Immigration Nation

I am on the wrong side of public opinion on one of the major issues of the time.

I support the free movement of Labour across Europe, and am, in general, of the belief that immigration is not a great national evil to be opposed. This is, clearly,  not the popular centrist stance I usually find myself enjoying.

As a fellow who regards the business of winning votes as not irrelevant to the proper practice of politics, this poses a conundrum.

So here’s my pitch to voters who I know disagree with me1.

Yes. Immigration is an issue.

No, it’s not racist to be concerned by it.

Yes, we should talk about it, and work out what to do about it.

Back in the days of the British Empire, it used to be said that to be born British was to have won life’s lottery.

It doesn’t much feel like it, but that’s still true today.

Britain is one of the richest, longest lived, best educated, freest places in the world.

The sixty-five million of us who live here are envied, across Europe and around the world. That’s why some of the other seven billion people in the world want to come and live here.

It’s the same reason the Irish came a hundred years ago and the Commonwealth migrants came fifty years ago, why Jewish migrants fled the Nazis.

Britain was a place where all could find good jobs, better wages, a place to express their views freely. 

So in one sense, immigration is a good problem.  Don’t laugh.

If you’re a successful, growing economy in an open society, more people will want to arrive than to leave.

Australia has an immigration problem because it’s a country tens of thousands of people want to live in.

North Korea has the reverse problem.

I know where I’d rather be, which is why every year thirty or forty thousand British people emigrate to Australia, and none move to North Korea.

So we know immigration is good for migrants, and it’s a sign your country is doing better than most.

It also probably makes the country richer.

Migrants work hard, pay taxes and live cheaply. Because they tend to be younger and employed they tend to contribute financially through taxes more than they take out in benefits.

So immigration is a good thing – for migrants and their children – people like me, and quite a lot of us. It’s good for the country too.

But here’s the rub. 

None of that matters.  

Because none of those things makes immigration good for British people.

Truth is, there are clear ways immigration makes life more stressful, makes living here harder.

There’s greater pressure on housing. Where there are sudden increases in population there are pressures on schools, and doctors appointments and hospitals.

There’s cultural elements too – other languages being spoken, different ways of behaving. 

Now Government can – and should – do a better job of handling those pressures.

Of making sure school places are kept in line with children, of making sure public services don’t suffer because of new demands. Making sure you get a hospital appointment when you want it and that English is spoken in public services, that migrants understand British culture.

That’s government’s job. It’s what Government is for.

If government is doing it badly, kick them out and get a new one. Fair enough.

But that’s only half of it.

Because sure, Migration is good for tax revenue, and good for migrants, and a sign of a successful economy, and we should be able to handle the social pressures better. 

But that doesn’t make migration good for people here to begin with.

What if you want a job, but a migrant is taking it?

What if you’re in a job, but aren’t getting a pay rise because someone from Poland will work cheaper?

Why should you want the migrant there at all?

Why shouldn’t we just stop there? Stop all the problems before they begin?

Isn’t that what’s really letting you down?

If you’re straight out of college and are not getting a job because a migrant is taking it, yes, the government has let you down.

But not because the migrant is taking your job.

We’ve let you down because with all the money we spent on education, all the money we spend on training. All the vocational, educational, and social support we offer, you’re still not able to compete with a Bulgarian  learning English in his evenings.

Think about what that means. If that”s where we’re at, the failure isn’t about migrants. It’s that we’ve failed you far more completely.

That’s what we have to sort out.

If you’re in that situation, if you’ve not got the ability to compete with that Bulgarian, in the end you’re going to lose out to him whether he stays at home or moves to Britain.

Close the borders, and the factories will  find their way to Poland, to Bulgaria, to India and China. 

In the end, the job will move to where the best people are. So our job is to make sure we have the best people right here.

The basic truth is that the competition won’t go away. Not if you close your eyes, not if you shut the borders. 

It’ll always be there. You don’t get rid of it by closing the borders, you just hope it won’t affect you.

But it will. 

The people who tell you that we can just close the borders and save all the jobs for ourselves are telling you a lie. 

It’s a lie it’s easy to believe, because we don’t see the bright kids in Bangalore or Bucharest.

We don’t see their ambitions unless they actually come here, and make us uncomfortable.

So yes, we can close the borders. Keep out the Eastern European office workers and the Indian programmers.

We can do that.

But it won’t mean better jobs for you, or higher wages, or a safer society.

It’ll mean those things go to Bangalore or Bucharest instead. That’s the bit the anti-immigration people always leave out. 

In the end, the argument for allowing immigration is a selfish one.

We don’t allow migrants because it’s easy.  It isn’t easy. It causes problems – from housing, to schools, to culture.

