously it is a great idea.

First off it prevents undercutting the settled population by people living lightly while they are just passing through; and secondly because the current NMW is miserly anyway.

And it has to be enforced. Divert some of those tasked to catch benefit cheats to catching those who exploit them.

Socialism ends at the English Channel, it seems, Duncan.

What actually happens when poor Polish workers migrate to the UK is that poor British workers lose out and rich British workers win. Hurray for socialism and free markets in labour!

And the way to stop “rich British workers” from winning is to ensure the minimum wage is such that they don’t profit from undercutting the expectations of local workers. I mean, you say polish here, but again I use my Welsh example… would we be crying like this if there was a national movement whereby Welsh workers were undercutting English workers at every turn?

Why should we think that this is a problem that can be solved simply by raising the minimum wage?

Labour spokespeople are always telling us that people with “concerns” about immigration aren’t racist, but we all know most of them are.

No one said it would be solved by rising the minimum wage alone, however if the problem is that employers can get workers cheaper from abroad, i.e. that british workers won’t “work down” to minimum wage at it’s current level, then the obvious easy answer is a rise of the NMW. That doesn’t solve every aspect of immigration’s issues, only that one.

I don’t see that it even solves that one. Say that you drive a taxi: what would your wage be in the absence of immigration? Who knows! Now, say instead that you work in a dry cleaners: what would your wage be in the absence of immigration? Again, who knows! Yet somehow, with a single minimum wage, you propose to undo the effects of continuous immigration flows on the real wages of all British workers.

Given that legislation inspired by the ‘concerns’ of racists is already costing us billions in lost tourist revenue (France gets ten times as many Chinese tourists as Britain, because it’s in Schengen and they spend a lot of money and create a lot of jobs), perhaps we could have a racist tax. Tourism is just one of the many ways in which we lose out to suit repulsive people. Let the scumbags pay for what their repulsive made up so-called concerns cost the rest of us.

One day we might be able to have a sensible debate about immigration. However I very much doubt we’ll see this within my lifetime…

FFS

Raise the NMW to £8.

Right, that’s now 4 x the Polish NMW instead of 3 x.

Will we attract more or fewer Poles?
Will they be of worse or better quality than those we already attract?
Will they make our NEET’s look better or worse by comparison?

The problem is that immigration puts downwards pressure on wages at the lower end of the income distribution. Raising the national minimum wage raises the floor in terms of what all workers can charge for their labour, and might or might not be a good idea on its own terms, but it doesn’t do anything to address the problem, which is the never-ending supply of cheap labour. Of course, you might also end up increasing the number of people who come here to work in now more-attractive low-paid jobs, causing yet more downward pressure on wages.

25. the a&e charge nurse

‘If immigration is placing strains on the housing supply, build more housing’ – hooray, how many houses will be built and when will they become available – anyway even if they ARE built who can afford to live in them?

I heard Ingerlund has one of the most significant housing shortages in Europe?
Apparently, ‘the best case scenario for the economy will require more than 280,000 extra homes each year. But if housing supply continues at the rate of the last twenty years at around 160,000 additions per year, the gap between the number of households and the number of available homes ranges from 255,000 and 1.2 million by 2025. Using the government’s own projection for household growth, ippr analysis shows that England will be 750,000 homes short of the required housing demand by 2025′.
http://www.propertywire.com/news/europe/england-property-shortage-houses-201105165179.html

As usual there is something of a gap between the rhetoric and reality – nowhere near enough houses, a situation unlikely to improve any time soon?

In the final analysis, capitalism always seeks to buy in the cheapest market and sell in the dearest – buy in the cheapest labour and sell the fruits of that labour in the dearest market. It can’t last indefinately, even with state intervention, the cracks start to show when those in the dearest markets can’t afford to purchase everyday needs. From history, liberal states then start blaming the foreigner.

“If immigration is placing strains on the housing supply, build more housing.”

Er, No. If you live in the south-east of England, the country feels very full! But immigrants by and large don’t want to go to the provinces…

Bensix @ 10: what makes you think that your graph is remotely reassuring? Immigration was very high in the years the graph covers, and emigration was quite high, too. But that will not reassure those Labour voters who have seen their neighbourhoods culturally transformed. Understandably, their perception is that they are being ‘swamped’ – even though the reality is that well-off retirees are moving to Spain, and skilled/professional people are moving to elsewhere in the anglosphere, while immigrants are arriving and inevitably moving into (even apparently colonising) poorer neighbourhoods…

steveb @ 26:

Facile Marxist ‘analysis’. And you can’t even spell ‘indefinitely’ correctly…*sigh*

Typical slur of migrationwatch by calling them hardright, mirationwatch has people from different ethnicitys on there board, hazhir teimourian a man from asia and george kronfli a sudanese businessman to name just two. All people like osler can do is slur there opponents who disagree with there views on immigration, poll after poll has shown people want immigration cut including people from minority ethnic groups.

