Immigration, Labour, and why it’s so important
In a recent speech given by Ed Miliband on immigration, he promised that if voted in, within 100 days of taking office, Labour will present to the public a realistic set of measures to reign in UK immigration. Mr Miliband promised to recruit 1,000 extra border staff, introduce full exit checks, and ensure no criminals are able to come to the UK. The leader outright challenged Mr Cameron to match his pledges, accusing him of “abandoning the issue” altogether.
Speaking publicly at an event, Mr Miliband acknowledged that immigration has hugely benefitted Britain and further promised that “we will never do anything to denigrate or demean that contribution of people who have come to this country”. He went on to say that Labour has amended its approach under his leadership and would address people’s concerns about the impact of immigration on wages and public services. Attacking the credibility of the Conservative party, Mr Miliband said: “David Cameron once promised to cut net migration to the tens of thousands and told people to throw him out of office if he didn’t deliver. He has broken that promise, with net migration standing at nearly 300,000”.
Other steps the Labour party has pledged to do in the first 100 days of government include ending the indefinite detention of asylum seekers and prohibiting recruitment agencies from hiring solely from overseas. The party has also said that it will close loopholes allowing employers to undercut wages and stop people claiming benefits for at least 2 years when they move to the UK from abroad. For an overview of what the main 4 political parties are proposing in regard to immigration, please read our previous article, available by clicking here.
Immigration is one of the hottest subjects under debate in the 2015 general election and has undeniably played a pivotal role in shaping modern Britain. London, for example, is now one of the most diverse cities in the world, with in excess of 100 languages being spoken throughout its schools. Generally speaking, today’s immigrants are made up of young and highly-mobile workers and students from within the European Union. The question everyone wants an answer to though is whether immigration and its forces have a positive or negative impact on the economy and society.
In accordance with the government’s preferred measure, 298,000 more people came to call the UK their home in the year ending September 2014. The most likely reason for a person to come to the UK is to work or study. Asylum seekers make up the smallest group of immigrants. As can be seen from figures below from the Office of National Statistics, almost one million people moved in or out of the UK in the course of the year ending September 2014:
• 624,000 = the number of immigrants to the UK in the year to September 2014
• 327,000 = the number of emigrants from the UK over the same period
• 251,000 = the number of these immigrants who came from within the EU
• 74% = the proportion of these immigrants that were highly-skilled working migrants or students
• 82,000 = the number of these immigrants who were returning UK citizens
No one knows for certain exactly how many migrants there are because the UK it yet to decide on a single, reliable method to count their entries and exits. Consequently, it means it’s very difficult to find hard data to back or reject claims of the effects they have upon our society. Madeline Sumption, Director of the Migration Observatory, when commenting on UK immigration, said: “The UK is definitely one of the most attractive destinations in Europe. It is quite a flexible labour market and has far more jobs at the low end of the economy which makes it easy for migrants to find a job compared with a country like Germany”. Interestingly, in stark contrast, Sir Andrew Green of Migrationwatch UK, said: “We will, in the next 25 years, have to build the equivalent of ten cities the size of Birmingham. This would place enormous stress on our already creaking infrastructure and on our environment and it would also change the nature of British society for ever. We must not sleep walk into one of the most significant changes in a thousand years in our island’s history”.
As we have stated previously, we would argue that despite rising public concern surrounding immigration in the last 15 years, there is unfortunately no real link between this increase and the understanding of the issues amongst the general public.
For instance, as demonstrated by a survey carried out by one of the leading market research companies in the UK, (i) when asked who they drew associations with when they thought about who an immigrant might be, respondents were least likely to think of students, despite them being the largest group of migrants within the UK, and (ii) interestingly, the same group of respondents thought that asylum-seekers were the largest group of immigrants, when in fact, they are the smallest.
Taking into account the above, it is imperative that politicians refocus their strategy, move away from short-term political goals centered around the next election, properly inform the public of how things really are, and shift their focus onto achieving more realistic, long-term goals that will benefit the UK as a whole.