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September 28, 2016

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pablopatito

"why are so many Conservatives who have traditionally asserted the virtues of free markets so silent about the merits of migration?"

To be clear, they are calling for controls on migration. This means restricting freedom to the working classes, whilst allowing the upper middle classes to remain free. Hence the desire for a points system or minimum income level. It means Farage is free to seek work in the US (say, working for Fox News), or Johnson is free to sell his books in the EU, or a banker is free to work in Frankfurt, whilst the majority of us aren't - simply because we're not rich enough.

Immigration controls are great way of dividing the haves from the have nots, and therein lies its appeal. Few Tories object to living next door to a Polish heart surgeon, its the riff raff they don't like.

Patrick Kirk

At least you acknowledge the left is fully focused on immigration. The right treats immigration as one political issue among many. The left seems to start every analysis of every policy by looking at if it helps immigrants. There are other issues which matter to voters. Really - why not devote same attention to housebuilding?

Ralph Musgrave

I’d have thought it was blindingly obvious why the right (and indeed some lefties) oppose immigration despite favouring free markets: they don’t want the UK to be turned into an Islamic state or anything even faintly resembling such, or into something resembling the typical African country.

That reason does not of course apply to nearby European countries: and indeed as a UKIP voter, I’m not bothered about immigration from other European countries. As for Ireland: that’s so culturally similar it’s a nonsense to count the Irish in Britain as immigrants, even though that’s what they are technically.

Dave Hansell

Just to clarify a specific point Ralph, are you implying or saying that migration from EC member states [under the free trade principles of freedom of movement for capital, goods, services and Labour] into the UK is/was not a factor of consideration motivating both the wish and the vote to leave the EU by both UKIP supporters/voters and non UKIP supporters/voters?

Or, to put another way, are you arguing, by implication, that the EU was and is not to blame for immigration levels in the UK?

If so this would seem to me to coincide with the reports that most of the immigration into this country over a good number of years is from outside the EU and that by definition the 'control of borders' issue is down to the UK Government rather than the EU.

Yet, to peruse the plethora of arguments and statements, particularly from the majority of your fellow UKIP supporters/voters, over the immigration issue it seems reasonable to surmise that this reality is not recognised and that the blame is and has been put onto the EU for immigration levels that are down to the UK.

Any ideas on what is going on here?

chris

@ Patrick - we (or at least I) are not "fully focused" on immigration. It is only one of many issues, and I wish it got much less attention than it gets. And as I say, it gets that atention because it's a tricky issue - much more so than housing, where the solution is trivial - build more!
@ Ralph - yours is a minority position; too many voters surely are opposed to Polish immigration.

Dipper

The UK population is heading for 80M by 2050 according to the EC. An increase of 16M in 35 years. That's almost the population of the Netherlands, or another 2 Londons.

So free movement it isn't really about rights, whether people like these folks or those folks, its about whether building another two Londons is a good idea. Personally I don't think it is.

Note we probably have to build 1 more London anyway. Its the second which is due to immigration.

Dipper

There's also something deeply unpleasant about the "free movement" argument. The arguments invariably seem to be made by people who are a group with distinct limited entry into that group. Free movement is good for the proles, but it's not good for us as an elite group.

So Corbyn is absolutely committed to Free Movement, provided that's not free movement into his management team. For him its all about connections and who you know.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3794667/Who-glamorous-new-assistant-comrade-Jeremy-Corbyn-hires-friend-s-27-year-old-daughter-40-000-year-political-adviser.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/jeremy-corbyns-son-seb-appointed-as-john-mcdonnells-chief-of-staff-a6669996.html

M

I think the points made by Ralph and Dipper are the crucial one's. The UK has always had immigration but it has been at a level and a pace that would eventually integrate itself without prolonged excessive disruption. But we're not that country anymore and the levels of immigration and the cultural differences can be hard to accommodate (there are serious questions about whether some within those groups even want to integrate). How sustainable is it to build a city every year to facilitate net migration? How do we deal with those people who keen as they are to escape war, poverty and degenerate regimes at home, are not adverse to holding on to some degenerate practices like FGM, honour killing, multi-generation cousin marriage, forced marriage, anti-Semitism, and mediaeval attitudes to women and minorities?

Immigration has many benefits, but it has downsides too, even if on balance benefits outweigh costs, we should still be looking as much as possible to maximise what brings positive benefits and minimise the negatives.

