X Close

Leavers were right about immigration Why won't the Left admit the truth about open borders?

A debate painted in primary colours. Credit: Leon Neal/Getty

A debate painted in primary colours. Credit: Leon Neal/Getty


August 4, 2021   6 mins

One thing among many that makes being a foot soldier on the Left these days a pretty depressing experience is the propensity of colleagues to deny basic realities — or refuse to openly debate inconvenient truths. On no subject has that been more evident than free movement. So far, as much as the Left has been willing to entertain a discussion on this topic, it is usually to present things as a battle between good and evil: those who support free movement the progressive and enlightened ones, those who oppose it reactionary and intolerant.

The rapidity with which support for open borders has gone from being a fringe position to dominant on the British Left ought to be one of the major talking points of politics. It wasn’t so long ago that open borders were championed principally by Trotskyists, anarchists and hyper-liberals. Most mainstream socialists and trade unionists understood that the labour supply was just another market dynamic which, as with all market dynamics, was requiring of regulation, the better to enable governments to plan around employment, welfare, housing and so on.

Nowadays, those of us on the Left who articulate such a position find ourselves in a minority, regularly assailed by colleagues reciting trite slogans such as “Migrants are not to blame!” and “Don’t pander to the racists!”

It is true that such evidence as exists shows the impact of immigration on UK wages overall to be broadly negligible. But this can disguise the more appreciable effects on specific groups of workers and sectors. For example, a 2015 Bank of England study concluded that for every 10 percentage point increase in the proportion of immigrants working in semi-skilled or unskilled jobs, there was a two per cent reduc­tion in pay. And a 2018 review by the government’s Migration Advisory Committee showed that while the effect of immigration on average wages was small, the impact on wage distribution was more significant, with higher-paid workers gaining and the low-paid losing out.

This is to say nothing of the other deleterious effects of open borders, such as the stunting of productivity and deskilling of the domestic workforce. What, we might ask, is the motivation for employers to invest in new technology or train up a local jobseeker when they can get away with bringing in an off-the-peg foreign worker for a pittance?

Yet when it comes to discussing these realities, there is something of a conspiracy of silence within the labour movement, whose leaders have set their face against any suggestion that open borders comes with downsides. Again, boilerplate sloganising has taken the place of reasoned assessment. Low wages are caused by “rip-off bosses”, they argue, and what we therefore need is better regulation and more trade union organisation in the workplace – arguments which, whatever their merits, overlook the inescapable truth that employers will always be under less pressure to pay higher wages the greater the supply of labour available to them.

The more thoughtful will often invoke the “lump of labour fallacy” – an argument that correctly rejects any notion of there being a fixed amount of work in the economy, but goes on to contend that increases in the population, such as those deriving from immigration, inevitably lead to additional economic demand and thus more jobs and greater levels of growth and prosperity. But the British experience would suggest that evidence for the second part of this theory is, to say the least, inconclusive. For example, in his 2015 book, The Costs and Benefits of Large-Scale Immigration, the Cambridge economist Professor Bob Rowthorn explained how a study of the data demonstrated that:

“The extra jobs may not appear immediately and there may be quite a long transition period during which native workers experience unemployment (or lower wages). Moreover, if there is a continuing inflow of migrants, the labour market may be in constant disequi­librium, with economic growth and new job creation lagging constantly behind the growth in labour supply due to immigration. In its extreme form the ‘lump of labour fallacy’ may well be a fallacy, but it points to a genuine issue.”

In recent weeks, we have seen evidence that labour shortages caused in part through a reduction in the pool of EU workers – many of whom have apparently returned home for reasons connected to the pandemic and the Brexit vote – have led to sharp salary increases in some sectors. The recruitment firm, Reed, found that average wages this year have risen by 18% across catering and hospitality, and 10% across retail. These sectors are, of course, renowned for attracting — and often exploiting — migrant workers.

But still there has been no mea culpa from the open borders Left, no recognition that an over-reliance by business on overseas labour has, for some workers at least, demonstrably meant lower wage rates. On the contrary, some have used the recruitment challenges being thrown up by a tighter labour market as an excuse to reassert the case for EU free movement. How dispiriting that the instinct in such circumstances of those called upon to defend the interests of workers is not to harness the opportunity to secure higher wages and better conditions, but instead to defend the right of employers to exploit cheap migrant labour.

I have even heard a small number on the Left make the case that any generous wage increases deriving from a shortage of workers will inevitably mean higher prices for the consumer — precisely the argument that the Tories once employed in opposition to a national minimum wage (and, in fact, the argument that vested interests often employ in response to anything but the most conservative wage claims).

Some commentators who had previously thundered at how Brexit would bring economic disaster have been forced to admit to having been taken by surprise by the reports of salary increases in sectors now denuded of abundant cheap EU labour. But can it really be considered a surprise? Wasn’t it always obvious that where an over-supply of labour existed it was likely to mean — within that locus, at least — downward pressure on wages?

Whose interests have been served by denying this reality? Bosses or workers? The labour movement in Britain would do well to take a lead from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, which has shown admirable candour on the issue, stating in a submission to the Irish Government over proposed labour market reforms: “It is an iron law of economics that an abundant supply of labour pushes down its cost. It is insulting people’s intelligence to pretend otherwise.”

Working-class voters who supported Brexit have often been depicted as having voted against their own economic interests. But the middle-class, liberal, Remain-voting, graduate types who usually level this charge might wish to look a little closer to home – literally. Estimated data published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government suggests that in the 25 years to 2016 – the year of the referendum — house prices increased by around 21% in real terms directly as a consequence of immigration.

