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    A response to Claude and others on immigration


    by Sunny on 9th June, 2010 at 10:28 am    

    Hah! I can’t stop talking about. Claude Carpentieri has written this blog post criticising my defence of Ed Balls on immigration. He says:

    In a nutshell, his point was: we were wrong to allow so many Eastern Europeans into Britain; we should revise the free movement of labour and keep it one way only (1m Brits can live and work in Europe, but not the reverse); his government, Labour, was wrong in a) both not placing restrictions on new EU states and b) not implementing the agency workers directive.

    No, I think his point was that allowing so many EEs into the UK so quickly was a mistake because it destabilised communities economically. I also don’t think he’s arguing to stop Europeans from coming here while allowing Britons to go outside easily. Practically, other European countries won’t allow it. So, in many ways, Ed Balls is bluffing on what he’ll actually do to restrict immigration from Eastern Europe. So little heed should be paid to that bit. The final point I’ll agree with: Labour should have developed ‘managed migration’ and it should have done more to protect rights of poorest workers.

    Others have noted how unfeasible it all looks that Balls is suddenly laying into entire chunks of 13 years in power while he seemed to be happily going along with it all until May 7

    Look, you either applaud someone for taking Labour into a new direction or you have a go at him for sticking with the old ways.

    You can’t criticise Labour for being so shit and then criticise someone for changing direction after. Ed Balls wasn’t Home Sec so it wasn’t his jurisdiction; he was bound by collective responsibility. Anyway, it’s not like I’m his biggest fan. I’m just making a point that is pretty straightforward and factual. It’s getting tiring to hear from everyone saying ‘well why didn’t they do that over the past 13 years‘. Good question, and I’m sure there are plenty of reasons why, but I think it’s time to look forward.

    You get that? You lose a political argument, so you may as well start agreeing with the “winning” side. Just think if that applied to every aspect of politics. Like, the British public have consistently supported the death penalty over many years as the best way to combat crime. Does it mean we should concede defeat and look sympathetic with “public perceptions”, or shall we still reject calls for the introduction of death row because we believe they’re wrong?

    I think this is the central argument. Look, I’m a leftie but I’m also more a pragmatist than I’m an idealist. I think in terms of public opinion, public debates and strategy. In this case, I think that we lost the public debate on immigration. No one can really deny that. We also lost the debate on Europe. I don’t think many people can deny that.

    So the point right now isn’t to stubbornly stick to a (hazy) position on immigration and just blame the media on what went wrong. How does the left win back the debate on immigration? Well, if you’re trying to win a war you have to figure out what your current state of affairs is, where you want to get to, and then map out a strategy to get to. I’m simply laying out where we are, asking where we want to get to and the also trying to discuss a strategy to get there (the progressive narrative).

    But you can’t win a war you’ve just lost. That is just silly. Even Ken Livingstone knows that - and that’s why he appointed David Lammy to run his campaign. See? If we on the left want to regain the territory on immigration then we have to figure out a different language and a different way to frame the issue. Jon Cruddas does it well - but even he acknowledges that immigration has had an impact on wages and housing. How is Ed Balls doing any different. At least he’s not talking about how ‘Britain’s character has changed‘ or ‘our culture is dying‘ etc as right-wingers do when making coded xenophobic references.

    I didn’t say Ed Balls’ pitch was perfect. Merely that he’s moving it in the right direction by talking about how to raise wages for the poorest. I just think there’s too much hyperbole in trying to knock it.


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    1. sunny hundal

      Blog post:: A response to Claude and others on immigration http://bit.ly/cS8jUU


    2. Immigration Tips

      Pickled Politics » A response to Claude and others on immigration: So, in many ways, Ed Balls is bluffing on what … http://bit.ly/auo4MK


    3. law

      "Pickled Politics » A response to Claude and others on immigration" http://bit.ly/ctBMPI #immigration




    1. Justin Baidoo — on 9th June, 2010 at 10:50 am  

      Hi Sunny,

      You’re probably not surprised to see me first to commentate on this. New Labour were right to embrace open borders but wrong not to put in place the agency workers’ directive (probably now scrapped under the Coalition Government) and also wrong not to allow communities and local authorities to have more mechanisms with dealing with rapid migration.

