» Monday, February 14, 2005


Asked why Charles Clarke had said that Britain needs more immigration, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said that he hadn’t seen the precise comments but people should look at what the Prime Minister had said in his speech. In that speech he had made it clear that in the case of economic migrants that this country needed, those people should be able to come here. That was why we were putting forward the "points system" as a way of prioritising what our economy needs. There were an estimated 650,000 job vacancies in the UK, and there were many parts of the country where there was a shortage of skilled workers. You therefore had a choice, you could either allow migration to fill those posts or you have to make do with the consequences of not being able to fill those posts.

Put to him that Charles Clarke’s statement that more people should be allowed to seek refuge in the UK was counter to stated Government policy on the matter, the PMOS said that again where there genuine cases of asylum the Government believed that the international rules, which had benefited many people in many different countries throughout the years, should be applied. If people were genuine asylum seekers then the Prime Minister had made it clear so long as people abide the rules then they would have the traditional right of entry. The important thing was that people abide by the rules.

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  1. See, e.g.,
    <a href="http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=4132595">http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=4132595</a&gt;
    which reports Clarke as telling Labour activists, "We want more migration, more people coming to study and to work. We want more people coming to look for refuge."

    Further he pointed out that London "utterly depends" on migration for its economy and that Britain had a "moral duty and a legal duty" to take in those fleeing tyranny abroad.

    So, at least he’s sound on this issue. If only he’d give up on ID cards and suspending habeas corpus we might be getting somewhere….

    Comment by Chris Lightfoot — 14 Feb 2005 on 8:23 pm | Link
  2. A Labour Minister saying something that sounds like it makes sense; something not driven by the right wing media agenda; something that I could support……its all a little shocking, I may have to have a sit down.

    Comment by Uncarved Block — 14 Feb 2005 on 10:03 pm | Link
  3. I think we might all have to do some sitting down – there is an election coming up after all. And, according to Tony, he is back! presumably to shortly leave again right after he’s won the election.

    Comment by Lodjer — 15 Feb 2005 on 9:14 am | Link
  4. They’ll say anything to sucker wishful thinkers to vote for them. On the one hand, a points system appeals to those frightened that immigration will hurt them and on the other, open house to appeal to those who think more people will solve all social and economic ills. Wake-up Uncarved Block and put the two sides of the mouth together!

    We need a sane, balanced policy where we take people in and LOOK AFTER THEM and chuck people out who are rejected. At present we take people in and don’t look after them properly, causing resentment, ghettoisation and poverty. We then combine this with a policy refusing entry to people who we then ‘allow’ to remain illegally, causing resentment and creating a black economy where ‘illegals’ get ripped off. This latter policy is a disgusting contrivance conveniently keeping wage inflation down, provides the middle classes with cheap nannies, window cleaners etc and avoids increasing social spending. It’s a policy aimed at seeing off the Tories and pulling in the PC brainless left whilst scoring points in the urban seats where labour needs votes from the disaffected anti-war immigrants.

    I am not falling for this please-all, New Labour pie in the sky crap ever again.

    Comment by Mr Pooter — 15 Feb 2005 on 11:26 am | Link
  5. I’m with Mr. Pooter on this.

    "You therefore had a choice, you could either allow migration to fill those posts or you have to make do with the consequences of not being able to fill those posts."

    Would the consequences of not being able to fill these posts really be so terrible? Many people work for low wages in poor conditions. If there’s a shortage of workers the market’s solution is to force employers to (a) pay more, (b) provide more training, and (c) improve working conditions. This would improve the lot of some of the least fortunate people in the country. I’m all for it. The government’s trying to tamper with the labour market on the behalf of employers.

    Comment by square peg — 15 Feb 2005 on 4:08 pm | Link
  6. Another and splendid example of policy contradiction from an asinine ‘joined up’ Government.

    We’re repeatedly told that the purpose of ‘education x 3’ is to provide a skilled and able labour force. Each month further success, higher academic standards and better performance are proclaimed.

    Yet we are now faced with a ‘skills shortage’ so severe that we are obliged to import skilled workers.

    What have we been training our people to do? To stand and count (accurately, one hopes) the immigrant workers as they enter through Dover? Or perhaps to serve them from behind the counter in MacDonald’s.

    Comment by Chuck Unsworth — 15 Feb 2005 on 5:29 pm | Link
  7. First, Mr Pooter, I think it\x92s a bit of an over-reaction to assume that just because I agree with one statement by one government Minister that I\x92ve lost all powers of rational thought. All of the main parties have immigration policies that are based on the principle of not letting Johnny Foreigner get any of our cash or just blatant racism. I certainly wouldn\x92t vote Labour based on a side issue like immigration; there are far more important things going on.

    Second, while I agree that more should be done to help immigrants settle into this country and more should be done to tackle exploitation of low paid workers, I think there is still a good case for increasing immigration.