It would be easy to avoid all those problems.

In the face of that, the truth is that we allow migrants because the easy thing is sometimes the stupid thing.

Sometimes you have to deal with hard problems to avoid facing a problem you can do nothing about.

If you want Lisbon, Bangalore and Nanjing to grow, believe the snake oil salesmen, stop migrants, and let the factories and opportunity and talent slowly flow elsewhere.

But If you want London, Birmingham and Newcastle to grow, allow some migrants, use the money they make to help us compete better, and tell your politicians to manage the consequences better or be sacked.

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  1. THERE FOLLOWS A DIGRESSION.

    The other day  John Harris argued, àpropos this issue, that we should not dismiss concerns over immigration as bigotry.

    I thought that a tiresome charge, because there is a crucial difference between dismissing any concern about the social consequence of immigration as bigotry, when it is clearly not, and decrying the cynical exploitation of those concerns as unpleasant bigotry, when it plainly is.

    The difference is not hard to grasp, and to accept one concern as legitimate does not invalidate the exposure of unpleasant prejudice, or make it a tactical error to name such prejudice frankly.

    Still, where I agree with Harris is that immigration is no fringe issue for voters electoral preferences.

    It’s a big election losing deal.

    It is easy to get caught up in a debate that somehow avoids this.

    To further take Harris as an example, the internationalist in me wants to reply to his request metropolitan liberals consider whether  “free movement has been of most benefit to capital or Labour” by pointing out that he spent his preceding paragraphs describing the low wages immigrants from Eastern Europe have escaped. Presumably they were pleased to do so.

    To discuss whether Free movement is good or bad for workers, just imagine that the EU were reduced to the UK, and that successful, vibrant, expanding London was growing concerned by an influx of Scots, Northerners and others from low wage, low-cost regions. London residents would understandably resent the competition posed by such workers. They might even vote for a London Independence Party that promised no further migration would be permitted. 

    Would the people of Newcastle, Glasgow, or, say Frome, welcome a London that so limited their right to come and work in the metropolis, even if that objection is presented as an effort to protect them from the exploitation of Rachmanite landlords and sweatshop businessmen?

    I doubt it very much. No MP advocates restriction on the freedom of movement of their own constituents. 

    Unfortunately for me, Poles, and Latvians who benefit from free movement don’t vote, though perhaps their children will.

    My comparison was not an idle one. The history of Irish catholic immigration to British cities is almost exactly the sort of major population and culture shift we see today from Eastern Europe. And yes, Irish workers too were exploited

    Thankfully, it is now rare to hear objections to that past dislocation, even from the most home and hearth sort of Socialist. I cannot imagine Jon Cruddas enacting transitional limits on his own family. 

    In other words, the free movement of Labour between Ireland and Britain was good for capital, for Labour and for the culture of both peoples.

    Yet it also divided working people, and often that division was exploited and used for electoral advantage (Check out Disraeli on Irish migration)

    Which returns me to my problem. I might be able to enjoyably tweak the nose of a polemicist, but  how can I be electorally realistic and intellectually consistent? []

43 Responses to “Immigration Nation”

  1. AHB

    Obviously you’re right on principle, but tactically I’d be wary of using the argument that migration on the one hand and trade with countries of migrant origin on the other are substitutes.

    It seems to risk fuelling the argument that the UK should pull out of the EU *and* stick up trade barriers. To their credit, at least in principle, that’s not a UKIP position, as they claim to be free-traders. But I’m not sure how long that line would hold if an independent UK started seeing some serious economic dislocation.

    Reply
    • hopisen

      True – I suppose I see the argument as being ‘how many tube stops do you want to be away from autarchic madness’, but that probably doesn’t come across very well, and instead loks like a binary choice!

      Reply
  2. Sam

    A good piece, but isn’t the argument about our ability to choose the immigration we want, rather than whether we want to reduce it to nil?

    Reply
    • Kevin T

      Exactly. It’s the same with all the pro-immigration commentators. They make an argument for immigration, and pretend it’s an argument for unfettered, open door immigration. I’ve yet to see the case made for why we should let anyone from Europe in, regardless of their background or qualifications, or for allowing Pakistani muslims to import husbands and wives for their children, or for allowing a community with huge unemployment and crime issues like the Somalian community to mysteriously grow and grow while we’re told how tough this country is on non-EU migrants. This is the current situation they’re supposed to be defending but they don’t defend it because they can’t. A little girl was killed recently because we couldn’t keep out a convicted Latvian murderer. Where is the argument for why it is ultimately good for Britain that we can’t keep out dangerous foreign criminals?

