Introducing the pander test – how to tell if a politician is pandering on immigration

by Atul Hatwal

Most mainstream politicians are lying when they talk about immigration, if not by the sin of commission, then by omission.

They all know what would happen if immigration was to be cut precipitously: the depth of extra cuts that would be required without migrants’ net tax contribution, the collapse of the NHS that would ensue if we did not have the skills of migrant health staff, and the destruction of jobs as foreign businesses take their investment to more welcoming shores.

Yet, rarely is any of this mentioned.

When most politicians talk about immigration, they look at one side of the ledger – costs – with little regard for the benefits.

And even then, when focusing exclusively on the negative, often they will simply accept the stereotype underpinning concerns rather than articulate the reality based on the evidence.

This is what pandering looks like in today’s immigration debate: when politicians who know better and have seen the evidence, either wilfully disregard it or misrepresent it, to fit a negative narrative that they know to be false.

For example, Ed Miliband was busy pandering yesterday when launching Labour’s second election pledge.

The first part of the pledge promises a “new law to stop the exploitation which leads to wages and conditions being undercut.”

In principle, no-one could disagree, but the implication of what will be achieved is where the pandering starts.

The slogan on Ed Miliband’s lectern was, “Controlling immigration, fairly” and in his speech, he made the obligatory apology for relaxing transitional controls on new Eastern European states in 2004.

The implication was clear: he wanted people to understand that this measure would somehow reduce the numbers of migrants coming to the UK.

It won’t.

The overwhelming majority of migrants work for reputable employers and earn above the minimum wage. The new law would not make one iota of difference for them. Based on the latest government figures, we have over 650,000 unfilled vacancies in the British economy – the highest since the crash; this is why EU migrants are coming to the UK.

Yet in his speech, Ed Miliband deliberately omitted this context, these inconvenient facts that he and his advisers know to be true.

He did so because he wanted to mislead – to pretend that Labour will significantly cut the numbers coming to the UK when Labour’s leadership know that the only way to achieve that would be to leave the EU.

Even within its own terms, Labour’s new law is unlikely to achieve much. We already have minimum wage legislation and people trafficking laws, and the specific German law – section 233 of their criminal code – on which the new proposal is modelled, has hardly been a runaway success.

According the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, which maintains an international database of legal judgements, the last time this law was cited in a case was in 2008 dealing with a crime dating back to 2004.

One case in a decade does not suggest a transformative impact is likely as a result of Labour’s new initiative, yet in the Labour leader’s speech there was no attempt to manage expectations towards the realms of the realistic.

The second part of Labour’s immigration pledge is about restricting EU migrants from access to benefits for a minimum of two years.

The policy is a direct response to public fears that EU migrants are coming to Britain to live a life of luxury on the UK benefits system. But, not once in a speech of over 1000 words did Ed Miliband mention that less than 3 in every 100 EU migrants claim job-seekers allowance, a considerably lower rate than for British nationals.

As with the new law on exploitation, the point here is not that this is a bad policy per se – there’s a strong case to be made for contribution to be at the heart of the welfare system.  Rather, it is that by omitting any reference to the actual evidence, Labour is validating concerns on benefit tourism and helping drag the immigration debate ever further from the facts.

So, the next time a politician speaks, here’s a test, the pander test: when they give their speech or interview, do they even mention the evidence?

On benefits, do they talk about how many migrants actually claim benefits? On public services, do they mention migrants’ contribution to keeping public services like the NHS running? On jobs, do they reference the employment generated by migrant owned businesses and foreign investment?

If the answer is no, then they are pandering.

If politicians’ imply that cracking down on labour market abuses will impact the number of migrants from Europe coming to the UK, then they are pandering.

And if they pretend the numbers of EU migrants to this country can be significantly reduced by anything other than exiting the EU, then they are pandering.

Where pandering is of course a euphemism for lying.

Atul Hatwal is editor of Uncut

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11 Responses to “Introducing the pander test – how to tell if a politician is pandering on immigration”

  1. Michael Worcester says:

    The evidence of non-EU migration is that it is expensive and the numbers from some countries are so numerous that ghettos of medieval mentalities have formed harming integration

    Unfortunately Labour only talk about cutting EU migration where the evidence shows the immigration is beneficial and cannot be changed quickly if at all. This isn’t pandering but ignorance

  2. Agnes Nguyễn says:

    “They all know what would happen if immigration was to be cut precipitously: the depth of extra cuts that would be required without migrants’ net tax contribution, the collapse of the NHS that would ensue if we did not have the skills of migrant health staff, and the destruction of jobs as foreign businesses take their investment to more welcoming shores.”

