A grown up debate on immigration


by Sunny
30th October, 2007 at 2:27 pm    

Over on CIF, Jon Cruddas has quite rightly taken David Cameron to task on this:

Unfortunately, Cameron had little to say on systems to measure real time demography and ensure that public service provision follows – the crux of the whole debate around migration. We have a real problem when public investment does not follow population change, and too often those changes are off the state’s radar.

Unfortunately, his speech treads dangerous territory in implying a simplistic link between housing shortages and net immigration. The lack of council housing is largely due to the refusal of successive governments to allow councils to replace stock sold under the right to buy with new build.

Similarly, Cameron seems to have woken up to the pressures that many of the most vulnerable workers at the lower end of the labour market are currently feeling. But the hint that migrant workers are to blame looks like a dog whistle that risks playing into the hands of the far right. The problem for Cameron is that he is unwilling to confront the real problem – the pressure from unscrupulous employers as they push down wages and conditions for their employees

There are three issues here: public services, housing and wages. I’m sympathatic to the view that large-scale immigration causes problems in all three areas. But David if the Tory party wanted to resolve the problems, they would get to the root of the problem, as outlined by Cruddas, rather that constantly going on about how many darkies come into this country. Is he really going on about darkies? Yes he is, because his focus was on non-EU migration rather than migrants from other European countries (who form the bulk of people coming in). But mention ‘immigration’ to most Tories and they start salivating so they’ll probably lap it up without realising they’re being sold rubbish.


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  1. Rumbold — on 30th October, 2007 at 2:58 pm  

    Sunny:

    I am closer to Jon Cruddas and David Cameron in terms of my views on immigration, but I take issue with this:

    “But David if the Tory party wanted to resolve the problems, they would get to the root of the problem, as outlined by Cruddas, rather that constantly going on about how many darkies come into this country. Is he really going on about darkies? Yes he is, because his focus was on non-EU migration rather than migrants from other European countries (who form the bulk of people coming in).

    The reason Cameron did not mention EU migration is there is nothing we can do about it. Cameron is not being overtly or even covertly racist.

  2. Sunny — on 30th October, 2007 at 3:15 pm  

    Then talking about stopping non-EU migration is facile… because it doesn’t solve anything.

    One would be better off, as Jon Cruddas keeps advocating, to get public services here to respond faster to demographic changes, to build more houses and have a welfare system that responds better to migration. That way the welfare system doesn’t lose out, neither do Britons living here nor the immigrants who come here to work.

    I haven’t seen one press release by a Tory MP yet talking about solutions other than just rabbiting on that ‘our govt has lost control of our borders’. How will things be any different under Tories?

  3. Rumbold — on 30th October, 2007 at 3:19 pm  

    Sunny:

    “One would be better off, as Jon Cruddas keeps advocating, to get public services here to respond faster to demographic changes, to build more houses and have a welfare system that responds better to migration. That way the welfare system doesn’t lose out, neither do Britons living here nor the immigrants who come here to work.”

    I agree with you on that point, but the main problem is that local councils report population size, the government ignores them and it ends up costing local ratepayers (as has happened in mine and other areas).

    I do not think that immigration is too high, but the government has made a complete mess of it.

    “I haven’t seen one press release by a Tory MP yet talking about solutions other than just rabbiting on that ‘our govt has lost control of our borders’. How will things be any different under Tories?”

    Honestly, I do not know.

  4. Morgoth — on 30th October, 2007 at 3:28 pm  

    One would be better off,

    By withdrawing from the EU.

    Problem solved!

  5. sonia — on 30th October, 2007 at 3:34 pm  

    why are all the comments being closed so early? there wont be much Point to PP soon.

    Again, how many times do i bring this up? until people know what the current immigration policy is – i.e. who is tentitled to get what benefit when, on what basis – i cannot see how we can ‘debate’ a ‘change’. Time and time again people keep going round the houses and not actually talking about the reality of immigration. we have no starting point, we are just talking because immigration is a popular subject and we must be seen to say something on the matter.

    what are we proposing solutions to when we dont know what the problem actually is? or that different people have actually got a lot of different issues – all under the blanket name of ‘immigration’.

  6. Rumbold — on 30th October, 2007 at 3:39 pm  

    Sonia:

    “Why are all the comments being closed so early? there wont be much Point to PP soon.”

    The discussion was just becoming one where people repeated the same thing back and forth. Fun for a time, but there should be a limit.

    “What are we proposing solutions to when we dont know what the problem actually is?”

