The Daily Mail, a few weeks ago, had this as a headline:
“Labour’s betrayal of British workers: Nearly every one of 1.67m jobs created since 1997 has gone to a foreigner.”
So I wanted to investigate the claim further, because I’ve never fully accepted the simplistic mainstream attacks on immigration, especially when migration is such a complex issue that links to international development, economic principles, social ideologies, Nation States, and out of control inequality, not just in Britain but across the World. It never seemed like an easy subject, as per the BNP, Tory, Labour, and media line.
The story itself, explains:
The ONS figures show the total number of people in work in both the private and the public sector has risen from around 25.7million in 1997 to 27.4million at the end of last year, an increase of 1.67million.
But the number of workers born abroad has increased dramatically by 1.64million, from 1.9million to 3.5million.
It is a slightly misleading quote, because it also includes immigrants who have lived here for decades. For example, if a man is born in Albania in 1955, and moved to England in 1956, these figures class him as an immigrant, and the Daily Mail classes him as stealing a job from a Brit. The numbers also don’t take into account anyone over 64. Older workers are excluded from this number.
The ONS shows that whilst total employment in the UK since 1997, has actually risen by over 2million, employment for people born in the UK has risen by over 800,000. Which means that since Labour took power, and in the midst of one of the worst recessions ever, 2million more people are in work than before 1997, and 800,000 of them were born in the UK, another 1.2 million jobs being created for UK citizens.
The media are key players in creating this us VS them atmosphere
Julian Petley, professor of Screen Media and Journalism at Brunel University said:
“….. the majority of Britain’s newspapers have certainly been highly active in amplifying and attempting to legitimate such fears at every possible opportunity. This is nothing new – right-wing British newspapers were extremely hostile to immigration from eastern Europe in the early part of the twentieth century, and the anti-Semitism of papers like the Mail in the 1930s was one reason why the British government placed such strict limits on the number of Jewish refugees which it was prepared to let into this country in the 1930s.”
When it comes to immigrants and housing, the right winged tendency is to blame the lack of housing for British people, on the government housing immigrants first. Yet, according to the Empty Homes agency, there are 762,000 empty properties lying derelict in England alone. There are national targets for home building, yet no national targets for bringing these empty homes into use, that would potential home an extra 1,000,000 people. In fact, there are economic advantages to keeping a home empty. Local authorities give you a discount on your council tax, if the property is empty. Funnily enough, both the BNP and UKIP fail to even mention those extra empty homes or the economic advantages that come with empty homes, instead choosing to tell the UK electorate, that there are no more homes for anyone.
The Daily Mail failed to even mention a recent survey based on empirical evidence by the Great London Authority in 2007, who telephoned 1005 Londoners, including 500 Muslim Londoners at random.
The reason the Daily Mail would not comment or even mention this survey, was because it produced the following results:
When asked about the law in Britain, 96% of Muslims surveyed said that everyone should respect the law in Britain. 97% of Brits said the same.
89% of Muslims surveyed and 90% of Londoners in general surveyed said that people living in Britain should be free to live their lives as they want so long as they do not prevent others from doing the same And 86% of Muslims and 91% of Londoners in general said that it is important that the Metropolitan Police work closely with communities such as the Muslim community to deter terrorist attacks. This, despite the fact that Muslim Londoners are amongst the poorest socio-economic group in England.
The irony is, the Daily Mail serves an ideological function as a paper of the right wing. Right wing economics demands cheap labour. It is Capitalism. National borders, and immigration policies are massively contradictory to the right winged economic policy. If capital, and goods can flow freely between Nation States, then logically, for the sake of Capitalism, so must labour. Nation States in that respect, are a left-over from the Colonial days and entirely at odds with Capitalism. When power is multinational; local national elections are pointless. The economic decisions made in the U.S or the UK or the EU have profound affects on poorer countries. It affects everything, and mass migration is a product of that affect.
The traditional parties of the left, such as Labour are massively to blame for two reasons. When they embraced centre-right economics, and a rather Thatcherite take on the market system, they allowed the idea of insecurity and consumerism to take control. Jobs were always at risk, wages were kept low and a market for easy credit built to fill in that gap, whilst a constant stream of advertisements tell us we all quickly have to own shit we don’t particularly need. That is what Western economies are based on. Growth for the benefit of growth. With it, comes quick intakes of happiness, and large periods of uncertainty and insecurity. Immigration, is not to blame for that.
According to an ippr report, lack of social cohesion and security are the main reasons people turn to Nazis like the BNP. Fear is then used meticulously by the BNP, to further the needs of it’s agenda, which seeks to promote the idea that White “indigenous” British people are under attack constantly from the evil liberal media, crazed scrounging immigrants, and Marxist political correctness. Everything that political parties do, from minimum wage, to speed cameras, the BNP will somehow link to an attack on white people. And people fall for it. The BNP can then claim to be the only party dedicated to defending British values. The majority of our values, ironically, do not resemble the values of the BNP in the slightest. “Reintroduce capital punishment for drug dealers”. Killing anyone who sells a bit of cannabis is ludicrous, and not even slightly British. Neither is “Ensure National Lottery funding spent on projects enhancing British culture“, which in fact sounds far more like George Orwell’s vision of Ingsoc, than anything New Labour has created. The BNP is essentially a group that can offer over simplified explanations for a breakdown of social cohesion in certain areas. They tend to ignore the economic factors across the World, of very concentrated wealth and resources to explain migration (which has always happened), and instead choose to point to religious, cultural and Nationalist explanation.