      Ed Balls isn’t a xenophobe I’ll admit that but his pitch was pandering to the right. Labour lost the election because it was led by the old right-wing guard. If Labour had a stronger left or “progressive” platform led by a new leader that has made a clean break with New Labour, the polls show that it may have retained a majority.

      As a trade unionist, many of us felt betrayed by New Labour’s contempt for working class people and failure to put the agency workers’ directive that would have protected migrant and British workers alike. Also the failure to consider a Trade Union Freedom bill which would have been a strong tool against the Tory cuts coming in place.

      Though inner cities and multicultural communities voted Labour in droves, it was because they feared the Tories but people like Tony McNulty and Jacqui Smith wasn’t able to connect with their electorate to mobilise the Left vote and likely majority in their constituencies.

      We need a good and varied debate on immigration, not just technocratic arguments but also debate visions of a future society. Will it be open and free or ever more “managed” and bureaucratised?

      In solidarity

      Justin

    2. Cauldron — on 9th June, 2010 at 10:54 am  

      Immigration is but one of many issues where Labour, like any losing party, has to decide whether it is going to stand by some totemic policy or whether they are going to accept reality and move on.

      If Labour wants to stick to its guns then anyone can take over the leadership. But if Labour wants to signal that it has changed then they need a credible embodiment of change. As much as I have no truck with Cruddas’ socialism, he comes across as a credible embodiment of change. Balls and (especially) the Millibands don’t.

      Not really sure why Labour is getting so worked up about immigration now. I suppose it’s easier than defending quangoes. Immigration isn’t going to be an electoral issue in 5 years time. The far right thrives under Labour but usually fades under the Tories.

    3. MaidMarian — on 9th June, 2010 at 1:27 pm  

      Cauldron - With respect, and I do mean that.

      I don’t see how one can say that the far right thrived under Labour when they were all but wiped out on election night.

      Most of Labour’s quangos are actually very easy to defend. Nearly all of them were very good ideas very badly implemented.

      My own views on EE immigration are that it is probably more symptom than cause. It stemmed from an idea that problems in the economy could be inflated away. And, indeed, many have done well out of the way the labour market was inflated by EE immigration.

      The hard right can wail all they like about immigration. They however just love the way that it reduces wages, diminishes unions and increases competition between indivuduals. The country gladly accepted people willing to work at a lower wage and drive down prices, people willing to live 10 in a 4 bed buy-to-let (suspending the property market) and people willing to work on unfavourable terms.

      I mentioned on here previously that it seems fanciful that the EE workers would have been replaced by UK workers on higher wages who would then form a ‘better’ rentier class.

      Cauldron, the totemic policy (of both parties) was getting inflation where the economy should have been. Immigration was just a part of that. As was women in the workforce and pricing two generations out of housing. What we need is an economy where we have jobs, not faux jobs like property developer. Inflation of houses, labour markets and the like seems a poor substitute, because it is.

      As an aside here, I often find it curious that ‘culture’ issues never seem to come up in discussion of EE immigration whilst it dominates debate about others.

    4. ukliberty — on 9th June, 2010 at 1:51 pm  

      As an aside here, I often find it curious that ‘culture’ issues never seem to come up in discussion of EE immigration whilst it dominates debate about others.

      If by others you mean ‘Muslim’, surely the reason is obvious?

    5. MaidMarian — on 9th June, 2010 at 2:03 pm  

      ‘If by others you mean ‘Muslim’, surely the reason is obvious?’

      If by that you mean concerns about terror from certain parts of the world then yes. However if you mean terror in and of iteslf, then I can only suggest you think about how Irish immigrants were once regarded in some quarters.

      There is no intrinsic conflict between diversity and integration. For that reason there is no reason that a ‘good’ (for want of a better term) British Islamic world view can not be articulated.