    We do know what the problem is- certain public services are struggling (such as schools), because the government refuses to properly provision them because they want to pretend that the net-immigration figures are lower.

  7. Kismet Hardy — on 30th October, 2007 at 4:04 pm  

    “The discussion was just becoming one where people repeated the same thing back and forth.”

    Amen to that brother

  8. j0nz — on 30th October, 2007 at 4:24 pm  

    There’s an element to immigration which has nothing to do with skin colour, and everything to do with hostility or isolationism from the rest of society. Why do liberal do-gooders in councils, every year attempt to ban Christmas or Christian symbols or little piglets?!

    A grown up debate needs to address how different cultures will alter society. Not just cold hard logistics on how we will accommodate extra people.

  9. Jagdeep — on 30th October, 2007 at 4:38 pm  

    jOnz, most of the times when stories about little piglets being banned come out, they are shown to be made up stories.

    Incidentally, what is the ethnic breakdown of the immigrants coming into the UK now? My understanding is that the overwhelming majority of immigrants are white Eastern Europeans. Whole Catholic parishes and churches are being revived in cities because of the large numbers of Polish people living here now.

  10. Jherad — on 30th October, 2007 at 4:45 pm  

    Have there been any studies published, concerning average per-capita income and expenditure over time? I’m assuming there have been, but I wouldn’t know where to start looking…

  11. 5cc — on 30th October, 2007 at 5:00 pm  
  12. Don — on 30th October, 2007 at 5:02 pm  

    Why do liberal do-gooders in councils, every year attempt to ban Christmas or Christian symbols or little piglets?!

    Aaaaargh!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winterval#Birmingham_controversy

  13. Sofi — on 30th October, 2007 at 5:04 pm  

    Since i cant comment on the previous thread, i thought i’d do it here: i doubt the lib dems would take the stance re saudio arabia if they were in charge.

  14. Sofi — on 30th October, 2007 at 5:07 pm  

    >>Why do liberal do-gooders in councils, every year attempt to ban Christmas or Christian symbols or little piglets?!

    erm..are you saying winterval is translated to mean ‘ban christmas’ or are you being sarcastic?

  15. ChrisC — on 30th October, 2007 at 5:34 pm  

    “There are three issues here: public services, housing and wages. I’m sympathatic to the view that large-scale immigration causes problems in all three areas.”

    Let’s concrete over the entire South East and have done with it!
    You could add a fourth (related to but not always included in the first): infrastructure.

    This is quite an ironic post following your “right wing blog myths” post of the other day.

    Sunny: immigration debate is stifled – myth.
    Cameron: OK let’s have a debate.
    Sunny: racist git!

  16. Don — on 30th October, 2007 at 5:36 pm  

    We don’t need more immigrants and we don’t need fewer immigrants. We need more successful immigrants and fewer unsucessful ones.

    By successful I mean earning a living (or being part of a family where a living is earned), able to comfortably negotiate the everyday encounters with the system, feeling a sense of connection to the other people sharing these islands, and anticipating a better life for one’s children.

    Basically, the same broad, mundane criteria that would describe a successful indigene.

    Some people can arrive here and hit the ground running; skills, support group, legal status, language. From the UK’s perspective these are the most immediately beneficial of immigrants, although to their original homelands they almost certainly represent a loss of past investment and future talent.

    Others are ripe for exploitation, marginalisation or both. That is where resources should be placed.

    OK, not a startling insight, but it doesn’t seem to figure very high in the rhetoric of any of the parties.

  17. Leon — on 30th October, 2007 at 5:51 pm  

    I have a renewed interest in this topic largely as a result of my recent vacation in Barbados.

    At the moment there is an estimated 30,000 illegal immigrants in the country over there, this is causing some concern and debate. Given that the total population is something like 300,000 suddenly having to deal with 10% of your population being made up of an influx of economic illegal migrants means serious issues.

    Compare the island to Britain. We’re a nation of 60 million, the fifth largest economy in the world, we have billions to spare invading other countries yet we bleat madly when a couple hundred thousand are counted wrong.

    We have no clue about immigration over here, it’s basically a bloody joke the whole ‘debate’ the Tories are seeking and Labour are too gutless to confront.

  18. Jagdeep — on 30th October, 2007 at 6:20 pm  

    Did you drink some good rum whilst in Barbados Leon?

  19. Sunny — on 30th October, 2007 at 6:23 pm  

    why are all the comments being closed so early? there wont be much Point to PP soon.