28

Well, other than my typo, and your astute observation that talking about capitalism might be something to do with marxism, how do you think markets work, – pay dearly for labour possibly.

27

Btw, the ‘No’ in you second sentence shouldn’t have a capital letter, it follows a comma you see.

32. Shatterface

Raise the NMW to £8.

Right, that’s now 4 x the Polish NMW instead of 3 x.

Will we attract more or fewer Poles?

It will mean British workers can live on the wages offered.

If they are taking those jobs there are fewer vacancies to attract labour from abroad.

Will they be of worse or better quality than those we already attract?
Will they make our NEET’s look better or worse by comparison?

Hypothetically, do you have a problem with ‘better quality’ immigrants?

@31 He could have meant for it to be read in the style of Indrick Boreale saying no…

I wrote to Brown in 2009 about a local chicken factory in which the people were getting paid a £1 less then the min wage, the money was deducted for overalls which should be supplied free. I also wrote because the council had just taken the land lord which was the agency for which these people worked and had nine people to a room and had used the bathroom as a bedroom.

Bit like Ed knocking on a door of a disabled person, and knowing the disabled person was able to work, just by looking at them.

Seems we have chicken farms and disability problems.

Past Labour Governments acted to arrest the importation of a new working class whose members understood no English except commands, knew nothing about workers’ rights in this country, could be deported if they stepped out of line, and, since they had no affinity with any particular locality here, could be moved around at will. They acted against the enforced bilingualism or multilingualism that transfers economic, social, cultural and political power to a bilingual or multilingual élite, to the exclusion of the English-speaking working class, black and white.

The No2EU – Yes to Democracy list was headed both in the East Midlands and in Yorkshire and the Humber by leaders of the Lindsey oil refinery workers. The trade union closed shop prevented such abuses, as surely as it guaranteed to the Tory 40 to 45 per cent of the industrial working class a moderating influence on the selection of the Labour parliamentary candidates for the safe Labour constituencies in which they lived.

The Co-Chairman of Balanced Migration is a Labour MP, Frank Field. Participants in it include Ian Davidson, a leading Co-operative MP; Baroness Boothroyd; Lord Jordan, a veteran trade union leader; Lord Ahmed, a prominent Muslim peer; Ann Cryer, a former Socialist Campaign Group MP, the widow of another and the mother of a third; Hazhir Teimourian, a London-based Kurdish journalist; Peter Kilfoyle, who resigned from the Blair Government in order to act as its critical friend before opposing the invasion of Iraq; and Lord Skidelsky, a founding and finishing member of the SDP who went on to resign from the Conservative front bench in order to oppose the bombing of Kosovo, and whose latest book is entitled Keynes: The Return of the Master.

Long effectively joined by Jon Cruddas and Maurice Glasman. And today, effectively joined by Ed Miliband.

steveb @ 26, 30 and 31

“buy in the cheapest labour and sell the fruits of that labour in the dearest market. It can’t last indefinately…”

Yes, it can even last indefinitely, because somewhere will always be the cheapest for whatever. Always. That’s what competition in a free market produces. Duh!

“the ‘No’ in you second sentence shouldn’t have a capital letter, it follows a comma you see.”

Take your own advice. And, btw, omitting the inverted commas is a permissible ellipsis.

@32 talk about missing the point!

The competition for the vacancies will be between British NEET’s on the one hand and (e.g.) Poles who would otherwise be working in Poland at the type of job that paid 3-4x the Polish minimum wage, i.e. quite skilled ones.

Whom do you think employers would prefer to employ?

Employers don’t find themselves saying, oh, I can’t find any applicants here, I’d better call for some from overseas.
The overseas people are beating a path to their door in order to work for, to repeat, 3-4x their own NMW.

36

So let me get this right, you are asserting that because something (in this case markets) acted in a particular way in the past then they will continue to act in the same way in the future. On what basis do you come to that conclusion?

CJ @ 37

Employers don’t find themselves saying, oh, I can’t find any applicants here, I’d better call for some from overseas.

To be fair, though, some employers are recruiting directly from places like Poland.

There is a meat packing factory less than ten miles where I live where the employment agency that supplies staff have an office in Poland. British people are de facto barred from applying for jobs there.

Not only that, but I bet your local Care home will have actively recruited Qualified nursing staff from oversees, EU and non EU at that. You will find fully qualified nurses Philippines in many care homes across the Country.

However, I do agree with the general thrust of your argument, assuming I understand correctly.

“Typical slur of migrationwatch by calling them hardright, mirationwatch has people from different ethnicitys on there board”

Because non-white’s can’t be right wing!

