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August 18, 2014

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BenSix

Surely if one chooses an option on the basis of its being less bad than others one can still lament its faults? If one supports a war - as, unless one is pacifistic, one may have to do - one accepts that women and children are bound to be killed but their deaths remain tragic.

Which is not to claim that many people do not pay lip service to the regrettable consequences of deeds they support before moving on without so much as a glance over their shoulders.

Stuart

Nonsense. I can mourn a man's tragic folly without being hypocritical. There is such a thing as free will.

Churm Rincewind

As far as I'm aware, there are no countries anywhere which offer unrestricted immigration. (I stand to be corrected here.)

But if I'm right, the entire world takes the view that unauthorised immigrants have gained illegal entry and are consequently criminals within the laws of that particular country.

Now, it may be that the entire world is wrong and that unrestricted immigration is a consummation devoutly to be wished, though I would consider this to be a rather extreme position.

As for sanctimonious hypocrisy, I myself see more of that amongst those who call for unrestricted immigration without themselves having to live with the day=to-day consequences.

James Brough

I worked for 10 years for the Home Office in immigration and asylum. For a few years, it was possible to feel that you were doing some good. By the time I left,targets had gone from 1 case a day to 7 cases a day. The only way to meet targets – this was something I was explicitly told – was to refuse applications for indefinite leave to remain if there was any doubt at all. We were told that if the applicant was serious, then they would appeal. As rights of appeal were restricted, this was changed to if the applicant is serious, they will return to their home country and apply for entry clearance from there. Think of the amount of disruption in someone’s life if after several years they are told to pack up and leave the UK or face deportation and then, on returning to another country, to apply and hope that they may be allowed back in.

7 cases a day. 1 case an hour. Bear in mind that some cases involved assessing whether the applicant had spent 14 years resident in the UK – this would be assessed by looking at 14 years worth of supporting documents – bank statements, pay slips, utility bills etc – and deciding whether the were genuine or forged. Try examining several hundred documents for signs of forgery and then writing a letter explaining your reasoning, all in the space of an hour. Bear in mind the letter may have to be used as evidence should the case go to appeal. It’s physically not enough time. Add to this continuous pressure to achieve targets which are out of reach and half-witted managerial edicts, such as the one from a new senior manager saying that he didn’t want any below average performers… I was delighted to leave.

An Alien Visitor

Above we hear from the 'nice', cuddly, 'butter would not melt in their mouths' anti immigrants.

But the basic position, consistently reflected in poll after poll, shows open hostility to immigrants. Even in the case of people fleeing persecution the polls showed they should not be allowed in, by a massive margin.

So let us be clear, much of the mourning is sanctimonious hypocrisy.

"If one supports a war..."

You could have said If one supports an act of terror, to label the point more. So for example, if you supported the 9/11 attacks as a justified attack on the USA (after all its crimes in the Middle East), you can still mourn the fact that people had to die.

By using the term war I don't think you fully gave weight to your vision. You chose war, and you know, our society is not that down on war, so a nice safe bet - I saw what you did there. I mean we have just removed close to a million people from the Earth in Iraq. Some people supported that war, I don't even see lip service if I am honest. I have never seen a remembrance wall for those victims (it would have to be big), I have never seen any back story of those killed.

I think it is the safer bet to say that those who support are war are not nice people, rather than assuming they are wracked with concern for the inevitable victims.

But in the case of immigration, they are getting out of it that easily!

Boursin

"As far as I'm aware, there are no countries anywhere which offer unrestricted immigration. [...] But if I'm right, the entire world takes the view that unauthorised immigrants have gained illegal entry and are consequently criminals within the laws of that particular country."

As far as I'm aware, there are no countries anywhere whose laws make unauthorised immigration a capital crime. (Unauthorised emigration has been one in some dictatorships, such as the Soviet Union, but not immigration.)

