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Gönderen Konu: Jobs' Been Taken By Immigrants and None Left to the British?  (Okunma sayısı 2083 defa)

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Eylül 29, 2011, 10:23:20 ös
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David Aaronovitch
The immigration triffid is growing. Eradicate it


Even the Labour leader seems to believe – wrongly – that foreigners (a) take British jobs and (b) drive down wages

How do some arguments go from being little poddy things, which hang about the phrases of barely noticed people, to become knotty-limbed masses of mental vegetation that strangle the life out of competitors? Watch and you can see one growing at the moment. It colonised sections of the Right long ago, but now it is springing up on the Left too. And it’s to do with immigration.

There was plenty of triffid-sprouting at the Labour Party conference. Lord Glasman, the progenitor of Blue Labour and deep thinker on behalf of the younger Miliband, pronounced on the subject of incomers. He wanted to see a “renegotiation” of the treaties that allowed the free movement of labour in the EU. We were not in the same “economic space” as Poland, and all that free movement led to was the importation of cheap labour, to the detriment of people here and to the cost of family life in Poland. (Would elderly babcias in Bydgoszcz really be happy to see their grandchildren underemployed and hanging around the streets at home?) Also this week David Goodhart, the good-hearted new head of the influential centre-left think-tank Demos, proposed that there be a cap on immigration at around 150,000 to 200,000 a year. This would be between a third and a half of current levels and create net outward migration — always supposing that other countries remained happy to allow Britons to move abroad.

But why do this? Mr Goodhart explained: “We need to deal with the rioting hoodies before opening the floodgates to more.” By which he did not mean that the hoodies were immigrants, but that the rioters were in some way dispossessed by immigration, that their life chances had disappeared with the arrival of African software engineers and Slovak cleaners.

One of those responding to Mr Goodhart’s call was Hazel Blears, the former Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. She was interested in the idea, thought that voters would like it, and generally lent it her personal osmosis.

We’ll have a look in a moment at how this thinking has got right to the top of Labour, once we’ve dealt with the central contention that lies behind it. It is that there is a finite number of jobs in the national economy and, if migrants get them, then locals don’t. Linked to this is the idea that migrants, being prepared to work for less, drive down the wages of indigenous workers. Those who benefit are the profiteers and the well-off, and those who suffer are — doubtless — ordinary, decent, hard-working (delete as appropriate) Britons. This was at the heart of Lord Glasman’s remark about living in a different economic space.

And here’s the problem: it isn’t true. There is no “lump of labour”, but rather a dynamic consisting of millions of choices being made in a changing and international economy. This week Jonathan Portes, director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, recapped on the evidence from three major studies, including one of his own. “[We] found no impacts on native unemployment, either overall, or specifically for the young or low-skilled. Nor did we find any significant impact on wages, although the data is less conclusive.” He produced charts showing that there wasn’t even a correlation between the growth of wages among the bottom 10 per cent and the proportion of migrants from the newly acceded EU states. No respectable study shows otherwise.

Migrants haven’t taken the jobs, and they haven’t depressed wages. That’s because, if people with their skills and mobility had not been available to employers, then it’s quite possible the jobs wouldn’t have existed at all — at least not in this country.

The lump of labour fallacy can be illustrated by two phenomena that readers will be familiar with. Take nursing (as I have recently — a lot of it). In the hospital in London where I was, there were nurses from Kenya, Spain, Portugal, Slovakia, the Philippines, Zimbabwe and very few from Britain. Yet we were within a few short miles of the areas where people had rioted in the summer. The demand for carers has increased hugely, but it is pretty hard to imagine Mr Goodhart’s hoodies being inveigled into training for the wards. The problem is not the migrants; if we cut off the supply, we’d just have to make do with fewer carers.

Or take the hotel and catering trade. Those who watched the documentary series The Hotel this year will have seen the Welsh manager of a Lake District three-star presiding over a staff made up almost entirely of Poles, Portuguese and Romanians, several of whom could hardly speak English. Had they taken the jobs of Hazel Blears’ Salford unemployed, 59 M6 miles away? Almost certainly not. For the money, the skills, the adaptability and the mobility required, the young Europeans were probably way ahead of young unemployed Britons. Had they not been available, it is doubtful the hotel would have existed. Nor would the difficulty be solved by government insisting that such hotels be situated in areas of high unemployment, rather than where tourists like to go.

Despite the facts, the plant grows — and this year reached the top. In a speech that largely ignored the outside world , Ed Miliband did mention migration — in the same breath as global finance and terrorism. “You” (presumably the British people) “wanted your concerns about the impact of immigration on communities to be heard, and I understand your frustration that we didn’t seem to be on your side.” And though supporting the free movement of labour in Europe, he went on: “We have to challenge the old thinking that flexible labour markets are always the answer. Employers should not be allowed to exploit migrant labour in order to undercut wages.”

Which they haven’t been doing. Mostly migration has brought us dynamic, younger workers who pay more taxes and claim less than the rest of us, and do jobs that we won’t do, or that wouldn’t otherwise exist. We all know this to be true because these are people we work alongside and employ.

But if no party leader is prepared to say so loudly (as Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg clearly are not), then the anti-migrant plant will come to occupy all the space. The result will be a growing disconnect between what politicians promise on migration and what actually happens. Already the Government’s silly immigration cap can be seen to be failing. This failure is likely to lead to a further loss of trust on the question of immigration, and the strengthening of xenophobic feeling, not its weakening.

So, Ed. You want to be brave? Be brave here.

thetimes.co.uk


Eylül 30, 2011, 09:54:52 öö
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This is the most popular lie of the 21th century so far. Looking forward to hearing it another 10000 times during my lifetime.

I feel good whenever I read an article discrediting it.

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« Son Düzenleme: Eylül 30, 2011, 10:00:06 öö Gönderen: Eureka »
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