    6. Cauldron — on 9th June, 2010 at 2:17 pm  

      Good afternoon MaidMarian

      I see what you’re getting at. Perhaps I’m being clumsy with my choice of words. But my observation has been that racial tensions and the votes gained by far right parties tend to increase much more under Labour governments than under the Tories. The two periods of greatest success for the far right in the last 40 years were 1976-78 and 2001-2009. Both periods happened under Labour’s watch. The 1979 far right meltdown wasn’t due to Labour, it was due to Mrs. Thatcher (PBOH) appropriating the respectable portions of the electorate’s concerns on immigration while rejecting ditching the lunatic fringe. The same tactic worked for Sarkozy vs. the FN in 2007.

      I think a broader range of factors were at work in 2010. Firstly, the Left had been back peddalling since 7/7 on immigration policies. Immigration policies were tightening and the sensible elements of the anti-Nazi left (eg HNH) decided to address underlying local concerns rather than just shout racist a la UAF. So by 2010 it was possible for people who had ‘respectable’ concerns about immigration to feel that the mainstream polity was prepared to address their concerns. Cameron was also astute enough to weave immigration into a broader narrative about Labour incompetence rather than fighting a single-issue dog whistle election: focusing on immigration alone would have just allowed UKIP/BNP to outflank him.

      We’ll agree to disagree about quangos. I don’t really care whether they were well-intentioned or not. Politicians are always full of good intentions but state-run institutions are an inherently incompetent vehicle for execution.

    7. ukliberty — on 9th June, 2010 at 2:18 pm  

      If by that you mean concerns about terror from certain parts of the world then yes.

      Terrorism didn’t cross my mind, tbh. No - I imagine there is a difference between what Eastern Europeans tend to like or dislike about British / Western European culture and what strict Muslims tend to like or dislike about British / Western European culture and in turn what we Britons tend to like or dislike about those Others.

      There is no intrinsic conflict between diversity and integration

      People who are set apart or who set themselves apart sometimes become objects of dislike, even hatred, until more different people come to town - that is a consequence of diversity.

      Furthermore, in times of perceived hardship, those who are feeling the pinch will look for people to blame: usually the government and that lot down the road with their peculiar skin colour, customs and dress sense.

    8. Niels Christensen — on 9th June, 2010 at 2:47 pm  

      The real problem is that Labour didn’t really increase employment levels
      for non european immigrants. The question is of course why ?
      The EE immigrants filled the gap, that a non functioning policy has created.
      And now when boom years has ended, the society still has to pay for the non EE immigrants ( and of course their white lower class comrades).

    9. Cauldron — on 9th June, 2010 at 2:48 pm  

      One more point MM @3. The only politician to have ever viewed immigration as a counter-inflationary strategy was one G. Brown, specifically with respect to A8 accession.

      I guess the more interesting and altogether thornier question is whether Labour embraces the notion that some groups of immigrants are more desirable than others and, if so, what criteria do you use to define desirability.

      Personally, I think you have to use quantifiable metrics to determine desirability rather than banning whole groups just for being ‘different’, ‘unwilling to integrate’ etc. The obvious metrics to use are labour participation rates (proxy for welfare dependency), education levels (proxy for ability to contribute to host nation’s future growth), incarceration rates (proxy for ability of any immigrant’s culture to meld with the social mores of the host culture) and maybe percentage of children living in two-parent households (proxy for the legacy the immigrants are going to leave behind).

      How about doing this:

      1. Set an overall annual immigration quota, which can be varied according to economic conditions.

      2. Create a rolling five year index of labour participation rates, education levels and incarceration levels for different immigrant nationalities.

      3. In any given year, nations who score better on this index get higher immigration quotas. Nations that do worse gets less.

      4. Any nationality whose index is more than [one] standard deviation below the ‘indigenous’ index level gets zero quota. Any nationality more than [two] standard deviations above the indigenous average gets unlimited entry.

    10. cjcjc — on 9th June, 2010 at 2:52 pm  

      @9 point 4 - haha - yes I always thought it was a big mistake not to give all HK Chinese UK passports before the handover (though I’m sure they would all be back there now)

    11. Cauldron — on 9th June, 2010 at 3:11 pm  

      @10. Precisely. Those people with the most capitalist instincts get let into the country. From a capitalist perspective it is a much more efficient way to raise growth rates than letting in lots of illiterates.