      Reply
  3. Michael

    I agree with the economic argument except there should be a quality threshold to keep out immigrants that don’t want to work, have large numbers of in-bred kids that want to kill us and rape our kids

    Reply
  4. Matt

    There are two additional items that I believe you need to consider.

    The small one is that while a number of services can migrate across borders, that is not universally true. For example, you cannot clean an office in London from Sofia, nor will office workers nip out to Bangalore to grab a coffee. It is skilled service jobs that can migrate across borders and my experience is that there is a shortage of suitable indigenous workforce to perform those services therefore – as you point out – we either need to attract suitably skilled people here or lose those businesses to places where the skills are. Low-skilled work is far more likely to be tied geographically, and it is here that there is a surplus of indigenous workforce that is failing to compete with immigrants who may have more relevant experience than indigenous school-leavers no matter how good their education or training is.

    The second point is that if the marginal cost of providing additional public services to a migrant is higher than their economic output, then that migrant is having a negative effect on the country’s wellbeing despite increasing GDP. Many low-skilled migrants are claiming in-work benefits in addition to consuming public services, so their effect on the public finances is negative, not positive. When previous waves of immigrants arrived there were no in-work benefits and a far more basic NHS, so the costs of additional population were low enough that they almost certainly paid their way. The need for in-work benefits is to me a symptom of successive governments having got something fundamentally wrong, but that’s another argument for another day…

    A universal welfare state and a free-to-use healthcare system are strong pull factors for international migration. If borders are completely opened then the demand for these services will outstrip taxpayers’ ability to supply them – indeed, I would suggest that this has been amply demonstrated for the last decade-or-so.

    Reply
    • Bill Quango MP

      I read the article snd think .. Hmm.. Good piece. But a few points need addressing ..

      And scroll through the comments to find you have addressed them already!

      I would only add the relative purchasing power of low wages in other economies.

      £6.50 an hour min/wage is worth £24 an hour in Warsaw and £50 an hour in Bucharest. Some, notably Ed Miliband, think having an £8 min wage will ensure jobs for all indigenous low paid workers.

      It won’t, of course, because,

      1) numbers of jobs would be instantly cut if that wage was introduced tomorrow.
      2) allowing a Latvian waiter in London to be able to earn as much as a surgeon in Riga is going to mean greater immigration, not less.

      And who is going to be the better worker, for an employer who doesn’t care where their workers come from?

      The Girl from Durham who can earn enough just enough to pay the rent and utilities each week… Or the girl from Donestsk, who could is handsomely saving for the deposit on a farm each week with the .50p per hour she saves.

      Who will be the more motivated?

      Reply
  5. Malcolm

    Your article ignores physical reality – there are already too many people in this country irrespective of their origin. It’s simples – end immigration and the local price of resources will adjust. E.g. Restaurants in London alleging they need to bring Bangladeshi chefs direct from Bangladesh – NO, pay the proper price here for the resource and they would be inundated with applicants already in London living etc.

    So I don’t think you are entirely correct in your analysis.

    Reply
    • Josephine Bacon

      I tend to agree with Malcolm, but the point is that the current EU immigration policy which allows in everyone who is an EU citizen (with a few recent exceptions) and KEEPS OUT potentially valuable immigrants such as those from the Commonwealth and the United States who already speak English and are skilled and educated. If you go to a magistrates court and look at the lists you will see that more than three-quarters of the names are foreign. That is because of those allowed in, most are single men without any ties to this country and they often turn to crime to feed themselves, since their English is often so poor they cannot get a job. If single men from the EU from non-English-speaking countries were barred this would do a great deal to help stabilise immigration.

      Reply
  6. ASA

    Ah, but why favour Roma and muslims, who, statistically, are less likely to work than the native population and bring pretty obnoxious cultures with them, at the expense of those from the Commonwealth or highly educated Americans, desperate for work, but subject to quotas?

    Personally, I object to the stinking racism at the heart of the supporters of open borders. If importing workers was the only aim, it wouldn’t be so objectionable, but we all know it isn’t, don’t we?

    Will this be published, or is the truth racist?

    Reply
  7. bubble

    What would happen if you massively increased the ratio of young males to young females in a particular area?

    What would happen if you massively increased the demand for ultra-cheap prostitution?

    Reply
  8. Bugs Bunny

    As Berthold Brecht once quipped: Would it not be easier if the government abolished their nation and elects a different people instead?

    Modern countries are simply people farming operations and rustling the younger livestock from the neighbours has always been more profitable than working hard at raising and training your own.

    Immigration combines the two wisdoms above beautifully.

    And, as the man quoted says, if there was no immigration, and other countries would be as ‘successful’ as the UK that would of course be also bad, because life (and the economy) is a zero-sum game with hard limits on what can be achieved and invented, and success in one place surely means that someone somewhere must be failing.