In our major cities, where many of these self-identified “progressive” types are roosted — often mortgaged up to their eyeballs or paying exorbitant rental fees — the rise is likely to have been more pronounced. On the face of it, then, the sneering contempt displayed by this cohort seems to have been somewhat misplaced. Aren’t they, in supporting open borders, guilty of precisely that which they have accused others – namely voting against their own economic interests? Has anyone told them? Would they even recognise the contradiction in their case? Might they show a little humility next time they aim their fire at working-class Leave voters, some of whom will now be reaping the benefits of the pay surges caused in part by a reduction in the pool of EU workers in the UK?

Ultimately, a system of free movement between highly-diverse economies is bound to mean traffic moving overwhelmingly in one direction – from the lower-wage zones to the higher-wage. Relatively few Britons will – for the foreseeable future, at least – find themselves travelling to, say, Lithuania or Estonia in pursuit of more attractive wages. One can be in favour of immigration yet believe the challenges presented by free movement to be serious enough to warrant an honest debate.

And while we are inclined to view these challenges through our own lens as a richer country, we should ensure that such a debate focuses, too, on the difficulties free movement creates for lower-wage nations. How many people, for example, know – or even care – about the fact that Romania has experienced a health crisis as a consequence of the departure of thousands of doctors following the country’s accession to the EU, or that Latvia underwent a depopulation emergency in the years after it joined the bloc?

Until now, the debate over free movement has too often been painted in primary colours when, in fact, it should be one of nuance and reason. The recent sudden wage hikes compel all of us – but particularly those who have in the past been too keen to shut down the discussion – to elevate hard-headed and truthful analysis over accusation and clichĂ©. I can’t say I’m hopeful that it will happen.


Paul Embery is a firefighter, trade union activist, pro-Brexit campaigner and ‘Blue Labour’ thinker

PaulEmbery

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

110 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Peter Hall
Peter Hall
2 years ago

Excellent essay. To what extent do traditional British working class voters understand that almost all political parties over the past few decades but particularly since 1997 have been pursuing immigration policies that are against their interests. With the ending of Nigel Farage’s political career there is nowhere for those voters to go. This possibly explains why the Conservative government is taking a fairly relaxed approach to immigration with numbers still high, international students and Hong Kong citizens being encouraged in and a a totally ineffective strategy on asylum seekers and illegal immigrants.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Hall

I find it disturbing. Anything written by a hard Left person always completely misses any moral argument. This is all money, money, and money. But that is the least of migration.

What of ones Nation? One’s culture. one’s people? If mass migration will raise pay then let them in? That seems to be argument. Lets change London to a Calcutta, a Mexico City, a Lagos, Nothing matters but $$$$. I am from London and the fact London is now less than 49% native British is not something I find is good, I liked it British. Why would a Multicultural Stockholm be better than a Swedish one? Migration is good, but only as it fits the needs of specific issues – as a general concept mass migration very questionable.

Take Tibet – after invading in 1956 China set the policy of mass movement of Chinese peoples into Tibet to culturally and genetically change them – to your open border person this was GOOD, and if it raised local wages by one penny on average it was excellent.

I disagree. The Western culture produced most which is great in the world. Freedom, democracy, medicine, science, best arts, philosophy, suffrage, best and most literature, universal education, social safety net, libraries, rule of law, police, fair courts, end of slavery, free speech, equality, industry, architecture, Maths, Classics, why change the people? Coming soon in UK the native British children will be a minority – is this a good thing? If so why? What was wrong with Britain being British? My old parts of London are not really British anymore, but something else – is that a good thing?

Why do we not appreciate ourselves? Japan does, China does, Korea does, they like their culture and society, they wish to keep it. Why is this NOT allowed to be said about the West?

Peter Hall
Peter Hall
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I agree. I am thinking about moving out of London. But where to!?

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Hall

I can tell you what I would do – I would move to USA. Canada is the second choice, but I like USA as it offers a Vast variety of climates and places.

I left London in the 1970s and moved to USA, I still have a fondness for London, but my old family home was sold this year so I doubt I will be returning. Every visit was just a bit more depressing – although I do wish the old house could have been kept so I could have kept returning every year – but my mother had to come and live with me here (she is mid 90s). If it had not been for covid making travel impossible, and the unstable future, it would not have been sold.

I live in the Deep South (but have lived all over USA) in a place of very great natural beauty – the people, very mixed race, are all friendly and polite, everyone just gets along – virtually no crime, I have never locked my house doors or car, ever….living is easy here, the American Deep South is a nice place, great weather, cheap land, tons of nature..

USA is a great country, and in all the world I think will be the safest to live in during the unstable future…..

Peter Hall
Peter Hall
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Thanks for that but the US has guns, a really brutal, ruthless and unfair society, racial tensions and many random nutters. Of course it has many wonderful people, some of whom are my friends
.

D Bagnall
D Bagnall
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Hall

I suspect if you lived here, you would find the media’s fiction of the US does not match the reality. It is neither Nirvana nor Hell, but by far, most folks are kind to one another.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I sense Irony there – so give us your CRT theory, come on, type out a reply instead of a jeering one liner. You obviously have something to say about Western Society, tell us.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

How easy is it to get in though. Not very. Not unless you just walk across the southern border and disappear into the underworld of course.

Marcus Corbett
Marcus Corbett
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Best arts…. Such a concept is loaded with pre-judice…. Unnecessary competetive condescension and or bs in an otherwise much appreciated scribble. C+. Pity.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Marcus Corbett

Hey – do you know arts? I have been around a great deal – and really, I think there is no doubt Western arts are supreme. The Music – the skills, variety, depth, sophistication, then Ballet, Jazz, Classical, Tap – Dance is a art beyond scope of anywhere else. Sculpture – the range – where else has that? Painting? Sure, great Chinese and Japanese and Middle East stuff – but merely a room compared to the house full of Western. Literature? Have you read much? I have. Philosophy? That is a Western art really, Theater? The West is supreme there – what culture has produced arts on a scale of the West? sure good stuff here and there, but not in the same league by any metric-

Tom Krehbiel
Tom Krehbiel
2 years ago
Reply to  Marcus Corbett

It’s not unnecessary at all, given how much Western society and its people have been attacked in recent years by the “Left” barbarians.

