Skip

Immigration on the UK political agenda
April 1, 2008 7:54 AM   Subscribe

Record levels of immigration have had "little or no impact" on the economic well-being of Britons says a report (pdf) from an influential House of Lords committee. Initial reactions from the various parties, institutes and publications have been largely predictable. Coming so closely on the back of the BBC's recent "White" series on white working-class Britain, it looks likely to provoke some debate on British attitudes to immigration (pdf).

IPPR publications on Migration and Integration
Migration Watch UK (WP)
BBC Destination UK information on immigration and asylum.
More reaction to the White series - right, left, bbc employee.
posted by Jakey (27 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
I don't know about "little or no impact"

We certainly eat better thanks to immigration, and an army marches on its stomach and all that.

I work long hours and a Polish cleaner makes sure my flat is tidy once a week while a nice Pakistani chap ensures that he keeps his shop open long enough for me to pick up something. Pretty much the entire low end of crappy service sector and retail jobs are taken by immigrants and those profits are going somewhere - albeit not all back into the British economy.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:06 AM on April 1, 2008


I think you should have titled this post: Immigration Still on the UK Political Agenda.
posted by chunking express at 8:50 AM on April 1, 2008


UK economics blog Stumbling and Mumbling has a response too.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:55 AM on April 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


It looks like another step in a slow but definite process of change in the received wisdom on immigration which I first noticed a couple of years ago when establishment types started saying multiculturalism had failed. At this rate repatriation will become a respectable policy option in about twenty years time.
posted by Phanx at 8:57 AM on April 1, 2008


chunking, I know what you mean, in that it seems to have been on the agenda of some people forever. But if you look at pg14 of the attitudes to immigration survey linked above, it seems that within the last 10 years a much larger section of the population is seeing this as a serious issue (c. 40% v. <10% in 1999).
posted by Jakey at 9:12 AM on April 1, 2008


There doesn't seem to be any new data or research in this report: it just uses existing data. Their differences with the government seem to come mainly from two assumptions.

The government says immigration is beneficial because it creates a huge increase in GDP. They don't deny that, but they say that overall GDP isn't relevant:
Overall GDP, which the Government has persistently emphasised, is an irrelevant and misleading criterion for assessing the economic impacts of immigration on the UK. The total size of an economy is not an index of prosperity. The focus of analysis should rather be on the effects of immigration on income per head of the resident population.
Secondly, they argue that there's no pensions time-bomb because the retirement age can just be raised instead. Therefore, there is no need for immigration to keep enough people working to support the elderly.
...as Lord Turner of Ecchinswell pointed out in his recent lecture at the London School of Economics (LSE), arguments for high immigration to reduce the dependency ratio are usually made on the basis of figures which assume that the retirement age remains unchanged, an assumption he described as "absurd".63 Lord Turner argued that as people live longer, it is reasonable to assume that the extra years of life are divided between working years and retirement so as to keep roughly stable the proportions of life spent working and retired. Under this assumption, half of the projected increase in the dependency ratio disappears, when compared with the simplistic case in which the retirement age stays unchanged.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 9:23 AM on April 1, 2008


Lord Turner argued that as people live longer, it is reasonable to assume that the extra years of life are divided between working years and retirement so as to keep roughly stable the proportions of life spent working and retired. Under this assumption, half of the projected increase in the dependency ratio disappears, when compared with the simplistic case in which the retirement age stays unchanged.

I put that into the babelfish, chose English(aristocrat) to French(royalty) and the output was
"Let them eat cake".

I have no problem with being allowed to work past 65, but if a "Lord" says you HAVE to work past 65, ... time for a revolution, I think.

More on-topic.... immigration is inevitable unless you want to go to apartheid. Maybe we just need to wait a generation for the old prejudices to die out with the people who hold them?
posted by Artful Codger at 9:41 AM on April 1, 2008




I have no problem with being allowed to work past 65, but if a "Lord" says you HAVE to work past 65, ... time for a revolution, I think.

I think the occupation of 'Lord' does not mean what you think it means.

a.) The post is no longer a hereditary one.
b.) They don't usually have country estates
c.) The post has been so democratized of late, that even a ne'er-do-well like me has the number of two of 'em in his phone book. One is an ex-social worker, the other an ex-school teacher. The first is a crossbencher, so you can't even condemn him for being a party apparachik.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:55 AM on April 1, 2008


Hang on, did they get rid of hereditry lords?

Also if a High Court Judge-like grip on reality is no longer a requirement the, I dunno, it seems like we've lost something...
posted by Artw at 10:05 AM on April 1, 2008


Clueless in the lords
posted by Artw at 10:35 AM on April 1, 2008


Robert Kilroy-Silk... your time has come!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:57 AM on April 1, 2008


The immigration 'debate' (not that hysterical howling at the moon constitutes such) is so intensely depressing that it genuinely makes me ashamed to be British. Day after day our press is wall-to-wall anti-other garbage, with even the BBC jumping in headlong with things like the I'm Not Racist But season and the relentless Do You Hate Foreigners discussion points on Jerk Your Knee. It reveals the real heart of Britain - blinkered, bigoted, small-minded and vicious.

In the last couple of days alone I've seen many, many BNP recruitment drives, calls for repatriation and/or sterilization, salvation from zombie Enoch, and even apparently heartfelt pleas for the return of Empire on the various papers' comment sections. So many people seem to genuinely want a 100ft brick wall built around England (specifically - we need to keep those barbarian Scots out too) that I just don't see how our society can ever learn to play nicely with others.

