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June 15, 2009

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tom s

Agreed - although I would move 6 to 1 and then the list could be shorter.

Alderson Warm-Fork

I think there are a number of points that it's important to be clear about. One is that immigration can be used to undermine whatever labour-capital arrangements or compromises have been reached at national level, and to drive down wages generally (in tandem, of course, with 'outsourcing', as you say). The second is that it is currently being so used - the people like Mervyn King and Digby Jones explicitly praise the fact that large flows of immigrants can function to keep wages down.

The third thing, though, is that intensifying immigration controls may make this problem worse. Illegal immigrants can be forced to take lower wages than legal ones, are less likely to unionise, etc.

The fourth is that methods and laws introduced to control immigrants can also be used to control natives. I.D. cards are an example of this connection.

The fifth is that it would be almost impossible to really get rid of illegal immigration. Doing so would require really stepping up and qualitatively increasing the harshness and efficiency of the methods used, and as point 4 said...

The sixth thing is that immigrants who are unionised and can demand full legal rights are harder to exploit and so don't reduce wages so much.

Sorry, this is a ramble.

I think my point is, I agree with Clark and Kingsnorth that the left should be openly opposed to the status quo, but shouldn't advocate tighter controls to reduce the number of immigrants, but rather united action by native and immigrant workers to resist those controls and avoid racing to the bottom.

I think for polemical purposes it would be important to distinguish that from mere liberal multicultural "yes we love immigrants let them come and work and whatever".

William

"It's expensive ... the border agency spends £1.4bn"

But in an open immigration regime, it might still do so, because you might still want to filter out criminals.

Also, if point (2) is true, you don't have to worry about point (6), so long as trade is free.

Scratch

"For me, being on the left means wanting to improve the lives of the worst off. And this applies globally."

It doesn't do much for the worst off in the emigrants homeland, presuming that one regards poverty as a byproduct of inequality.

"Hello Mrs X, hows your son doing?"

"Oh, not bad, he's working at the clinic for 30 quid a month, how's yours?"

"Thanks for asking, he picking spuds out of a muddy field in East Anglia for £200 a week and sending 10% back home. Which is nice...gaze on my fridge freezer and despair, bitch."

ortega

About this, is not the BNP part of the left? Where do its voters mainly come from? In social issues, is it closer to the traditional right or to the left? Do we accept this simple equation: BNP = Labour + racism.
I think that this is the case and that is why so many on the left are worried about it. And hence your post today.

Phil

"What does it tell us that someone can spend 11 years in the state education system of one of the world’s richest countries, and yet lose out in the labour market to someone who can barely speak English?"

That the latter can be had for much less money?

Yaffle

Smug rubbish.

Low-wage labour in other countries only impacts on this country when the goods and services produced can be imported here. But most of the migrant labour here is in sectors of the ecomony where this doesn't apply - not just the famous Polish plumber, but also swathes of retail, hospitality, etc.

Meanwhile, the Left continues to insist on cradle-to-grave welfare ("a more redistributive tax system" - pul-lease!), along with its trashing of rigour in education, which has given us inter-generational worklessness that will be almost impossible to eradicate, regardless of how many work opportunities there are. They're not "losing out", they lack the incentive to even try. And you want Jobseeker's Allowance raised!

As Friedman pointed out, you can have free migration, or you can have a welfare state, but you can't have both.

Also, what is "Leftist" about your belief in labour following the dictates of capital around the world, regardless of the social consequences?

ad

Chris, can you think of any non-economic effects that unrestricted immigration might have that you would disapprove of?

kinglear

Being on the left means wanting to improve the lives of the worst off? With due respect, the poorest people I know in Glasgow have no desire to have their lives improved - they might get some of their benefits taken away. That said, the smoking drinking and drug taking many of them do should certainly be curtailed - but that would require a proper education system, something no one seems prepared to put in place. But then they might become better off - and the objects of hatred and envy of those who DIDN'T try to better themselves

asquith

What about the environmental consequences of unlimited immigration, given its likely outcome in terms of population growth in what is already a densely packed island with high levels of personal consumption?

kardinal birkutzki

Why is it that this is the received wisdom in the UK and why does our policy conflict so much with other European countries? Views which in the UK are targeted as racist and little-englanderish are mainstream and perfectly politically correct in France and Germany. Yet in the UK we are not allowed to dissent. Would someone please explain this to me?

jameshigham

For me, being on the left means wanting to improve the lives of the worst off.