    Why would any of this be the case with a system in which we allow people with skills we need to work here? We could still get the necessary medical staff etc. Only 4% of NHS staff are European, the £20 billion net tax contribution of European immigrants didn’t take into account medical care and schooling etc, and people have been very quiet about the £120 billion net cost of non EU migrants.
    To frame it as a debate between no immigration and an immigration policy where we have some control over our borders and not a limitless supply of people willing to do unskilled jobs is disingenuous to say the least. The problem is we’re in an open borders union with countries where even doctors make only £300 a month. Great for big business, great for migrants from poor countries but disastrous for the native working class.

  3. swatantra says:

    Good article Atul, and straight to the point. Its lying. But you can tell the electorate till you blue in the face that immigaration is good for Britain, that E Europeand are bringing in skills and keeping the economy and our services going, but 90% of the electorate won’t believe you. They look around and see ‘sudden change’ and a drain on services, and the character of neighbourhoods changing in 3 years not 30 years and wonder what the hells happening. They won’t believe you when you tell them its just a phase a blib and the Poles will head back to Poland and the Somalis will head back to Somalia, because they won’t. Britains population will grow whether we like it or not. We have to make the best of it. To many its an opportunity and refreshing ;to a few its a threat, and leaves them confused about Britain.

  4. John Reid says:

    Pandering,to those who have the idea that immigration has caused jobs to go, and that communities have had their cultures altered by those with a different moral view thatpn their own,
    Would be a description of voters who have a concern about immigration, and the word pander implies that their are votes our for grabs from voters who haven’t decided who they’re going too vote for, regarding immigration.
    While new Labour courted immigration not only to change the demographics to get more votes it suited business as immigration meant that employees had workers on a lower wage,

    To say pander suggest that not to have real concerns about low wages caused by imported labour that leck of school places, room on the NHS or housing caused by demographics of immigration from Europe of new families, suggests that any centre ground politician, highlighting that a real working class person,feels they can’t make ends meet due to immigration causing wages to go down, isn’t a dog whistle voter, but just because Ukip,and other Non PC politicians are making headway,it doesn’t. Wan that working class labour MPs concerned with this, wouldn’t reflect their voters views.

    Pandering a euthamism for lying,ok , but labour trying to appeal to a hyperthetical radical left wing working class vote, who’ve left the greens Libdems, with a denouncing of new labour,and are saying that the changing of whole areas of the UKs culture overnight, is good for integration, is pandering to political correctness, the change in communities over night leads to segregation, and resentment

  5. Andrew Briggs says:

    So following your own argument should you not also discuss the data (numbers, economic impact etc) for
    1. Non EU immigrants
    2. Illegal immigrants
    3. Emigrants – there will be an economic effect here as well.

    And not just the data for 2014 but back to ’97 or before.

  6. Tafia says:

    The first part of the pledge promises a “new law to stop the exploitation which leads to wages and conditions being undercut.”

    It may have escaped Miliband and his team, but such a law already exists and is already used – including imprisonment and asset confiscation.

    In fact, todays Daily Mail carries a report from the beleagured Labour stronghold of Rochdale:-

  7. Tafia says:

    But, not once in a speech of over 1000 words did Ed Miliband mention that less than 3 in every 100 EU migrants claim job-seekers allowance, a considerably lower rate than for British nationals.

    Atul, you – like most of Labour when they are cornered over this, deliberately avoid what people complain about – it’s not just the ones on JSA, it’s also the other benefits – child credits, working tax credits, housing allowance, free school meals, council tax rebates and when you get hit with that you invariably snivel and whine that it’s the big boys (EU) who make you do it. Then there’s social housing, schools places, doctors and dental places.

    It doesn’t wash. No out of work or in work benefits for a minimum of 2 years – and if the EU doesn’t like it, tough.

  8. Dave Roberts. says:

    The last time, indeed the first time, I saw the word pander used was by a member of the late and unlamented National Assembly Against Racism, a Ken Livingstone funded front, who used it in relation to people who were raising warnings about the abuse of white girls by Asian men in some norther towns.

    This is of course some ten years ago and the intervening time is, as they say, history. I am sure that it is a coincidence that you have used the word in a similar context and I hope it doesn’t come back you in the same way as it did those who refused to recognise wholesale sexual abuse, because if you are ignorant of what is happening in terms of immigration the electorate isn’t.

    What you have done is this article is ignore reality and stick to a script which goes as follows.

    We are a nation of immigrants and what is happening now is the same as the opposition to the Irish/Jews etc all the while invoking images of Blackshirts, Cable St, The Spanish Civil War add on anything similar and bring to the boil.

