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April 06, 2008



«insofar as immigrants reduce wages for low-skilled workers, they'd do so even if they stayed at home.»

That's knowing bullshit, because as you know transaction/transport costs from abroad are not zero, especially for services and service employment (outside call centres).

«So, if a managed migration system is unnecessary in Rutland,»

It is not unnecessary -- if a lot of people were quickly to move from Lincoln to Rutland there would be huge dislocations in Rutland and the good burghers of Rutland would complain a lot.

Just as the residents of many a suburban villagers complain about rich immigrants from the cities putting upward pressure on house prices or poor immigrant travellers putting lowering the social tone of the village.

That kind of immigration would be managed indeed, by transfers from the council budgets of Lincoln to those of Rutland, as they both are funded ultimately by Westminster.

Then there are countries like China or Russia where there are *internal* immigration controls in the law, and Moscow citizens complain about illegal immigrants from the provinces stealing their jobs.

But there are no such controls between Lincoln and Rutland not because immigration between the two does not cause dislocation, but because there are higher considerations that make the citizens of Rutland put up with the dislocation, and never mind that Westminster would help from the common weal.

In practice free immigration from community A to community B does not provoke resentment or trouble in these cases:

* There is no likely impact either because the numbers are small or because the vested interests are trifling.

* If the numbers are not trivial or the vested interests hurt by immigration are significant, then there is desirable reciprocity due to a shared sense of community of interests.

So for example very few people complain about immigration to England from Scotland or viceversa, and to England from France or viceversa, the numbers are from from small, and the vested interests at large, but the vested interests are equivalent and there is a shared sense of community because of participating in a common political project (the United Kingdom or the European Union or even in some cases NATO) with reciprocal rights and with payment of taxes in a common pot.

And never mind in the past of the future the shared loss of lives in a common army.

For an English citizen immigration to England from Scotland or France is not a big deal; sure, that means lots of people speaking funny coming in, but it also means the ability to move to those places too, and the levels of wages/welfare vested interests are broadly equivalent, so there isn't an obvious arbitrage, and there is quite a bit of shared politics and history and culture. Similarly for another long established area of free migration, the nordic countries.

Withing the EU it gets a bit harder with Poland, Bulgaria and Romania, where there is an obvious and potentially large wages/welfare arbitrage situation, but less so with Estonia or Slovakia, because the numbers are trifling.

To some extent I am surprised that there is no free immigration between the USA/Canada and Australia and Europe, and I am somewhat surprised by how long it took for that to happen between the USA and Canada (except for Indians of course, thanks to the Jay Treaty).

USA, Canada, Australia and Europe have broadly the same wage/welfare levels, broadly the same culture (Hollywood/Pepsi/McDonalds :->) and they are even military allies, and the numbers would be trifling, so I cannot imagine any reason why in practice one would restrict migration among them. It must be that the cultural and political ties are too weak, or that in practice precisely because there is little opportunity for wage/welfare arbitrage not many are keen to take advantage of it.

But then the freedom to move withing the EU has proved to be quite valuable, with lots of Britons moving to Spain, lots of French to England, and so on.


"Everyone's opposed to managed migration."

There are four or five thousand million people in the world who could reasonably expect a great improvement in their situation in life if they moved freely to the UK in the near future. Anyone not happy with this wants immigration to be restricted by something – they just disagree about what.

Mark Wadsworth

Blissex makes a valid point - you do not reckon with the power of Nimbyism. For example, 83% of people are opposed to new housing being built in their area. People in the South West whine about Londonders snapping up holiday homes and pushing up prices (well build more homes then, you fools).

Ad also makes a good point. It's a numbers thing. Four or five billion people can't just move to Europe or North America, it just won't work.

Gavin Whenman

Stunning display of arrogance to assume everyone in the world wants to move to Europe or North America there.

Gavin Whenman

PS. Good post :-)


Absolutely, Gavin; it ignores the huge counterflow of Britons to Somalia.

john b

Gavin is very clearly right, and people who think we'd have 5bn migrants if we allowed free immigration are very clearly idiots.

Why? Well, we know that a large proportion - for argument's sake, let's cut it down to 50% - of Poles would be better off financially if they moved to the UK - ie 20 million people. We also know that only about 400,000 at a time have actually done so, despite all Poles being allowed to move to the UK and Ireland without restriction (whereas the rest of western Europe does restrict them).

That implies that only 2% of people who'd be made financially better off by migration are actually willing to do it, because 98% would rather be poor in a country where they speak the language, like the food and are near their friends and family.

