Monday 12 April 2010

Election slogans you won't hear "Immigration - Immigration - Immigration"

"My three priorities for the country are .. Immigration, Immigtration, Immigration!"

Tony Blair 1997

All the TV and radio stations are sending out reporters that they want out of the way to specific regional areas or marginals. The comment that keeps being heard from Harwich to Hartlepool is "There's too many immigrants. taking our jobs, services, houses..etc"

The reporters express surprise that the economy isn't the number one priority. The immigration problem is very real but effects some areas severly and others hardly at all. Yet so far I haven't heard any marginal or city or family say it isn't a problem. In a Capitalists@work poll it was the stand out failure of New Labour's political tenure. 41% voted it as a worse policy than Iraq {15%} or Financial regulation {12%}.

“At our local primary school, Fulbridge, which has a roll of 675 pupils, 27 different languages are spoken with only 200 of the pupils having English as a first language. The first-year reception class has 90 pupils, of which only 17 are white British. Every day new arrivals are turned away. Registration at the local doctors’ surgery has rocketed with more than 90 per cent of the new arrivals being from the EU.
Daily Mail

Staff at UKIP's campaign centre in Westminster were left feeling overwhelmed when they were flooded with calls following the unveiling of their controversial billboard advert.

Stating that 5,000 new people arrive and settle in the UK every week, the advert calls for a halt to mass immigration.

The flood of Eastern europeans into Peterborough was staggering. The local authority was completely swamped and central government was very slow to assist. Its not the immigrants themselves so much as the numbers and the speed of the immigration. It is estimated that one in ten of the population is from eastern europe.
That alone highlights the problem. The estimate as no reliable figures were ever taken. No proper checks , no planning, no consideration for the existing population or cash allocations on the necessary scale. And even if it was a hospital or extra schools or housing cannot be built overnight.

The scale of immigration was denied for political purposes and so its effect worsened by the denial of any problems. Its very easy to say people are racist. Its much harder to build new roads and services. The nonsense that immigration was a boost for the economy didn't help either. If a family on minimum wage moves into social housing and recieves social benefits it cannot possibly contribute more than it is taking. A 40 hour minimum wager pays around £3,000 in taxes + all the stealth taxes of VAT etc. But if one child goes to school that is a net loss to the country. The Rev Tim Hastie-Smith, chairman of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference calculated in 2008 that it costs £9,000 a year for each child. Even if the figure is half that it still means that tax raised falls far short of expenses incurred.

However, Its not all bad. When I was recruiting for a store in Middlesex with an unemployment figure of just 0.5% the vacancies went unfilled for over two years. Anything below 1% unemployemnt means the unemployable. All the other stores and agencies and hospitality sectors were similary effected. The Immigrants were welcomed with open arms. This is repeated everywhere where vacancies existed.
The NHS could not possibly operate its wards without imported nurses, cleaners, maintenance workers. The factories and packaging firms could not run night shifts. Agriculture imported workers to work on the farms. There was a definate boost for employers in having a motivated,educated workforce to recruit from.

Where I live now there is no immigration. In the primary school there is 90% white, English. 9% Commenwealth or Western European and just 1% ethnic other. A group of some 30 Poles work nearby farms but rarely come into town. Its a white area.

Yet I guarantee that if the question "is the country taking in too many immigrants?" was asked, the answer would be an unequivical yes.
So, if immigration is such a big issue, what, if anything, should be done?
Is it really a race issue? Should asylum seekers be treated seperately from migrant workers. Should unlimited EU immigration be allowed? Should dependants be allowed to come with?
And all these jobs that have been taken? Who will do them? No one was doing them before. No one wanted too. Remember a minimum wage here is/was a medium wage in Europe and a fortune in Lagos. Do we need to take asylum seekers from a devasted war torn country like Afghanistan here? We did invade their country so do we have a moral obligation? Or could we allow then to live in say, Pakistan, and the UK pays {a far smaller re cost of livng differential} that country to house and keep them?