    Rumbold’s already answered this. I also think that 177 comments can hardly be seen as ‘early’ Sonia.

    Sunny: immigration debate is stifled – myth.
    Cameron: OK let’s have a debate.
    Sunny: racist git!

    It’s possible to talk about immigration without being racist and I think Jon Cruddas does it quite well. I don’t say that because he’s Labour, given half the rubbish on immigration is perpetuated by other Labour MPs. I say that because he’s interested in solutions while the Tory party is interested in making statements that (in reality) will mean nothing.

    Having a grown-up debate isn’t just about saying ‘lets stop all immigration’… it’s also about acknowledging what is actually going on (that most people coming in are Eastern European whites) and that things would be better if we focused on making our public services and government more reactive to labour movements.

  20. j0nz — on 30th October, 2007 at 6:28 pm  

    #16 good comment.

    Let’s evaluate if they can contribute. Yes it’s tough love, but maybe it will encourage people to study and better themselves if they want to live in Britain. it is the preferred immigrant destination in Europe.

    If we don’t have a selective policy, there will be increased ghettoisation of the ‘disenfranchised’,

    Sweden is really feeling the brunt of this ghettoisation of immigrants, some areas are completely hostile even to ambulances which need police escorts.

  21. j0nz — on 30th October, 2007 at 6:31 pm  

    Sunny, why do you *insist* on ignoring the socialisation and integration of the immigrant communities? Do you see it as irrelavent somehow?

  22. Sunny — on 30th October, 2007 at 6:34 pm  

    #21 – no I don’t. I just think some people, including yourself, don’t really know what’s going on the ground so you exaggerate how much immigrant communities are apparently not integrating. Which is why I find it difficult to debate it with you.

    But for CIF I’ve written about ‘social cohesion’ quite a few times. It’s why I got involved in the Britishness debate following 7/7.

  23. j0nz — on 30th October, 2007 at 6:39 pm  

    Well, I would like to be shown specific examples of were I exaggerate, since I always try to back up my words with statistics and facts. Which annoys many, I know.

  24. j0nz — on 30th October, 2007 at 6:45 pm  

    Well, anyho, I am guilty of overplaying it, then you are guilty of underplaying it :)

  25. Jagdeep — on 30th October, 2007 at 6:47 pm  

    jOnz, you just invoked the examples of the urban myths about the banning of little piggys and christmas by various councils. Not a good example of your incontrovertible and strictly evidenced facts in action.

  26. Sunny — on 30th October, 2007 at 6:57 pm  

    Thank you Jagdeep, my point exactly.

    J0nz, if you stopped getting all your info from the Daily Mail or the Telegraph, you’d see there’s a whole world out there. :)

  27. j0nz — on 30th October, 2007 at 7:02 pm  

    Let’s not be niave here… So there has been no ban of piggys or otherwise ‘well meaning’ rephrasing of christmas to something else??? If 50% are made up or exaggerated, that still leaves 50%! Even 75% fake leaves 25%! The tabloids often make things up or exaggerate. You concede in #10 that not all are made up.

    So, it still stands, and I’ll put my money where my mouth is, there will be a proveable case, every year of some ‘well meaning’ idiot trying to rephrase christmas so as to not ‘offend’ ‘non-christians’.

    I don’t blame the ‘non-christians’ in these scenarios because it’s most likely to be a white leftoid politically very niave junior council worker.

  28. j0nz — on 30th October, 2007 at 7:05 pm  

    Ok, what about PC stuff from the Guardian? ;)

    The Muslim Council of Britain appealed for an end to a “well-intentioned but misguided” movement against primary school teachers reading stories about pigs, and for titles like the Three Little Pigs to return to the open shelves.

    http://books.guardian.co.uk/news/articles/0,,907934,00.html

  29. Jagdeep — on 30th October, 2007 at 7:08 pm  

    What does that have to do with the pressures on public services as a result of high immigration rates primarily from Eastern Europe jOnz?

  30. j0nz — on 30th October, 2007 at 7:17 pm  

    My point is that ‘social cohesion’ with immigrant communities should be part of a grown up debate about immigration, as, I feel it is very important aspect to the debate. Unless you want race wars or riots etc

    We need to do as Don’s comment #16

    Large scale Polish immigration is putting a strain on the infrastructure. But they wont cause as much ‘ethnic’ or community tension as they are generally quite well integrated (though more could be done). Only today there are reports that 25% of Mosques have extremist literature. Should we be allowing extremists in to the country? … All valid part of the debate, no?!