... and through the harnessing of these 'do good' feelings among people, the state re-orders and moves the country to state capitalism. It has always been the way with every socialist experiment at a national level.

shawfactor

Chris,

time to change your view on immigration. It may be a net benefit but that is because large proportion is skilled. That would not be the case if it was unrestricted.

100 Million people in the UK would not make the average Briton better off. The "common wealth" of the nationn eg roads, parks, schools, community services etc would not be able to cope.

Imiigration is good but only when you get to choose skilled immigrants

Planeshift

"Yet in the UK we are not allowed to dissent"

What hysterical rubbish. The anti-immigration arguments get far more air-time and are expressed frequently. The real dissenting view is the pro-immigration one, which is hardly ever articulated in the mainstream.

chris

@Shawfactor - one reason why I favour free migration is that I suspect it would not lead to a huge rise in migrant numbers anyway:
http://stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com/stumbling_and_mumbling/2008/01/the-immigration.html
If so, the pressure on public goods would be small. But remember - such pressure can arise from indigenous population growth. It's not obvious why one should favour immigration controls but not limits on the number of children native people have.
@ad - I can easily imagine that there are non-economic costs to migration. I grew up in Leicester when a huge wave of Asian immigrants arrived in my area. I suspect this (temporarily?) diminished social capital. There were, for example, very few football clubs around me as there weren't enough men to sustain them. This sort of thing is not trivial.

Chris Williams

Chris D, all fine, but you're arguing against a putative 'white working class' and I don't think that this is the best term in this context. My impression is that members of the non-white unskilled working class who were born in the UK are nearly as likely to resent teh Poles, etc, for much the same economic reasons, although they are less likely to merge their opposition to immigration and worker migration with racism. The 'indigenous' working class is not the same thing as the 'white working class'.

Chris Williams

Alex

Great post.

"About this, is not the BNP part of the left? Where do its voters mainly come from? In social issues, is it closer to the traditional right or to the left? Do we accept this simple equation: BNP = Labour + racism."

No, if you want to use the right left terms at all, then the BNP are far right. Particularly on social issues. On economics issues, it is pro-government, but this comes from the party's antisemitism. This overall makes it far right, since the left doesn't go for government intervention in the economy for racist reasons.

Labour also aren't left wing anymore. Since Blair, they've adopted Thatcher's economic policies, with little in the way of progressive civil or social policies, so I would describe them as centre to centre right.

Really though, the right left terminology is outdated.

"As Friedman pointed out, you can have free migration, or you can have a welfare state, but you can't have both."

Citing Friedman means you lose the argument straight away.

"... and through the harnessing of these 'do good' feelings among people, the state re-orders and moves the country to state capitalism. It has always been the way with every socialist experiment at a national level."

Yes, clearly every leftist government turns into Stalinism. Moron.

bert catt

As the poulation of the UK is predicted to rise to 70M or was it 80M? I can not remember. Most of this from immigration, where are these people to stay? This means building many large town,or citys. Meanwhile, or unless there are more houses built, the price of the few around will go up (Supply and Demand). Plus more pressure on Schools, Hospitals, Doctors. Also I presume all these people coming in would want to move about, therefore more roads, or railways. There is only a limited amount of land available. As it's not being made any more! I am afraid that we cannot have uncontrolled immigration. For all the reasons I have highlighted above.

rolex air king

And a lot of it reflects a switch from bank deposits to securities; foreigners “other investments” in the UK, http://www.watchgy.com/ mostly bank deposits, fell by £143.2bn in Q1. And of course there’s no guarantee such buying will continue.
http://www.watchgy.com/tag-heuer-c-24.html
http://www.watchgy.com/rolex-submariner-c-8.html

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