    Imagine if India and Africa would end up as successful as China, there would be nothing left for the UK and we’d have to make do with our inept natives posing as doctors and IT professionals, now, that would be grim.

    /s

    Reply
  9. asquith

    Furthermore, poorer countries WILL in fact grow faster through having some of its sons and daughters work in Britain. The remittances that are sent home by an IT worker from Madras will help the Indian IT industry come on. That Bulgarian who is saving a few pound a week from his warehouse job will set up hos own business in Bulgaria.

    And a virtuous cycle begins thus. The benefits of trade, one has to only consider Russia’s travails to see them.

    I don’t think utterly open borders are viable or desirable but I in fact know many immigrants and, although obviously I like some more than others, I know better than to imagine them all as comic-book villains as Mail readers in Clacton, lacking as they are in lived experience, do.

    Reply
    • Newmania

      I think very few people think immigrants are evil Asquith but if I can out it this way, I like my neighbors but I would be less keen were they to enter my house and sit in my comfy chair without my invitation ?
      Am, I not allowed to feel my country is , in some sense my home ?

      Reply
  10. Cupertino

    The best piece I have seen in defence of immigration ( Miliband eat your heart out) but I would question the level of earnings required before the immigrants contribute. I have worked with many and certainly those with families are getting more in benefits and subsidised housing than they are paying in tax. I know because I have helped them with their claims.

    Reply
  11. mdjcole

    “So yes, we can close the borders. Keep out the Eastern European office workers and the Indian programmers.

    “We can do that.

    “But it won’t mean better jobs for you, or higher wages, or a safer society.

    “It’ll mean those things go to Bangalore or Bucharest instead. That’s the bit the anti-immigration people always leave out.”

    This is untrue. The reason India and Bulgaria are poorer than Britain is that they have inferior economic institutions. Although in principle one could set up successful IT companies in those countries (and some exist already), workers in those industries don’t earn as much in those countries for solid practical reasons: capital is less secure, contracts are not enforced honestly, licensing requirements and government corruption impede free enterprise, and so on. That’s precisely why immigrants choose to move to Britain or Australia rather than North Korea, where all those problems are worse rather than better.

    So here is a potential problem with immigration: the people who move to the UK from India or Bulgaria – which are both, remember, democracies – might continue to vote for those poor policies in the UK. As a Guardian columnist and Labour party employee I’m not sure I will convince you that a large and accelerating leftward policy shift in the UK would be a bad thing, but if you think it wouldn’t, careful study as to why the officially socialist Union of India or Democratic Republic of North Korea are so poor might repay the effort.

    If I may be permitted an aside, why do you believe in “the free movement of labour across *Europe*”, specifically? Since this policy discriminates in favour of European migration candidates as against non-European migration candidates – even if the European migration candidates are less useful, productive, and all the other good qualities you identify – and the UK would never accept open immigration with all countries, surely it’s better to scrap *European* free movement to make way for more IIT graduates?

    Reply
  12. Peter Grimes

    “Migrants work hard, pay taxes and live cheaply. Because they tend to be younger and employed they tend to contribute financially through taxes more than they take out in benefits.”

    This BS gets spouted by the Left all the time. The one recent study by EU-funded academics at UCL has had its methodology derided by an emeritus professor of statistics at UCL. For a more reasoned view look at this Migrationwatch study which shows that a majority of immigrants contribute less than £1 per week net to the UK exchequer, against NHS costs of £2k per head per annum.

    http://www.migrationwatchuk.org/briefing-paper/1.38

    Read it and come back if the data from official UK sources has been mispresented. Or shut up!

    Reply
    • hopisen

      Not so much mid represented as left out. One of the latest groups of migrants is ‘couple with no dependent children’ yrt the incredibly unbiased migrationwatch article leaves out their earning ‘bite point’ in terms of contribution.

      That’s pretty pitiful, tbh.

      Reply
      • Newmania

        Have migrants discovered the secret of eternal youth or will they in fact consume services like any one as they age ?

        Reply
      • Peter Grimes

        You need to read beyond the first paragraph. A minimum wage two earner couple with no children pay £27.70 per week net in tax/nhi. See Table 2. Not a lot really!

        A more honest commentator than you would be (much) better informed and less inclined to be dismissive. Is it bias on your part?

        Reply
  13. Carmy

    Who are these people you quote as saying ” The people who tell you that we can just close the borders and save all the jobs for ourselves are telling you a lie. ”
    Ukips message is to open the borders to the whole world based on skill shortage and need. We already know the indiginous brits dont want to be cheese packers or fruit pickers so there will be a need, equally uk based companies already use Indian programmers, they are the best in the world, and we need them, so unless there is another party of any significance im unaware of im not sure who you mean.Nobody is saying that, so are you just scaremongering …to use the populist leftist newspeak.

