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April 18, 2007



Crap post again.

1. Unsupported racism slur.
2. How do *you* know that immigration has made us richer?
3. The British plasterer whose weekly wage has fallen by £150 a week since EU accession in May 2004 isn't better off (I know people like this). How could he be? Stop pretending that it's possible for there to be no losers.
4. Second language students - pay more tax for their education - were these part of your calculations when you decided that immigration made us richer? Add them in.


just to note that anyone talking trash about "unskilled immigration from outside the EU" immediately loses the right to make homilies to "chicken tikka masala" or any other examples from the Indian restaurant trade.


Does the making of good chicken tikka involve no skill?


Hi Chris,

I am an immigrant - I moved to the UK as a 15 yr old. And immigration was a huge plus in my life. Great education, great early career experience, greater social capital. I consider myself manifestly richer as a consequence.

But I can't help feeling that PragueTory, despite his rudeness, has a point.

How can we initiate a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis on the value of immigration? There are some pretty obvious winners and losers - whose gain/loss is very tangible. But we might also have to make allowances for contingent valuation of loss of social cohesivity, and gains of great cuisine.

Just a thought, but I think it is about time we saw something more than reflections of one's position in relation to immigrants (master/competitor) in reaching conclusions as to the value of immigration.

Thanks for an interesting post - it got me thinking.

(PS - I no longer live in the UK - I went back where to where I came from)

Igor Belanov

I think that one of the points Chris is making is that immigration controls work in a similar way to import controls. If you're working in a 'protected' job your wages will be higher, but everyone will have to pay the costs in increased prices, tax rises to pay for subsidies, etc. Thus Praguetory's plasterer would not be as well off in 'Fortress Britain' as he might think. As Jonny points out, the costs and benefits are quite complex, so basically the right to free movement should hold sway.


It seems to me that a "leftism" can arise from a majority of individuals making self-interested decisions through a political process, attempting to maximize their own safety and restraining otherwise dominant groups. The process would lead to the exclusion from consideration of anyone not a member of the electorate - like would-be immigrants - but would hardly be characterized as "soft."


Umm, how is immigration a Pareto improvement if wealthy natives are taxed more to pay for more teachers in schools dominated by immigrants?

It may or may not be a good thing, but I don't see how you can argue that it's a Pareto improvement if some people have to pay more tax to subsidise other people.

Mark Wadsworth

Apart from broadly agreeing with Praguetory, surely this is a numbers thing.

Only about one-sixth of the world's population live in democratic, capitalist societies (North America, Western Europe, Japan etc), countries which are attractive to migrants.

I do feel sorry for just about everybody in all the despotic, ex-communist, Islamo-fascist, war-ridden and terminally corrupt hellholes that contain around half the world's population, but we can't just wave them all in with a cheery "Hello!" can we?

The wealthy countries pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps over the past couple of hundred years, isn't it time that the third world started making an effort? Japan went from agrarian economy to industrial powerhouse in a few decades, it's not rocket science.

Igor Belanov

Mark Wadsworth development theory- "it's easy just make the effort. Sure, you'll get poorer at first and might need years of dictatorship to quell the discontented masses, but that's just a matter of willpower. And none of the wealthier countries will even try to compete with you."
Some fine minds have discussed problems like these at great length- guess they must have been wasting their time, eh?


This is quite possibly you’re worst post in some time. Let me explain:

[Point 1.] “Nowhere, however, does he ask: what immigration policy is good for immigrants? It's as if only British people have interests.”

This, quite frankly, is a puerile response. “Racism” is a serious pejorative; it’s people such as yourself who diminish its sting and trivialise its meaning. There is nothing at all bigoted about wanting to restrict the flow of human beings. Why: because you’re not just importing cheap labour – you’re importing a person: a mammalian creature with his or her own aesthetic biases and cultural prejudices. The problem is not with individuals per se. The problem is with large numbers, and the way in which crowds interact with other crowds. Indeed, in recent decades, mass immigration has destroyed intra-communal harmony in the East End and parts of the industrial north – Burnley, Oldham, Bradford. I expect this problem to get worse, not better - the Dutch ghettos and French banlieues are a harbinger to what a multicultural society will actually look like.

[Point 2.] “But surely, an essential aspect of being on the "left" - as Byrne claims to be - is that you give greater weight to the interests of the worse off. “

You sound like Castro or Councillor Terry Kelly. We live in an imperfect world with limited resources and limited attachments in a limited space. You can’t turn the United Kingdom into a squatters’ camp for the two billion or so poor bastards who live in awful conditions. Edmund Burke once drew our attention to the “rule of unintended consequences.” If some crazy, demented, anarcho-capitalist fuckwit wants to import millions and millions and millions of foreigners into a small space with its own unique norms and aesthetic values, he is going to create problems that he did not intend or expect. The recent rioting in Utrecht is an instructive reminder. The idea that “integration” occurs automatically, like the blinking of an eyelid, is based on wishful thinking on not on solid facts.