Stuart Rose
Stuart Rose
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Sanford, claim that Embery’s argument is morally and culturally vacant but please don’t refer to him as hard Left.
He’s a social democrat in essence. He’s pro-Welfare state but hardly an advocate of abolishing or crippling capitalism. In fact, as a Blue Labour man, he very much believes there are more deeper things to societies than economics.

Bernie Wilcox
Bernie Wilcox
2 years ago
Reply to  Stuart Rose

If you read Paul’s book I think you’ll find that he’s economically to the left of Corbyn.

Isabela Fairclough
Isabela Fairclough
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

This is just one article, with a particular focus. Paul Embery makes the argument about culture as well in his excellent book ‘Despised – Why the Modern Left loathes the working class’ (2020), along the lines made by David Goodhart as well (‘somewheres’ vs ‘anywheres’) – tradition, belonging, rootedness, more socially conservative and communitarian values.

David Bell
David Bell
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

That struck me as well. The writer sticks to the safe subject of wages and ignores entirely the sociological aspect. A typical leftist cop-out.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Hall

A lot of students overstay their visas too. Some never intended to be a student in the first place, it’s a scam to get in because once you’re in it appears you’re in.

Frederick B
Frederick B
2 years ago

An excellent essay which provides plenty of ammo for all those who believe that immigration needs to be curbed.

But – for a real scare – read Migration Watch’s report on the doubling of the immigrant population in just 20 years and on the likelihood that White British children will be a minority in English schools in 15 years – in other words that the English are about to lose control of what has been our homeland for 15 centuries. What joy that will give the Left!

Barry Phillips
Barry Phillips
2 years ago
Reply to  Frederick B

White British kids have been a minority in schools in many areas, and practically non-existent in some, for decades now.

Brian Hunt
Brian Hunt
2 years ago
Reply to  Barry Phillips

Thirty years ago, walking past a secondary school in Brent, there was just one white child in the playgroud.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Brian Hunt

That is profoundly disturbing

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
2 years ago
Reply to  Frederick B

Well said. In fact, the author makes such a good case against continued mass immigration and portrays his “colleagues” on the left as such canting, asinine bigots and hypocrites – less by calling them by these names than by supplying the facts – that one wonders why he has not moved over to the right. He’s clearly on the evidence led journey towards the shores of reason. Let’s hope he speeds up.

Last edited 2 years ago by Simon Denis
Bernie Wilcox
Bernie Wilcox
2 years ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

I think if you read Paul’s excellent book, Despised you’ll understand why he’s definitely of the Left as I am. That doesn’t mean we agree with them because actually the Left means the Liberals these days.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
2 years ago
Reply to  Bernie Wilcox

Fair enough – but Liberal has become a slippery sort of word these days, comprising everyone from Vladimir Zhirinovsky to Joe Biden. My preferred understanding of the term is “supporter of the free market and the nation state” – Mill and Mazzini. True, nationalism and the free market can clash, but equally they can be reconciled – protectionism, corporatism, “Christian Democracy” and so on. The only question remaining, then, is this: how much do you “protect”? The old Tory right’s answer was to focus “protection” around labour, through tight immigration rules. You will recall that these obtained throughout Mrs Thatcher’s period in office, wilfully dismantled under Blair. As for the Left more broadly, hasn’t it always favoured immigration? It stems from one of those points on which Marx disagreed with Mazzini and Mill – his hatred of the nation state. Indeed, it was less Mill and more Mazzini who withstood Marx throughout the twentieth century, with the gospel of nationalism, a message perhaps for ever compromised by the emergence of fascism, but nevertheless effective and, like the first world war, a stunning demonstration of the superior appeal of nationality, even of “race”, over “class”. Therefore, it seems to me, that the Left is deeply implicated in opposition to values which the working class embraces de facto, stigmatising them with all sorts of names, the most sophisticated of which is – as you know – “false consciousness”. And I don’t believe you can shrug this off by ascribing it to slippery, phantom “liberals”.

Bernie Wilcox
Bernie Wilcox
2 years ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Thanks Simon. What I mean is that the Left are no longer socialists or even social democrats in the old use of the term but simply liberals who have no concept of class.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
2 years ago
Reply to  Bernie Wilcox

But haven’t they transferred the notion of “class” to that of “minorities” and “race”, hence the “rainbow coalition”? And are they not seeking “class” solutions of oppressive law and reverse privilege to the apparent problems of differential life chances? In broad brush short hand, Marx asserted class; Lenin excused the failure of his prophesies by referring to empire; decline of empire brought imperial populations home and Marxist-Leninist PC has followed them – hence the nonsense of “decolonising” the curriculum. I agree with you that social democrats no longer run the Labour party; and I agree that they were the natural opposite numbers to Christian democrats. But I disagree that the people now in charge of Labour are genuinely “Liberal”. They are, as I think my sketch suggests very clearly, Marxists.

Bernie Wilcox
Bernie Wilcox
2 years ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

There’s no way that they are Marxists no matter what they themselves claim. They are illiberal liberals.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
2 years ago
Reply to  Bernie Wilcox

A paradox too close to a simple contradiction for my taste.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

The Tories took us into the single market and consequent freedom of movement, so are hardly guiltless here.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Because he is a social democrat and people on the Right are not….