    Reply
  14. Newmania

    I thought I`d have a go at addressing this imaginary meeting by way of an answer. Not easy is it …

    I`d like to thank Hopi Sen for summarizing the Labour case for mass immigration. 500,000 people arrived in our country last year, largely through an open border , we will take this reality, to be the subject of his enthusiasm but as Labour have now promised remove the cap that there is no obvious upper limit.
    We should also be grateful that he remembered to mention the subject at all ( gales of laughter ensue ….) …yes that has been a problem ….

    Like Hopi I have a stake in this . My wife was an ordinary mixed race London girl and so my children have partly Trinidadian ancestry . You may imagine the joy in our house to be told by young Ed (and now Hopi ) that we are not , after all , racists ? In fact the Left has rarely called discussion of immigration racist , it continues , however, to cast such aspersions on anyone who disagrees as with them on the subject .
    When Gordon Brown got into a cab and called Life time Labour member Gillian Duffy “…a sort of bigoted woman …” he told us nothing new ,and when Anthony Neather was asked why New Labour encouraged three million immigrants between 97 and 2010 and said ‘.to rub the Right’s nose in diversity…..?” He made Labour`s other most important contribution to the debate.

    The great post war socialist governments from whom we have inherited the NHS, drew on the very well of National solidarity New Labour have sought to destroy . Now for me, this is the heart lf the problem , if we are to do great things there must be a “we”. As far as I can tell, when Mr Sen says “we” is as likely to be referring to anyone at all from here to sub Saharan Africa. If he accepts an English people exist at all , it is not clear and he certainly will not grant us any special bond with England.
    Still let us hope he will speak for himself on the subject of identity. Thus far he has ”forgotten it “ ( gales of hysterical laughter )

    So does this mean “ Change is bad”…well sometimes it is but I`d like to be a little more nuanced . As a people we are defined above all by our language. That language has changed ,swallowed most of Latin much French, and influences from across the globe. Still it remains English not a babble of mutually incomprehensible noise some of which seems to be made by people some of whom seem hate us murderously , for reasons we barely understand. I think many people fear we have slipped from openness into a dangerous chaos .

    Now while Mr Sen is in raptures about current immigration levels and I am not, I do not, propose that the living stream of Englishness, so often refreshed by new people for the last thousand years, should become a brackish puddle. I am pleased that Hopi mentions Australia whose immigration Policy, selecting only those, in relatively low numbers who will benefit the country, is one we would like to move to. If he is happy with that then we can agree .

    I do want England to remain tolerant open to change but also confident in its identity which is not commensurate with the vast numbers of foreigners Mr Sen wishes to continue to come here.

    That is the crux of the matter and you must decide whether Mr Sen and his free market allies , Douglas Carswell,the Adam Smith Institute and the Institute of Directors, or I , have the vision that strikes you as right .

    As I believe these competing visions are the real issue l shall deal briefly with the rattle bag of gubbins the supporter of mass immigration pretend to believe in.

    1 Migrants age like anyone else and whilst they will be younger when they arrive they will consume more than their fair share of resources over their lives particularly social services and education. They tend not to pay tax much as they are here on contract Labour and the grey economy
    2 They are not much harder working than the English as Mr Sen sneeringly implies . The wage earnt by a (blameless )Pole is worth an awful lot in Warsaw whereas here it may be minimal. That is why the job may be approached differently. In fact this is prodigiously hard working country and don`t let them tell you otherwise
    3 On the ability of the country to afford the huge extra resources and housing required I think I need say nothing ,nor on the government’s ability to handle or even count , the numbers
    4 Immigration of some sorts may increase prosperity but the cheap labour Hopi wishes to dump on the market does not , it makes the GDP bigger but the benefits of this are felt only by the immigrants themselves. Mr Sens suggestion that this might be cured by additional training is really a little pathetic.
    5 Not only this but it encourages a low training economy fitted to the available cheap Labour . Again government will solve this and you must make your own judgement on that . I`d like to see market forces force the country up the skills ladder
    6 Immigration is obviously good for immigrants but not for their country which will lose its best and youngest during ever down turn . This has been a real problem, for example , in Ireland and Scotland , for historical reasons
    .
    Hopis last point is that you will lose your job even if you keep out cheap Labour because such is the cruel power of global capitalism.
    This is partly true in a simple sense but in fact wages have not dropped to Chinese levels around the world because the free market myth Hopi has been sold is just that, a myth. Its not that free .
    Nations are not acquiescent in the face of capital , multinationals themselves generally have a home country where there high paid jobs are .Whilst we can never stand still there is no need to think we have to replace compete with the lowest wage economies in the world at their game.