“Er, No. If you live in the south-east of England, the country feels very full! But immigrants by and large don’t want to go to the provinces…”

Build housing out in the sticks, and you’ll need businesses to service those houses, which need workers, which’ll fill houses. Couple this with tax breaks for businesses that are run from these areas, and you can relocate portions of the population out of the south west in to this new housing too.

We need to break the link between employment and the south east, but that means actually preparing the ground for it, and not just wishing it in to existence.

“Whom do you think employers would prefer to employ?”

So basically you’re saying the problem isn’t that Poles bring down wages for the British working class (which is true; we’ve established there’s no evidence that they do, and that in any case any potential such problem could be dealt with by raising the NMW), but rather that the British working class are so shit that employers would rationally choose a Pole over a working class Brit?

Well, it’s a theory.

“The competition for the vacancies will be between British NEET’s on the one hand and (e.g.) Poles who would otherwise be working in Poland at the type of job that paid 3-4x the Polish minimum wage, i.e. quite skilled ones.”

False tautology. There is no less reason that someone who is polish and incapable of getting more than their minimum wage would come to the UK than someone capable of already achieving the wage the UK is offering. Indeed I’d suggest the opposite is true (why move away from your family, your home, your heritage…all for the same wage and higher living costs?).

Employers won’t know if the polish person is the polish minimum wage type or the 4x polish minimum wage type, so unless they can show that they are actually more skilled they have no advantage….

…but should someone less skilled get the job anyway just because they’re British?

“If immigration is placing strains on the housing supply, build more housing.”

Of course. Screw the environment and any concerns about how we will find the energy to support an increasing population or money to cope with the increased infrastructure demands, the main thing is to turn one of the most densely populated countries in the world into a place where more foreign nationals can get jobs and housing. It would be selfish and ‘nationalist’ not to do this. Brilliant.

“…but should someone less skilled get the job anyway just because they’re British?”

No, let’s have an ever-increasing proportion of young people with no jobs or prospect of a job, costing more in welfare and becoming increasingly frustrated. What could possibly go wrong?

“With immigrant labour, the poorer person gains and the richer person loses, which is a progressive outcome.”

No, the poorest Britons lose while economic migrants and richer Britons win. A recipe for disaster.

You will not achieve socialist equality by employing unrestrained market forces. You will benefit people from other countries, but disadvantage people from Britain itself. Funnily enough, most British people won’t think that a terribly great idea and won’t want the government of the day to do so.

“Of course. Screw the environment and any concerns about how we will find the energy to support”

Or…rather…don’t, find a way to do it in harmony with the environment, and keep looking for more ways to generate energy. You know the great thing about doing both of these too? They create more jobs while you’re at it!

“No, let’s have an ever-increasing proportion of young people with no jobs or prospect of a job”

you’re a one man logical fallacy creator aren’t you! There are many intertwining issues at play with regards to unemployment, immigration is one aspect, but is not a cause, merely a contributory factor at best. Immigration causing issues with employment is actually caused by other issues, issues that if solved would reduce the attractiveness of immigrant labour on non-ability measures.

So, if there is a problem with there being not enough jobs, then create more jobs. If you can’t just create more jobs, then create the environment to allow others to create the jobs. It’s not a black and white “stop immigration or accept high unemployment” situation.

I’ll ask you the same thing I asked Sunny… if there was high unemployment in wales, and those unemployed in wales moved to London, leaving London born and bred youths unemployed, what would you do to solve that?

“Funnily enough, most British people won’t think that a terribly great idea and won’t want the government of the day to do so.”

So you think poor Britons are going to vote against the government pledging to increase their wage prospects by increasing the minimum wage?

Duncan Stott: With immigrant labour, the poorer person gains and the richer person loses, which is a progressive outcome. It just happens that the two people are from different countries. It requires a nationalist outlook to see this as a game-changer.

Indeed it does. Unless you think the British public will happily subsidise a welfare state for the benefit of poor Indians and Chinese workers…?

If you (and Lee Griffin) want open borders, say so. Don’t beat around the bush. But please don’t also pretend that you’ll have a functioning welfare state like now if we have open borders. The support for welfare will drop immediately. So pick one or the other.

But please don’t also pretend that you’ll have a functioning welfare state like now if we have open borders

Why the hell not? Open borders; full welfare state for citizens; no welfare for non-citizens (aside from reciprocal deals, spouses of citizens, etc). Job done.

Indeed it does. Unless you think the British public will happily subsidise a welfare state for the benefit of poor Indians and Chinese workers…?

If you (and Lee Griffin) want open borders, say so. Don’t beat around the bush. But please don’t also pretend that you’ll have a functioning welfare state like now if we have open borders. The support for welfare will drop immediately. So pick one or the other.

