Posts Tagged ‘migration’

The Tories don’t realise it yet but their conference was a disaster

06/10/2016, 09:09:59 PM

by Atul Hatwal

Jeremy Corbyn is busy with his reshuffle but the reality is that its a sideshow. The main event this week was in Birmingham with Theresa May’s first conference as Tory leader.

Party conferences share an important characteristic with Chancellors’ budgets – the better the immediate headlines, the worse the legacy.

Last year, George Osborne’s post-election budget was heralded as a masterstroke the day after it was delivered, only to unravel over tax credits.

Ed Miliband’s commitment to fix energy prices at Labour’s 2013 conference was viewed as a game-changing moment on the day. But in reality, it fed the public’s mistrust of Labour and markets contributing to disaster at the general election.

Gordon Brown’s 2007 conference debut as leader won instant plaudits (“Brown dressed to kill after emptying Cameron’s wardrobe” proclaimed the Guardian) that subsequently dissolved. Rather like his last budget as Chancellor earlier in 2007 when he abolished the 10p tax.

Or for those with longer memories, the glowing reports of Norman Lamont’s 1992 budget foreseeing the green shoots of recovery the best part of a decade before the public agreed.

The headlines this morning following Theresa May’s big speech were all that she would want. But she’s actually had a disaster.

Long after the conference bubbles have gone flat, two bitter flavours will linger on the palate: hard Brexit and the Tory obsession with foreigners.

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Is our altruistic response to Syria masking bigger public doubts?

08/09/2015, 10:51:59 AM

by Kevin Meagher

As politicians, Bob Geldof and the Catholic Church compete to entreat the British public to give up their spare room for a Syrian family, are we in danger of misreading where the real centre of gravity of British public opinion actually lies?

There’s a strong hint in the Survation poll in last Sunday’s Mail on Sunday that we are. Beneath the headline finding that 51 per cent of Brits would now vote to leave the EU, were a series of, what are, in the current climate, counter-intuitive findings about the migrant crisis.

Presented with a sliding scale of numbers from 0 to 300,000 and asked: ‘How many Syrian refugees should the UK accept’, the biggest response – 29 per cent – said ‘none’.

Half that amount – 15 per cent – said they thought Britain should take up to 10,000 (roughly the ministers are proposing over the next couple of years). Just four per cent were willing to see 30,000 or more.

And only a third of respondents (34 per cent) approved of Yvette Cooper’s plan ‘for each town to take in ten refugee families.’ 42 percent disapproved.

Meanwhile, a fifth (22 per cent) of those who believe we should remain in the EU changed their minds and opted to leave, ‘[i]f the migrant crisis gets worse’.

64 per cent of respondents thought David Cameron was ‘right to refuse to sign up to the EU’s migrant-sharing plan’. Just 22 per cent agreed.

What conclusion do we draw from these figures?

First, it seems apparent that political and media reaction is way ahead of public opinion. This isn’t to say voters aren’t moved by refugees’ plight, but they are experiencing ‘cognitive dissonance’ – holding two mutually exclusive opinions at the same time.

Or, to put it another way, they are responding with their hearts to individual tales of suffering relayed to them on the television news, but they think with their heads on the general issue.

There is no doubting that the public’s outpouring of sadness at the heart-rending pictures of tiny Aylan Kurdi’s body washed up on a Turkish beach was utterly genuine, but that doesn’t mean voters have dropped their guard when it comes to worrying about immigration.

Second, it’s clear that the prospect of further mass migration will send voters towards the EU exit in next year’s referendum.

Third, liberal politicians should beware thinking they can transpose individual tales into wider trends.

On the basis of this poll, they can’t.

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Labour Uncut 

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Tackling racism is important but we can’t just see minorities as eternal victims

25/01/2013, 11:04:21 AM

by Dan McCurry

When I was a child, a lad in our street threw a stone through the window of the first Bangladeshi family to move into our street. We were rounded up by the local vicar and taken around to the family, and they gave us biscuits and lemonade, and made friends with us. Other Bangladeshi families arrived over the next few years, but they didn’t get their windows smashed.

More recently, I did some community work on the Boundary estate, near Brick Lane. One of the issues was the relations between the new middle-class white residents and the existing Bangladeshi community.  Leila’s cafe and shop, which sold organic food, had her windows smashed by the local Bangladeshi teenagers. Her response was to make friends with them, and these days they treat Leila with great respect, because they all want jobs in the cafe.

As one wave of migration gives way to another, similar tensions occur. Today is a different world to the 80s, bananas are no longer thrown at black players on the football pitch, but as socialists, we still hold some of the views that were developed in different times. These views are outdated.