    Black people have always been in this country. Here are invoked totally unsubstantiated claims that black Roman Legionaries settled in this country from the First Century AD and we all have African blood in us. Throw in some references to slavery, Bristol/Liverpool and the implication that black people must have settled then and refuse to discuss the matter.

    If it weren’t for immigration then after the war had the Empire Windrush not landed the transport system would have collapsed and we would have had no National Health Service. Absolutely no evidence is produced for this because non exists.

    There is then the conflation of because some migrant skills are needed all migrants are good and indispensable. It is this lie, and it is just that, that all opposition to any real discussion is based on. I’ll see if this is allowed up and I’ll come back with more later.

  9. Dave Roberts. says:

    Much of what I was going to follow up with is already being covered so I’ll move on. Possibly the best book on this subject, as far as I know it’s the only one to date, is ” The Diversity Illusion” by Ed West. The subtitle is ” What We Got Wrong About Immigration & How To Set It Right”. It should be required reading for all Guardianistas, Sandal Wearing Tree Huggers and Associated Operatives. They should have a union all to themselves!

    West totally demolishes the myths about continuous immigration and shows that mass immigration, if it can be called that, was Irish and Jewish, was a fraction of what we face today, happened over a relatively long period and that within a short time apart from their own religious preferences these newcomers were indistinguishable from the indigenous communities.

    The Jewish community in particular went to great lengths through its own schools to encourage the use of English in everyday life and active discouraged the learning and speaking of Yiddish. As for the Irish, centuries of repression had more or less destroyed their language anyway.

    The reverse has been true of the literally dozens of immigrant groups that have arrived, most of them in the last thirty years or so. I don’t need to remind you all I would think of how many Trotskyist teachers and leftist council leaders have asked us to “celebrate” the fact that anything up to fifty or more languages were being spoken in the local schools. The fact that this was holding back children born here who already spoke English was dismissed as racism.

    Millions of pounds were lavished on self appointed community leaders who demanded mother tongue teaching when in most cases they could have done with intensive English classes themselves.

    These policies have created at least a couple of generations of young people, born here, whose language skills in their everyday means of communication are so stunted that many are unemployable.

    In today’s Guardian is an article on page 7 about how four out of five new nurses employed in the NHS are from overseas primarily Spain, Portugal and The Philippines. The implication of this for the multi cultis and members of GSWTHAO union is that immigration, all immigration is not just good but necessary. This ignores the fact that we haven’t been training nurses instead relying on other countries to do that for us and then simply importing theirs.

    We need to train our own, just as we need to train skilled building operative in all trades if any of the rhetoric about building millions of house is to anything more than that, rhetoric.

    The nurses referred to come with language and nursing skills, most of those knocking on the doors of Europe arriving on the coasts of Spain and Italy and camped in their thousands around Calais have no such skills and will be an immediate and almost certain drain on our resources.

    The apologists would have us believe that the two are the same and that there is such a thing as ” immigration” and “immigrants” and that opposition to one is opposition to the lot.

    Interesting discussion so far, let’s see where it leads.

  10. John reid says:

    Dave Roberts I recall the NAAR too well, livingstone did give them money and tools a dthey did pour scorn on those showing concern about the muslim peado gangs, by calling anyone had a corn earn, a racist, and pander was used then too, by the anAAR, even saying Ann Cryer MP was pandering to the BNP, and that the police were over reacting to knee jerk, calls, and they were obsessed with appearing to be Nuetral, yet the police were clearly, too worries of NAAR’s links to livingstone and Doreen Lawrence to do their job.

    Swatantra, it’s not whether I migration is good, it’s unlimited cheap labour, and the working class suffering, those voting Ukip now over cheap labour have different concerns to thoe working class who voted NF in the late 70’s when, the change in demographics, and anger that BaME people were getting middle class jobs, like Doctors and that the unskilled working class felt threatened by that.

  11. Madasafish says:

    Most of what is written here is irrelevant..

    Just consider this:

    1. The UK has run a huge Balance of Payments Deficit for decades. The only way it is financed in the long term is by selling assets (see utility companies and property).
    2. UK Governments have spent more than they received as income for most of the past two decades.
    3. Apart from Financial Services and a few world class manufacturing companies, the UK has little real expertise in economically positive areas.
    4. The NHS – so beloved of the Left – can not and does not try to train all or even the majority of its own staff but is totally reliant on recruiting staff trained at the expense of other Governments.
    5. Education standards in the UK have been falling for decades.

    Anyone looking at trends can see where this is going.

    A MAJOR cut in living standards and a large scale dismantling of the welfare state.

    Does this – or any other article in Labour thinking – address these issues?


    Says it all..

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