What shall we do about the Brits?

November 9, 2015

CalibanPolitical tensions provide opportunities for leadership interventions. Sadly, they often result in scapegoating and unwillingness to see beyond a restricted perspective on complex issues

An example recently can be found in the various pressures felt through the movement of people in search of safety, economic advancement, or even pursuit of a life style choice.

One relatively unexplored perspective was raised in an article in The Independent, this week:

So many Brits now live abroad that they’re causing immigration debates. Oh, the irony. In an ideal world, every time your local racist started referring to that pesky problem of immigrants “stealing our jobs”, every British immigrant would appear, singing a heavenly chorus of: “Britain has more immigrants living abroad than India, China, Bangladesh, Poland and Hun-gar-reeeee!”

 

The article prompted me into producing a few lines of verse.

What shall we do about the Brits?

They take our jobs

Are idle slobs

And don’t like working down the pits.

What can’t they stay where they belong

Instead of taking up our beds

And living in our garden sheds?

The stress they cause us is all wrong.

 

Replies in verse or prose welcomed.


Diversity and its downside

December 15, 2014

In a Newsnight interview, the Economist Paul Collier sketched out his concerns over diversity and its political implicationsThe Human Development Context: Paul Collier

The BBC Newsnight interview [by Kirsty Wark, Dec 11th 2014] was partly framed by the increased importance being attached to the question of immigration control in the build-up to the General Election next May.

The distinguished economist Sir Paul Collier was introduced as a ‘liberal leaning’ figure who nevertheless had ‘expressed concerns about immigration’ in his work, including his analysis to be found in his recent book Exodus

Unsurprisingly, Sir Paul gently evaded attempts to simplify his ideas into an ‘immigration good or bad’ discussion. He suggested that the economic consequences of immigration were less significant than might be believed from the current narrative. His own concerns were that the consequences could result in a deterioration of socially cohesive factors of generosity, trust, and willingness to collaborate.

Loss of generosity
Loss of trust
Loss of collaboration

Wark suggested that her interviewee had been reported as relying too much on anecdote rather than evidence. Collier pointed out that the use of anecdote in his work was to illustrate the technical evidence, not replace it.

I found the interview a serious contribution to a debate on immigration that has increasingly demonstrated a preference for the glibness of absolute beliefs and evocative anecdotes. The issue is not so much whether immigration is good or bad, but how leadership and citizenship deals tolerance, trust and a willingness to seek collaborative over confrontational actions.


UKIP win sets scene for recognition of political realities beyond the English borders in the omnishambles by-election

November 21, 2014

The voters of Rochester and Strood returned Conservative defector Mark Reckless to parliament as their new UKIP MP

The result is seen as a defining moment in UK politics.. Perhaps, but it certainly was no surprise. Polls had anticipated the result well in advance.

An omnishambles vote?

For the traditional political parties, the episode has seemed another example of an omnishambles. This was the term capturing the political mood of the nation, according to the right-leaning Daily Telegraph.

It captured enough of the mood after its first recorded use in the political satire The thick of things to be voted word of the year in 2012 by the Oxford University Press.

The Conservative omnishambles

The Prime Minister vowed ‘to keep his [Mark Reckess’s ] fat arse out of Westminster’. His instructions to love-bomb the election were apparently treated by his cabinent and MPs to the political practice of obeying the letter of the law while ignoring the spirit of it.

The labour omnishambles

The labour omnishambles included an attempt to change leader in mid-shambles. It ended with the resignation of an MP whose tweet seemed to be a sneering reference to people who vote UKIP, drive white vans, and display Union flags on the front of their modest homes

“Longer term, its labour will suffer” a subscriber to LWD and a student of the political scene told me. “Social media and technology will make it hard for them to keep the old loyalty of voters”

The Liberal omnishambles?

