Posts Tagged ‘immigration’

The Norway model is Britain’s only hope

25/06/2016, 08:14:19 PM

by Ella Mason

I am bereaved.

The referendum result has knocked me for six. I have always been determinedly pro-Europe. So much so that my political friends mock me for being a rubbish Tory because of my love for the EU (alongside a couple of other lefty things).

I realised this morning that is because being British in Europe is a huge part of my identity and that has been torn apart overnight.

I saw Britain as part of a great project of cooperation. I thought we had found a way of maintaining peace through the imperative of economic collaboration.

I believe free markets are the best way to generate the wealth we need to lift up the poorest while creating amazing lives for ourselves. But I understand that a pure free market is a thing from a text book: it isn’t possible in reality.

The EU single market and all the regulation involved in creating and maintaining it was actually taking it and us toward that goal, not away from it as so many people would have you believe. The regulation involved was about homogenising the market to allow us to trade freely not about micromanaging our entrepreneurial flair.

I believe in free trade and with it freedom of movement across borders. Migration of the labour force is central to free trade. Any libertarian will tell you that. In fact, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove will tell you that.

I agree with both of them about a lot of things economic which is why I cannot comprehend why they thought this was a good idea.

The only thing I can really think is that they didn’t actually think they could win. They saw it as a route to winning a Tory leadership election down the line in 2019; not as something that would actually happen and that they would subsequently have to manage now.

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The geopolitical case against Brexit matters

22/06/2016, 03:08:43 PM

by Rob Marchant

The decision Britain will make tomorrow is clearly a big one. Perhaps truly the most significant of our lifetimes, in terms of its strategic direction of travel as a country and the way the 21st century will shape up for us.

A decision in favour of Brexit will inevitably have short-term impacts. Some of them, such as a potential drop in sterling for exporters, may even be positive. But some vital, long-term effects are likely to be about Britain’s place in the world; its geopolitical power, if you like.

These are difficult-to-gauge, but nevertheless important, effects which are largely drowned out in the current debate by the bread-and-butter arguments about trade or immigration. Or “sovereignty”, that largely meaningless word currently being flogged to death.

Which would be fine, if we lived in a world full of stability, free of threats. Or even such a Europe.

We do not.

It is a good time to remember, for example, that only a few hundred miles of Mediterranean separate Daesh forces from the southern shores of the EU. Or that its eastern fringe – the Baltic states – is currently subject to a very real threat of clandestine invasion by Russia, as has already happened in Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Or even that the Americans and Russians are currently engaged in an increasingly threatening war of words over US presence in the Black Sea. And this is all in the context of a savage war in Syria, exacerbated by the meddling of Russia and its proxy, Iran, which has triggered the biggest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.

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Gove, Boris and Vote Leave have aped Farage’s extremism. No-one can be surprised at the consequences

19/06/2016, 10:53:30 PM

by Atul Hatwal

There is a transmission belt in political debate that transfers poison from the extremist fringes to the heart of the mainstream.

It operates when emotions are running high but, most of all, relies on mainstream politicians taking on the messages and rhetoric of the fringe.

This is what has happened in the EU referendum campaign as Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and Vote Leave have followed Nigel Farage’s lead in whipping up a frenzy about EU immigration and Britain.

Two stages have characterised the descent into madness in this campaign: the validation of Ukip’s lies followed by a normalisation of these ideas within the debate.

Vote Leave’s fixation with Turkey has been the catalyst.

There’s no prospect of Turkey joining the EU. Every member state has a veto and France, Germany, Austria, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Greece, Cyprus and Bulgaria would all exercise it if Turkish accession ever became likely.

Even the proposed deal to give Turkish citizens visa-free access to the Schengen area amounts to visa-free tourism for countries in the Schengen area – which does not include Britain- and conveys no rights to residency or employment.

Ukip have been scaremongering about Turkey for years but only when Michael Gove and Boris Johnson started repeating Ukip’s attack lines did the poison start to flow.

They are after all, senior members of the ruling party and in Gove’s case one of the most prominent members of the government. Their validation of Farage and repudiation of the reality of government policy on Turkey, suddenly legitimised Ukip’s fantasies about Turkish immigration.