Clara B
Clara B
2 years ago

Great article, thanks Paul. I don’t think most people realise that the levels of migration we’ve experienced over 2 or 3 decades is historically extremely unusual. Open borders zealots often say that we’ve always had migration so that current levels are nothing to worry about (another trite statement of the type Paul mentions). Of course migrants have always come to the UK but, in the past, they came in much smaller numbers and were assimilated via marriage etc. into the host population. The rate of cultural change we are experiencing now as a result of migration is unusual and disconcerting for many.

Last edited 2 years ago by Clara B
Bernie Wilcox
Bernie Wilcox
2 years ago
Reply to  Clara B

Indeed Clara. In fact the net migration figure was regularly 40,000 pa or less.

Last edited 2 years ago by Bernie Wilcox
Tom Krehbiel
Tom Krehbiel
2 years ago
Reply to  Clara B

I think that’s right. I understand that many Muslims don’t want to be taught British history and culture because it’s not THEIR history and culture. If so, I can think of no good reason why they should be permitted to stay in the UK. They are a net detriment to the British social organism, even if they were to bring economic benefits. And I very much doubt that they do the latter.

Bernie Wilcox
Bernie Wilcox
2 years ago

Hi Paul.
Great piece however I don’t think you’re quite right on the various studies regarding the effect of immigration on the wages, working hours and working conditions for low paid workers in economically depressed areas.
The studies are all erroneous because they rely on a Government survey called the Labour Force Survey and this survey has huge limitations when it comes to measuring low paid migrants, their pay, their working hours and their working conditions – all of which impact on those existing low paid workers
Although the LFS interviews approximately 100,000 people pa, only 700 of these are recent migrants. How many of these are in low paid, low skill jobs is anyone’s guess but if Paddy Power was taking bets you wouldn’t be far wrong to bet not at a lot. 
This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise when you examine its methodology. It selects potential respondents by a random selection of postcodes and sends them a letter. If they respond to this letter, a face to face interview is arranged and followed up by a further 4 telephone interviews every 3 months. During the interview, the survey collects information about the circumstances of the whole household and will ask questions on a range of topics, for example, health, looking after the family and home, employment status, education and training opportunities.
Hmmm. No wonder there are only 700 recent migrants out of 100,000 samples! The ones that do respond are probably heart surgeons.
There are a huge number of obstacles in the way of this survey actually getting recent, low paid migrants to participate – so much so that I doubt that there are any at all that do.
But it doesn’t stop there. All the other surveys that the studies rely on that in turn rely on the LFS numbers – ASHE, APS, BRES, WFJ.
So we have five different Government surveys, all of which are as useless as a chocolate teapot in measuring the earnings of low paid migrant workers and yet every single academic study on the effects of migration on the wages, working hours and working conditions of the low paid in depressed areas uses them to proclaim the complete opposite of which everyone in Rochdale, Shirebrook and Doncaster knows from their own experience; that the law of supply and demand works just as well for labour as it does for courgettes. 
Oh, and if you challenge this nonsense then you’re a xenophobe, a racist or both and I’m neither actually.

Clara B
Clara B
2 years ago
Reply to  Bernie Wilcox

Thanks, Bernie, that was very interesting. I wasn’t aware of the limitations of these surveys.

Bernie Wilcox
Bernie Wilcox
2 years ago
Reply to  Clara B

As regards the other Government surveys:
The Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) uses data from the LFS itself and only takes data from January each year which is the very month where hospitality and distribution work is at its lowest. It excludes seasonal work and the self-employed. Oh, and it only includes those employees that have been in the same job for more than a year. 
 The Annual Population Survey (APS) takes its data from the LFS. 
The Business Registration and Employment Survey (BRES) collects information on employees and employment and actually includes self-employed workers as long as they are registered for VAT or Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) schemes. Self-employed people who are not registered for these are not included.
Hmmmm. That’s very useful for measuring low paid migrants, isn’t it? Many of them are self-employed so unscrupulous employers and agencies can get around the requirements of the minimum wage legislation but obviously don’t earn the ÂŁ83,000 pa when a self-employed person is required to register for VAT. 
 Finally, there’s Workforce Jobs (WFJ). This measures vacancies but relies on the LFS for its employment data. 

Last edited 2 years ago by Bernie Wilcox
Bernie Wilcox
Bernie Wilcox
2 years ago
Reply to  Clara B

As regards the shortcomings of the Labour Force Survey:
There are quite a number of hurdles that the LFS has to jump in order to take a sample from low paid, low skilled and probably under-educated migrants who may not be living in a semi-detached house with their spouse and children. 
 The first hurdle the LFS has to jump is that “communal establishments” are excluded from the mailshot. These include caravan and camping sites, occupational hostels and travel and leisure accommodation such as that provided to hospitality or farm workers.
 The second hurdle is that the LFS only covers private households comprising one or more persons whose main residence is the same dwelling and/or who share at least one meal per day. 
 The third hurdle is actually getting the migrant to open the post which is addressed in this case, to the occupier. 
 The fourth hurdle is hoping that the migrant can read English well enough to understand the official letter. 
 The fifth hurdle is that the migrant who opened the letter isn’t scared about an official face to face interview. There are lots of reasons why they might be, some good, some bad but all of them understandable. Assuring a migrant who’s paid cash in hand that the survey is confidential just might not swing it with him.
 The sixth hurdle is hoping that the migrant actually completes the 4 other interviews. As the LFS itself states, “The LFS has to complete fieldwork to a tight timetable and interview as many of the sampled households as possible which leaves limited time for recalls.” 
So, is it any wonder that there are so few migrants included in the LFS and any wonder why the results don’t actually show that low paid migrants depress wages, working hours and working conditions? 

Antonino Ioviero
Antonino Ioviero
2 years ago
Reply to  Bernie Wilcox

Catholics in England were given a laugh when the MAC report on EEA immigration said there was no reduction in school choice due to immigration.