BenSix

AAV - You're free to imply that I'm a git but the argument goes for anyone who has supported any war: the Iraq disgrace as well as more defensible - if very arguable - wars on Hitler and ISIS. (One could extend it to pacifists. In claiming that Nazi crimes did not legitimise conflict, they accepted that slaughter would continue. But most of them would have appreciated that the deaths were tragic.)

The point is that all forms of action and inaction - where global politics are involved - entail grave consequences. One's duty is to show that other forms of behaviour would be worse.

Home Office practices sound disgraceful. Someone should write a book about that kind of managerialist madness.

Keith

You are to be commended for reminding the people who are supposed to be educated and able to make policy decisions about the real world consequences of pandering to prejudice. Sacrificing humanity to political convenience is never right.

Matt Moore

The real trade-off isn't between border security and migrant deaths. That's second-order, assuming a fixed budget. You get at this indirectly by mentioning the 'prohibitive' cost of pursuing both. But why is it necessarily prohibitive? Because it's more about trading off border resources with other things the state does, or lower taxes. This is always the more important margin when assessing public policy.

Matt Moore

Second, less important, point: I just re-read the final paragraph. Voters would be sanctimonious hypocrites to mourn a death? To what extent does an individual voter influence migration policy? What if one voted for the opposition? What if no party offers the compassionate policy you support?

The idea that we as a society are collectively making choices we are all accountable for is evidently false.

There is no such thing as "our choices". Arrow's Impossibility Theorem.

rogerh

Well, you are right, some deaths are a consequence of our policies - but no-one likes to admit it. I don't see any easy way round restrictive policies but like the job of the slaughterman or the cesspit emptier it is a job I squeamishly leave to others - as do most other citizens.

Ralph Musgrave

Chris,

I find your claim to be a Marxist a bit at odds with the thrust of the above article, which would be not be disapproved of in British National Party circles. Still your articles are always interesting, and I'll continue to read them.

pablopatito

By "migrants" you mean "migrant workers", right? Stopping workers entering the country is only one half of the equation, and the only half that risks death. Preventing them from working when they are here is the other side.

For example, I am free to enter the US, but not to work there.

So is it not possible to have an immigration policy that targets preventing people working, not travelling. This would result in zero deaths and still be "tough on immigration".

It appears to me that we're relatively soft on employers employing illegal labour, as Mark Harper's cleaner demonstrated. Maybe having Mark Harper shot would be a more optimal solution?

Aside from migrant workers, you have asylum seekers. But they're not illegal immigrants and even Nigel Farage is openly in favour of allowing them in.

From Arse To Elbow

@Ralph, I think the apparent thrust has misled you. Chris's post is best read as a subtle riff on Swift's A Modest Proposal.

This is far from being at odds with Herr Doktor. As Edmund Wilson once noted, "Marx is certainly the greatest ironist since Swift, and has a good deal in common with him"; and as Marz himself said, "If anything is certain, it is that I myself am not a Marxist".

For the record, the BNP are not anti-immigration tout court. They are racists and therefore selective in their approach. They have no problem offering asylum to persecuted white farmers from Southern and East Africa.

Phil Beesley

An optimal level of crime? From which perspective? Economist, criminal, victim, law enforcer? I've suggested four possibilities.

Churm Rincewind

Boursin - "As far as I'm aware, there are no countries anywhere whose laws make unauthorised immigration a capital crime." As this hasn't been suggested, I'm not sure what point you seek to make.

Socialism In One Bedroom

"So is it not possible to have an immigration policy that targets preventing people working, not travelling."

Erm, people who live under the sort of economic deprivation/oppression that makes them risk their lives by hiding in vehicles are not the sort to go holidaying around the globe, to take in the culture and view the 'sights'!

I accept that from time to time people support wars with "good intentions", however misled they are, but those who do not strive to end wars or even fail to imagine a society without war must surely be called immoral?