    For decades people have obtained a good education in this country and then gone abroad and put their skills to good use to help other countries. Why should we complain when people who have got their degrees in Delhi or Beijing come to this country and improve the skill level of the workforce here? Whether you view it positively or negatively it is still just reaping what we sew.

    Saying that we don\x92t need more workers assumes that we will not have any more jobs and we will not have any less working age people born in this country \x96 neither of which are true. The economy is growing at about 3% and productivity is growing at just over 2% – therefore there are more jobs being created. Any forecast of demographics for this country also shows that we have got an ageing population. The post-war baby boom generation are all heading towards retirement and they will need someone to pay for their pensions. The birth rate is now below 2 and so we are not even replacing our population never mind producing enough children to match the boom generation\x92s disappearance over the hill into retirement. Basically we need more young people to come into this country to pay tax and support the rest of us otherwise we will collapse under the weight of our top-heavy demographic.

    There are people out of work in this country but they are getting fewer. Employment is already at record levels and, despite whatever the Government does, there will be a fair portion of the population who will not join the labour force. Either they are too disabled to work, they have caring responsibilities (children or a person with a disability) or they are just not interested in working. We are investing in training but I think there are more candidates for Macdonalds on the dole than there are Nobel prize winners.

    Comment by Uncarved Block — 15 Feb 2005 on 9:36 pm | Link
  8. There are others who (like me) wish to work but find that they are prohibited because of their age (still well under 60) and their pension (enough to mean that on a national minimum wage one takes home about \xA33 per hour).

    I could start another business – but again – there are now so many rules, bits of European legislation and Acts of parliament that its not worth the effort – couple that with Insurance companies and a litigious society and I might as well just "choose not to work" 🙁

    "Aaaah poor you" I hear…

    I’m not sure why we need more immigration – we don’t have a manufacturing base for them to work in. Service industries are about to take a dive (but not until after the election) when we will follow Germany, Japan and others into recession.

    We can then look forward to a Labour (sadly) government doing what it knows best – taxing its way [out of / into] trouble.

    Happy Days 🙂

    Comment by Roger Huffadine — 16 Feb 2005 on 7:27 am | Link
  9. Uncarved Block – point taken \x96 you\x92re not a gullible single issue voter.

    As for the ‘good case for increasing immigration\x92, the pros and cons and ifs and buts abound. The arguments are frequently oozing with prejudice on all sides, clouded by insecurities, distorted by bollocks – such as either way pseudo-economic justifications (pension support v. infrastructure and social costs and stability) – that it’s hard to reach a sensible conclusion. If one were to say that there might be a finite or desirable limit to the population based on the viable size of any particular country – the world, even – one would be slapped down by the PC right-on brigade as being ‘racist’. How simplistically stupid is that? If one were to argue for an ever merging and expanding megalopolis of insatiable consumerism one would be accused of being blind and stupid as to the environmental consequences of the mass suicide we are running towards.

    Personally, I can\x92t understand the reasoning behind wanting more immigration \x91for its own sake\x92. I don\x92t like the argument that we should encourage immigrants because the old will need more tax payers to look after them. That strikes me as being a selfish and disgusting justification. It might make short-term economic sense it makes no long term sense and smells morally reprehensible. What about the poor nations who suffer when we filch these skilled people? Isn\x92t this a new kind of abuse, akin to 3rd world wage slavery? Neither do I like the argument that we should only take in the rich and well qualified; I find that equally repugnant.

    On balance, I would like to see a planned, steady stream and mix of the world\x92s adventurous migrants settling here. BUT, only if we look after them properly, plan for their housing and education and offer them full citizenship. We have to avoid ghettoisation, isolation and the growth of an illegal black economy abusing the disadvantaged and creating wells of resentment. As long as the laws of the land and the liberal culture are respected \x96 freedom of speech, belief, and mutual respect within a liberal culture \x96 what problem could there be? What won\x92t work is an alienated set of isolated cultures all trying to create their own old cultural worlds here in isolation, and in rejection and defiance of, the base culture of liberal tolerance. There are limits to liberalism and pointing this out is neither intolerant nor racist.

    Comment by Mr Pooter — 16 Feb 2005 on 3:22 pm | Link
  10. Mr Pooter, there’s a danger that we may end up agreeing here. While I think the balance tips in favour of more immigration I accept that the issue is very complex, we don’t have all the facts and there are implications far wider than just how many people we end up letting in at Dover.

    The real crisis in immigration in this country is that no-one is even examining the arguments. I’ve seen more consideration of the pros and cons of immigration in this thread than anywhere in the national media for years. It seems long overdue for politicians to stop just talking about what they are going to do and spent more time explaining why they are going to do it.