    12. MaidMarian — on 9th June, 2010 at 3:30 pm  

      Cauldron - ‘I guess the more interesting and altogether thornier question is whether Labour embraces the notion that some groups of immigrants are more desirable than others and, if so, what criteria do you use to define desirability.’ True, though I think that it is not just about Labour.

      This is, to my mind the bigger question in the whole immigration debate. What you are effectively doing there is trying to legislate for motive. I agree that in immigration it is near-unavoidable but it is still a mug’s game. Motives can change, can be mixed, need to be balanced etc.

      This is why the debate is almost at the level of, ‘deserving,’ and, ‘undeserving.’ So there does not seem to be much call for removing (say) foreign medical specialists, computer programmers etc. Or cheap au pair girls. Similarly no one has questioned my wife being in the UK. The same can not be said of (say) women who come from overseas, speak no English etc etc. But to an very real extent it is not our business provided they are legally in the country.

      To pick one of your metrics, if someone is not a burden on the public purse, why should labour market participation matter? I don’t think one can generalise, and I suspect you accept that. If I want to marry someone in good faith, who are you to say otherwise?

      To be clear, I do take the point your post makes (and makes well) but this is difficult and there are probably no ‘right’ answers. But to my mind the bigger debate is about how to create an economy (across Europe) that does not rely on ever more inflation.

      ukliberty - I note that you are very careful to make the qualification, ‘strict,’ muslims.

      ‘People who are set apart or who set themselves apart sometimes become objects of dislike, even hatred, until more different people come to town – that is a consequence of diversity.’

      No - that is a consequense of people setting themselves apart per se. If those people all stand up and say, ‘you know what - I’m going to provoke conflict wholly in the name of a dogmatic attachment to diversity,’ you may have a point. There is no reason that those people can not integrate, you are working on the assumption that people pickle themselves in aspic. I could name several muslims with whom I have more in common than, say Nick Griffin.

    13. ukliberty — on 9th June, 2010 at 4:23 pm  

      There is no reason that those people can not integrate, you are working on the assumption that people pickle themselves in aspic.

      But they sometimes do. >I’m not sure there is anything conscious or deliberate about it in the sense of provoking conflict; it just happens.

    14. DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells — on 9th June, 2010 at 6:07 pm  

      I always thought mailites were fucking loonies when they wittered on about “refusal to have an honest debate” but you clearly don’t want one, rather than addressing the movement of labour on a free trade basis you prefer to claim the ‘left’ ‘lost’ because the other side shouted longest and loudest.

      If ‘they’ won the argument, why do you suppose they still feel the need to print and propagate so many distortions and lies?

    15. claude — on 9th June, 2010 at 7:38 pm  

      Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells:

      “If ‘they’ won the argument, why do you suppose they still feel the need to print and propagate so many distortions and lies?”

      Spot on.
      I don’t understand why Sunny is suddenly so keen to say that the anti-immigration right has won the debate. We had an election fought with a bombardment of xenophobia and anti-foreign rhetoric coming from all directions and still Labour and the LibDems combined got over 50% of the popular vote (and thats without counting the Greens and others).

      Anyway. Sunny glossed over the most important points of my open letter. So I guess the debate ends here.

      I will ask him one more time though:

      -do we agree with Ed Balls because his ideas are right, just and correct…or because it’s (allegedly) politically convenient?

      -why is Andy Burnham “bad” on immigration and Ed Balls “good”? Their words were very very similar

      -what does Sunny think of the fact that mass immigration is the symptom and not the cause of what is a race to the bottom (in terms of wages, terms and conditions, casualisation, insecurity) in the UK labour market ?

      -how can we justify Ed Balls’ suggestion that free movement on labour should continue for Brits who go to Europe but not viceversa?

    16. MaidMarian — on 9th June, 2010 at 8:45 pm  

      claude - ‘I don’t understand why Sunny is suddenly so keen to say that the anti-immigration right has won the debate. We had an election fought with a bombardment of xenophobia and anti-foreign rhetoric coming from all directions and still Labour and the LibDems combined got over 50% of the popular vote.’