I didn’t realise I was beating around the bush at all, we have largely open borders, I think we should have fully open borders. I also think fully open borders should come with international agreements on welfare to make it feasible.

As for who is happy for what with welfare, I’m not sure to what level wealthy South East pensioners and bankers are happy that they’re subsidising poor North Eastern or Cornish people, perhaps then you are in agreement with Tory moves to cut welfare on the same pretense you’re making here, since London has an open borders policy with the rest of the UK?

“But please don’t also pretend that you’ll have a functioning welfare state like now if we have open borders.”

As the population ages, I would suggest the precise opposite is true.

john: full welfare state for citizens; no welfare for non-citizens

So, no housing or any welfare for asylum seekers, or homeless people? No benefits for European workers? Does that include depriving them of NHS resources too?

I also think fully open borders should come with international agreements on welfare to make it feasible.

I didn’t realise we were living in fantasy land. How do you propose to work with welfare agreements with China or India for example? That point on London subsidising the rest of the UK makes no sense. People don’t have a problem with national welfare states.

Would you folks deprive people coming into the UK in an open borders scenario of NHS treatment then? And if not – what if the number of people coming here for NHS treatment increased five-fold?

That’s not my primary point, though a lot of employers do complain about Brit versus (eg) Polish work ethic.

It’s rather that if you are paying 3 x Polish min wage you attract higher quality people from Poland than you will attract from the UK where that same amount is just 1 x the min wage.

Imagine that some other country was paying £18/hr for unskilled manual work.
It wouldn’t just be the unskilled from the UK who would be attracted, would it?
So employers there would be spoilt for choice.
So they are here wrt eastern Europe.

@ OP

If immigration is placing strains on the housing supply, build more housing. If it undercutting wages – and the case isn’t proven – increase the minimum wage.

And you will have fewer jobs and greater unemployment.

@ 38

So let me get this right, you are asserting that because something (in this case markets) acted in a particular way in the past then they will continue to act in the same way in the future. On what basis do you come to that conclusion?

The laws of economics.

@42

the British working class are so shit that employers would rationally choose a Pole over a working class Brit? Well, it’s a theory.

Sadly, it’s a fact.

@ 46

please don’t also pretend that you’ll have a functioning welfare state like now if we have open borders. The support for welfare will drop immediately. So pick one or the other.

Open borders, please.

@48

I also think fully open borders should come with international agreements on welfare to make it feasible.

As Sunny points out, this is nonsense. We agree to give Somalians coming here income support Housing benefit and Winter Fuel Allowance for their parents and in return we get…..?

You need to pick one or the other. Like I did above. Go on. Which?

Terrible headline. When talking about immigration and multi-culturalism it’s difficult to get past people’s ideology.
The general line from the left has been that if you are critical of how particular neighbourhoods or parts of cities have changed in the last thirty years due to immigration, then you’re probably being racist.
I don’t know if it’s the same at the top end in the most expensive houses in London too, where foriegn millionaires have pushed up the prices so high that there’s hardly a a Brit left living in some roads. Is it OK not to like having one of Colonel Gaddafi’s children as a neighbour? Or dubious Saudi princes and Russian millionaires?
I’d have thought that was OK, because it wouldn’t be just their nationality you didn’t like, but the fact that they were using your community to store their ill gotten gains.

Remember the advert for Milton Keynes in the 1970s, that ended with the line: ”Wouldn’t it be nice if everywhere was like Milton Keynes?”
I sometimes think the same of our most extremely diverse, ‘first port of call’ areas of London for new immigrants. The inner city boroughs and places like west Croydon, Tottenham and Newham. There is really something revolutionary and transformative about some of those areas I think. Just walking through Streatham the other night I felt it. Past the block with all the Somalian shops and cafes where the men like to stand out on the street talking into the evening. And where getting on the bus you hear conversations and people talking on phones with languages you can only guess what they are.
I kind of like it, but I’ve just been living in Northern Ireland, and the difference is quite stark. They too have immigrants and ethnic minorities, but are not at the stage where they have become local majorities anywhere.
It’s different.

John B @ 47

Why the hell not? Open borders; full welfare state for citizens; no welfare for non-citizens (aside from reciprocal deals, spouses of citizens, etc). Job done.

The problem with excluding people from welfare is you end up driving those people into squalor and the very kind of problems that the Welfare State was introduced to tackle. It is very easy to suggest that immigrants should not receive council housing for example, but then all you do is encourage slum landlords and the kind of problems we saw in Victorian times. In fact we are seeing the kinds of population density issues (seven or eight people in houses designed for four) that cause problem with things like noisy neighbours, rubbish collection etc that others in the local community have to suffer. Slums are not just an a living hell for those living there they are a breeding ground for social ills too. Cardboard suburbs blight the cities they are attached to.