    Comment by Uncarved Block — 17 Feb 2005 on 10:35 pm | Link
  11. Uncarved Block – The balance may well be tilted towards more immigration but the present shambles has to be dealt with before the show runs off the rails.

    One of the problems of discussing it is that the Politically Correct (usually white, left, educated, brown nosing, right on, twits) jump on difficult issues and cry ‘racist’, or more laughably ‘subliminal racist’ (a much favoured put-down favoured by the shallowest ‘intellectual’) at everyone they want to disagree with. Debate is stifled when the well meaning are driven off for fear of being labelled and derided. One senses a head of steam building up here and this is REALLY BAD. Immigration has been confounded with race (intentionally by some on both sides)and this link has to be broken.

    Now religion is becoming a divisive issue, compulsory secular education to age 16 might be an idea to try and nip this trend in the bud.

    Comment by Mr Pooter — 18 Feb 2005 on 9:46 am | Link
  12. i disgusted with this goverment saying abount
    asilem seekers living over hear ther is no room
    in our hospitel and no work for aoune this country as alot of imagrants over hear allready
    thay coming over hear bringing all ther gems over
    hear it abount time this goverment send them back

    Comment by paulclarke — 18 Feb 2005 on 4:13 pm | Link
  13. Please tell me that the above post by paulclarke was deliberately ironic, and not a demonstration of the "skills shortage" mentioned above.

    Comment by Francis — 21 Feb 2005 on 12:05 pm | Link
  14. "I don\x92t like the argument that we should encourage immigrants because the old will need more tax payers to look after them."

    I’m not sure that this argument is true either.

    The UK population is getting older, but not dramatically. All the big changes in the proportion of pensioners to people in work have already happened. When the welfare state was founded there were very few pensioners and a large number of workers, the major change has already took place and we dealt with it. Future changes in the ratio aren’t going to be anywhere near as dramatic. We can cope with these very easily through a small increase in the number of people in work. This can be done by getting more of the 1.4 million unemployed into work, and increasing the number of people from 50-65 in the workforce. This is going to happen anyway just because the retirement age for women is being put back from 60 to 65.

    Immigration also creates it’s own problems for an aging population. Immugrants age too. If we deal with an aging population by importing more immigrants, as opposed to structural adjustments to cope with it, we commit outselves to accepting ever increasing numbers in the future just to stand still. The way the maths works out we commit ourselves to an enormous and never ending population increase. With many areas in the south determinedly resisting any new house building, this is going to create serious infrastructure problems. Immigrants also haven’t made the same pension contributions that people who have lived here their whole life. So they impose a comparatively greater burden on the taxpayer when they retire.

    It’s also worth noting that, so far as the government’s proposed scheme goes, that age simply isn’t a factor in deciding who gets accepted. Anyone serious about using immigration to combat an aging population would make age a critical factor.

    Comment by random musings — 22 Feb 2005 on 10:07 am | Link
  15. Nice to see a reasoned comment. However, I’m still concerned that in this debate – as so many others – no one has yet indicated on what factual basis the policy is being formulated.

    Where is the statistical evidence for the Home Secretary’s position? On what basis does he repeatedly say that there is a skills shortage?

    For that matter let’s have a proper setting out of the nation’s future skills needs, anyway. That way we can begin to consider what our schools and universities might properly be doing.

    Comment by Chuck Unsworth — 22 Feb 2005 on 2:15 pm | Link
  16. I think the basis for the governments suggestion that there is a skills shortage is lobbying on the part of business, and a desire by the government to increase the number of public sector workers by any means possible.

    I’ve had a look, and all the evidence I can find comes from "surveys" commissioned for propagandistic media purposes, rather than serious economics or social science research. These lead to statistics such as "50% of employers say they have difficulty finding people with the right skills", which get a lot of air time. But it’s a long way from a statement like that to an evidence based immigration policy. Googling on ["skills shortage" site:gov.uk] doesn’t turn up much.

    Lobbying by the right groups gets a job group placed on a list like these:

    <a href="http://www.workingintheuk.gov.uk/working_in_the_uk/en/homepage/work_permits/sector_based_schemes.html">http://www.workingintheuk.gov.uk/working_in_the_uk/en/homepage/work_permits/sector_based_schemes.html</a&gt;

    If you want to get in with minimal skills, contribute minimally to society, and stay here for good, the best way is to become a "Minister of Religion". Work one year abroad as a "Minister of Religion" and you’re sorted.

    <a href="http://www.workingintheuk.gov.uk/working_in_the_uk/en/homepage/schemes_and_programmes/ministers_of_religion.html?">http://www.workingintheuk.gov.uk/working_in_the_uk/en/homepage/schemes_and_programmes/ministers_of_religion.html?</a&gt;

    These are obviously the skills we need to succeed in the next century.

    Comment by square peg — 22 Feb 2005 on 9:38 pm | Link

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