[Point 3.] “But should the left really have this as a value at all? If it were less attached to such a collectivist notion.”

I have no idea what you mean by “collectivist?” The whole point about cultural conservation is that you preserve the unique particularities of a community, and so sustain the rule of law, i.e., the rule of law is based on legitimacy – it is grounded in a particular culture. Organic unity is a prerequisite for liberty. It is prerequisite for democracy. Once this vast web of trust is broken down or fractured, people start to mobilise along racial or religious or linguistic lines (or a combination of all three); they start to act like turtles; they hunker down; they vote for extreme parties; they abandon meritocracy and embrace nepotism or identity politics. Differences are put under the microscope and blown out of all proportion. It happened to Bosnia. It happened to Kosovo. It’s currently happening to Lebanon. Could it happen here someday?

The problem with Chris and his left-libertarian pals at Spiked is that they have a very crude, birds-eye-view of political arrangements and a perception of human nature that is innocent of modern Darwinism. They rely on the rationality of individuals – thought of as rational economic calculators – to supply all the bonds and norms that are presently generated and enforced by the traditional social institutions. They ignore other ingredients that are intrinsic to a well-ordered society: emotions, values, philosophies, religions, national feelings, and symbols. And if you think that this rant sounds overly abstract, I shall leave you with the following hyperlink:


Luis Enrique

but Igor, many of those fine minds concluded that other countries competing with you does not really do you any harm* - because what really matters is raising domestic productivity. If you can do that, overseas competition is not a problem, if you can't lack of it is no help.

although on your main point, you're right I can't think of many fine minds that concluded development was just a matter of "making an effort".

People who like to cite Japan, S Korea and Taiwan should consider some of the not-easily replicable circumstances that accompanied their success, to whit the second world war, which tore up the state's ties to former vested interests and gave govt's depts of industry a clean slate , the existence of an already competent civil service, and the hefty involvement of the Yanks. What worked in S Korea isn't likely to in Chad.

*OK, there are some possible caveats; perhaps if you are excluded from sectors with greater potential for future productivity gains, or bereft of export revenues in order to pay for imports, that could be construed as suppressing domestic productivity (trade being best regarded as a variety of productivity - turning grain into grapes)

Mark Wadsworth

Luis "What worked in Korea isn't likely to work in Chad"

Why shouldn't the same rules apply to Africa as anywhere else?

As Robert Mugabe as ably demonstrated, you can take a reasonably successful country run along capitalist lines and complete destroy it within a few years by imposing a dictatorship and tearing up property rights. Reversing the process is much more difficult, of course, but I hope this illustrates my point.

Igor Belanov

@ Amir:

There was nothing natural or harmonious about the East End, Burnley or Bradford. A century ago people might have been saying 'How did this hell-hole happen? If only I could go back to my stable farming community." And that would have been seeing things with rose-tinted glasses as well. Unfortunately, elements of the left share your 'multiculturalism', but merely express it in a different way.


@ Igor Belanov,

Thank you for the response. Now for mine:

“A century ago people might have been saying 'How did this hell-hole happen? If only I could go back to my stable farming community."

I’m a small "small-c” conservative: Britain is constantly evolving – I agree. And as Plato once recognised, there is very little we can do to alter the state of flux. What we can do, however, is pacify the demographic fluctuations and try to make sure that the national ethos does not evolve into something which we do not like. The recent focus on black crime – by Tony Blair and Trevor Philips – is a promising development because it opens-up an honest discourse about the Afro-Caribbean community: the ubiquitous absence of fathers, the under-achievement of black pupils at secondary school, the vile homophobia and hyper-masculinity, and the influence of “boom-boom” Yardies on the black mentality. This, I believe, is a tiny step towards the abandonment of multiculturalism.

Mark Wadsworth

Amir, good post, but are you sure about "ubiquitous absence" isn't that an oxymoron? Factually, it's not even true; apparently nearly half of Afro-Caribbean children live with both parents.


Sam is right about Pareto improvements by the way - using this term to refer to Hicks-Kaldor improvements is a bit of a blind spot on this blog.


Be that as it may, Chris’ economic case mass immigration is lazy and erroneous. The main problem – the main cost, as it were, of large-scale immigration – is the pressure on housing and land. Even if Eastern Europeans share dwellings at double the national average, an extra 600,000 people must occupy well over 100,000 dwellings. That is more than half the new homes built each year.