So, applied to the entire population of the developing world, that suggests 100m migrants who'd come if immigration rules were dropped. High enough that the UK would face problems if we unilaterally dropped immigration rules - but easily low enough that the EU countries and US together could absorb them without any major disruption or difficulty...

Matt Munro

You seem blisfully unaware of the concept of the Nation State. An approximate definition of which is "An identifiable area, defined by geographical borders and which is self administered". Rutland is many things, but a Nation State it is not, therefore no one gives a toss if you move there, as you will not be getting any more rights, or performing any more obligations than you do now. The fact is even most resident migrants (according to the ST yesterday) want further migration restricted. The most sensible route would be an immediate moritorium, (i.e a lockdown of the border) followed the gradual introduction of quotas for in demand workers. But the methodology isn't important at the moment, what's important is to generate some political will towards the principle.
I simply don't beleive that in a country where you can be fined automatically for parking illegally, not having a tv license, or not filing a tax return on time , that it's somehow impossible to control who comes into the country. Japan managed for decades without any migration, and like us they are an island, so how did they do it ?

Bob B

"Japan managed for decades without any migration, and like us they are an island, so how did they do it ?"

In this context, Japan may not be an encouraging example for us to follow. By recent IMF projections, because of population ageing the dependency ratio in Japan will reach 47% by 2025, compared with 36% in the UK and 33% in the US.

"UNPD’s latest low variant forecasts for Japan’s population in 2050 is just 88.65 million and the high estimate 118.27 million, ranging from 13.5% below to 15.3% above the mean value."

That compares with Japan's present population of almost 128 million.

Bob B

It occurs to me that we in Britain are not only encumbered by having the third most widely spoken language in the world - apparently even more speak Mandarin and Spanish - but we spend large sums of taxpayers' money each year funding the British Council to run English language classes, which must surely make it easier to learn English and encourage foreigners to want to come here and stay when they find they like it:

Surely, there are tax cuts which could be funded by closing down all those British Council offices around the world and abolishing those embarrassing annual manifestions of patriotism at the last night of the Proms to celebrate nostalgia for an Empire on which the sun never set:

As Samuel Johnson so rightly said: Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.

Besides, who wants to learn a language like Japanese?

Just joking.


Immigration is not a long term answer to a rising dependency ratio...immigrants will age too.

Luckily the Japanese have a very high savings rate...unlike the UK!

john b

"Luckily the Japanese have a very high savings rate"

...which isn't going to do them much good when they're all 95, unless they use said savings to pay immigrants to come to Japan, wipe their bottoms for them and make their dinner.


Surely the relative wages of bottom-wipers will be bid up - problem solved.


Hailing multiculturalism as Utopia and talking about your move from multicultural London to 98.1% white Rutland in the same post.....

You're havin' a laugh with us, aren't you Chis?


John B - global warming is likely to increase the numbers of people seeking refuge in Europe after droughts and crop failures.

Javier Solana considers this to be a threat to Europe's security and stability, and he's hardly a far-right Xenophobe.


One of the ways in which Japan managed was to happen to be ~200-500 miles off the continental landmass, not ~20 miles, and for that continental landmass to be either a mess dominated by its military or else a totalitarian state for most of the period under discussion.


It is ok to manage immigration if you have high rate of unemployment and economical crisys!But UK actually needs workers - low skilled workers. It just happen to be that the new members of EU Bulgaria and Romania have such workers. Not allowing them to work and the decrease flow of Polish workers will lead to problems for a lot of employers! We are not speaking about opening the borders for the whole world - just for the countries in EU. It is racism to treat the people of Bulgaria and Romania as "second hand". Also if you have some high skilled workers,scientists or writers, people of the art - you should allow them freely to come, stay and work in UK - believe me this will help Britain! And I agree - it is ridicilous to allow someone to move freely from one state of UK to other state of UK and work anywhere they want and ban people from one state of EU from going or working in another state of EU.


Please stop reading if you don't want to read unspeakable and hate-filled filth...

I'm warning you...

Last chance...

One very big reason for the failure of the half-witted comparison between people moving into Rutland and people moving into the UK is that a movement into Rutland will generally be of "whites" sharing the "culture" of the "whites" already "there" rather than of non-whites not sharing the culture. You see, racially mixed societies only work where it matters to the left, that is, in their narcissistic fantasies, rather than where it doesn't matter to the left, in the history books. Such societies become authoritarian and then break apart violently: Yugoslavia, Iraq, former USSR, etc. Add religion to the mix, as we have with vibrant Muslim immigration, and you've got an even better recipe for disaster. Fortunately, some good will come out of the trouble ahead: it will discredit the half-wit left for good and prove that no-one has served the cause of fascism better than the anti-fascists.

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