    We will have to change , we will have to unite we will have to care for eachother compete and win as wqe have before but above all there must be a “we”

    I thank you for listening I intend to celebrate my Englishness with a German Lager and a curry if anyone wishes to join me …

    Reply
    • john Murray

      Now this is a man who gets it. Fantastic reply that sums up the reality.

      Reply
  15. Madasafish

    The elephant in the room is this: apart from undesirable immigrants, our legal system is set up to ensure we cannot deport any immigrants who abuse their hospitality by criminality.. Or at least very extreme difficulty and great cost.

    Or rather we cannot deport them without lengthy years long legal disputes.

    This has the advantage of making lawyers rich. Period. And of course is abused by lawyers as it makes them rich at the expense of taxpayers who pay their bills.

    And the disadvantage of ensuring the Human Rights Act is brought into disrepute.

    Strangely enough, I never read any defence of open immigration being coupled with reform proposed to make deportation easier.

    So I read such defence with utter scepticism. After all, it’s the Labour Party whose prior leaders admitted the policy was to change the political balance of the country.

    Reply
  16. john

    There have been two House of Lords reports that have said there has been no economic benefit to migration. If migrants are unskilled they do not pay enough taxes to pay their way , is that so hard to understand ? Infrastructure costs are very high in England because of the very high population density.
    Rapes are up massively, there are attacks on free-speech and many recent arrivals are assisting the murderous IS in Iraq.
    It is a price much too high.

    Reply
  17. richardofkent

    Someone a lot wiser than me said ‘ You cannot have open immigration policy and a non contributory welfare system.’

    You can show examples of hard working immigrants but go into any town centre during the day and there is a vast rump of immigrants who clearly survive on benefits. What many people ask is why cannot we let the hard working immigrants in to the country and keep out those who clearly do not have the skils to live in the UK.

    Reply
  18. twinkle

    [Migrants work hard, pay taxes and live cheaply. Because they tend to be younger and employed they tend to contribute financially through taxes more than they take out in benefits.]

    Though Britain is booming the deficit is growing http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/tax/11162272/If-Britain-is-booming-why-is-the-deficit-growing.html
    The extra costs of schooling NHS etc can only be met by even more borrowing.
    BIS reckon that by 2020 UK public sector debt will be 150%+ of GDP because unfunded liabilities are rising far faster than any conceivable economic growth could meet, creating an ever widening funding gap. No UK government is likely to balance the budget because the cuts would have to be so severe they would lose any election. Financial incompetence is the only way forward open to the UK.
    http://www.bis.org/publ/work300.pdf
    20th century economic assumptions no longer apply in the 21st century. Wealth disparity will increase during the 21ast century.
    There has been an increasing hollowing out of middle class in OECD countries for decades http://oecdobserver.org/news/fullstory.php/aid/3660/A_hollowing_middle_class.html
    Since 2008 virtually all newly generated wealth has gone to the world’s richest 1%
    Hence wages are unlikely to match price inflation and countries will struggle to gather enough tax from the 99% to keep up with rising liabilities from ageing demographics.
    Its very likely that the increasing wealth disparity will lead to political instability.
    Politics has been very much run for the advantage of the very rich because they can lobby and buy the politics that they want (i.e to make themselves even richer).
    See https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/marko-bucik/european-union%E2%80%99s-problem-is-substance-not-narrative
    The EU is run for the benefit of big business where the downsides are presented to the EU public who have no lobbyists working for them. In contrast big business has over 20,000 lobbyists – more than one for every bureaucrat.
    The TTIP will make the richest 1% even richer whilst the EU public will feel all the downsides http://ttip2014.eu/blog-detail/blog/OFSE%20Study.html
    The EU will discover to its horror at some stage that the people do matter

    Reply
  19. Anthony Blair

    You need to distinguish between immigration, which as you correctly point out has benefitted Britain through the centuries, and colonisation. Immigrants largely adopt the culture and practices of their host State. Colonists bring their own culture and practices and impose it on the State they have invaded. We are being subject to a kind of international breaking-and-entering. Having made a mess of, and overpopulated, their own countries, they come here to overpopulate the UK and bring with them the habits and practices (Asian voting fraud is a good example) which made their own States fail in the first place.
    The only good they do is to “rub the noses of the Right in diversity”. Long live Karl Marx.

    Reply
  20. Dude503

    If you are going to base a debate about immigration on economic considerations, then as well as listing the benefits, you need to list the costs, and this is very rarely attempted.