The Liberal Democrat coalition partners in Government won a humiliating 1% of the vote. One rather sympathetic headline among the majority of withering comments suggested they had conserved financial and political capital for the upcoming general election

Beyond the borders

My suspicion is that the voters recognized the failure of those in power to deliver. The single issue dominating was that of immigrants as the primary source of disaffection. If so, the outcome mirrors a mood against the much-reviled EC system within many of its member states. I’m inclined to extend the dissatisfaction to the omnishambles in the American political scene as well.

To be continued

This first-reaction posting replaced the planned post on F1, which will follow shortly.


One report on immigration, six different news stories

November 7, 2014

This week saw the publication of research on the economic impact of immigration to the UK. The breaking media reports made me think of six authors in search of a headline

The research was conducted by the Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM) at University College London (UCL) and published by the Royal Economic Society in the Economic Journal.

In its own summary of the work, UCL headlined it as

Positive economic impact of UK immigration from the European Union: new evidence , adding that the report showed that European immigrants to the UK have paid more in taxes than they received in benefits, helping to relieve the fiscal burden on UK-born workers and contributing to the financing of public services.

A political football match starts

The report signaled the kick off at a political football match as national and international media joined the game. The headlines show how a complex report can be reported selectively.

Sky News

The Sky headline selects the main point indicated in the UCL article, that EU migrants pay in more than they take out of the economy

The Guardian

The Guardian touches on the political point that the UK ‘gains £20 billion’ from EU migrants

The BBC

The BBC suggests that New EU migrants add £5bn to UK

Business Week

Business Week notes that EU migrants ‘ add billions to UK public finances

The Telegraph and Daily Mail

The Telegraph and Daily Mail have taken a different approach.

The Telegraph notes that ‘Immigration from outside Europe cost £120 billion’; The Mail that Non-EU migrants are costing £120 billion.

Making sense of the headlines

You have to look at the report to decide which headlines summarize what the authors believe to be the key finding of their report, and which headlines are, shall we say, more selective.


David Cameron, Immigration and Elephant Dust

November 27, 2013

The Prime Minister announces further restrictions to repel a wave of immigrants. I am reminded of the old story of elephant dust

This week [Nov 2013] the debate over immigration to the UK continues apace. The Prime Minister vigorously engages with the problem of an unmanageable number of immigrants anticipated as Romanian and Bulgarian citizens receive rights as EU citizens to relocate.

Anti-immigration sentiment

The Mail captures anti-immigrant sentiment shortly before the PM’s announcement:

A huge majority of [UK} voters want David Cameron to defy the EU and maintain controls on Romanian and Bulgarian migrants. In an explosive Daily Mail survey, eight out of ten said they did not want citizens of the two countries to be handed free access to UK jobs from January 1.

Ministers warn Britain will be taken to court if it ignores the Brussels edict to let the migrants in. But the threat of big fines from the European Court of Justice was brushed off by almost two thirds of the public.

‘Do something about it’

Mr Cameron announces further restrictions on entry requirements and access to social services. The issue has been a major political point made by Nigel Farage on behalf of his UKIP party. There have been calls to ‘Do something about it’ and ‘Show firm leadership’ of David Cameron from his own supporters.

The elephant dust story

Stay with me while I introduce the elephant dust. An old joke actually helped me work my way through this issue. The story takes place on a train in those long-gone days of private compartments. A traveller gets on, and notices that the only other occupant of the compartment is behaving strangely. From time to time, he takes out a little silver box and sprinkles something around the carriage.

“What are you doing?” he asks his fellow traveller.

“I’m sprinkling this special dust. It’s to keep the elephants away” the first traveller tells him.

“But the nearest elephant is miles away”

The man with the dust smiles knowingly: “You see! Elephant dust works really well, doesn’t it?”

Statistics

Mr Farage has been warning of millions of new immigrants. In contrast, the Guardian notes that “the number of EU migrants claiming job seekers allowance in February 2013 was estimated at 60 100, according to government statistics.”