Crime? Should deportation be an option? What about the EU? Just tell them to stuff it.Its happened before on other issues. Other EU Countries say Nein or Non to their own rules.
Britain has done sod all about the criminal database ruling for instance. And students. Baroness Scotland's cleaner was on an expired four year old visa. So was the shot man in the tube. How many students never return home? Isn't that the easiest to fix.

The main parties aren't going to talk about it except in vague and unspecified terms so here's your chance.

What should be done about immigration?


Simon said...

If you're otherwise suffering as a result of the economy, immigration becomes a catalyst and immigrants the bogeymen that the media and the man in the pub can point to and blame. We know where that form of group-think ends up...

I can't find a source for it right now, but on average immigrants pay (in taxes) the cost of the services they use.

The problem I have is the distribution is skewed - a skilled immigrant makes a substantial net contribution to society, whilst at the other end of the spectrum it cannot be denied that there are those immigrants who game the system to get plenty of social benefits without contributing economically or to civil society.

I think our wider benefits system needs reform, such that they become more time-bound and constrained. This should include tighter controls on eligability. Seperately local authorities and housing associations should probably be more empowered with (potentially retrospective) powers to ensure benefits and services are going first and foremost to long-standing residents.

Simultaneously, we should introduce a system along the lines of Australian immigration - actively seeking to encourage those with marketable skills and experience, but with hurdles and quotas so that we increase the net contribution of immigrants to the exchequer and society. We have sufficient volumes of low-skilled, low-paid immigrants that we're not going to grind to a halt with no-one willing to work for minimum wage.

All of this then becomes the first and most important step on the road to a government willing to accept that they [of whatever party] have failed to acknowledge the scale of immigration and the impact this has had on the general population.

Laban said...

Capitalism is a wonderfully adaptive system, impressive to watch (or you could argue that the brilliantly successful 60s cultural revolution weakened the old culture to the point where capitalism, flexible by nature and untrammeled by its previous cultural constraints, could flourish on the weakened organism like some opportunistic infection).

Take a look at how it adapted when the Labour Party in the 80s abandoned nationalising the banks and the commanding heights of the economy, as all those 70s middle-class university lefties, appalled at the Thatcherite hegemony, gave up on the British working class (too many of them were voting for her) and looked around for some other "other" to bring about radical social(ist) change.

The radical social(ist) change never happened - indeed capitalism triumphed, but something strange also happened. Capitalists soon realised that fighting against "racism, sexism and homophobia" had nothing but positives for them.

Sexism ? The old, male industries are moving offshore and service industry's where its at. Women are perfect for the office and call centre - much more compliant and less given (with a few excellent exceptions like Grunwick and Gate Gourmet, both involving Asian women) to industrial action than those stroppy blokes. Rising divorce rates ? More housing needed, more white goods to shift. Rising age of first childbirth ? More wine bars, gyms and restaurants to service those singles.

Homophobia ? Not heard of the pink pound ? Homosexual couples have the highest disposable incomes of all.

There's a problem with the above. Fewer babies. And fewer babies means a smaller labour pool. And a smaller labour pool means - gasp - higher wages. Oh dear. What can we do to keep profits up and costs down ?

Of course ! The fight against racism ! Obviously, if it's racist to object to some immigration, then it's racist to object to ANY immigration at all ! Yay ! We can import as many people as we like - the politicians can feel groovy and multicultural while we get the cheap labour ! It's a win for everyone ! (Except the working class already here, whose wages are screwed down, but who cares about them ?)

And that's the Faustian compact between capital and "Labour" which we're seeing now. Silent, mournful, abandoned, broken, the English working class recedes into the darkness. They have suffered in every respect by their association with the British Labour Party.

Perhaps, as some suggest, mass immigration is Labour's revenge on the English workers for the Thatcher years - their punishment.

(I don't suggest it would be a great deal different under a Cameron administration, mind you.)