The notion that immigration boosts growth confuses size with income. Of course a bigger labour force will produce more output. But it does NOT increase output and income per head. Indeed, if cheap labour removes the pressure on employers to raise productivity, it will make living standards grow more slowly, as has happened since immigration accelerated.

The notion that immigration is necessary to fill so-called “shortages” is plausible but piffle. In a freely working labour market, pay rates rise to the level needed to persuade domestic workers to acquire the necessary skills or perform an unpleasant job. There was a shortage of nurses as long as their pay was held down by siphoning off nurses from the Third World. Since nurses’ pay rose, the shortage has disappeared. (Why any left-winger should use the limitless pool of Third World workers to hold down British people's pay is a mystery to me.)

Not only is Chris’ argument insensitive to the social costs of open borders – it is also insensitive to the hidden and un-hidden economic costs. If he wants to improve his anti-racist credentials, then maybe he should volunteer fifty percent of his income to a Third World charity? Practice what you preach, so to speak.


There’s another point. No one has looked at the “hidden” costs of mass immigration. Who would have known, for instance, that we’d be spending millions and millions and millions of pounds on counter-terrorism because of the Tories’ decision to import cheap labour from Pakistan and Kashmir at the request of the textiles industry (which never took off in any case)?

And what about the disproportional levels of violent crime committed by “certain” immigrant-groups? How much more money does it cost the law-abiding taxpayer? And what about the Byzantine web of quangos and linguists and race-relations officers that thrive on diversity, like flies around faeces? Doesn’t “identity politics” poison democracy? What about the threat to free speech and open debate by sensitivity-obsessed community leaders?

Rob Spear

Without social cohesion, you no longer have a country to have an economy in.

Without social cohesion, you have a set of hate-filled tribes engaging in all out war with one another.

Without social cohesion, you no longer have the slightest chance that any kind of leftist policy is achievable, as you are too busy deploying military police to do anything else, assuming that you have any kind of government left at all.


Chris, sometimes you do seem to go a bit 'left field'.


[rule of unintended consequences.]

Are there never any good unintended consequences?


Can those going on about social cohesion being destroyed by immigration share how they measure this elusive creature ? Are there any studies that show that Britian today is less cohesive than say a 100 years ago when there were sharp divisions of class, race ( jewish immigrants ) etc ?

Laban Tall

"Nowhere, however, does he ask: what immigration policy is good for immigrants? It's as if only British people have interests. "

I think you'll find that as a British MP, elected by British people, he should in theory at least put the interests of the British first. I don't find that an unreasonable position.


But all "British" people didn't vote for him - only a fraction of his constituents did. The interests of those who elected him ( i.e the people in his constituency who voted for him) are not necessarily representative of the "british" interest whatever that is. Maybe you are arguing that he should rather be putting the interests of his constituents first.

Also, why is there a statement about non-EU immigration ? In terms of social cohesion, Eastern european immigration is similar with a lack of language, income disparity and 'shared values' - yet the language is couched in terms that seem to suggest that the problem is primarily due to those non european darkies without having to say so directly. I think Chris has a point.


He can only talk about non-EU immigration because EU citizens have a right to live here - so they're outside his power to do anything about.


"so they're outside his power to do anything about "

No they're not. He could campaign to leave the EU.

Marcin Tustin

Chris, I have to take issue with your suggestion that it is racist to only care about Britons. The main objection is that it's just not. If you're going to say that you're going to have to show how it discriminates on the basis of race per se.

More importantly, why is it illegitimate for a state to prefer the interests of its citizens over those of foreigners? (An obvious answer is that a nightwatchman state exists to create a zone of justice, and that is all.)

Matt Munro

"If you're worried about the impact immigration has on schools in poor areas - as Byrne is - the solution is not to restrict immigration. It's higher or more progressive taxation (and other measures) to improve poor schools"

Absolute cobblers. We should solve the social problems caused by immigration by throwing more money at migrants ??? It's like saying that the solution to lung cancer is to smoke more cigarettes. And where is all this additional tax to come from ? Outside the middle class liberal elite many of us are struggling to pay existing taxes, mortages, bills, etc etc
I suspect you don't have children at a state school, if you did you would probably not want to encourage more non english speaking knife wielding, asbo holding, social disasters to be "educated" alongside your children. Migrants already drain a disproportionate amount of the education budget - all those translators, assistants and special needs teachers don't come cheap. The problem with the "migrants are good for the economy" argument is that it ignores the cost of managing the problems they create.
As for not enforcing immigration controls because its too expenisve - you may as well say let's just put up with crime because enforcing the law is too much time and trouble.

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