Excluding people from Social Security payments is short sighted too, because you quickly create an underclass of protection-less workers who will be used to undercut legitimate employees.

So, if you support the Welfare State, excluding people from it will end up undermining the very problems you are attempting to address for your own citizens.

“So, if there is a problem with there being not enough jobs, then create more jobs.”

Of course. Simple. Why did no one think of that? Wh aren’t more governments simply doing that when it’s so straightforward? Why don’t they also raise all wages and double pensions while they’re at it? More money? Just print more.

“So you think poor Britons are going to vote against the government pledging to increase their wage prospects by increasing the minimum wage?”

Oh look, a lovely strawman. I wasn’t talking about raising the minimum wage, as you know. On the contrary, I was talking of the folly of “employing unrestrained market forces” by not protecting in any way the job prospects of our young people. Raising the minimum wage is of no use whatsoever to those people who don’t actually have a job. And you are ignoring larger costs: Non-nationals out of work can simply up and return to their country of origin. This country and nowhere else has to deal with the social and economic fallout of younger British people not getting work.

“I’ll ask you the same thing I asked Sunny… if there was high unemployment in wales, and those unemployed in wales moved to London, leaving London born and bred youths unemployed, what would you do to solve that?”

I don’t know. unlike yourself, I am not an economic genius who would presumably simply ‘create new jobs’ by plucking them out of thin air. But the implied parallel with Poland is nonsense. Wales and London are part of the same country and culture, with the same tax, welfare and infrastructure system. Poland isn’t. As pointed out, people don’t have a problem with national welfare state schemes, because they are aware that everyone is paying into the same pot, and they feel a degree of cultural and social allegiance with them. That allegiance is rather like a form of family loyalty. You will undermine support for a welfare state if more and more people are receiving it who have never contributed to it. It’s quite a natural feeling: most people just don’t think it is fair.

The really fantastical element in the OP is the idea that this is an issue which is split along partisan lines. In reality, the right are just as committed for ideological reasons as the left. Instead, the country is divided into ordinary people, who want to live as they always have done, and the people who control all the important institutions, who couldn’t give a fig about what ordinary people want, and who are busy transforming the country out of existence.

Although actually taken from a discussion of illegal immigration in the US, I think this passage by Jim Kalb sums up the dynamic in the UK as well:

“As to immigration, the people value the ties that make them a people and believe that the country should be run for their own benefit. Ruling elites, by contrast, are concerned with the power and efficiency of governing institutions, the status and security of those who run them, and maintenance of the liberal principles that support and justify their rule. It is in their interest to expand the human resources available to them, even at the expense of those who are already citizens, and to weaken the mutual ties that make it possible for the people to resist rational management and to act somewhat independently. In addition, any moderately self-seeking ruling class prefers cooperating with members of the ruling class in other countries to representing the interests of their constituents. The practical result of such influences has the suppression of immigration as an issue in the interest of an emerging borderless world order. Restrictionist arguments are scantily presented in the mainstream media, and concern with cultural coherence, national identity, or even the well-being of one’s country’s workers is routinely denigrated as ignorant and racist nativism.”

57

The people who couldn’t give a fig about ordinary people are those who want to buy cheap labour.

And this thread also highlights the contradiction with some free-market supporters – while they would shout about protectionism in markets they then support the view that there should be barriers within labour markets. Suddenly our indigenous culture becomes all important, the fact that over the past hundred years the UK population have embraced cultural goods from all over the world, including the obnoxious ‘trick or treat’.

53

But the laws of economics do not prevail do they, the state ensures that, because if they did, we would not be arguing about immigration.

“Wales and London are part of the same country and culture”

Words don’t even.

Enjoy that bit where you don a white outfit with a rose on’t and cheer for England at Cardiff Arms Park on a Six Nations weekend, won’t you?

Meanwhile, freedom of factors of production are the same fucking thing. Full-on far-left types who support bans on imports have a pass here – I don’t agree with you, but at least you have a coherent position.

But if you think we should have free trade, then the only reason not to add freedom of worker movement to it is bigotry. And freedom of worker movement can easily be linked to stronger unions, higher minimum wages and other factors to ensure we all end up better off for it.

Steveb,

The people who couldn’t give a fig about ordinary people are those who want to buy cheap labour.

Some of them, surely, but not all. Many wealthy people benefit indirectly from higher house prices, cheaper services and so on.

It’s also tempting to think that the economic self-interest of our elites can explain our current situation, but I think the reality is more complicated and in line with what Jim Kalb describes in the short excerpt I posted above. The people who run this country really do believe in this sort of stuff. It seems consistent with the basic principles of liberalism, from which they derive their authority, and which serve as their only reference point. Sucks for the rest of you, perhaps, but it’s hard to see how it could be any other way.