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The last 24 hours of Labour politics demonstrate why Jeremy Corbyn isn’t going anywhere

15/06/2016, 10:31:37 PM

by Atul Hatwal

If one thing in modern politics can be guaranteed, it is that Labour will find a way to form a circular firing squad, whatever the situation.

That’s the only way to describe the last minute intervention of Labour’s old right with Ed Balls, Tom Watson, Tristram Hunt, Rachel Reeves and Yvette Cooper, running a freelance campaignlet, within the overall Remain campaign, raising the prospect of ending EU free movement while remaining in the EU.

Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the policy, to intervene like this at such a late stage betrays an utterly incredible level of political incompetence.

Four points are salient.

First, it was never going to cut through.

In the words of Lynton Crosby you can’t fatten a pig on market day.

To introduce an entirely new policy, at odds with Remain’s focus on the economy is campaign idiocy that confuses the message at a critical juncture.

Second, the story was always going to be concussively knocked down.

It may not have dawned on this group, but in the modern world of communications there is a thing called the telephone.

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It’s always the economy stupid. Time for Project Fear to turn up the volume

15/06/2016, 12:42:39 PM

by Samuel Dale

What has Remain been doing? The campaign to keep Britain in the EU has been spinning around like a Catherine Wheel in the last few days.

Some of this is down to effective campaigning from Vote Leave. After months of focusing on nonsense like sovereignty and weak economic arguments, they have started to focus on the only topic they can: immigration.

They are running advert after advert on Turkey becoming a member of the EU by 2020 and millions of Turks (or, nudge, nudge, hint, hint: Muslims) coming to the UK.  Total lies and nasty smears but effective campaigning and the only message that resonates for them.

But Remain’s initial response to this aggressive shift and a few worrying polls has been bonkers.

Instead of ramming home it’s winning economic arguments it left the floor to Gordon Brown to waffle on about global peace and influence.

And instead of simply ignoring immigration – which it absolutely must at this late stage – it has left Labour to talk about a future deal or renegotiation. Or even a Scotland-style Vow on controls.

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Labour should be more divided on Europe

10/06/2016, 12:55:21 PM

by Greig Baker

To abuse Boris’s analogy, the ball hasn’t even come loose from the scrum yet, but the referendum means Conservative players are already knocking lumps out of each other. In stark contrast, even as the country weighs it’s biggest and perhaps most controversial political decision in a generation, the Labour party is in one peaceful – almost soporific – voice. The Tories are making a spectacle of themselves and Labour is just, well, spectating.

Although I wouldn’t wish the Conservatives’ internecine battles on anyone, I think Labour’s unnatural unity in the referendum is much more worrying.

In days gone by, fierce message discipline and unity of purpose were conscious (and very effective) electoral tactics for Labour. It is a massive, risible, stretch to argue that the party is now applying the same deliberate approach to the EU referendum.

If senior Labour figures can chase each other down the street – in front of the cameras! – shouting “Hitler apologist”, it’s hard to believe the party has gone into the referendum determined to avoid “appearing” split. In almost every other policy area, and to an unprecedented degree, Labour MPs actively and openly criticise their own leaders – and the leadership returns the favour.

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Disaffected Labour voters will use the referendum to vent their frustrations

08/06/2016, 10:19:24 PM

by Kevin Meagher

Forget Farage and Cameron. The most telling interview about the EU referendum came on yesterday morning’s Today programme on Radio Four.

A former steel worker from Redcar, Mike Gilbert, was describing his life following the closure of the steel works last year. After 31 years in steel, in decently paid work, he was reduced to taking a job as a driver on little more than the minimum wage.

In all, 2,200 jobs had gone and like many of his former workmates, Mike was struggling. He and his family had had to economise. Even though he was now working, they had moved to a smaller house and by his own estimation, he had lost around £1000 a month in wages. Others were in the same boat.

He rattled off a laundry list of local industries that had been lost since Britain joined the EEC in 1973. Fishing. Agriculture. Ship-building. Mining. Steel.

His conclusion? He was voting to leave the EU.

Hang on a minute, the Remainers will say, ‘Europe hasn’t closed down our steel industry!’ No, but state aid restrictions mean the government couldn’t do much to save it. And despite its role in leading trade negotiations, the EU has not stopped China dumping excess steel on world markets.