Nyx

I think that if the right is against immigration, it's that "right" is a broad net that captures groups that in general favor the status quo. They are inclined to believe that the rich and poor deserve their lots, and that the existing system of nation-states with controlled borders and immigration that can be spoken of as having a cohesive culture should not be torn down.

Not to get all slippery slope here, but I don't think it's overreaching to say that there are many pro-immigration voices who do see this as a prelude to totally open borders everywhere on the planet, and with it, the destruction of the nation-state.

reason

chris,
"And as I say, it gets that atention because it's a tricky issue - much more so than housing, where the solution is trivial - build more!"

No its not! (As though it doesn't matter where you build or how it is financed!)

reason

Chris,
I really don't see how you could have an open borders policy, without FIRST having a basic income subject to a longish qualifying residency. (i.e. YOYO until you show you can contribute). Africa (and the middle east for that matter) just have too many desperate souls and rates of immigration matter (if we want society to continue to function).

reason

Chris,
interestingly also is that you used as an example that "free migration" a paper that examines nothing of the sort (migration was just free within the EU).

Guano

"I’d have thought it was blindingly obvious why the right (and indeed some lefties) oppose immigration despite favouring free markets: they don’t want the UK to be turned into an Islamic state .... "

Yet they keep very quiet about the military interventions in Iraq and Libya that have helped the Islamic State to develop.

It also isn't clear why ending free movement of EU-nationals (which will almost certainly lead to the UK leaving the European Economic Area and badly damage the economy) has anything to do with the risk of the UK becoming an Islamic State.

Ralph Musgrave

Dave,

Reasonable questions. It’s technically correct to say that immigration from outside the EU is a matter for the British government, not the EU. On the other hand the EU is putting a lot of pressure on countries that don’t want to take migrants that are part of the so called “refugee crisis”. Plus the EU is a one way ratchet: it’s going in the direction of ever closer political union. That means that at some stage the EU authorities will be ORDERING individual EU countries how many migrants from outside the EU they’ll have to take.

From Arse To Elbow

"Let’s concede that immigration does undermine social cohesion (something which I doubt). So what? Cohesion is a collectivist ideal which shouldn’t appeal much to free market individualists".

This begs the question. For many on the right, a better word than "cohesion" would be "loyalty". Likewise, the Conservative eulogising of the invisible hand since the 70s was always instrumental (the rollback of the state) and very much at variance with traditional Tory thinking about the visibility (and immutability) of the social order.

As you suggest, the Conservative Party pragmatically adopted (and has now partially retreated from) neoliberal policies, proving that a commitment to the free market is not foundational. In contrast, the party has never been pro-immigration.

Guano

"That means that at some stage the EU authorities will be ORDERING individual EU countries how many migrants from outside the EU they’ll have to take."

Evidence?

"In contrast, the [Conservative] party has never been pro-immigration."

But it has allowed (and encouraged) immigration when it has been in office. Enoch Powell set up recruitment agencies in Jamaica and Barbados when he was Minister of Health. The relationship of the Conservative Party with the issue of immigration is "complicated".

drwerewolf

I'm a little weirded out that a population increase of 25% over a period of 35 years is seen as obviously much too high! As I do the math, that equates to growth of 0.6 percent per year. Exactly what negative effects are supposed to follow from this rate of increase?

john

People and businesses to some extent choose the jurisdiction that offers them the better deal.

In the current world, business is free to pursue these deals, creating a race to the bottom among jurisdictions.

Were people free to easily choose where they live, jurisdictions would no longer be able to pursue business in the same way.

john

Dipper

drwerewolf - well you have to build the infrastructure first. That's 35 years to build the infrastructure of the Netherlands. Two Londons is two cities 30 miles in diameter. One of these will be entirely immigrants, in effect.

There are a few good things that might follow from this. A new city from scratch gives the opportunity to do lots of clever things with transport, energy usage, communities etc. But its not clear that its better than training the young folk of the UK in necessary skills and limiting migration.

The left have a very strange attitude to migration at the moment. Its as though the solution to every conflict, every region afflicted with poor economics, is simply to move the entire affected population to the UK where some economic and social magic will happen that brings peace and prosperity to all.

Blissex

Perhaps this blog post is based on the assumption of a unified right, or a confusion between "the right" and the Conservative party.