It would be difficult to imagine the socialist movement mobilising to defend the Shoreditch web designers in Leila’s organic cafe. The Labour party are not going to arrive en masse to chant “fascists out!” at the Bangladeshi teenagers, even though the many issues are the same, just a different time and place.  Why is that?

There’s an experience I had as a teenager that is worth recounting here. It was rather like when Huckleberry Finn asked the question, “What’s a feud?” In my case, I asked “What’s Paki bashing?” I was told, “Aw, it’s brilliant. You get tooled up, then go about with your mates till you see one, and everyone shouts out “Paki!” He runs, and you all leg it down the street after him, and you catch up and….”

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Don’t promise what you can’t deliver on immigration

26/08/2011, 11:21:00 AM

by Matt Cavanagh

Yesterday’s ONS figures are a reminder of the risks of politicians promising what they can’t deliver, particularly on an issue as emotive as immigration.

Before the election, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats said immigration was out of control; afterwards, they said they would cut it dramatically. Neither was true.

The figures reinforce how stable immigration has been in recent years: non-British immigration is estimated at 455,000 in 2010, compared to 437,000 in 2009 – and broadly stable since 2006:

Long term immigration, emigration, and net migration of non-British nationals

Source: IPS, ONS Migration statistics quarterly report, August 25 2011

The Government’s chosen target is not non-British immigration, but ‘net inward migration’: total (British and non-British) immigration, less total (British and non-British) emigration. As the above graph shows, non-British emigration is falling, and while British emigration has risen slightly over the last year, overall emigration remains down – with the result that the Government’s target of reducing net migration below 100,000 has moved further from their grasp since the election:

Long term immigration, emigration, and net migration of all nationals

Source: LTIM, ONS Migration statistics quarterly report, August 25 2011


Yesterday’s figures suggest the interim immigration ‘cap’ on working migrants from outside the EU had negligible effect in 2010. The Government has made further changes since relating to non-EU migrants, including closing Tier 1 (highly skilled) to all but the wealthiest migrants in December 2010; a number of changes to Tier 4 (students) in March 2011; and a permanent ‘cap’ on ‘Tier 2’ (skilled) workers in April.

The latest quarterly figures to June 2011, published by the Home Office yesterday, should show these changes starting to have an effect, and indeed there is a slight fall in people coming from outside the EU for work (down 2.7% compared to the year ending April 2011), almost all in Tier 1 rather than Tier 2. This fall is offset, however, by a rise in those coming from outside the EU to study (up 3.5% compared to year ending April 2011).

More significantly, any reduction in numbers coming from outside the EU is likely to be offset by the continuing rise in those coming from inside the EU, particularly from Eastern Europe – a category of immigration which the Government cannot control.

Yesterday’s figures show that immigration from Eastern Europe rose from 52,000 to 71,000 in 2010 – and emigration back to Eastern Europe fell from 47,000 to 31,000, adding further to overall net migration.

In terms of the number of Eastern Europeans in work – as opposed to new arrivals – recent Labour Force Survey figures confirm that, after being stable between 2008 and the first quarter of 2010, numbers have been rising steadily since the election:

The changes the Government has made to immigration from outside the EU may well have more effect in the year to come – particularly on students and highly-skilled migrants.

But the rising trend in immigration from the EU looks set to continue. More recent figures from the Department of Work and Pensions, included in yesterday’s ONS report, show that for the year to March 2011, over 187,000 National Insurance numbers were allocated to Eastern European nationals, an increase of 24% on the previous 12 months.

In terms of employers’ future plans, a survey this week from the Chartered Institute for Personnel Development suggests that the number of private sector employers intending to hire migrant workers in the next quarter continues to rise. The CIPD survey also suggests that, if the ‘cap’ has any effect in future months, it is unlikely to deter employers from hiring migrant workers – it is more likely to make them switch to hiring migrants from inside the EU.

Ministers need to be more honest with the public about how far overall immigration numbers are really determined by government policy, rather than economic factors, and employer preferences. Ministers also need to avoid reacting to their difficulties with the net migration target by trying to clamp down further on those categories of migration which are the most economically valuable – and instead, start thinking about how to harness immigration to promote employment and growth. Conservative ministers in particular have consistently argued that welfare reform and immigration control are the answer to youth unemployment and worklessness. But with youth unemployment back over 20%, and NEETs at a record high, they need to look towards other policies if they are to prevent the creation of another ‘lost generation’.

Matt Cavanagh is Associate Director at the IPPR

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