I confronted a member of the committee on this and she defended the assertion with the fact she had read the literature.

I wonder if the reliance on high-paying foreign students has corrupted academics?

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Bernie Wilcox

The fact that Covid hotspots kept popping up in immigrant heavy sweat shops up north where illegals congregate thanks to unscrupulous businessmen paying below minimum wage, should have been major headlines with swift and harsh action taken against those responsible. But crickets as usual because of the demographic makeup of these hotspots. As long as these blatant double standards continue there will be increases in the unease, anger and, yes, unfortunately, racism, in the wider population, who are getting fed up with certain people getting away with murder (sometimes literally) by virtue of their skin colour. In other news, decades of mass immigration have yet to show much benefit, instead we are seeing rising crime, ethnic and tribal warfare being played out on our streets in broad daylight, crimes we’d never heard of not long ago like FGM, honour killing and jihad, massive welfare bills, housing shortages and riots about how awful we are. Other countries don’t put up with this, why do we? This should be a major wake up call. Why isn’t it?

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Bernie Wilcox

“Hi Paul.
Great piece”

Not to me as I find it cowardly, but then the Marxist/Liberals taking over requires we all be afraid and self censor every word, less we become destroyed for Thought Crime offenses. I think he needs to present his case for just the significance of migration as a cultural benefit and cost and leave out the money issue, that would be a ‘Great Piece’. It would likely mean he lost his job, though. The cultural significance is much more important then the $.

If some brave person would address the cultural issue of migration, instead of always hiding behind the $ side of it, then the real Thought Crime would come out. The one that says if there is a cultural + – side to migration then WHAT Migrants are greater in cost/benefit.
.
You have vast numbers of Migrants in my part of London – you know the range, are some more positive or negative as a group? Or is a migrant just an interchangeable unit? Why is this never quantified so policy may be fine tuned? It seems like it would be a useful tool in the migration discussion.

You know, we are changing our nations for ever by migration- is it so wrong to try to figure out what it means, and what will optimize this irreversible change?

Bernie Wilcox
Bernie Wilcox
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Interesting comment Sanford. I think the cultural issues of immigration are either ignored or celebrated as something that is good. However what might be good for the enlightened and educated middle class white collar worker might mean the complete opposite to an older working class person who witnesses the neighbourhood where they’ve lived all their lives changing significantly.

Paul addresses this issue in his Despised book. Well worth a read.

D Ward
D Ward
2 years ago

I really don’t understand how the Left can be so cognitively dissonant. Welcome migrants one and all, but complain about house prices. Anyway, another interesting essay from Mr Embery. What a mess we’ve allowed this country to become.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  D Ward

I really don’t understand how the Left can be so cognitively dissonant.

Because most leftists are clinically insane?

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Supporting a fairer society is not ‘clinically insane’. As the Danish Social Democrats have shown, their policies IF accompanied by control of immigration can be very popular. The Tories are groping towards this sort of policy mix, but in my view the huge contradictions in their own coalition – look at Chesham and Amersham, doesn’t bode well for them in the long term. Too many people have a vested interest in opposing new housing for example. A random hotch potch of projects also isn’t going to do much for levelling up. The Tories feel completely ambivalent about this agenda in their very marrow. Labour could argue this case much more convincingly than the Tories, but only if they could ditch most of their woke priorities, which they won’t.

There is also a very good case inter alia for much more generous unemployment benefit and statutory sick pay, as almost all other European countries of similar economic development have.

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrew Fisher
Tom Krehbiel
Tom Krehbiel
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Your analysis is dependent on the “Left”‘s caring about the working class, particularly the white working class. That is true on neither side of the Pond.

Bernie Wilcox
Bernie Wilcox
2 years ago

Most of us on the Left believe that it’s simple common sense not to leave key infrastructure decisions to the free market. But we can’t possibly hope to plan for anything if we don’t know the very basics of demand such as how many, where, what ages, what educational needs, what medical needs, what housing needs, what transportation needs…….”need” I go on? 
So in those recent days of unlimited EU migration, how did we count the numbers of those joining us and leaving us? You’d be horrified by the truth. Let me explain. 
The Government mainly relies on something called the International Passenger Survey (IPS) along with data from visas etc. In practice, what this meant was that the non-EU legal immigration number was about right because it used hard data from the visa applications. Unfortunately, because EU migrants didn’t need a visa the numbers were almost totally gathered from the IPS. 
The IPS has a number of interviewers mainly stationed at Heathrow, Gatwick and Dover who stop people who are entering the country and ask them a few questions about their stay. It was originally designed to track tourist spending levels. If the potential interviewee says that they’re British then they are sent on their way as are those that say that they intend to be here for less than 12 months. 
So the interviewers actually interview very few people and those that they do interview are unlikely to be low paid, unskilled Bulgarians heading for SportsDirect in Shirebrook because these people don’t actually fly into Heathrow or Gatwick and the IPS doesn’t have much of a presence at East Midlands Airport. 
The numbers gathered from these very atypical interviews are the extrapolated into the immigration numbers. 
What about the emigration numbers then? Oh, they basically make those things up. They interview just 2,000 people each year to guess their emigration numbers. Don’t take my word for it – it’s what the House of Commons Select Committee said in its report. This is really important because the Government puts great emphasis on the net migration number and if the immigration number is at best a guess and the emigration number is simply made up, the net migration figure is for the birds. 
The Government also don’t consider those visitors who stay for less than 12 months as immigrants as if they have no requirements for accommodation, transportation or healthcare and no impact on the demand for such facilities. 
So what numbers do we actually count? Well, we count the numbers of new National Insurance Numbers (NINos) issued to both EU and non-EU citizens very accurately. These were prized out of the Cameron administration just before the EU Referendum and they don’t even approximately tally with the IPS guessed-at figures. 
There were 448,000 NINos issued to EU nationals in the 12 months leading up to June 2019. The Government’s EU immigration numbers were just 199,000 for the same period. So the EU immigration number was just 44% of the NINos number. 
I should make it absolutely clear that the two figures aren’t directly comparable. The NINos number will be artificially low because NINos are not issued to those who are economically inactive. These could include non working spouses, children and grandparents accompanying the NINo holder. They also didn’t include those EU citizens who were “Posted Workers”. Posted Workers can work in another country for up to 2 years and continue to pay their NI in their home country. In 2015, there were over 50,000 of these workers in the UK which should be added to the immigration figures. 
On the other hand, the NINos numbers could be slightly too high because some migrants already living here may apply for a NINo a few years after their arrival. And of course, the Government’s own explanation that many migrants issued with NINos return home within 12 months. 
So if we take the EU NINos number, adjust it for non-economically active accompaniments (say 10%) , add in the 50,000 Posted Workers we get to an EU immigration figure of 542,000 in June 2019
Add this to the Government’s figure of 348,000 non-EU immigrants and take away the Government’s unbelievable emigration number of 397,000 we come to a net migration number of 493,000 which is 232% or 281,000 higher than the Government’s net migration figure of 212,000. 
That 493,000 figure is absolutely huge. It’s larger than the current populations of Manchester, Sheffield, Liverpool or Bristol and nearly twice the population of Wolverhampton. 
No wonder the poor are concerned about immigration. Most recent migrants live in the poorest areas for obvious reasons and net migration numbers have the greatest negative impact on the poorest members of our society, many of who, are themselves migrants. 