The Conservative party itself is a coalition of whigs and tories, and upper-middle and upper classes, and they can and do have very different interests as to immigration.

And even contradictory attitudes: the tory upper-middle classes might be at the same time delighted that immigrants drive the cost of hired help down and push rents up, and dismayed that they infest with their rude foreign faces the public areas of their towns, instead of keeping to their basements.

Blissex

«Its as though the solution to every conflict,»

Refugees from conflict have a right under various international treaties to be offered refuge. To uphold that right is exceptionally important for everybody.

Technically that right arises only in the first peaceful country they can find, but many come to the UK or the USA because they know that the labour market there is effectively deregulated.

«every region afflicted with poor economics, is simply to move the entire affected population to the UK where some economic and social magic»

As to this there was some years ago a paper and a book that showed that the quickest and most reliably way to boost the living standards of an individual in an underdeveloped country is emigration.

This is easy to understand: developed countries have much higher capital/labour ratios, thus someone who emigrates from say Zaire to the UK acquires the ability to access a large endowment of infrastructure, from train lines to electricity supply to an industrial economy, thing that are missing or scarce in the source country.

There is the myth that immigrants from places like Zaire come here to scrounge the benefits, just like the UK citizens who retire to Spain and French. For them it is already a massive gain to be in a place where you open the tap and get water and the electricity is available 24/7 and there are semi-reliable trains and police cover up the sins of politicians but don't shake you down at every street corner.

Now the problem is how to prevent that immigration from very poor countries giving a huge boost to the negotiating power of the upper classes, but for most "left" economists that is insignificant.

I suspect in large part because they understand well that mass economic immigration has to be enabled by politically powerful lobbies, and the upper classes are the obvious one, if their leverage can benefit from immigration.

Bob

"to boost the living standards of an individual in an underdeveloped country is emigration"

There are three parties to the immigration debate. The resident population country, the immigrant and the resident population in the source country.

The resident population here doesn't want unskilled immigration because it competes with their jobs and adds little to the economy other than overcrowding. The resident population abroad doesn't want to lose its skilled staff because they trained them to look after the resident population abroad. The immigrant wants what is best for them.

So it boils down to whether the individual can override what other people want.

And the only real solution is net zero migration - a policy target of a stable population. That way you aren't stealing skilled staff from areas of the world that are less developed, nor are you taking their unemployed so there is no political pressure to solve the problem abroad.

The 'British disease' is one of colonial appropriation - trying to grow the British economy by stealing output from other countries. Net immigration is just the continuation of colonial appropriation in a different guise that is acceptable to the extreme Left.

Dipper

Most of the arguments in the referendum for immigration were arguments for Leave in that they were about the benefits of specific migration for specific purposes which can only be achieved by government control of migration. The Remain argument is that migration here for any purpose whatsoever by any number of people is beneficial.

I would like some honesty from proponents of mass immigration primarily around how the rights of those at the bottom of the social pile are protected and how their aspirations are met, and also some honesty about the scale of the infrastructure required and how that is to be planned and built and why it is beneficial. Without that I feel that I'm participating in a game of humanitarian poker where the 'pro-migration' players are simply looking for opportunities to demonstrate their superior humanity.

Blissex

«The Remain argument is that migration here for any purpose whatsoever by any number of people is beneficial.»

I think that is rather a delusion, as the argument was that it benefited the UK citizens to have the right to work and live in any EU country and not just any UK region, and that to gain that right it had to be reciprocal. And strictly within the EU only.

The value of a passport that gives the right to work and live in many safe, advanced countries is very high, some EU countries sell EU citizenships for hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The real problem was that the UK government insisted for EU membership for several countries with very low wages, and then put in policies to attract migrants from them to push down wages and reduce job security.

The UK government have done the same for non-EU economics migrants who have outnumbered the EU ones. The problem has been UK politics to please businesses and property owners, not the EU.

Blissex

«honesty about the scale of the infrastructure required [ ... ] a game of humanitarian poker where the 'pro-migration' players are simply looking for opportunities to demonstrate their superior humanity.»

This seems to me a very vast misreading of the political situation; perhaps you think that the internationalist marxism of our blogger is what is driving UK policy, and that's ridiculous.

What is driving UK policy is the the determination of New Labour and Conservatives to buy the votes of middle aged and older affluent property owners in the south. To buy those votes taxes and wages must stay low, and property prices and rents high.