      Well….we had an election where there was lots of anti-foreigner sentiment on the talkboards. I however always have had severe reservations about taking the keyboard warriors too seriously. Indeed, it is interesting to note how, for all the internet friction, the BNP got cleaned out. It hardly speaks to xenophobia.

      Similarly at the other end of the scale, the Lib Dems who proposed an amnesty for immigrants got fewer seats than before. Hardly suggestive of a widespread hidden support for immigrants.

      I suspect (and that is all it is - I do not present this as evidenced gospel) that much of the anti-foreigner sentiment was more against what could be loosely termed, ‘undeserving immigrants.’ Those who make no effort to integrate, those that benefit from hug-a-jihadi human rights, the criminals and so on.

      Your nuance that EE migration and the reaction to it being symptom more than cause is correct, but in terms of debate it goes beyond that.

      The, ‘anti-immigration right,’ (whatever that means) did not win because it is a phantom. Had there been talk about getting shot of the, ‘deserving,’ immigrants then that would have been anti immigration. At most that is a fringe thing.

      What we are left with is a strange discouse where it is almost as if the public says of immigrants that they know a good one when they see it. The problem is that leaves a personalised debate carried out in dehumanised terms. I don’t really know how to move on from that.

    17. Jenny — on 9th June, 2010 at 9:32 pm  

      Here’s Lenin’s Tomb’s reply to your post:

      http://leninology.blogspot.com/2010/06/return-to-balls.html

    18. Sunny — on 10th June, 2010 at 12:46 am  

      In response:

      New Labour were right to embrace open borders but wrong not to put in place the agency workers’ directive

      They did eventually. And today Balls (and Burnham) admitted that they should have done this quicker and taken it further.

      Labour lost the election because it was led by the old right-wing guard. If Labour had a stronger left or “progressive” platform led by a new leader that has made a clean break with New Labour, the polls show that it may have retained a majority.

      In theory I’d like this to be true but I’m not sure what polls you’re referring to. It is a fact that Labour were way behind the Tories on immigration in the polling. Despite their right-wing rhetoric.

      Disgusted:
      rather than addressing the movement of labour on a free trade basis you prefer to claim the ‘left’ ‘lost’ because the other side shouted longest and loudest.

      I’m not sure what you’re getting at here. Do you think the public hasn’t moved rightwards on immigration, or you think I’m avoiding some subject or both? What would you like me to address?

      If ‘they’ won the argument, why do you suppose they still feel the need to print and propagate so many distortions and lies?

      I suppose mostly because they feel there are still far too many Europeans and non-EU immigrants coming into the UK. I think that much is obvious.

      Claude:
      I don’t understand why Sunny is suddenly so keen to say that the anti-immigration right has won the debate.

      I’m not keen to say this now - I’ve been saying it for years! In fact back in 2005 I was going to set up a think-tank looking at pushing the argument for immigration because MigrationWatch were everywhere and they pissed me off. I didn’t for various reasons but the point is, this is neither a new development nor is it something I find contentious. You actually disagree that public opinion has moved away from us or not?

      -do we agree with Ed Balls because his ideas are right, just and correct…or because it’s (allegedly) politically convenient?

      I don’t think Ed Balls has amazing ideas. I think he is taking the debate on immigration into better territory though, that’s all I was saying.

      Let me reiterate a point. I have NEVER BEEN an open borders immigration advocate.

      I also made a point earlier that no one has addressed - how would you reform the welfare state in order to maintain open borders?

      I simply think that we need to move the immigration debate into territory that we can win on. I think talking about increasing wages for the loweest earners is much safer territory and I support Ed Balls on that. I also think it’s high time we realise that the public is not big on open borders. And to advocate that is a losing strategy - politically. Fact. Where you go from there depends on where you want to get to.

      -why is Andy Burnham “bad” on immigration and Ed Balls “good”? Their words were very very similar

      AB made immigration the central piece to his campaign. Ed Balls didn’t. His pitch is different. Whereas Burnham has been saying ‘I can reconnect us to that base we lost because we didn’t talk about immigration enough’. For me there’s a difference.

      what does Sunny think of the fact that mass immigration is the symptom and not the cause of what is a race to the bottom (in terms of wages, terms and conditions, casualisation, insecurity) in the UK labour market ?