(If you want my recommendation, a total stop for 5 years, reviewable at that time, while we attempt to integrate those who've already arrived. I'm not hopeful that this is going to end well. It may be, however, that we're already at a demographic tipping point, given birthrate diffferentials.)

CityUnslicker said...

Great post BQ. i think it Immigration is long-term the number one issue for me - Education comes second but as you point out, immigration makes a mess of much planning there.

As it happens my difficulty is with asylum seekers. Immigrants from Eastern Europe were less of a strain as they came to work, Asylum seekers come to sponge - in fact our silly laws don't even allow them to work.

First up, let asylum seekers look for jobs and work and stop their benefits as they begin earning.

Secondly, make it harder for immigrants by not bowing to their every linguistic need and cultural desire. A more French attitude, including banning the niqab in public places.

Thirdly, not too keen on the Aussie style points system - it works to stop Yanks and Aussie, but dos nothing for extended families of Pakistani or East Europeans coming in. What we need is a law to prevent the importation of families - you come to work fine, you come to settle? Only when you can afford it and not at UK taxpayer expense.

Budgie said...

Simon said: " ... immigration becomes a catalyst and immigrants the bogeymen ... We know where that form of group-think ends up..."

Rubbish. Clearly preventing any immigration removes the actuality of immigrants being herded into concentration camps - for the practical reason that they are not there to be so treated.

Uncontrolled immigration into the UK was a deliberate ploy by Nu Labour to alter the cultural outlook of the natives. If the Indians were right to regain control of India from the British, then that principle holds true for the British in their own country.

There is also a world of difference between an immigrant who comes here to assimilate, and one who tries to impose his country of origin culture on the British. And assimilation occurs only when the number of immigrants are strictly limited.

shipwrecked said...

As you said two posts down: Shut that door! Simple really.

Nick Drew said...

there are two colossal problems:

(a) pure benefit-seeking - including chain migration, CU's last point - the extended 'family members' and others that are entirely economically unproductive, but immediately qualifying for benefits galore (genuinely qualifying, because they meet all the requirements)

Peterborough & that area (a part of the country I know quite well) provides one hell of an object-lesson in how grotesquely things can turn out

(b) uncosted consequences of cheap migrant labour

Laban's essay has lots of interesting ideas - the constant renewal of capitalism under laissez-faire conditions is of course the positive side (as the USA has shown for many decades), and many a European country with ageing demographics envies this renewal

but if cheap immigrant labour simply displaces the indigenous 'working-class' onto their daytime-TV sofas (or worse) it isn't actually a renewal at all - or at very least, there is a huge, offsetting disbenefit in extra social costs of many kinds

no-one is in a position to do a full-cycle cost-benefit analysis on this, not least because the cost-side will build up over generations, in baleful ways we can only guess at

check the decline of the Roman Empire for some really lurid possibilities ...

Laban said...

"no-one is in a position to do a full-cycle cost-benefit analysis on this" - I think Robert Rowthorn at Cambridge has done some work.

But as I keep pointing out, Native Americans and Palestinians, to name but two groups, found themselves living in much richer economies after mass immigration - and with more diverse cuisine, too. Yet they don't seem uniformly enthusiastic about what happened.

There's a terrific theoretical overview of the UK economy, including the benefits and disbenefits of immigration at Cynicus Economicus called "A Funny View of Wealth". Highly recommended.

Re Simon's We know where that form of group-think ends up... - that's why kids now are taught almost no history save for slavery, the KKK in the States and the Nazis in Europe - because then they'll have the right attitudes towards people who talk about 'bogus asylum seekers'. A sad by-product is that German school exchange students still get kids shouting Hitler at them, but I guess that's an acceptable level of collateral damage.

Bill Quango MP said...

These are all good points. But one that remains unanswered is why do people unaffected by immigration think its such an issue? Is it taxes?
Housing concerns?
I know non doms who think its an issue, ignoring their own immigrant status overseas!

