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September 29, 2010



Could it be that voters are predominently not concerned with labour market disadvantage as opposed with large other changes in their lives caused by immigration?

Changes to the languages people speak in shops, or background of people they work with or changes to the background of people attending collective activities (in sport or recreation) might also have a real impact on their happiness/satisfaction and explain opposition to immigration. There are a wide range of issues besides labour market position relating to homogeneous, hetrogeneous and ghettoised communities that might impact on voters' (both indigenous and recently immigerated) views.


"Should Labour pursue the preferences of the working class, or their interests?"

A rather "managerialist" question, isn't it?!

Why should Labour - effectively a small handful of people within Labour - understand their interests any better, even if they themselves may not have perfect knowledge?


investment banking n London has a massive proportion of immigrant workers. It's not obvious they've had a depressive effect on incomes.


On Monday this week, the Heritage Lottery Fund announced a grant to help preserve Cromford Mills. The mills destroyed the livelihoods of manual labourers who span cotton, but established the idea of mechanised production.

A mechanised factory is itself morally neutral. Workers might throw their clogs into the workings to disrupt production; the protest might impinge on the social instincts of factory owners; but it doesn't determine what is moral, what is economically beneficial to the owner or what is economically beneficial to consumers.

If a company employs immigrants to make stuff on the same terms and conditions as local workers, the case is again morally neutral. Employing immigrants might reduce wages, but if that opportunity was denied, a producer might choose mechanisation as the route to higher productivity.

I tend to agree with Rohan that disgruntlement about immigration is grounded more in its social impact than wage impact. In our centralised governance, it takes a long time to provide appropriate education, health care and social services for immigrants. You would have thought that we would have learned from past experience.

Dain (Mupetblast)

"...if people were rational and well-informed..."

Since rationality and being informed exists on a continuum, what is the proper level of rationality and knowledge needed to make managerialism legitimate?

And even so, the relatively rational and well informed disagree on what the "true" interests of their underlings are.

Niels Christensen

But what does Ed mean, when he says 'If we don't understand why he would feel angry', what does he mean with understand, and what will he do about it.
By the way you should have mentioned the EU free market, it's not the same as immigration.
In Denmark we have learned, that we have to pay children allowance
to guest workers from other EU countries, even if the children stays in their fathers home country. Now the danish allowance is worth a fortune i Poland, and is in fact one reason why a polish worker working in Denmark demand much less in wages, than he should.
I don't think no politicians really understand this legislation.

john Terry's Mum

No way will Ed EVER be prime minister, not with a head as wonky and asymmetrical as that. Especially when he talks.

Nearly as bad as Brian Cowen.

Pity that such things matter.
But as politics is a TV show, the parties need to be led by TV presenters, which the slightly reptilian Dave would be much better at.

john malpas

I see nobody has - or dare to - mention that birds of a feather like to flock together.
To pretend it is all about wages shows how indoctrinated you all are.


Maybe there is a link between this post and the former one on education.
Because the failure of the educational system, being his main success to be judged by its good will and no by its results, in preparing for the new skills that you describe, is a deciding factor in leveling the british working class with what you call reserve army.

Innocent Abroad

The basic problem is that to bring British wages in line with their (global) market price we would have to cut them by probably three-quarters. Now if everyone rented their homes, this would only cause a problem for landlords (a class for who no one, free marketeer or socialist, ever weeps). But of course most people have mortgages - they are their own landlords, and so would be ruined.

Nevertheless the wages have to be brought in line.

Therefore we need a dictatorship which is prepared to ruin (and indeed shoot dead) as many people as it takes to restore economic equilibrium. Or have I missed something?

John Terry's Mum

Innocent Abroad

Your argument is prescient and might soon be applied - especially to the massive oversupply of labour caused by the availability of hundreds of millions of workers in China and India.

Obviously "shooting dead" is gonna take forever, so I would suggest to our new dictator that it might be in UK workers' and homeowners' long-term interest for say, Pakistan to launch devastating nuclear attacks on the Industrial centers of India?


Something "could be done" about immigration. There's not much that "can be done" about reserve armies of workers 1000s of miles away or technological change.


"The emergence of a reserve army of labour in India and China, the technical change that allows jobs to be offshored, skill-biased technical change and power-biased technical change all have the same effect - and probably more so."

Not so for jobs which CAN'T be offshored - from shelf-stacking to plucking chickens.


"Where I live, there is a meat packing plant that has provided many with stable employment over the decades. Of course, with the large influx of Eastern Europeans they have steadily displaced the locals from this factory and there is a surplus of labour in the area. Employment agencies have descended on the area like vultures and almost completely 'causalised' the workforce around West Lothian to the extent that the job centres are littered with zero hour contract jobs.

A friend of mine who has worked in said plant for over thirty years sees young men coming in on the Monday work for three hours, then sent home to sit by the phone in case they are needed during the week.

This was exactly the type of thing the Labour Party was set up to tackle. These conditions, nauseatingly described as 'modernisation' show up the failings of the NL 'project'. Whilst they were swanning about getting middle class men in public sector jobs paternity leave, ordinary working class people watched as their terms and conditions were slashed to Victorian levels. These people (rightly or wrongly) feel immigration undercuts their living standards. Is it right that in this Country that we have reduced people to the condition of day labourers?"

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