Listening to Migrationwatch would imperil our economy

The problem with politics is it’s complicated. Take the issue raised this week by Sir Andrew Green in his ConervativeHome article on immigration. In making his argument about reducing immigration, Green carelessly glossed over some staggeringly complex arguments about what the current and future shape of the UK economy should be.

Sam Bacon is a policy officer for Core Cities, but is writing in a personal capacity

The problem with politics is it’s complicated. Take the issue raised this week by Sir Andrew Green in his ConervativeHome article on immigration. In making his argument about reducing immigration, Green carelessly glossed over some staggeringly complex arguments about what the current and future shape of the UK economy should be.

There are three complicated threads that need to be teased out from Green’s passive-aggressive bundle of rhetoric:

1. Immigration and race

Talking about Immigration is not the same as talking about race. However, Green’s comment that “whole sections of some of our cities have become unrecognisable as part of England” due to migration unfortunately brings the entire tone and validity of his piece down to the most basic level of arguments of race, and whether people with different cultural traditions can ever be British.

I agree though that our cities certainly are ‘unrecognisable’, that is if you take as your starting point the depressed, decaying and dejected places our cities were 15-20 years ago. Our modern cities are vibrant, dynamic, cosmopolitan and internationally competitive places to be.

Unfortunately, Green’s comment offers no analysis on any of this, and indeed makes no point at all about anything of substance; it simply suggests the tired rhetoric that the diversity found in many of our cities is somehow not ‘English’ despite the reality that many of the areas he is alluding to are designed, populated and run by British born citizens.

In fact, I’ll happily take Green on a tour of our great cities and introduce him personally to the wonderful English sights even our most ‘exotic’ resturants and shops offer – a nice plate of the Glaswegian invention ‘Chicken Tika Massala’ in one of Manchester’s biggest tourist attractions, the Curry Mile perhaps?

2. Resources and Balances

Let’s be under no illusions, our cities and our country face very difficult and very genuine resource challenges. In an economy still fragile from the recession and with severe cuts to public services yet to truly bite, issues like housing, welfare, social care provision and school places will be bones of contention as the laws of supply and demand mean there will be winners and losers.

This is where immigration becomes a problem; it often feels like it is stretching already overburdened services past breaking point.

But the real argument Green should be focusing on is the relation between resource levels and local and regional capacity. As deputy prime minister Nick Clegg tried (and failed) to make clear in the leaders’ debates, some areas of our country are economically overheated whilst others suffer significant brain drain and huge problems of worklessness (not the same as unemployment) meaning inward migration is vital to maintain and produce continued economic growth.

The UK is poorly economically balanced with a significant talent and population drain towards the south east of the country. Capping immigration does nothing to prevent this or solve resource issues in those areas, and kills the vital skills and labour needed to help other areas of the country to continue to prosper.

3. The role and future of our economy

The future of our economy is as a knowledge based economy. Whilst the manufacturing sector may continue to post impressive economic numbers as it has in the past couple of quarters, the reality is that the ‘heyday’ of Britain as the workshop of the world is long gone and will not return in the face of cheaper global competition.

Amongst others, the obvious current and future growth sectors of the economy are in our digital, green and creative sectors, all of which are knowledge and skills intensive.

Opponents of immigration argue that British jobs should go to ‘British workers’ (though an important distinction about whether that is British by birth or by citizenship is often left strangely untouched), and so by that assertion skilled jobs of the future should go to skilled British workers. But this concept doesn’t work in reality.

If some day we arrive at a point where unemployed Britons hold all the skills, (willing) and experience necessary to do all of the jobs available, then Green’s argument seems vaguely valid and I’m sure businesses would agree; why go to the expense of obtaining work permits and conducting international job searches when you can hire home grown talent? But with the best will in the world, this is an aspiration we are nowhere near attaining.

Many of our major population hubs, the cities, still have huge problems of low skill levels amongst much of their resident unemployed populations. Green doesn’t suggest that the IT job paying £24,000 doesn’t need to be done, he simply suggests that the people capable of doing the job shouldn’t be allowed the mechanism to do so purely because they are immigrants.

If he is serious about British jobs for British workers then he needs to focus on the future of skills and welfare policy, as the reality is immigration has little to do with making this happen.

Green is, right about one thing though – this debate is about the future of our society. I believe that Britain should continue to be a major economic power on the world stage. I do not want to see the UK retreat first into recession and then into obscurity by closing its doors to the workers, thinkers and citizens that will help underpin our future economy. Green’s argument misdiagnoses the problems and leads us away from solutions and ultimately into economic and cultural obscurity.