Anonymous said...

Mrs Thatcher spoke about the National Front gaining ground in 1978. Skinheads and punks were fighting in Brick Lane against the mostly Bangladeshi community. She made a speech about 'something must be done to prevent unlimited immigration'
It was considered very radical at the time. Enoch Powell had made any mention of immigration unacceptable for a decade.

She went up 11 points in the polls and overtook Callaghan for the first time since became shadow leader.

politicians should be braver and listen to people.

CityUnslicker said...

Anon - The country has to be ready for it. hauge tried in 2001 and Howard in 2005 - both just got called racists. This time the press is trying to push the politicians.

However, becuase of the 2001/5 experiene the Politicians have learned the opposite lesson - don;t mention it can only lose votes.

Laban said...

Bill - I think it's a question of national identity, not a question of economics.

And I don't know anyway who those unaffected people are. We're affected where I live by people from London, Bristol, Birmingham moving into the sticks and raising house prices (plus there are several thousand Poles within ten miles of me). According to the Halifax, the English are moving West.

"Eighteen of the 20 counties that have had the biggest increases in property prices since 1996 are in western Britain, according to figures from the Halifax, the country’s biggest mortgage lender.

Wales has, on average, had the biggest gain in prices during the period, accounting for 13 of the top 20 hotspots. The counties of Cornwall, Dorset, Gloucestershire and Somerset in the South West and Shropshire in the western Midlands also made it on to the list."

There's an obvious response to the remark 'they complain about immigration and then emigrate themselves'. Given the transformation of so many areas, if you have to live in a foreign country, it's surely better to live in one that you chose, rather than one imposed on you in what was previously your homeland.

CityUnslicker said...

laban that is so interesting - I had not thought of it like that. Totally mirrors the change in celtic society when the angles and saxons arrived - only this time in 20 years and not 200.

Anonymous said...

I think a lot of immigrants will leave as our economy collapses, that seems to be what happened in Iceland after they belly flopped. Most of the Poles went home, whilst a lot of natives have also moved to Norway and other places in search of work.
If we look at what happened over the last few years, many white working class were paid benefits, whilst immigrants took new jobs. In addition in many old industrial towns, state employment surged, while the private sector shrank.
Once the reality of our bankruptcy sets in, the two areas that will need to be cut are state benefits, now exceeding the income tax take, and state employment This would presumably hit the white 'indigenous' population particularly hard.
I don't see much economic growth over the next few years, so I can see the cake getting smaller, especially with the new energy taxes making our economy less competitive. I expect things will get ugly soon. Sorry to be so pessimistic.

Budgie said...

Laban said: "Re Simon's We know where that form of group-think ends up... - that's why kids now are taught almost no history save for slavery, the KKK in the States and the Nazis in Europe - because then they'll have the right attitudes towards people who talk about 'bogus asylum seekers'.

No, children are taught about the Nazis because in Michael Foot's words WW2 was Labour's (socialists') finest hour, and the education system is infested with Labour sympathisers.

Laban's remark implies some sort of competence by Nu Labour, even though for a nefarious purpose. I really do not think Nu labour thought of the consequences of their policy of mass uncontrolled immigration: in every other sphere Labour failed to see the consequences, so why break the habit of a lifetime?

Laban said...

budgie - you need to shop at the right places to see the score ... round Gloucestershire way the Poles are settling in - an awful lot of pushchairs in Poundland, and the last two Polish girls on the Lidl till both left to have babies (Anna from Stettin was lovely).

I'm sure some are going back, but an awful lot aren't.

Anon again said...

1st generational nearly always great workers.
In the 70's and 80's and even early 90's would go out of our way to employ Indians and Pakistanis.
Now..their kids are a lot less desirable. Bring on the Latvians.

James Higham said...

Bill, you've hit the nail on the head. What is effing going on? Seriously? Just what is happening?