  31. Refresh — on 30th October, 2007 at 7:18 pm  

    j0nz,

    “Let’s not be niave here… So there has been no ban of piggys or otherwise ‘well meaning’ rephrasing of christmas to something else??? If 50% are made up or exaggerated, that still leaves 50%! Even 75% fake leaves 25%! The tabloids often make things up or exaggerate. You concede in #10 that not all are made up.”

    Would you care to elaborate on who might want to make up false stories? And why? And the intended outcome?

    I can’t think of anyone better to ask – as no doubt you see them all as fitting in with your scheme of things.

  32. Jagdeep — on 30th October, 2007 at 7:21 pm  

    jOnz, I don’t know how much time you spend around here, but we talk about things like the need for extremist religious ideology to be repudiated and greater integration to occur all the time. It’s probably the dominant discourse on this blog. Why do you bounce around like Zebedee on a spring claiming otherwise?

  33. j0nz — on 30th October, 2007 at 7:22 pm  

    Well, the tabloid right wing press, as it would sell more newspapers.

    A bit like the independent splashing front page news (completely without evidence) that Israel is using nuclear weapons against the Lebanese.

    It sells more papers. Pandering to the prejudices of the readership.

  34. Don — on 30th October, 2007 at 8:09 pm  

    Just to clarify, in #16 when I said ‘That is where resources should be placed.’ I meant as in addressing the issues of exploitation and marginalisation, in a coherent and properly resourced way. Not as in excluding all who might be seen as less than optimum prospects.

    Of course, no country AFIK operates an open door policy. I certainly think we should tighten up a system that allows in those with significant criminal records, those who are openly hostile to the country, and the clearly psychotic. I am open to the idea of a points system, although I’d need to see the details.

    But a system which just cherry-picked the most obviously and immediately profitable immigrants raises serious ethical issues.

    Jonz,

    ‘I don’t blame the ‘non-christians’ in these scenarios because it’s most likely to be a white leftoid politically very naive junior council worker.’

    Absolutely. If you had put it like that in the first place I doubt anyone would have disagreed. But, as you have said, the vast majority of these stories are right-wing tabloid inventions.

    As for ‘Large scale Polish immigration’, purely anecdotally, many seem to be young, child-free and planning on working flat-out for three or four years before returning. Some will stay, marry and hooray for that. But as Eastern Europe benefits economically from EU inclusion the flow will dry up and many will head back to the old country.

  35. Refresh — on 30th October, 2007 at 8:44 pm  

    “It sells more papers. Pandering to the prejudices of the readership.”

    What prejudices do you believe they are pandering to?

  36. El Cid — on 30th October, 2007 at 10:21 pm  

    No doubts someone has already said this but your ‘analysis’ forgets to mention that there is nothing that can be done about EU migration, unless you want Britain to leave the EU.
    What’s that word you and Sid both love — oh yes, “strawman” (or is that two words?).
    That’s probably unfair based on what I’ve read here. I don’t really think you’re that cynical.
    More likely you’ve come down with a bit of victimitis. It happens to the best of us.

  37. j0nz — on 30th October, 2007 at 10:23 pm  

    The right wing doomsayers, whose doomsaying is based on some legitimate concerns in some areas. But I would say often, in the PC arena, they are feeding the rage at the niave leftoids. The loony left council of bla bla bla have now introduced…

  38. Jagdeep — on 30th October, 2007 at 10:44 pm  

    It’s a vicious circle eh jOnz

  39. Refresh — on 30th October, 2007 at 10:58 pm  

    J0nz
    “The right wing doomsayers, whose doomsaying is based on some legitimate concerns in some areas. But I would say often, in the PC arena, they are feeding the rage at the niave leftoids. The loony left council of bla bla bla have now introduced…”

    Would you mind deciphering that for us mere mortals?

  40. Leon — on 31st October, 2007 at 12:39 am  

    Did you drink some good rum whilst in Barbados Leon?

    Yep, brought back a load too.;)

  41. SajiniW — on 31st October, 2007 at 9:19 am  

    I’d like to know why our authorities are reluctant to introduce a skills-based points system like Australia?

  42. Refresh — on 31st October, 2007 at 9:50 am  

    SajiniW, interesting question. If there was to be a point system, then I suspect it would need to keep changing based on the requirements of the economy. It may well be that the majority of the jobs that have gone to recent immigrants are low-skilled jobs with little local uptake or jobs which are not acceptable to the indigenous population because of low pay.