I fucking hate this country sometimes.
posted by influx at 12:14 PM on April 1, 2008


I was too small to really get any sense of what England was like when I lived there, but my Dad has plenty of stories from the 70s and 80s that have soured him on the place forever. It's funny that he lived there for so long, has so many friends there, and yet hates the place so much. He reads the UK papers on occasion and laughs to himself at how little has changed since he left. In his mind the only difference is that now the British also bitch about the Polish, not just the Pakis. My brother is back in England now and seems to be enjoying his time there, though London may not be a good sample of the country as a whole.
posted by chunking express at 12:35 PM on April 1, 2008


And in other news Poles go home, economy collapses.

Still on plus side a rise of UKIP and Vanitas (if they actually still exist) takes votes off Tory Boy Cameron... not that the alternative is much better, but hating the Tories is still a reflex action
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:58 PM on April 1, 2008


Chungking, I'm afraid that London is a terrible sample of Britain as a whole. IMO there seems to be a growing disconnect between it and the rest of the country in all sorts of ways.

Influx, while it's easy to pull the racism card (and certainly racism does inform aspects of some people's attitude towards immigration, you might want to check out the comments on the article Artw links to. The general tone of the comments is that there is more to quality of life than the state of the economy that the Labour party use to quantify the impact of mass immigration. The comments also tend to support the position that immigration is increasing the gap between rich and poor. loathncold's comment on the article does succinctly some up some of the hypocrisy surrounding attitudes to immigration in the UK:

If immigrants to the UK started doing middle-class jobs for a discount I bet you'd see the doors close quicker than you could say 'Lithuanian nanny'.
posted by drill_here_fore_seismics at 1:08 PM on April 1, 2008


As I understand it Vanitas is these days mostly concentrating on quality control for mirrors in Marks & Spencers.
posted by Artw at 1:14 PM on April 1, 2008


Yeah, the 'debate' can be a bit on the shrill side. To be fair, the SNP Scottish Government has been trying to apply increased pressure on Westminster to discuss how it might be possible to encourage more immigration into Scotland, so it's not all "send 'em back." (eg First Minister on the BBC last weekend, relevant bit near the bottom). That said, the attitude of the usual suspects in the press certainly seems to have hardened since the accession of the Eastern European countries to the EU and I don't expect the imminent credit crunch is going to help.
posted by Jakey at 1:14 PM on April 1, 2008


If immigrants to the UK started doing middle-class jobs for a discount I bet you'd see the doors close quicker than you could say 'Lithuanian nanny'.

Doctors, of course, not being middle class.
posted by Artw at 1:15 PM on April 1, 2008


I'm fully aware that immigration is a more nuanced subject than "cheap plumbers = good, foreigners = bad". It's the absolutely rampant xenophobia and outright racism that floods the public discourse every single day that I find so unutterably depressing. I am, of course, largely talking about the Mail and Express, which are little more than BNP pamphlets at this point, but it's not just them; every single discussion of immigration, crime, education, transport, tax, the NHS, pretty much anything at all, is completely infested with raging screeds of hatred and resentment. And that's everywhere - radio, print, TV, online - regardless of the political leanings of the actual outlet. As a society we seem to just hate anything and everything that isn't exactly like us.
posted by influx at 1:22 PM on April 1, 2008


(in interest of full disclosure I should probably mention that I am over somewhere else stealing their jobs, and so tend to be fairly pro-immigration, as it’s only fair-dos really)
posted by Artw at 1:23 PM on April 1, 2008


Good comment on the House of Lords
posted by Artw at 1:44 PM on April 1, 2008


Ermm, Artw, there is already change on the doctor front. (Not to mention the morality of Doctors who are trained in Economically Developed Countries (who arguably have a greater need for trained medical staff) being encouraged to leave those countries and work in the western world).

influx, while I can sort of see your point, who is 'us'? I've worked in several workplaces where those who are most vocally negative about immigration are second or third generation Asian or Eastern European immigrants, who expressed views that, in many ways wouldn't be out of place in the Mail. Because of their ethnic origins it was difficult to ascribe their views to kneejerk racism.
posted by drill_here_fore_seismics at 1:44 PM on April 1, 2008


Correction - I meant 'Doctors trained in Economically Less Developed Countries'.
posted by drill_here_fore_seismics at 2:13 PM on April 1, 2008


What the editorials of England's main broadsheet newspapers said about the House of Lords report on immigration (with functioining links this time):

The Independent
The Guardian
The Financial Times
The Times
The Telegraph
posted by Flackjack47 at 6:01 AM on April 2, 2008


Thanks Flackjack, interesting responses there.

Independent link is still broken though: might be here instead.

I first noticed this story from this blog post yesterday. Interesting that they seem to have got a lot of press coverage before the report was actually published.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 6:40 AM on April 2, 2008


"If immigrants to the UK started doing middle-class jobs for a discount I bet you'd see the doors close quicker than you could say 'Lithuanian nanny'."

Perhaps I'm in a weird work sector, but there's around 11 different nationalities in my office. Maybe they're already doing the middle-class jobs, but don't want to be under-paid...
posted by Auz at 6:52 PM on April 4, 2008


« Older Redskinecks   |   NKOTB Reunion? Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post