Nick Drew said...

why do people unaffected by immigration think its such an issue?

should point out that many of the people most vehemently hostile to Inheritance Tax are (and were) most unlikely to be affected by it

am just about to watch Hidden Houses of Wales - maybe a clue there ?

Bill Quango MP said...

Brown just dodged the immigration question from the ever sharp John Snow on C4 news. He said that people were saying that the main parties won't discuss it.

Firstly Snow pointed out employers preferred eastern Europeans. Brown pretended not to understand and talked about Japanese car firms wanting their own Japanese managers. He then went on about points based for out of EU people and said this had reduced immigration. Snow pointed out that the recession had reduced immigration, not a points based system.

Brown then said that there are about a million EU immigrants here and about a million Brits in the EU. But many Brits in Spain and France are pensioners. They may be taking up healthcare but not jobs.

There are not many EU pensioners coming into UK. Its jobseekers.

Brown also said that MANY of those who have come here have returned and he believed that of those who came here in 1998 about a 1/4 have gone back. Why did he say 1998. It sounded suspiciously like a 'BROWNIE.'
Why since 1998? Was it because of the abolition of embarkation controls in 1998. Means that 1998's pre open boarder figures can be used. I don't know, I only guess from the PM's previous form in massaging figures.

Brown looked pretty good in the interview. Spoke well, seemed more relaxed than usual and the questioning was far tougher than he's used to.
Maybe all the months of preparation
have left him with a head full of facts and pre prepared answers to any question. Gives him confidence.

But when Snow kept pressing a question Brown soon resorted to relentless tractor stats and talking over Snow. Something he hadn't done earlier on.

Hope you're watching Coulson. Lots of strengths and weaknesses to study here.

Bill Quango MP said...

"open boarder"

The spellchecker that has AI will make a billion.

Budgie said...

Laban, the Poles who settled here after WW2 may have kept themselves (slightly) apart, but that was because of language/cultural difficulties, not because of a lack of a requirement on them to assimilate. Their children integrated well. Who can tell the difference now?

However, in contrast, Nu Labour's immigration policy has been deliberately aimed at destabilising the native way of life, as the leaks showed. Together with "multiculturalism" which was also a deliberate ploy to prevent assimilation and close down debate at the same time, we are saddled with a recipe of too crowded an island and a number of significantly resentful minorities.

This will cause immense trouble in the future (even if the current crop of Poles don't join in) when the children and grand children of recent immigrants, having failed to be taught to accept assimilation, become (even more) resentful, refuse to adapt themselves yet try to impose their foreign culture on the British. It is already happening. It will end in tears.

CityUnslicker said...

Budgie, form my visits to France that is the French experience.

Laban said...

Budgie - you're right about the post-War Poles (my wife's Catholic school was full of their daughters) - but they were of course coming to a country which still had remarkable cultural self-confidence - in other words there was something to integrate TO.

I wrote about the current influx here :

I'm trying to take a long view on this. The fact that these new Brits are polite and hard-working, do not do crack or firearms, nor are they likely to blow up Tube trains, is a function of the culture they have arrived with. It tells us nothing about what their first and second generation descendents will be like after twenty years exposure to the cultural vacuum of the UK.

Before the borders were effectively opened in 1997 there had been three great waves of 20th century immigration into the UK - West Indians from the Caribbean, Pakistanis/Bangladeshis from what was then East and West Pakistan, Hindus and Sikhs from India and the Punjab.

All of these groups on arrival were intensely respectable and law-abiding. The Windrush generation were as good a bunch of people as you'd find anywhere, and their education in the 1940s/50s Caribbean was as British as anything taught over here. But they were coming to a Mother Country that had just stopped believing in itself, armed with a culture which turned out to have no value in its original home. Something happened to many of their children between 1957 and 1981 - and it wasn't good.

Bill Quango MP said...

Very true Laban. Good points.

But I'm not much wiser on what should be done about immigration except slow the rate down.