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Bernie Wilcox

The interesting thing to me about how these numbers are collected (and thank you for the very interesting fisking of them) is that they all seem to overlook a procedure fundamental in most business analysis, but which you have carried out. This is that whenever you’re estimating something – or, if an auditor, signing off on something – you always look to see if your data is consistent with other independent data. Independent simply means that the data you have is gathered separately and the creators of the data can’t influence or skew it.
So for example, if I wanted to know how many diesel cars there were in the UK between 2005 and 2015, I could try to compare vehicle registrations with filling station diesel sales figures, and with diesel production plus imports less exports. If they’re all telling the same story, I can believe my number, but if they’re at odds then my data aren’t to be trusted.
A similar exercise for immigration would pick a starting date and then look not just at official statistics but at other data that might corroborate or undermine it. How many children are there in schools? How much food have supermarkets sold? How many cars are there? How much road fuel are we consuming? How many people enter and leave the UK each day? What are rents doing? What are election turnouts looking like?
Tesco apparently at one point thought there might be 80 million people in the UK, based on food sales. That’s at odds with other data points, so probably not true, but it should give anyone who believes census data – or any data other where you are counting people and relying on the people being counted to count themselves – pause for pretty serious thought.

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

I’ve read somewhere a few years ago that population estimates from electricity and water usage were, especially in London, indicating a much greater population than was officially there.

Bernie Wilcox
Bernie Wilcox
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Indeed John. It’s interesting that the water companies were calling out the official population figures years ago because they measured the amount of sewage produced.
Just recently, the number of EU citizens applying for permanent residence was nearly double the ONS’s mis-estimate based on their migration estimates.
However, isn’t it interesting that they go to great lengths to dismiss the data in the only thing that they do actually count properly, the NI numbers?

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Bernie Wilcox

water companies were calling out the official population figures years ago

As with the points Norman makes in the reply above yours, those are excellent measures and exactly the type of data that needs to be considered to see whether it reconciles to official population estimates.
Things like car usage / ownership can be explained by the state of the economy, but consumption of necessary price-insensitive goods and services should be much more reliable. If we are eating for 75 million people and producing the corresponding amount of sewage, then I tend to the view that there are 75 million people living here.
This is not to say that many of these uncounted people are here illegally. The issue is that they aren’t being counted.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Bernie Wilcox

I’d have thought thanks to passport scanning and airline tickets stating name nationality and dates in and out this information would be freely available.

Bernie Wilcox
Bernie Wilcox
2 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

Blair proposed such a system but abandoned it for some reason.

Tom Krehbiel
Tom Krehbiel
2 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

Some would come by sea rather than through the air. Does the UK also keep information on that? Genuinely curious, as an American I don’t know.

Last edited 2 years ago by Tom Krehbiel
Deborah B
Deborah B
2 years ago

Thank you Paul for flagging up two important but routinely ignored points. The effect on housing and the plundering of other nations healthcare workers.
When I worked inspecting private rented housing, over the last 30 years or so, migrants typically occupied the worst examples of bedsits and flats. They unwittingly rewarded bad landlords by accepting poor, unsafe accommodation. Therefore bad landlords flourished. Then it became common for ‘gangmasters’ to rent whole houses (pretending to be a single family) then sublet to ten or more workers who they controlled. Deathtraps of overcrowded and unsafe (fire risk) accommodation. In my area the chicken factory was a likely work destination for such workers. I was told that you could only get a job there if you spoke Polish as the team supervisors were non English speakers.
Within a few years the ‘system’ in the UK for obtaining social housing facilitated a migrant baby boom that would add points to your housing application. Also an eviction order was a useful way to bump a person up the waiting list. Inconvenient truths, but unfortunately the practical reality.
When you reward ‘housing need’ you encourage people to do things that yield results. A nice council house for you and a longer wait for everyone else. Manipulating the housing system is easy if you are prepared to play the game.
So much to say on this subject but finally, I applaud you for writing about how the UK has stripped not only EU countries but developing nations of their doctors and nurses. It’s obscene. Yet the NHS boasts about its workforce of many ethnicities. At a huge cost to the health of the nations who educated and trained them.