Burnley for example, is often used by the BNP to show how immigration has caused mass social unrest, lack of housing, lack of community services, violence, and further economic troubles. As if Burnley’s British and White past marked an era of strong society and economy. It didn’t. Burnley had deep social problems long before New Labour came to power. Muslims who wear burka’s are an easy excuse.
James Rhodes, a researcher for the Department of Sociology at the University of Manchester wrote:
“There is a need for different accounts of social change, and of notions of `community’ that don’t pander to divisive, nativist sentiments – both at national and local levels. It is vital to promote and encourage new stories and narratives that incorporate the experiences of migrants and the contributions they have made to UK society, moving beyond the host/immigrant binary that remains entrenched in contemporary media and political discourses. ”
Labour, and the Tories, and the Lib Dems can also be blamed for legitimising “concerns” over immigration. Traditionally, the Labour movement was fully international, and focused on the rights of all workers across the World rather than boxing workers in according to Nationality. That no longer exists. New Labour has no concerns for the welfare of workers in Countries that are exploited by British companies. And so when New Labour uses language that seems to suggest there is a problem, that there is such thing as “Britishness” and that people from war torn and poverty stricken nations whom British companies like Primark further impoverish, aren’t welcome here – it simply adds fuel to the fire that eventually burnt New Labour quite badly and gave false credence to the BNP cause. They should have been arguing the case for immigration. They should have humanised people individually, rather than demonising them collectively that has lead to anyone who isn’t English, being viewed as an entirely different species of human. They didn’t. They should have been true progressives and noted that economic inequality across the World drives migration, and that economic inequality and mass migration will never be kept under control, if right winged economics remains the universal norm. They haven’t. The vast majority of the World, live in economic hardship.
For migration to start to decrease, you need to stop the problem at it’s core. You need to truly be committed to eradicating poverty. You have to work internationally to force working standards across the World based on human rights. You have to allow smaller producers a better chance at survival against huge Western Corporations. You have to spread democracy that isn’t just about creating puppet governments who will open native markets to America business interests. There has to be a joint effect across the World, to fight global inequality. Then, migration will fall. Guaranteed.
We are extremely lucky to have been born in the UK. We can afford to sit at a computer on a Saturday afternoon, writing a blog. We are not suffering. Others across the World suffer for our benefit. Our foreign policy, is similar in that respect to America’s. We expect the heads of poorer nations to look after their people better, and yet when that begins to happen in poverty stricken nations and the leaders start to reject Western influence and start to build local communities, we remove our support for them, and start funding right winged guerrilla armies, as in Nicaragua and El Salvador, and the people remain trapped. But we don’t want them here. We want to remain economically powerful and superior, but to do that requires certain other nations to remain weak and inferior. Britain over the years has used illiberal and vicious regimes in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan simply for our own benefit, regardless of the affects on the populations of those countries. We did not care about their human rights records, and in some instances preferred the regimes with awful human rights records, because they benefited us at the time. It is an foreign economic policy left over from the Imperialist days. Britain now only agrees to give debt relief, if the Nations in question adhere to IMF and World Bank economic policies, that just so happen to be neoliberal in principle, which further promotes inequality across the World.
Unequal economic, social, and foreign policies perpetuate the problem.
Gary Young writing in the Guardian made this point by saying that if you build a ten foot wall around food, those without any food will always build an eleven foot ladder.
Mass immigration cannot be stopped simply by building a wall around Britain. You HAVE to address economic issues that the UK have been partly responsible for perpetuating over the years, that has lead to such a division between those at the absolute top, and those at the absolute bottom.
It is successive governments who have failed to invest adequately (both white British tax money, and immigrant tax money) in social housing and their local communities. It is the West’s fault for creating an economic system that does nothing but favour the West and propping up evil dictatorial regimes like Pinochet’s in Chile, and so creates social and economic problems that will always lead to migration. We have to counter the concerns from people that immigration somehow threatens their livelihood and their homes and jobs. Simply referring to the BNP as nazis is easy, because they’re such a ridiculous group of people. But the social and economic and even political problems that create insecurity and fear, should be tackled head on.
For a Capitalist economy to flourish, migrant workers are essential. White Brits would be far worse off, in a World run by Capitalism, if we cut off our borders. However, when recession hits, Brits suddenly do not like immigrants. We want it both ways. We want them here when it’s beneficial, and we want them gone immediately when times are tough.
To deal with population growth across the World, you have to address economic inequality internationally. You have to re-examine the balance of power across the planet. You have to educate people away from the agenda of both the right and left wing media outlets. You have to expect the governments and oppositions of the World, to over simplify everything. You have to expect companies to manipulate and exploit regardless of who they hurt.