Of course, it just so happens that it makes them materially better off. But then, God has always smiled on His children, and so this naturally serves to reinforce their belief in the inherent rightness of what they do.

““Wales and London are part of the same country and culture”

Words don’t even.”

They are obviously much more so than Wales or London are part of the same country and culture as, say, Poland. And they do undeniably share the same infrastructure, tax and welfare system. No amount of scoffing-minus-any-counter-argument can alter that.

You can pretend all you like that there is no intrinsic difference between the relation of Wales to England and England or Wales to countries outside of the UK, but most people will think you are nuts. That’s why the open borders or ‘simply build more houses and create more jobs’ position is pie-in-the-sky and has hardly any public support in England, Wales or anywhere else in the UK.

Meanwhile, freedom of factors of production are the same fucking thing. Full-on far-left types who support bans on imports have a pass here – I don’t agree with you, but at least you have a coherent position.

I find that this is not untypical of your average liberal argument for unfettered immigration.

There is an economic argument, and that argument is supposed to be decisive—nothing more need be said about the issue.

In this particular variant, we’re not referred to particular facts or theories. Instead, we’re told that, in principle, free movement among the factors is the same thing, and so, the implication goes, one cannot object to the free movement of labour without objecting to the free movement of capital. Since we do not object to the free movement of capital, we can’t reasonably object to the free movement of labour either. (Actually, the commenter makes a somewhat incongruous statement about outputs, but we’ll leave that aside.)

As arguments go, it isn’t very persuasive. Capital and labour are not the same thing, and nothing commits us to supporting the free movement of capital either. Poof! In any case, the discussion does not begin and end with an economic argument—even one as strange as this, which doesn’t try to connect means and ends.

Since the economic argument is supposed to be decisive, you might think this would be the end of it, but no. In fact, the economic argument is just felt to be the best available instrument to bring about an end that seems to logically follow from first principles: a borderless world under one liberal authority. If the economic argument turns out to be lighter than air, then we simply reach for something else. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find anything else in terms of positive argument that will appeal to most people. The idea of dissolving all particular communities into one global technocracy united under liberal values seems like it could be pretty soulless.

So instead the project needs to be advanced indirectly, through connotation. The sort of people who object to totally open borders are racists. If you object to totally open borders, you must also be a racist. Adolf Hitler was a racist too, you know. If people can’t be convinced that totally open borders are in their best interest, they must be convinced that they can’t object to them. Essentially, brow-beaten into submission.

Ed says they got things wrong.
Where does that leave David Goodhart’s essay from 2004 about the effects of mass immigration on the wider population? It got slagged off a lot on the left I remember.
Trevor Phillips took a particular dislike to it.

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.

Article: “I remember home secretary David Blunkett chanelling Thatcher with his denunciation of asylum seekers ‘swamping’ British schools”

So do I – and reading his speech I very much expected more of the same, particularly given that the speech has been lauded by many of the usual suspects who basically want Labour to jump onto the right wing bandwagon. There are those who would very much like Labour to try to outcompete the Tories on being “tough” on asylum seekers, and to return to theatrical displays of anguish (as they did toward the end of the Brown years) at the terrible threat to British culture posed by these beastly immigrants failing in their duty to integrate.

But – I think this speech was actually not bad overall. There were some things I wouldn’t endorse – indeed, he does risk giving legitimacy to the “they let them in on purpose to get votes” theory, by effectively apologising for previous governments, and blaming the huge wave of migration on Labour not listening to the working class.

Labour were certainly not failing to hear those voices; as I recall they were desperately scrambling to appease those voices, and failed because it was an impossible task. That was partly because the wave of immigration was basically unstoppable (banning it just would have made it illegal, not stopped it), but also because the narrative they were trying to combat wasn’t grounded in fact. No-one was giving asylum seekers free cars, but that didn’t stop there being a widespread belief that Labour were doing that, even as they deported asylum seekers into obviously dangerous situations on every available technicality.

Oh yes, and am I misinterpreting him or is he calling for exit controls? It sounds to me like he is, for all his talk of not making unrealistic promises. I think everyone realises that there are reasons no government has done it yet…

But overall, he’s getting there. It’s not often I’ve read a major speech on immigration by a political leader in recent years and been able to say that.

63

Sorry, I have just seen this post.

‘Capital and labour are not the same things’, – have to disagree here, in markets, labour is a commodity just like raw materials. It is a false distinction to divide the two because labour cost is the most important factor in ascertaining whether production is viable. The rest is not the business of individual producers because ‘the market’ should address all eventualities.

Is there any room for democracy here? Every opinion poll shows a majority of British oppose mass immigration. Are they simply to be ignored?