      I think if you have a massive increase in supply of Labour - it would undoubtedly lead to more employment instability even if you did your best to protect wages. And frankly, you can’t do so much that you make it impossible to fire people.

      I gave the Gate Gourmet example. What policy would you suggest in order to safeguard against that?

      -how can we justify Ed Balls’ suggestion that free movement on labour should continue for Brits who go to Europe but not viceversa?

      He’s not saying that. All countries would have to agree to the same rules, so it would impact Britons too. And anyway, there is no and never has been complete free movement except with a small bunch of countries. The Eastern Europeans have always had restrictions

    19. DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells — on 10th June, 2010 at 4:33 am  

      rather than addressing the movement of labour on a free trade basis you prefer to claim the ‘left’ ‘lost’ because the other side shouted longest and loudest.

      I’m not sure what you’re getting at here. Do you think the public hasn’t moved rightwards on immigration, or you think I’m avoiding some subject or both? What would you like me to address?

      What do you mean by ‘rightwards’ rightwards to me means a free market, to you I assume it basically means the mailite position of national socialism? Regulate heavily, fuck the rules, fuck what we told people in developing countries about market discipline when we were busy dumping our subsidised agriculture on them, fuck what we told the Indonesians and the Vietnamese working in horrific conditions to stitch our shoes about how global capitalism would set them free and just hoard our proverbial stash like a mad squirrel?

      What I want you to address, or rather reconcile, is the three factors of production - land (or, these days, goods) capital, labour. You want free trade for two, but one is to be massively regulated, how come the market can regulate the import and export of, say, fruit, but not of builders? What makes the market so wildly inefficient when it comes to that? Why can we all be free to decide who grows the best fruit for the best price (probably a bad example with the abundance of agricultural subsidies but you get the idea) but when it comes to an extension we simply have to make do with ‘big dave’ who turns up with a copy of the sun and a pot noodle for a day, digs a big fucking hole and takes off for a month? Surely competition is required to dissuade that sort of behaviour (I’d like to suggest that’s a caricature but recent experience suggests otherwise, did you ever see that episode of cutting edge with the British and Polish builders?)

      We (mostly) decided Norwegian gas was a better proposition than British coal, we all decided that Honda Civics were a better proposition than Austin Maxis, why can’t we be free to make the choice that Foreign plumbers/builders/mechanics/whatever are superior to British ones?

      Secondly, why is the inverse never the case? If we’ve got a shortage of doctors or dentists, why is it never suggested that we stop British doctors from leaving the country to take better paying jobs in, say, the US? Why if the market is such an inefficient mechanism when it comes to labour does it only appear to fuck up unidirectionally?

      The above, to me, IS the right wing argument, that is about as Thatcherite as it gets, why aren’t you trying to hoist them by their own petard?

      If ‘they’ won the argument, why do you suppose they still feel the need to print and propagate so many distortions and lies?

      I suppose mostly because they feel there are still far too many Europeans and non-EU immigrants coming into the UK. I think that much is obvious.

      Doesn’t address the need to lie about it, instead of saying ‘ALL JOBS TAKEN BY FOREIGNERS’ or ‘MUSLIMS BAN NITROGEN’ why not just tell the alleged truth, if it’s so sobering?

      When was this glorious era when there weren’t too many foreigners coming into the UK? I’ll tell you right now, you’ve got to go a long way back to find it.

      http://www.mediawise.org.uk/print.php?id=647

      http://www.searchlightmagazine.com/features/century/cbf.php?include=page2

      http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bloody-Foreigners-Robert-Winder/dp/0349115664

      Your position seems to be that of an exhausted mother dragging a child who’s gone mad on pickled onion monster munch and cherryade around a supermarket - maybe if we just give them what they want they’ll shut up, it’s hopelessly naive, after dominating the national agenda for at least a decade (and however many bills, four or five is it?) they swear up and down nobody talks about it, they cannot be sated with legislation, that’s become abundantly clear. If you erected pill boxes and barbed wire every fifty yards, they’d still blather on about Britain being a soft touch, you must realise that.

