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Sunday, 1 February 2009

Responsible blogging on immigration - hard to do?

Living in zone-2 London, I'm very aware of the strength of public feeling against Labour's disastrous open-door immigration policy. And as your comments on yesterday's post gently remind me, racial tension threatens a real prospect of conflict as the recession bites. I'm not ignoring this issue - I don't think we can - but I'm just not sure how to blog about it responsibly without inflaming a growing popular anger. Naked racism is an ugly and evil thing and we need to be sure that opposition to immigration is more than Neanderthal racism.

For every Pakistani sucking at the taxpayer's teats is an Indian paying those taxes. For every feckless Somali demanding housing and health care is a Chinese grafting sixty hours a week to pay for it. The left-leaning ippr carried out an important study in 2007 that identified why Labour's immigration policy had not raised per capita GDP in the UK one iota; half our immigrants are net contributors, adding to GDP and paying taxes and creating wealth, and half of them are net consumers, spending taxes and subtracting from national wealth. The key, of course, is knowing which half is which. And it's not based on skin colour.

The Speccie commented in 2008:
If the government is serious about optimising the planning of public services, it needs to disaggregate the immigrant population and find out which groups are profit centres and which are cost centres. No doubt it has been doing so quietly in the background, but it looks as if talking frankly about the results of this exercise in public would blow their political cover to smithereens. The best research so far available (prepared by the IPPR late last year for Channel 4’s Dispatches) makes for uneasy reading. Only 1 per cent of Polish immigrants claim income support, as opposed to 21 per cent of Turkish immigrants and 11 per cent of Pakistanis; only 8 per cent of Poles live in social housing, compared with 80 per cent of Somalis, and 41 per cent of Bangladeshis.
And within national groups, as well as between them, things are complex. Tens of thousands of honest, hard working Nigerian health care workers keep the NHS working, on low wages for the most part, doing jobs the white underclass scorn. We'd be better off deporting our own chavs to Lagos than losing these Nigerians. But there are also tens of thousands of Nigerians engaged in petty fraud, feeding on British public services, on the take and on the make. We don't need them, don't want them and would be better off without them taking up accommodation and crowding out access to public services. But we need above all to distinguish between them.

Any popular reaction against immigration on the streets that targets people with a different skin colour is wholly wrong and will not get an ounce of encouragement from this blog. We must encourage the government to comb-out the free riders and send them home, for we cannot afford to keep them. But above all we mustn't throw out the baby with the bathwater.


J said...

Excellent post. Like you say any response needs to be carefully thought out - but at least a start would be to shut the doors. With rising unemployment we don't need more immigration, even if it is skilled labour.

Then we need to properly tackle the idle and workshy - not the unemployed as this is a general term for anyone without a job. Those that choose not to work, to spend their lives on benefits and know the system as well as anyone working in a Jobcentre. Hinged to this is a change to the tax system that makes employment more attractive than benefits - which for income support and jobseekers allowance should be frozen or cut. Unfortunately the Government plans to increase IS and JSA by 6% in April. If it does not increase the minimum wage and income tax allowance by a similar amount (which of course it won't) it will make benefits again more attractive than work.

Anonymous said...

An informed, reasoned and balanced post that hits the nail on the head.

The blogosphere at its best.

Chalcedon said...

Good comments. But will anything be done about the cost centres? I'm sure they are protected by interpretations of the human rights act.

JPT said...

But when the governent refuses to weed out the bad - that's when bad things happen.

JuliaM said...

"We'd be better off deporting our own chavs to Lagos than losing these Nigerians."

Hear hear!

Nick Drew said...

Great piece of writing Mr R: as responsible and balanced as the topic requires

Anonymous said...

Good post, trouble is we have a weak government and a weak opposition so expect things to get much worse.