Hubert Knobscratch
Hubert Knobscratch
2 years ago
Reply to  Deborah B

The classic bit being – a large hospital near me has bought in workers from the Philippines, Malaysia, etc… As they want to pay low wages. But the staff who turn up find out they can’t afford local housing, so they are trapped in some pretty rough accommodation. There is a low but constant trickle of the same people leaving and returning home. The extra salary isn’t worth it, and let us not forget as the third world no longer stays 3rd world, they will probably be in the same financial situation pro-rata should they return but this time, they will be back with their friends and family.

Deborah B
Deborah B
2 years ago

How angry would the NHS be (in their current guide of saviours of our covid-racked country), if they were publicly shamed for being an employer of ‘slave labour’, no better than Boohoo. Their employment practices should be more fully exposed to the cold light of day.
And perhaps hospital managers could take responsibility for their employment practices, instead of whining about government funding. While they look through their lease car brochures, tot up their pensions and worry about how big their bonuses are going to be. Oh dear, how cynical I’ve become.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
2 years ago
Reply to  Deborah B

There is another factor in that some countries deliberately train more healthcare workers than they need as a) it’s good for the workers who get to travel and b) they send money home. It’s not always quite so black and white.

Deborah B
Deborah B
2 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

That’s an interesting perspective. The more detail we know the better to get at the truth of things.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Which proves that governments of other nations can be more intelligent than the government of the UK, which ends up with a shortage of medical staff with its adverse consequences, with the ‘bonus’ of negative balance of payments.
And there’s no corollary, because those medical workers we train who then emigrate to countries such as USA and Australia do not to send money home to support a dozen poor relatives left behind.

Bernie Wilcox
Bernie Wilcox
2 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Quite right Mark. This is particularly the case with The Philippines. I was cared for by a large number of Philippino health care workers and they explained to me that this was a great foreign currency earner for the country and they deliberately trained 3 times as many as they needed internally.
Unfortunately, this situation isn’t the same in most of the Third World.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
2 years ago

There is no difference in pay between British born and foreign born workers in roles in the NHS. The NHS has employed many foreign born people because successive UK governments failed to plan to train sufficient numbers of staff.

Deborah B
Deborah B
2 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

And presided over barriers to entry into nursing such as degree only nurses. I know someone who did her dissertation on plasters, the sticking variety. Comments please.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago
Reply to  Deborah B

Do nurses in, say, Philippines have degrees?

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago

It wasn’t so long ago that open borders were championed principally by Trotskyists, anarchists and hyper-liberals….when it comes to discussing these realities, there is something of a conspiracy of silence within the labour movement 

So connect the dots, Paul, and concede that “the labour movement” has been penetrated “by Trotskyists, anarchists and hyper-liberals”. Until you name your problem, you cannot begin to fix it.

such evidence as exists shows the impact of immigration on UK wages overall to be broadly negligible

Only if you wilfully misunderstand it. Immigrant labour is drawn in by demand. If there were no immigrant labour to meet the demand, wages would have to rise as employers bid higher to attract workers from a finite pool. Mass immigration largely prevented this, but now that it’s no longer available, the effect is

that average wages this year have risen by 18% across catering and hospitality, and 10% across retail

See how that all fits together? Mass immigration has caused wage stagnation which rebounds at the margins literally as soon as the labour supply tightens.

there has been no mea culpa from the open borders Left…some have used the recruitment challenges being thrown up by a tighter labour market as an excuse to reassert the case for EU free movement

Once again, Paul, please join the dots. This happens because the left hates the plebs. Really, really hates them. Your tone throughout reads a bit like those people Solzhenitsyn met in Soviet labour camps, who were convinced that if Comrade Stalin knew what was going on here, he’d be furious.

Working-class voters who supported Brexit have often been depicted as having voted against their own economic interests. But…house prices increased by around 21% in real terms directly as a consequence of immigration.

An excellent point you rarely hear the left concede, and an excellent example of how bad mass immigration has been for blue collar workers. At the same time as it held their wages down, it inflated the cost of shelter.

the debate over free movement has too often been painted in primary colours when, in fact, it should be one of nuance and reason

Or just different primary colours. Blue, perhaps, rather than red or green.

The recent sudden wage hikes compel all of us – but particularly those who have in the past been too keen to shut down the discussion – to elevate hard-headed and truthful analysis over accusation and clichĂ©. I can’t say I’m hopeful that it will happen.

Me neither. I venture to predict that any attempt to bring this stuff up will instead continue to elicit shrieks of “racist!” from the usual left-wing ÉŻnɔs.

Julia H
Julia H
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Pedants’ corner: There are three primary colours; red, blue and yellow. Green is a secondary colour.

As you were.

Last edited 2 years ago by Julia H
William McKinney
William McKinney
2 years ago
Reply to  Julia H

Primary colours of light are blue, red and green – or were last time I looked or used a projection TV.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Julia H

Only in painting. There are three in white light, sometimes considered to be six (red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet), but the other three are all blends of the basic three.

Bernie Wilcox
Bernie Wilcox
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

I really do think you should read Paul’s book. It’s called Despised precisely because the Left despise the working class

George Glashan
George Glashan
2 years ago

If the natives wont vote Labour they will import someone who will.

