We need a plan from the Home Secretary, not just a speech

Posted on 6 October 2015

Home Secretary Theresa May will tell Conservative Party conference this morning that building a cohesive society is impossible while immigration levels remain high, writes Sunder Katwala.

According to media reports, she will go on to say that the net economic benefits of immigration are close to zero, and that “there is no case, in the national interest, for immigration of the scale we have experienced over the last decade.”

Photo: Flickr via Charles Hutchins

Photo: Flickr via Charles Hutchins

Such a stinging critique of the Home Secretary’s record on immigration might be understandable from her shadow in the Opposition, hoping to get into power so she can do something about the issue.

But Theresa May is not Shadow Home Secretary. Managing immigration is her job, and has been for the past five years.

Instead of a conference speech setting out how bad things are, the Home Secretary should be setting out a plan for how she will do something about it – particularly if she is serious about getting immigration down to her ‘tens of thousands’ target.

To date we have seen no such plan.

Most people think that immigration brings both pressures and benefits. Higher population means pressure on housing, public services and jobs. But it also brings the skilled workers that have made our economy one of the strongest in Europe; the nurses, doctors and carers on which many Britons depend; and international students that bring £9bn into the economy each year and make our universities some of the world’s best.

Public trust in the government’s ability to handle immigration is low and today’s speech will not help. Immigration looks set to remain relatively high for the near future; when the Home Secretary tells people that this isn’t compatible with a cohesive society, it will worry them yet further.

In stating that the net economic gains of immigration are zero, the Home Secretary appears to accept that the costs and gains roughly even each other out – so her concern is primarily for the cultural impacts of immigration and the rapid changes it can bring to communities.

In areas where the pace of change has been fastest, we need a plan to manage that. Immigration will only work for Britain when integration works too. And when it does, most Britons are pretty fair-minded: when migrants come to Britain and learn English, get a job and pay taxes and become part of the community, they will give them a fair crack of the whip – a chance for them and their children to become one of us.

As Prime Minister David Cameron said this morning to the BBC, in Britain “We’ve built one of the most successful multi-racial multi-ethnic democracies anywhere on earth”.

Britain also has a proud tradition of protecting refugees, dating back to the first world war and well beyond. The humanitarian public response to the Syrian refugee crisis showed that support for this still remains, and it is important that the Home Secretary will make a clear distinction in her speech between economic migration and protecting those who need a place of refuge.

But instead of a speech focused on the problems, Theresa May should today set out her plan to make things work. In August, British Future and the Institute of Directors called for a “Comprehensive Immigration Review” – one which engages the Government’s panel of independent experts, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), to conduct a full review of the policy options available and the impacts that such policies would have on the economy, society and Britain’s international responsibilities.

Specifically, the Home Secretary and PM should request that the MAC:

-Advises the government on the policy options that could enable annual net migration to fall to the government’s target of ‘tens of thousands’, during this Parliament and/or the next.

-Sets out the best available evidence on the potential economic, social and cultural gains and risks of pursuing these policy options; as well as their compatibility with the United Kingdom’s international commitments and obligations.

-Engages the full range of interested stakeholders and the public themselves to ensure that their views, about the potential benefits and costs of different policy options, inform decisions about which choices to pursue.

This should be welcomed by all serious voices from every side of the immigration debate. David Cameron’s government was elected on the importance of setting out a credible long-term plan and delivering it. Conservative MPs will want to ensure it pursues a migration policy that sets sensible and achievable limits to migration in a way that is consistent with the economic recovery.

Setting out a credible roadmap – one that lets business, other stakeholders and the public know where they stand – could help to establish how we actually want to resolve the trade-offs and choices that face not just the Home Secretary but the British public too.

 

 

Comment

 

  • Comment by JW at 13:26 on 08.10.15

    ”Instead of a conference speech setting out how bad things are, the Home Secretary should be setting out a plan for how she will do something about it – particularly if she is serious about getting immigration down to her ‘tens of thousands’ target.”

    Yes, and you know that the law, and a curious alliance of big business and left wing multiculturalists have been set against her achieving this. You are part of that opposition.

    ”To date we have seen no such plan.”

    No, and you don’t want there to be one. How can you be so disingenuous?

    ”Most people think that immigration brings both pressures and benefits.”

    Most people are opposed to mass immigration and have been for over a decade. Nobody was asked if they wanted this profound change and you’re rather glad about that.

    ”Higher population means pressure on housing, public services and jobs. But it also brings the skilled workers that have made our economy one of the strongest in Europe; the nurses, doctors and carers on which many Britons depend;”

    The double think… it brings pressure on jobs precisely BECAUSE you are in favour of bringing in skilled AND unskilled workers to do work which the five million unemployed and underemployed British people could do. It *takes* trained medical staff from other countries, paid for by other taxpayers. Why not train our own people?

    ”and international students that bring £9bn into the economy each year and make our universities some of the world’s best.”

    The international student racket. A highly organised shake down of largely Chinese students. I know, I work in a University. I note that you ascribe our universities’ international success to these foreign students. It could never be the British people and British culture which predates them by decades and centuries.

    ”Public trust in the government’s ability to handle immigration is low and today’s speech will not help.”

    No because they have been ignored for over a decade and because certain vested interests want not only *no* change but *more* change. You’re one of them. As you well know. How do you manage to write these words when you know you are being disingenuous?