    20. Sunny — on 10th June, 2010 at 5:03 am  

      We (mostly) decided Norwegian gas was a better proposition than British coal, we all decided that Honda Civics were a better proposition than Austin Maxis, why can’t we be free to make the choice that Foreign plumbers/builders/mechanics/whatever are superior to British ones?

      I’m not saying people should not have the choice, and neither am I saying that more competition is bad.

      I’m merely saying that massively increasing the supply of Labour will put pressure on existing Labour. That could mean depressed wages (with regional variations) and it could mean much more instability for those people.

      I’m a communitarian on these issues: my view is that people like stability, they like secure jobs and they want a welfare state.

      You have massive immigration and polish builders coming in, that has advantages and disadvantages. Are you accepting the former and no the latter?

      that’s become abundantly clear. If you erected pill boxes and barbed wire every fifty yards, they’d still blather on about Britain being a soft touch, you must realise that.

      Oh for jesus’ sake. Of course I know that. I’ve not suggested at all that we give into the Daily Mail rhetoric and start trying to move into their territory.

      Please read carefully what I’m saying. We lost the battle for public opinion on immigration. I want us to find a way of addressing people’s concerns about immigration but in a progressive way.

      The problem with this approach that says we don’t change our position at all is that it’s not political at all: it’s purely ideological.

      If you’re a politician who’s constituents are saying they want to see something done about immigration or they’re voting Tory, then you can’t just ignore it.

      That is the situation we are partly at now. Want tI want us to do is recognise that the realities have changed and figure out how to get to a progressive consensus from where we are now, rather than from where not many people are right now.

      I want us to carry other people, not just leftie bloggers.

    21. DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells — on 10th June, 2010 at 7:11 am  

      I’m not saying people should not have the choice, and neither am I saying that more competition is bad.

      I’m merely saying that massively increasing the supply of Labour will put pressure on existing Labour. That could mean depressed wages (with regional variations) and it could mean much more instability for those people.

      You’re acting like the supply of labour is stochastic, it’s no more stochastic any more than the supply of DVD players is.

      People come here because there’s a demand, when the demand subsides, they leave.

      http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article3378877.ece

      However, once again, you’re not seeing the entire picture, you’re looking at it through a ‘single factor’ prism - ‘depressed wages’ means nothing in real terms, if globalisation reduces the price of a bricklayer by 10% then as a result of that same mechanism of competition whatever is left will buy a shit load more than it would have done in the sixties or seventies.

      Go and ask a builder if he’d rather be earning £20 rather than £18 an hour but have to pay £2 a minute to use a mobile phone (which would still cost four figures to buy) or pay 50p for a tin of beans rather than 5p or rather than going into Tesco and buying a 42″ LCD TV for £400, instead going to Granada and paying the same amount for a 24″ crt.

      If this is the road you’re going down you’re going to need come up with a convincing argument against free trade unless you’re adopting the mailite position of ‘somehow we can have it all our own way’ which of course, you’re not.

      I’m a communitarian on these issues: my view is that people like stability, they like secure jobs and they want a welfare state.

      I think you severely underestimate how dyspeptic people are, five years ago I was talking to taxi drivers who had buy to let portfolios, during boom times every cunt thinks they’re Gordon Gekko. During recessions, sure, it’s all “where’s the state that we didn’t pay for six months ago, politicians, they’re all fucking useless.” There’s no real way to resolve that unless you’re talking about Keynesianism which is borderline impossible given the right’s love of claiming it’s not the states money and the left’s love of spending surpluses and I’m not even sure it’d isolate us from international realities. Chancellor Chamberlain would have had no chance keeping us out of the depression today.

      You have massive immigration and polish builders coming in, that has advantages and disadvantages. Are you accepting the former and no the latter?

      Beyond vague allusions to ‘social issues’ or ‘unrest’ what are these disadvantages? Structural unemployment?

      If you’re a politician who’s constituents are saying they want to see something done about immigration or they’re voting Tory, then you can’t just ignore it.

      Sweet Jesus of Nazareth, THAT’S THE TORY POSITION, this is what I’m saying - it was the tories who threw the miners (and others) to the wolves, they had to learn ‘market discipline’ and ‘tough love’ how the fuck are the tories now the party of protecting the worker? Simply because they say they are? It makes absolutely no sense. New Labour politicians never want to point this out of course, perhaps you can ask one of them why.