    How much is the rape of one child costed at?

    How much is the gang rape of 1,400 children costed at?

    How many other towns are these questions to be asked of?

    By how much should you multiply these costs when you consider costs of imprisonment, prosecution, police time and the uncovering of cover-ups?

    How do you price in the debasement of social cohesion?

    How much does it cost the security services to track 1,000+ serious terrorist suspects?

    If you want a debate, let’s have a full costed one.

    Reply
  21. perdu en france

    “The sixty-five million of us who live here are envied, across Europe…”
    Have you ever been to Europe? Or do you speak exclusively with Romanians?
    I live in various Western European countries & I’ve never once heard anyone express the slightest envy of the British, the UK or the British way of life. Not once.
    If they’ve visited the UK they may tell you that they liked parts of it, disliked parts of it. Mainly they tell you how bloody expensive it is.
    Usual hyperbolic crap.

    Reply
  22. Sealate

    1. Immigration is good for the country – no argument.
    2. Immigration is bad for the people – Correct
    3. The government is to blame for this conflict – wrong!

    Being tied to EU legislation and our interpretation of them is the elephant in the room. No British government (at the moment) can legislate to fix this.

    I agree with the comments about equal treatment of immigrants wherever they come from and that they should bring a benefit to the country – not just here to earn money and benefits to send back home (how does that add to our GDP?).

    Reply
  23. Pregethwr

    A few points mostly at the commentators not mainly at Hopi, although he doesn’t really engage with the issue of where migration should come from.

    1. Why european rather than non-european migration? On an economic level 85% of european migrants work. Depending on how you slice it non-European migration is less than 60%. European migrants on average have better skills, job prospects and spoken English. The issues with integration are several factors less.

    2. Most migration to this country is non-European. This is an important point that is completely ignored. The main source of migration to this country (once you strip out students) is arranged (usually cousin) marriage from the Indian subcontinent. African and East European tie for second.

    3. Government policy over the past 15 years has had an unspoken objective of slowly reducing non-European migration in favour of European. It is fair to say this has had limited success. Some non-European migration has lessened, and other forms have got more expensive, but there hasn’t been a step change. European migration has increased, rapidly, although the mid-90s were historic lows for European migration.

    4. Under pressure from UKIP all parties are now about to reverse that and reprioritise commonwealth over European migration (ukip are very open about wanting more commonwealth migration, which in practice means Africans and Indian subcontinent). Cameron’s quotas, Ed Ball’s fair movement and Nick Clegg’s crackdown all basically mean this.

    5. This is economic, social and cultural madness but we are about to do it. It wouldn’t be the first insanity our political class embraced.

    6. One significant driver is the disparity in voting rights. The illiterate bride from the Mirpur valley gets the vote automatically after 2 years. The polish plumber has to go through and expensive and annoying process after 6. We are about to get a load more of the first, and a load fewer of the second.

    Reply
    • hopisen

      Just wanted to say that’s a great comment : and you’re right to call me out for not engaging with the ‘where from’ q.

      It’s an Important q and I’ve evaded it by trying to treat all migration sources as equal when they’re plainly not and we treat them differently today.

      Just wanted to say I think you’re right an I acknowledge the flaw in my argt here.

      Reply
    • Sealate

      Non EU immigrants do not get to vote until they become citizens = not possible within two years.

      Reply
  24. AHB

    I agree, good comment by Pregethwr. One thing though: UKIP talk about Commonwealth immigration but couple it with a demand for a tougher points-based system than the present one, which gives them leeway to skew the test towards more immigrants from mainly white wealthy Commonwealth countries (Australia, Canada, NZ), and to highly-qualified immigrants from India (IT programmers), but not to Commonwealth immigrants in general.

    In any case, the idea of discouraging EU immigration in favour of non-EU is all bollocks unless the UK actually leaves the EU, because as Angela Merkel reminded us this weekend, free movement is not a negotiable part of the Treaty of Rome. And since benefit tourism is a very minor issue, fiddling with benefit rules isn’t going to make much difference either.

    BTW, commentators pulling assertions about data and analysis of migration out of their arses (or from MigrationWatch, which amounts to the same), should probably read the following.
    http://niesr.ac.uk/sites/default/files/publications/dp420.pdf
    http://niesr.ac.uk/sites/default/files/publications/090112_163827.pdf
    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/287287/occ109.pdf

    Note that the last of those links is to an official report so unhelpful to the government’s views and so directly contradictory to the utter rubbish spoken by Theresa May that the government attempted to suppress it: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/immigration/10677063/Immigration-report-held-back-by-Downing-Street.html

    Reply
  25. Andy E

    It’s interesting that you make a rather old fashioned case for the economic benefits of immigration, claiming that we will see factories move to Poland without an open door.