To achieve that successive UK governments have decided to import cheap desperate young workers and at the same time cut spending on infrastructure like the NHS and local councils, cuts targeted to the parts that serve younger and poorer people. The infrastructure that gets funded is that which drives up property prices like Crossrail or HS1/HS2/Northern Powerhouse.

Even if there is a surge in population, infrastructure won't be upgraded, because older and richer voters are sitting in comfortable space in their underused 3-5 bedroom minimanors in well maintained suburbs and don't want to waste a penny of their rents and capital gains on anybody else. "Blow you! I am allright Jack".

The rest of us can just squeeze into smaller and smaller circumstances, like the immigrants often already do:

www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-08-08/stranded-in-desert-foreign-labor-is-casualty-of-saudi-slowdown
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jun/25/overcrowding-housing-raid-26-living-three-bedroom-east-london
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2337695/Shanty-town-suburban-London-street-Romanians-scrape-living-amid-squalor-dump.html

That's the story, not the dreams of "internationalist marxists" demonstrating their «superior humanity».

Blissex

«New Labour and Conservatives to buy the votes of middle aged and older affluent property owners in the south.»

And that's because of first-past-the-post voting.

The many people who both voted against voting reform in 2011 and then against the EU in 2015 have done something really stupid.

They should campaign for STV voting to regain a measure of political representation, as under FPTP affluent older voters in southern marginals have a determining effect on elections that voters in safe seats don't have.

Bob

"The many people who both voted against voting reform in 2011 and then against the EU in 2015 have done something really stupid."

No. There is a good chance of a Labour government in 2020. Under a system of open borders wages and social security get pushed towards the lowest common denominator. If you want to maintain a social differential and help everybody out then you have to have flow control.

How are Labour going to win back the voters lost to UKIP and stopped voting during the Blair years, or Conservative working class voters with this BS?

The real problem IMV is the Labour Party is still Tory Lite. What Corbyn is proposing is pretty small beer and barely qualifies as social democracy, never mind full throated socialism of any type. If the Labour Party offered strong social democratic policies - exiting the single market and say they will guarantee everyone a £10/hr living wage job fitted to the person (not just the shadow chancellor's £10 minimum wage), living wage state pension, banning private healthcare and significant NHS spending then it would encourage voters to vote them.

Bob

"internationalist marxism of our blogger is what is driving UK policy, and that's ridiculous."

Nobody is claiming that, that is ridiculous. We are claiming they are driving the policy of *Labour* and the possible Corbyn post 2020 government. The point is they are the useful fools of the right. As soon as an opportunity opens up, we on the Left need to get behind a national programme.

Blissex

«"The many people who both voted against voting reform in 2011 and then against the EU in 2015 have done something really stupid."
No. There is a good chance of a Labour government in 2020. Under a system of open borders wages and social security get pushed towards the lowest common denominator.»

But that depends on low income voters and northern voters having weight in Labour and other parties, and under FPTP just about only southern middle class property owners have much importance, and of course they love low wage and less job security for those poorer than them. It is also hard to motivate left-leaning abstainers to vote under FPTP. Ed Milliband campaigned for AV and STV because some people in Labour understood that well. People on the right parachuted into safe seats of course campaigned for FPTP.

If there is a good chance of Labour winning in 2020 that depends more on Conservatives screwing up.

DPDownSouth

Ok, y'know, re: Britain turning into another African country.

You have to look at the role Britain (and others) has played in making so many countries the dysfunctional shit holes that they are.

Also, much of the developed world's relatively decent standards of living have been built up over centuries at the direct expense of poorer nations.... be it by looting resources, opening markets at the barrel of a gun, or using slave labour to provide the calories that made the industrial revolution possible.

Something, I feel, that always needs to be kept in mind.

Viva internationalism and historical perspective, viva.

Steve

Even if England was fully to blame for making those other countries into disfunctional shitholes, that is no reason to turn England into another disfunctional shithole by encouraging immigration from those places. Quite the alternative, in fact.

DPDownSouth

Steve,

The phrase "another African country" seemed to me to lay the blame for many African nations' woes on the feckless nature of their inhabitants, rather than the quirks of history and chance.

Besides, I've met many immigrants from said dysfunctional African countries, and most of them are decent, hard-working folk (often well educated, too).

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