    ‘’when the Home Secretary tells people that this isn’t compatible with a cohesive society, it will worry them yet further.’’

    So, the Home Secretary is undermining cohesion not your divisive ideology? Remarkable. She is responding to THE PUBLIC have said not the other way around. You know the public are opposed, that’s why you set up this front organisation to try to soft peddle what you can no longer impose via New Labour’s authoritarian methods.

    ”In stating that the net economic gains of immigration are zero,”

    Zero for who? Not the working class. Not for the bosses and the upper middle class. And think tank land and academia.

    ”In areas where the pace of change has been fastest, we need a plan to manage that. Immigration will only work for Britain when integration works too.”

    Oh, so multiculturalism has failed has it? Nice to finally have the admission. Be honest, you want ‘a plan’ which will keep the profound transformation of the country going until it is unrecognisable. You hate the Britain that existed prior to 1997 and when you see anywhere that resembles it, you think it needs a good dose of mass immigration. I think you’re a racist actually.

    ”And when it does, most Britons are pretty fair-minded: when migrants come to Britain and learn English, get a job and pay taxes and become part of the community, they will give them a fair crack of the whip – a chance for them and their children to become one of us.”

    And that ladies and gentlemen is how you soft soap a racist agenda. ‘To become one of us’ – because I hate the original us and I want it changed beyond all recognition.

    ”As Prime Minister David Cameron said this morning to the BBC, in Britain “We’ve built one of the most successful multi-racial multi-ethnic democracies anywhere on earth”.”

    And we did it via authoritarian, undemocratic means. We did it via the deep tolerance of the white British whom really we despise and wish to replace.

    ”The humanitarian public response to the Syrian refugee crisis showed that support for this still remains,”

    The response of social media. Polls of the wider public reveal no appetite for huge numbers of refugees arriving. And I have to say that I am truly sickened at how you are now turning to refugees in order to try to keep your agenda going. You will stop at literally nothing will you?

    ”In August, British Future and the Institute of Directors called for a “Comprehensive Immigration Review” ”

    My god. A ‘Fabian Socialist’ and a Hard Right neoliberal employers organisation working together to further their ends. You are truly ill, Mr Katwala. You are in the grip of an ideological fever which sees you allying with the enemies of social democracy because really the latter is of little concern to you compared to your hatred for Britain as it was.

    ‘’the impacts that such policies would have on the economy,’’

    Who’s economy? I think we both know you will be focused on what the bosses have to say.

    ‘’society’’

    Who’s society? It won’t be the one which you ripped for no other reason than your disdain for it. What you want to know is how will it affect the plan to make the rest of the country look like London.

    ‘’Britain’s international responsibilities.’’

    You are truly sick shoehorning this into your agenda. Truly despicable.

    ”Sets out the best available evidence on the potential economic, social and cultural gains and risks of pursuing these policy options;”

    I just can’t imagine what your submission will say. Or your Hard Right friends. I bet it won’t say anything about all those studies which show that ever greater diversity undermines solidarity and trust. It won’t say anything about the neoliberal agenda to keep the bosses’ foot on workers’ windpipes.

    ”as well as their compatibility with the United Kingdom’s international commitments and obligations.”

    Utterly despicable guilt tripping. The last thing you are really concerned about is this.

    ”Engages the full range of interested stakeholders and the public themselves”

    LOL, I note you managed to fit the public in at the *end*. I wonder who these ‘stakeholders’ will be. As many business people and multiculturalists as possible.

    ”to ensure that their views, about the potential benefits and costs of different policy options,”

    You couldn’t just give us a break from this undemocratic, authoritarian, dangerous BS could you? No, that would slow the momentum. That would raise the issue of democracy at some point in the future once you try again to replace us.

    ”Conservative MPs will want to ensure it pursues a migration policy that sets sensible and achievable limits to migration in a way that is consistent with the economic recovery.”

    Who’s economic recovery? You’re not interested in the working classes’ recovery. In fact, on the flipside, you’re not really interested in the economy at all either. You know that. Be honest with yourself.

    ”establish how we actually want to resolve the trade-offs and choices that face not just the Home Secretary but the British public too.”

    Incredible. You’re actually trying to make out that this is a problem created by the Home Secretary rather than her responding to the public.

    Ideologues like you are terrifying. The games you play with language, the way you invert the truth, the alliances you’ll make… it’s a severe obsession. And one which you pursue at the expense of the rest of us.

    • Comment by JW at 15:32 on 08.10.15

      Oh, two more things:

      ”But it also brings the skilled workers that have made our economy one of the strongest in Europe”

      1, A couple of million immigrants does not and cannot strengthen an economy. Again, I note the drive to disparage what British people achieve and attribute all success to the foreign born. A strong economy for the working class would be one of Full Employment, not one where five million are unemployed or underemployed. And note how you contradict your claim further down that the economic benefits of immigration are ‘neutral’. Did you forget that when you writing the above quoted sentence?

      2, Britain’s economy is one of the most vulnerable in the Western world. Its GDP growth – which historically is nothing special – represents nothing more than an increase in transactions. Transactions largely based on a new version of pass the credit card / take out a mortgage. The Bank of England knows this, the Tories know this – that’s why Osbourne admitted last week that austerity was actually preparation for the next crisis.

      And when the next crisis comes, and millions are thrown out of work, one can only guess that your answer will be that we need more immigration to help solve it!