    In fact all the factories that could move left a long time ago.
    The only industries that might be affected: catering, agriculture, and low level service jobs can’t, by definition, move.
    I have worked abroad, I spent three years in Germany in the 80s doing design work that couldn’t be sourced locally.
    Today I do work for people all over the globe in some cases without ever meeting them. All from my laptop.

    Where I need skills I can find resources anywhere in the world.

    People now need to physically move only for jobs that require physical effort, and these are traditionally the worst paid. These are by definition jobs that can’t move.
    So limiting immigration would directly help the low skilled natives, with only positive economic benefits for the rest of us.

    Reply
  26. Raddiy

    Some things are more important than money, until you understand that, you will never understand the debate.

    In 1914 and 1915 men continued to volunteer in the full knowledge that whole battalions had been slaughtered in the industrial war of the trenches before them. Between 1940 and 1945 there was a 50% chance if you were an RAF bomber aircrew, that you would not come back home.

    The fact these men still went in their hundreds of thousands was not based on GDP or some other perceived financial benefit, but on a visceral belief that hearth and home had to be protected at all costs.

    That is where we are today, in a battle for our identity, culture and traditions, a battle now fully joined by the wider population , and a battle that will be won.

    It didn’t need to be like this, but you can ridicule, ignore and devalue people and their valuesonly for so long, before the fight or flight reaction is switched on.

    They have now chosen to fight, and having turned to face their foe, they are going to politically rip their metaphoric heads from their shoulders.

    Reply
  27. Newmania

    Pregethwr

    If you could direct me to some supporting material I would be grateful. It strikes me that this line of thought is a way of de-coupling the EU from immigration to some extent. I would very much like that!
    I believe that most of the rage is ethnic resentment of what has amounted to a Policy of aggressive settlement especially in the early Labour Period, ( in order to make England less English). Disruptive though EU migration I do not believe it is the core complaint and we can see that many UKIP vote suffer none of its consequences .
    Its main function has been to free criticism from the accusation of racism.

    Anyway any information you could supply would be great.

    PS – I did try this line on Mrs N who immediately told me that if i wanted to start saying white immigration was ok but brown was not I could f— off . So it may not be an easy case to make without giving offence ……..

    Reply
  28. Newmania

    Btw Hopi – your style of constructing an argument sounds very much the sort of thing people are tired of to me. You have entirely omitted the real subject and I thought , reading it, that its as if you don’t know any ordinary people.Honestly this will not work it reeks of hidden agenda and half truth

    This struck me as a good article on the subject of Labour`s disengagement with the country they live in

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/26/mainstream-politics-is-imploding-is-discontent-with-globalisation-the-cause

    They are talking about yoju

    Reply
  29. John McSorley

    A deeply unsatisfactory post really.

    I seem to remember a post by yourself in which you parody the left right pivot and explain if someone has caught you bang to rights then you start talking about the subject you want to talk about rather than the one being discussed.

    Was that the nature of this whole post? if so then was it intentional? Saying that this is about education is just not addressing the argument. As far as ‘not being able to compete with a Bulgarian’ there is superficially a point there but what about employment blighting – a person who experiences unemployment or very low wages has the rest of there life blighted by lowered expectations (plenty of economics studies back this up and the figure I vaguely remember is a 23% reduction in lifetime earnings if someone is supplanted by cheaper labour for more than 6 months between the ages of 17 to 23 but that’s just my memory-go read the papers)

    Lets say that I agree that this is a nice country and that people want to live here as opposed to regime x. That’s a good reason why they should be grateful but not a good reason why we should be accommodating. You seem to suggest that the argument against immigration is selfish – err so what? When has our national politics been about helping other nations (ignoring Scotland in that) at the expense of our people?

    Explain to me why this is not the sort of failure to deal with the issue that undermines faith in politics.

    I think it is and that’s unusual for you.

    Reply
  30. Newmania

    ukip are very open about wanting more commonwealth migration, which in practice means Africans and Indian subcontinent).

    Is there any evidence at all, I would like to see it ?!
    Hopi where would one find such material

    Reply
    • pregethwr

      A quick google brings me here.

      http://rogerhelmermep.wordpress.com/2014/10/14/reaching-out-to-the-commonwealth/

      But I have heard many UKIP people repeating the line that one of the reasons EU membership is bad is it leads us to discriminate against commonwealth migrants.

      (you may think this is disingenuous, it might well be, but it is said).

      It is a fair point about race – white european preferred over darker africans and asians. That may well be why the British Government was never open about what they intended.

      Reply

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