I don’t want London to have the same population density as Hong Kong or Mumbai personally. It is overcrowded as it is.

Your suggestion that al the necessary new housing would be environmentally friendly is cloud cuckoo land. Never mind the general increased energy consumption – and overall resource consumption – of the massive surge in population you seem to anxiously desire.

The problem that unemployed British face, especially the young, is that they are he product, or rather victim, of four decades of decline in the education system, with the witless nonsense of child centred learning. I give work experience to schoolchildren and jobs to graduates. The former have pitiful communication skills – often they have had no socialisation outside their own peer group. They are illiterate and innumerate. One could only speak in an incomprehensible South London dialect.

The graduates are not much better. So no wonder they cannot compete with foreigners who have enjoyed a traditional education.

The property owning, tradesman hiring middle classes benefit from mass immigration, except when their children are trying to get into whatever good schools and universities are left. The working class do not.

67
“The problems that unemployed British face, especially the young, is that they are a product, or rather a victim, of four decades of decline in the education system”

Guardian comment, 16/4/12 on youth unemployment in the EU ‘Unemployment rates Soar by 50%’.

If your hypothesis is correct, the same phenomenon appears to be happening throughout Europe.

68: Not for the same reasons, most of Europe is in dire straits because of overborrowing to finance a lifestyle it couldn’t afford. The Germans will have to take a massive hit one way or another, but then they can blame themselves for advancing credit cheaply in the delusional years.

Secondly, why does the debate have to be just about money? Some people prefer to live in their own communities, and not have them replaced by random foreign cultures just because Andrew Neather wants a cheap au pair. This isn’t being racist, or if it is, it is hard to imagine a country in the world which isn’t guilty of it, thus rendering the term meaningless.

Of course most of us find other cultures interesting and stimulating; but we also reject other cultural practises such as the Hindu Caste system, the extreme forms of Sharia law, the attitude of African Church leaders towards other religions, gays and women, the practise of FGM, etc etc. Limited immigration would bring benefits of diversity without allowing the creation of self-contained communities (or ghettos if you prefer) where such backward attitudes amongst recent immigrants can be preserved for generations.

Yet the Multicultural Thought Police in charge of local schools where I live in London seem not to be able to criticise any of the above. No wonder a sensible discussion about restricting immigration cannot be had.

70. Chaise Guevara

@ 67 Bryan

“Is there any room for democracy here? Every opinion poll shows a majority of British oppose mass immigration. Are they simply to be ignored?”

We live in a democracy, and the public keeps voting for parties that don’t slam the immigration gates shut. Britain doesn’t use Athenian-style direct democracy; if you think it should, fair enough (though I disagree), but then surely that’s a much broader issue than just immigration.

“I don’t want London to have the same population density as Hong Kong or Mumbai personally. It is overcrowded as it is.”

London, yes. Manchester, meanwhile, seems to have a lot of existing homes lying fallow. And if London expanded to fit incoming population then it might not end up any more “overcrowded” than it currently is in any meaningful sense.

“Your suggestion that al the necessary new housing would be environmentally friendly is cloud cuckoo land.”

Who said that?

“Never mind the general increased energy consumption – and overall resource consumption – of the massive surge in population you seem to anxiously desire.”

But those people would be consuming energy and other resources wherever they lived. Food and power don’t become non-issues the moment you leave the UK.

“The problem that unemployed British face, especially the young, is that they are he product, or rather victim, of four decades of decline in the education system, with the witless nonsense of child centred learning.”

It’s beyond me how you can dismiss centering education around the educatee as “witless”. But in any case, the effect of this alleged educational decline seems to have hit pretty much all at once, around the same time as the recession. A statistical blip, perhaps?

71. Chaise Guevara

@ 69 Bryan

“Secondly, why does the debate have to be just about money? Some people prefer to live in their own communities, and not have them replaced by random foreign cultures just because Andrew Neather wants a cheap au pair. This isn’t being racist, or if it is, it is hard to imagine a country in the world which isn’t guilty of it, thus rendering the term meaningless. ”

How are we defining the idea of one’s own community here? Skin colour? Political views? Favourite foods? It’s impossible to say whether it’s racist or not until you stop hiding behind the ambiguity of “community”.

Also, the last sentence makes no sense. Yes, racism exists in every country, but that doesn’t make the term “meaningless”. Most things exist in every country. Every country has murder, but that doesn’t mean that murder is “meaningless” and that we should therefore stop distinguishing between murderers and non-murderers. You’re using a bizarre metric to determine whether a word has meaning or not.

Agree with you about ghettoisation, however.

69

Have I missed a trick – @67 you stated that the reason there were so many unemployed young people in the UK was because they were a victim of the educational system.

@68 It was pointed-out that the statistics for youth employment were basically reflected throughout Europe.