  43. 5cc — on 31st October, 2007 at 11:20 am  

    j0nz: “If 50% are made up or exaggerated, that still leaves 50%! Even 75% fake leaves 25%! The tabloids often make things up or exaggerate.”

    I’d be surprised if the number of PC gone mad stories we hear in the tabloids that haven’t been made up or exaggerated even reached double figures.

    The one link you do offer is from four years ago and is about one school. One school out of every school in the country doing something stupid four years ago does not signify a massive problem.

    “So, it still stands, and I’ll put my money where my mouth is, there will be a proveable case, every year of some ‘well meaning’ idiot trying to rephrase christmas so as to not ‘offend’ ‘non-christians’.”

    You didn’t put your money where your mouth was though. You just said there would be one every year without showing even one. I want to see just one example here of anyone trying to rename Christmas so as not to offend people of other faiths. Just one. One from last year would be preferable, since it would prove there’s an ongoing problem, but we can start with one from any year.

  44. sonia — on 31st October, 2007 at 11:52 am  

    sajini, out of the various schemes and programmes, the HSMP uses a skill-based points system similar to australia and canada.

    Work permits are less flexible really – effectively you have to get a job offer, then the onus is on the employer to apply for the permit – on your behalf – and they are effectively the holder – not you. So they – have to show the Home Office that you are the right fit for that particular job, over above some other British person ( or EU citizen – i.e. the people who don’t need ‘clearance’ for work, and are available) who could have done that same job. which is often quite hard in many cases, generic jobs etc. and generally, only certain large orgs are happy to apply for work permits on people’s behalf. a lot of employers – if you all start looking – will say for example, ( in job ads recruitment literature etc) ‘you must already have the right to work in the UK, we will not apply for a work permit on your behalf.’ (So that automatically limits the no. of employers who you can apply for a job with, etc. it is a tortuous process, with the employer being the third party to consider. )

    Of course certain organisations, like the big corporates, and investment banks, universities etc. who have a very global ‘intake’ are used to applying for work permits and don’t make that a barrier.

    from the Border & Immigration Agency ( if people are really actually interested in the hows and wherefores of current visas and permits and conditions of proving right of abode/ancestry etc. then this is the place to become familiar with)

    “work permits in general depend on you to ‘secure’ a job offer, and then the employer applies on your behalf. it is quite clever in the sense that it always automatically limits you to jobs where a) the employer really wants you because they have to go through this extra process, and effectively show you are the right be job offer in the UK to apply.

    It is different from business routes such as the Innovators scheme because you do not need a detailed business plan; you do not need to create jobs; and you do not need to invest in the UK.”

  45. sonia — on 31st October, 2007 at 11:55 am  

    sorry for my bad editing..this is the bit from the HO i wanted to slip in – ” The Highly Skilled Migrant Programme is different from the work permit arrangements because you do not need a specific job offer in the UK to apply. “

  46. dmatr — on 2nd November, 2007 at 7:55 pm  

    I want to see just one example here of anyone trying to rename Christmas so as not to offend people of other faiths.

    BBC: Row as Christmas lights renamed (Nov 2005)

    In three of Lambeth’s main town centres, the lights were referred to as “Winter Lights”, while in a fourth they were called “Celebrity Lights” [!].

    The council spokeswoman said an official was concerned about people from other religions.

  47. Muhamad [p.b.u.m.] — on 2nd November, 2007 at 9:00 pm  

    grownup debate?
    Does it mean I can’t mimic David Lammy…I’m a son of an immigrant who came from Karachi (which was then part of East Pakistan) with only a fiver, given to him by Dr. Malik, the father of the famous Art Malik.

  48. Oli — on 12th November, 2007 at 1:26 pm  

    I do not consider immigration as a factor in the ‘housing crisis’

    Technically there is no housing crisis, there are not millions of british people living homeless due to tehre being no unsold houses.

    The problem has occured because of some very basic factors.

    Wages have been rising at a much lower rate than cost of living and house prices, due in part to the governments ongoing efforts to hide the true cost of living in its reports.

    The Buy to Let boom artificially inflated house prices, they never returned to the norm.

    Because of the buy to let boom there was a shortage fo buyable houses, but a large amount of rentable property.

    This meant that now few families between 1 and 3 generations of families have had no physical equity passed to them through a house. The money is lost to rich owners or corporations, many from outside the UK. This has left a much larger gap between the social classes.

    At least thats my take on it.

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