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22 Responses to “Listening to Migrationwatch would imperil our economy”

  1. Andy Bean

    RT @leftfootfwd: Listening to Migrationwatch would imperil our economy: http://bit.ly/aMo5X4 writes @SamBaconSam

  2. Duncan Stott

    RT @leftfootfwd Listening to Migrationwatch would imperil our economy: http://bit.ly/aMo5X4 writes @SamBaconSam < particularly point 1 :O

  3. Sarah Duff

    Read! Read! RT @leftfootfwd Listening to Migrationwatch would imperil our economy: http://bit.ly/aMo5X4 writes @SamBaconSam

  4. 5 Chinese Crackers

    RT @DuncanStott: RT @leftfootfwd Listening to Migrationwatch would imperil our economy: http://bit.ly/aMo5X4 writes @SamBaconSam < pa …

  5. jamie davis

    Listening to Migrationwatch would imperil our economy | Left Foot …: Andrew Green carelessly glosses over some… http://bit.ly/d6iJO8

  6. charlie

    What a load of s****!?. Have you even tried to find a job these day’s!?, have you worked with many immigrants!?, do you even understand the price that British people have had to paid for this influx of cheap no principled people that seems to assume an Americanised way of life!?. Probably not, because you, the writer is probably one of the beigist brigade!?. I for one even hate to use the term British because i’m a Scot!,not a bigot but proud of my heritage and as for all i’m for live and let live, not to my expense i’m not!!.
    I’ve worked with eastern european’s and their mindset is soo different for our’s it is miles apart!?, kgb springs to mind!?. As for asian people, they would sell their gran for a profit!. This i do not agree with, this country had more respect for human life before the disease of america and immigration took over!.
    As for the education of this country’s folk, think on this, we were programmed to work in the bastard’s factory’s before they ripped them out and sent them off to cheaper country’s, now we have to pay for an education that they never planned for but are now flooding our market with cheap import’s to do the jobs that all could be re-educated to do, if they even gave a flying f*** about!.
    Ps i am more than willing to work, yet because of a stigma towards mental health issue’s no one will employ me!, i spent 15yrs in management level as a chef, 8yrs in the clothing industry,(and we all know where that work went to!!), so many years in retail and now one and a half years at university re-educating myself in the way’s of the IT industry and i still can’t get a job!?.
    Why!, because of cheap import’s.
    So please do not put one side of the story out without actually speaking to the general public think!?, you sir are disillusioned to the real problem.
    As for the condem party, they will f*** us up but there is nothing we can do about it till the next election, by that time hopefully middle engurland will have woke up!!.

  7. Sam Bacon

    RT @leftfootfwd: Listening to Migrationwatch would imperil our economy: http://bit.ly/aMo5X4 writes @SamBaconSam <- tis me! please read n RT

  8. Sam Bacon

    RT @leftfootfwd: Listening to Migrationwatch would imperil our economy: http://bit.ly/aMo5X4 writes @SamBaconSam <- tis me! please read n RT

  9. Sam Bacon

    RT @leftfootfwd: Listening to Migrationwatch would imperil our economy: http://bit.ly/aMo5X4 writes @SamBaconSam <- tis me! please read n RT

  10. Sara Beremenyi

    RT @leftfootfwd: Listening to Migrationwatch would imperil our economy: http://bit.ly/aMo5X4 writes @SamBaconSam

  11. Sara Beremenyi

    RT @leftfootfwd: Listening to Migrationwatch would imperil our economy: http://bit.ly/aMo5X4 writes @SamBaconSam

  12. Sara Beremenyi

    RT @leftfootfwd: Listening to Migrationwatch would imperil our economy: http://bit.ly/aMo5X4 writes @SamBaconSam

  13. Katie

    Listening to Migrationwatch would imperil our economy | Left Foot … http://bit.ly/cYkPnL

  14. Katie

    Listening to Migrationwatch would imperil our economy | Left Foot … http://bit.ly/cYkPnL

  15. For Free

    Listening to Migrationwatch would imperil our economy | Left Foot … http://bit.ly/aOfc5n

  16. For Free

    Listening to Migrationwatch would imperil our economy | Left Foot … http://bit.ly/aOfc5n

  17. tonya streeper

    Listening to Migrationwatch would imperil our economy | Left Foot …: Andrew Green carelessly glosses over some… http://bit.ly/c65lAy

  18. tonya streeper

    Listening to Migrationwatch would imperil our economy | Left Foot …: Andrew Green carelessly glosses over some… http://bit.ly/c65lAy

  19. Gregg Allen

    Listening to Migrationwatch would imperil our economy | Left Foot …: Andrew Green carelessly glosses over some… http://bit.ly/bsZuYT

  20. Gregg Allen

    Listening to Migrationwatch would imperil our economy | Left Foot …: Andrew Green carelessly glosses over some… http://bit.ly/bsZuYT

  21. Home secretary forced to "water down" immigration speech | Left Foot Forward

    […] his former employer of imposing an arbitrary cap because the prime minister was “spooked by voices in the […]

  22. Sam Bacon

    @KatieCurtis @shanechowen see my piece on it for Left Foot Forward. http://bit.ly/ev2NcN point 3.

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