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SNP 2014. Labour 2015. Vote Leave 2016

06/06/2016, 10:58:28 PM

by Atul Hatwal

Vote Leave are living the dream. Ed Miliband’s dream of the final weeks of the general election campaign that Labour was en route to power. The same dream which Alex Salmond had in early September 2014 as the independence referendum approached.

Dreams abruptly interrupted, for Miliband and Salmond, on election night as the exit polls were released.

About four years ago, within progressive circles, there was much chatter about a campaign concept which came to be deployed at the heart of both the SNP’s independence effort and Labour’s general election campaign: reframing.

Based in cognitive behavioural therapy, it offered a route to recast the way key issues, such as the economy, were perceived by the public.

Rather than face tough choices about public spending, Labour thought it could reframe the economic debate around fairness instead of debt, focusing discussion on the impact of cuts rather than the net fiscal position.

In the general election campaign, Labour led with this approach, highlighting the iniquities of Tory non-dom tax breaks and cuts agenda while being bombarded by Tory attacks on Labour profligacy.

At the independence referendum, the SNP tried to avoid fighting on the main macro- economic battlefield to refocus on the threat of Tory cuts to Scotland’s economy and way of life, most notably to the NHS, if Scotland remained part of the UK.

Last week, Vote Leave took a leaf out of the Labour and SNP playbook and attempted their own version of reframing.

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Labour is in danger of being the big loser in EU referendum

05/06/2016, 12:17:25 PM

by David Ward

Labour been largely out of the limelight in recent weeks as the EU referendum approaches. So savage has been the feuding on the Tory benches, Labour almost seems like a confused onlooker at a wedding where a punch up has broken out among other people’s relatives.

Perhaps because of this a strange mood seems to have broken out among some activists and commentators. Labour supporters laugh behind their sleeves at the latest developments. In the Times a few days ago, Adam Boulton speculated “If the Tory civil war rages on, Jeremy Corbyn may not be so unelectable after all, especially if he can forge some kind of red-tartan coalition”.

In these idle daydreams one imagines the timeline would begin with a narrow remain win, sparking a Conservative leadership challenge. The challenge finishes Cameron, or fatally wounds him, and an unpopular brexiteer is picked to replace him for the next election. Who knows if Labour would win, but it looks more winnable. And that can only be a good thing right?

Maybe, but maybe not. Let’s think these scenarios through. Let’s imagine Cameron is challenged for the leadership this year. There’s no guarantee he would lose. He would then be a Prime Minister who had faced down his own party twice and just won a renewed mandate as leader. He could use the opportunity to renege on his promise to step down. Or wait for the economy to improve and pass on to a preferred successor.

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Team Brexit’s political misjudgements have turned a campaign drama into an existential crisis for their cause

26/05/2016, 07:00:53 PM

In a three part series Atul Hatwal looks at the state of the two EU referendum campaigns and the likely winners and losers from the vote. For his second post, he reviews the performance of the Brexiteers.

Few would describe the Labour party as a model of electoral success in recent years.

But the two-headed Brexit team of Leave.EU and Vote Leave have contrived to ape Labour’s biggest mistakes over the past six years, combining the worst of Corbyn and Miliband to create a Frankenstein campaign that frequently defies belief.

The Faragists of Leave.EU are the Corbynistas of this campaign.

For Farage its immigration, for Corbyn its austerity, either way their mode of monomania is the same.

Britain’s electoral experience and current polling suggests that the economy matters most to voters.

But the Faragists don’t care about evidence.

Their faith-based approach to argument ignores the niceties of engaging with swing voters’ priorities in favour of shouting the same thing about their pet issue, EU migrants, over and over again, more and more loudly.

The stock response to set-backs or public rejection is to retreat into a nether-sphere of conspiracy theories about media bias, skewed polls and conniving, establishment lizard overlords.

The louder the Faragist tendency shouts, the more the anti-EU cause is seen by mainstream voters as a fringe concern propagated by advocates nearer David Icke than David Cameron on the credibility spectrum.

About the only thing that can be said in defence of the Faragists and Corbynistas, is that their position is at least constant.

In contrast, the Vote Leave campaign, who were meant to be the Brexit adults in the room, seem to have taken Ed Miliband as their model.

Like Miliband, they understood that banging on endlessly about what animates activists is not a route to victory.

They saw the importance of swing voters.

But like Miliband, they haven’t been able to bring themselves to act on voters’ concerns.

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