You then say it was for different reasons eg the rest of Europe apparently overborrowed, so the UK didn’t? You then ask why the debate has to be about money, well you are the only one who brought that subject up, the discussion was about youth unemployment and a correlation (or not) with education standards.
Then some stuff about race and culture – a red herring if ever I saw one.

We did over borrow, but not to the same extent as the PIIGS countries by any means.

I have seen the results of the child centred learning experiment first hand, as an employer. Believe me, witless is an understatement. They cannot relate to anything outside their pitifully narrow perspective, lack the three R’s and basic life skills, and have next to no general knowledge.

Communities are defined not by skin colour, and food is a pretty minor aspect. Standards, attitudes and values define by a shared history is nearer the mark. Art, food and the like are part of it, though of less importance. The Indian middle class who came here after getting turfed out of East Africa share broadly the same values as the English middle class, so integrated here quite easily. Other cultures which are homophobic, racist, sexist and wedded to stone age religious beliefs (and no I don’t just mean one religion here) do not share my values.

As for democracy, no referendum has ever been held on immigration, and Labour admitted lying about it while in office. That’s not democratic by any means.

If Britain morphs into a giant version of Mumbai, which has desperate overcrowding, no welfare state to speak of, a bigoted caste system and a small elite pool of rich people enjoying cheap labour and exotic cuisine, I for one won’t be celebrating. Or living here, for that matter. I prefer England as a green and pleasant land, countryside preserved, and managed migration ensuring integration of newcomers and a preservation of the NHS (which needs targeted, not mass immigration) and the welfare state, with a decent minimum wage, and no outdated attitudes. An open border will destroy all that.

Also, immigration is no answer to an ageing population. It is a ponzi scheme – import millions more youngsters to pay for the old, who then become old themselves, requiring many millions more … The answer is to extend retirement ages, which makes sense since they were introduced at a time when life expectancy was far lower.

73

You appear to be conflating two different subjects, looking at youth unemployment in March 2012, the UK rate is the same as France, in fact the UK is lower than Sweden and the majority of other European countries, and it is ridiculous to argue that it is because the rest overspent and we did not. In fact many right-wing posters on LC blame New Labour for not regulating the financial markets as the cause of the credit crunch.

There has been a long discussion on another thread about education, so I won’t take you up on that, suffice to say that I don’t agree with you.

As for culture and values, over the past hundred years or so, the UK has imported cultural goods and symbols from all over the world. IMO, Thatcherism was the most radical cultural change to the 20th century.

.

How about sorting the tax/benefit system so that people are better off in work than on the dole?
As long as we have Gordon Brown’s legacy of marginal rates of tax of 200+% for someone without Norman Tebbit’s bicycle travelling to work we are going to have a housing shortage because Poles and other Europeans will come here to do jobs that British guys can’t afford to take because their family will suffer too much if they do so.
I like Poles, especially the ones I know/knew, two of whom helped win the Battle of Britain after we had failed to protect Poland from Germany and Russia (the Poles outnumbered the Americans fighting for us 147 to 1 in BoB). However I think that putting British people in British jobs is better because it would reduce the housing shortage and allow normal people (i.e. ignoring plutocrats) to rent houses. In my town, because it is within commuting range of London, a Social Worker cannot pay the rent for a flat, let alone a house, unless he/she has a spouse/partner earning a living wage. That is STUPID.

I am not denying that Britain overspent, and overspent badly, but it is not in the same league as the PIIGs in that regard, as the public accounts show.

The point about education was that British school leavers now are at a great disadvantage when trying to compete for jobs, because their education (if at one too many state schools) has been so poor. It is not just a question of wages, ie foreigners being prepared to work for less, though that is a factor for all the British on welfare. Increasing the minimum wage will bring still more immigrants and compound the issue.

Pret a Mange is a good example. Famously, their London branches hire very few British people (of whatever ethnicity). The product of too many British state schools have, as I said at 73, is young people who speak mangled English – almost a dialect – have no interpersonal skills, no grasp of the three R’s and no general knowledge, yet have developed a sense of entitlement that gives them a crushing sense of injustice that they do not have flash cars and loose women (or men). Believe me I wish it were otherwise, but it is not. Thus, who are Pret going to hire? Enthusiastic and presentable immigrants, or surley and hapless, grunting British, most of whom probably won’t apply anyway as welfare is seen as less demeaning than basic customer service jobs?

In an age of environmental awareness reducing, or at the very least stabilizing, the population of Britain would seem to be an obvious aim. Then there is the matter of preserving the existing culture and way of life, but then again that is despised and derided by some (usually those who enjoy the benefits of the British way of life and blind themselves to the faults of others) but Britain seems uniquely disdainful of its own.


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