Also, I think many people are partisan and are perfectly happy to see children and women slaughtered. The gift is trying to establish that as they protest their innocence atop their high horse!

Pablopatito

"Erm, people who live under the sort of economic deprivation/oppression that makes them risk their lives by hiding in vehicles are not the sort to go holidaying around the globe, to take in the culture and view the 'sights'!"

Neither are they likely to migrate somewhere it is impossible to work, which was my point that you may have missed. They come to England because of the ease of finding illegal work.

Ralph Musgrave

From Arse to Elbow,

If you think the BNP are racist, you've lost all contact with reality. Labour plus Tories took part in the slaughter of a million Muslims during the Iraq war, while the BNP opposed the war from day one.

Advocating much tighter immigration controls a la BNP or the racially selective immigration policy they advocate is a very minor blemish compared to actually KILLING large numbers of members of another race.

Ed

The comments on this post are all worth reading, but particularly the ones from Matt Moore and pablopatito.

But one thing that confuses me is why so many migrants are trying to go the UK in the first place. Are there no better destinations than a rainy, deindustrializing island where surveillance cameras capture all your movements?

Socialism in One Bedroom

"Neither are they likely to migrate somewhere it is impossible to work, which was my point that you may have missed. They come to England because of the ease of finding illegal work."

What point have I missed? You claimed your policy would prevent deaths but if they travel to work and travelling to work is still illegal then they will have to risk death.

I presumed when you say a law could be developed to prevent people working but not travelling, you included in the law that people could not travel to find work work. Therefore why would desperately poor people travel unless it was to find work?

Maybe you need to put more meat on bones of your suggestion, I suspect it will then all unravel.

TowerBridge

@Ed

"Are there no better destinations than a rainy, deindustrializing island where surveillance cameras capture all your movements?"

I wondered when I read this comment whether you were trying to provoke thought. My answer is that:

1) There are other destinations and people go there. France, Germany, Italy, USA, Turkey etc etc. The idea that migrants bypass all other countries just to get here is just plain wrong. Some (e.g. the Irish) just find it easier most stop somewhere else (obviously, because we really would be overwhelmed if all the migrants in the world just came here). Many of us go to France/USA. And that brings me to my first point - that our media and political systems are too inward looking.

These problems are universal and not exclusive to these shores. In fact this entire article (Chris I hope you are reading) is, in a way, adding to the concept that we, as an Island, are independent of everybody else in the world.

2) These people are really desperate and they crave what we have. i.e. rule of law, human rights, security (Maslow's hierarchy of needs https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs (I cannot do the hyperlinking thing Chris does) is what I am thinking of. I guess you have to put yourself in their shoes and try to understand their motives (mentalisation). This is what I would assert those on the right generally struggle to do.

Doug

'If you think the BNP are racist, you've lost all contact with reality...Advocating much tighter immigration controls a la BNP or the racially selective immigration policy they advocate...'

So the BNP aren't racist but their policies are? You must think we're as gullible as all those suckers Griffin got money out of for years to fund his lifestyle and Croatian holiday home. No fool like a fascist fool, eh, Mr Musgrave.

Trofim

So if I stop people coming through my front door, and they climb over the back wall, fall off and sustain a brain injury, it's my fault?

Peculiar ideas lefties have about responsibility.
But entirely expected.

To me, the idea that this island needs more human beings on it is grotesque in the extreme. Having grown up in the fifties and seen the literal decimation of our flora and fauna so that common species then are now rarities, and having driven down the coast of Oregon - pacific breakers on one side, redwood forests on the other - a state the size of the UK but with 6% of the population, I cannot grasp why anyone would want to increase the population by one person. Half the population would be about right. Space is the good life. If Africans can't manage a piss-up in a brewery - even if allowed to - why is it my problem? If it wasn't so easy to bugger off to Europe, perhaps they might devote more energy into making their own countries better places.
Yes, I know, I'm a selfish, cold-hearted fascist, racist etc etc

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