    22. claude — on 10th June, 2010 at 8:04 am  

      Apart from words like ‘stochastic’ and ‘dyspeptic’ (why do people have to use words like those?), I agree with most of what Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells said.

      People come here because there’s a demand, when the demand subsides, they leave.
      Exactly.
      Ed Balls (and you, Sunny) are forgetting that a significant number of Polish and Czechs and Slovaks already started returning home since the BIG CRISIS kicked in.
      Thats why this is dog whistle politics. It’s a flux that was already starting to turn the other way.

      I’m in a huge rush now, but very quickly, Sunny, I also think you’re trying to read stuff in Balls’ article that actually wasn’t there.

      His message was much less “progressive” (whatever that means, I’m starting to think) than your interpretation of it.

      As for open migration. We are talking about the EU only here. As it stands, I maintain, there are 1m British people living and working and starting their own businesses and enjoying health service and pensions perks in the EU.
      Balls says we have to change the Free Movement Directive so that the reverse (EU people into the UK) can be stopped.
      He said that. You can’t conveniently duck the issue by saying that “no, that bit he didn’t mean really”. Well, he damn did.

      Balls’ words on Free Movement within the UE are something that not even the Conservatives got round to saying. Here we are in proper UKIP territory, except even more neurotic, because at least UKIP has the coherence to argue for pulling out of the EU altogether. What Balls is doing here is much more devious.
      I said it elsewhere. His words were praised by Balanced Migration and Stormfront. “We’ve been arguing for this all along. Too late”, were the reactions there.

      How you somehow decided to read it as “progressive” it’s beyond me.

      “I think if you have a massive increase in supply of Labour – it would undoubtedly lead to more employment instability even if you did your best to protect wages. And frankly, you can’t do so much that you make it impossible to fire people.

      From the current race to the bottom (“just dont come in tomorrow, cheers, all the best”) to making it “impossible to fire people” there’s a whole universe, Sunny, and you know it.

      Why are you shrugging off THAT issue so quickly by clinging on to a strawman?
      Correct me if I’m wrong, but I sense mass casualisation and job insecurity are not at the top of your priorities when the current debate is taken into account.
      We just cannot analyse “a progressive narrative” on immigration, without talking about all of the above.

      Why is it…i ask…that the biggest supporters of the rushed EU enlargement of the early 2000s were the CBI and Big Business?

    23. NielsC — on 10th June, 2010 at 10:33 am  

      “why can’t we be free to make the choice that Foreign plumbers/builders/mechanics/whatever are superior to British ones?”
      Well you could for a start educate better plumbers.
      I don’t know what a plummer earns in Britain, but in northern europe, it’s regarded as very important job, and their earning is absolute in the higher end.

    24. MaidMarian — on 10th June, 2010 at 12:11 pm  

      Sunny - ‘We lost the battle for public opinion on immigration. I want us to find a way of addressing people’s concerns about immigration but in a progressive way.’

      I’m not sure who this, ‘we,’ is - but I do not think that a battle has been lost at all. That is looking through the wrong end of the telescope.

      There is a world of difference between legit marriages and Binyam Mohammed. If people were going around talking to the effect that the very existence of the, ‘undeserving,’ meant that EVERY immigrant should be kicked out you might be closer.

      As it stands, you are being hyper defensive about a few talkboard loud-mouths. The public out there do not demand the removal of foreign doctors, spouses, computer engineers and so on. Similarly, the public are quite happy to have au pairs, students, carers and so on. And the number of marriages to overseas people has risen sharply.

      People’s concerns, to my mind, are more about the hug-a-jihadi human rights legislation. Indeed, why should Binyam get waved through immigration whilst good people get the paper chase? The battle as only been ‘lost’ for people who quite frankly are not worth going into bat for - the, ‘undeserving,’ for want of a better term.

      A progressive solution would work with this - but I have to be honest and say that I am not altogether sure what that would look like. But a starting point would be an acceptance that some battles are simply not worth fighting.

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