Tuesday, 12 January 2010

The FT's Sweet & Sour Take On Cameron's Immigration Call

The Financial Times* gave Dave™ a bit of a lecture on the politics and economics of migration yesterday, pointing out his erroneous logic and arguments but also unfortunately slipping into lazy solipcisms themselves.

"David Cameron, the Conservative leader, is wrong to back calls for capping the UK population at 70m over the next 20 years through immigration controls. The target and time frame are arbitrary. And it would be dangerously frustrating to try to limit population size by managing immigration when bigger forces are at work, notably a rising birth rate." So far, so good.

"That said, Mr Cameron is right to put immigration on his agenda. The issue matters to voters" Roughly on the par with the restoration of capital punishment, but we haven't heard him talking much about that recently (to be honest we hadn't heard him talking much about immigration recently but then again the yellow press haven't been trying to set the agenda on that recently, so we can't expect him to have thought about it).

"It also matters hugely to Britain’s future social and economic well-being." Why has no one mentioned the age-time bomb recently? All the Tory press go on about the 'problem' of the high numbers of children being born to 'immigrant' mothers (relative to the 'native-born' population), except of course when it doesn't fit their arguments about immigration cuts. Yet they fail to realise that someone is going to need to be around to care for them (or their children) in their old age, either through their taxes or as employees of the care industry. And given the rate at which the 'grey' population is swamping the country, they should be encouraging young migrants to come hither and multiply.

"While the country has seen many migrants over the centuries, recent immigration levels are unprecedented. About 10 per cent of Britons are now foreign-born, and about 30 per cent of Londoners." Unprecedented since when? Roman times? The end of the last Ice Age?

"Immigration is mostly an economic benefit, providing the UK with workers, diversifying skills (eg in languages) and expanding global contacts. Claims that immigrants as a whole are a burden on the state are wrong: the young people who predominate contribute more as taxpayers than they absorb in welfare. Moreover, the flows tend to be self-regulating, dropping in economic downturns and growing in boom years." Sound stuff.

"But there are serious social costs." Sounds ominous. "First, local authorities in high-immigration areas are swamped (sic)" - why do they always resort to the use of the pejorative phrase, why not say 'becoming overstretched' or 'oversubscribed' - "with demand for public services and housing. Next, some immigrant groups have integrated poorly (i.e. not been assimilated) into British society, notably Pakistani Muslims. Finally, some native-born (sic) groups feel swamped by the speed of recent inflows." Very Mail/Express?Telegraph-lite.

The FT's answer? "Increasing cash support for high-immigration areas (even at the expense of other localities); extending powers to inspect housing to cut over-crowding" - bit of social engineering there! - "liberalising antiquated planning laws to allow more house-building" - deregulation, ra ra! - "and tightening up on welfare fraud" - good old standby, and of course its always those pesky foreigners who are carrying out all the welfare fraud.

Then comes an argument for "stronger (targeted) immigration control policies" rather than quotas, tougher rules on the ability to speak English before entry, student visas, arranged marriage, etc.

To round it all off, the FT throw in something that no No Borderer would argue with, "In principle, migration is good. People should have the right to move around our globalising world." However, they go and spoil it all by stating, "But these rights have to be balanced against the rights of those choosing to stay put." How exactly does one balance the rights of people to totaly change their lives by moving to a completely new country with those who wish to stay where they are in a country where they wish things had never changed from when they grew up?

* Beware, the FT now have a subscription only on-line service and you will only be able to view the one article for the next 30 days without subscribing or paying for the privilege of reading their collective thought's.

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