Bernie Wilcox
Bernie Wilcox
2 years ago

The then Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney was quite clear on the effect of immigration on wages when he told the IMF in a speech in Washington a couple of years ago. 
 “The increased ease with which activities can be off-shored or domestic vacancies filled by sourcing workers from abroad may have reduced the relative bargaining power and wage expectations of workers.”
 He went on to say that,
 “Overall, the greater global supply of labour has lowered the relative wages of lower-skilled workers in advanced economies. While this reduces inflationary pressures in the economy as a whole it has contributed to a long and painful period of adjustment for lower-skilled workers.”
Horse’s mouth.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago

I wonder what the overlap is between those who wish to restrict travel due to COVID and those who welcome “unauthorised” immigrants?
Who presumably do not arrive with COVID tests booked and preparing to quarantine or isolate for the required time.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
2 years ago

The truth that no one on either the left or the right has wanted to acknowledge over the last three decades or so, is that the EU has caused a transfer of wealth from the poor in the rich countries to best in the poor EU countries, those with the gumption to get up and look for better. You can make the case that this is a good thing, but anyone making the case that nobody got hurt in the process is being disingenuous. This is true of globalisation in general, not just the variety of globalisation espoused by the EU. The tension comes from the fact that elites in the democratic advanced nations are elected to serve the interests of their particular nation state (not always but often enough in direct and zero sum competition with other nation states), but often seemingly forget this and persue much more internationalist agendas which are not really in their remit, through a variety of reasons – complex tradeoffs, personal values, the subsuming nature of the modern political process which over time alters those with the best of intentions.

And yet, another truth to face, like it or not, is that globalisation although facing temporary blocks, is inevitable because of it’s lockstep with technological advance. One look at the international nature of any corporate workforce will tell you that it is already completely entrenched. What it won’t tell you, is that that precise same globalisation of talent has pushed out some local guy from Grimsby or somesuch, who might have stood a chance at the job currently done by that very smart Russian girl who beat him all ends up at interview, a pure Darwinian distillation of how globalisation favours the talented to the cost of the left behind.

And this is the point, the reason for globalisation is simple but remains hidden and undebated: technological advance will force an ever greater persuit of talent from across the globe, because the numbers of those talented enough to make a positive difference to the fortunes of a nation state is much smaller than the need for that talent. Examples abound, for example the huge numbers of the very brightest out of India (a poor country) who end up in the US (making the richest country even richer), or Mark Carney (whom I rate highly), who as a hired gun can operate in the highest echelons of the governance of a nation (which defacto requires building advantage for that nation against competitor nations), before leaving to govern in his (nominal) home nation, and carry out actions designed to potentially undo precisely the work done in his previous gig. So a state bank is no different from a national sports team, where everyone can be from everywhere, from the manager to the players. That this very process creates feedback loops that undermine the nation state is a side effect. So this persuit of talent is going to keep accelerating, not just in nations like the UK and US who have embraced this process but also nations who have so far resisted, like Japan. I believe even China will join this game soon enough because even China cannot produce enough homegrown talent.

And the even more interesting question for me is, what would happen if the random chance and bias of human decisions in this context were removed through the use of algorithms? I genuinely believe it would hugely entrench existing winners over losers, and they wouldn’t then even have recourse to the political narratives, left or right, to justify their loss or their rage.

Last edited 2 years ago by Prashant Kotak
Norman Powers
Norman Powers
2 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

I’m curious why you rate Carney so highly.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
2 years ago
Reply to  Norman Powers

In the aftermath of the Brexit referendum in 2016 I followed what the BoE were doing pretty closely. Under Carney they managed the turbulence very well and minimised disruption. The one thing I feel they got wrong was cutting interest rates – not needed and it fuelled a property price boom.

James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago

I’ve always thought that the UK was extremely intellectually dishonest in the debate about immigration and BREXIT. While I understand that the train has left the station, the supposed hatred of the Polish plumber was a proxy for understandable resentment of the changing character of the UK due to massive immigration from the former colonies. This has and continues to change the very nature of what it means to be “English,” or maybe they can’t be “English” but can be “British,” and as a Yank I welcome your assistance in clarifying. The existence of Polish plumbers or Latvian workers or Romanian nannies–in many cases temporary–was never a threat to the social cohesion of the UK, but unchecked immigration from the former colonies is. Are people like John Cleese and Eric Clapton fundamentally and irredeemably bad people because they lament that London is no longer an English city?
Let’s hope that large number of Brits don’t come to the beautiful Baltic states (keep this entre nous), and I write this from Tallinn, because the quality of life is so much better here. Perhaps the salaries are a bit higher in the UK, but the quality of life is much, much worse. But please keep this on the down low….

Last edited 2 years ago by James Joyce
Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago
Reply to  James Joyce

People don’t emigrate for salaries that are “a bit” higher. They emigrate for greater opportunity to make wages that are “a lot” higher. But don’t forget the “opportunity” part. The small economy of Estonia wouldn’t compete even if all costs and rewards were the same.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago
Reply to  James Joyce

I can quite understand that the quality of life in Latvia is better than the UK; there is a lot of overcrowding and congestion here, so I find it wonderful to go to, say, Ireland, or France. And yet, whatever you say, immigration from other EU countries such as Poland, Latvia etc. is unquestionably high, despite the apparent comparative qualities of life.
As it happens, I have met many of these immigrants, mostly Polish, with a smattering of other nationalities. I voted leave, but certainly don’t hate them; they were without exception very nice people. Some will never return to the countries from which they came, despite loving them still, and being proud of them.
Some have told me that they came at first for a short time to earn money to take home, to buy a house or start a business, or just to have a job, but they stayed, because they found opportunities here unavailable at home, although that will improve with time. However, they’re now married (several to British partners), have children, homes, careers, and are therefore never likely to return home, other than to see family. That is our gain, and their original country’s loss.

Last edited 2 years ago by Colin Elliott
mike otter
mike otter
2 years ago

Thanks for another well considered article. Anyone who heard David Lammy talking over his callers on his LBC slot last Saturday will know what Paul Embury is talking about. Sadly the colour prejudiced and Anyone But Britain left are playing the global capitalists’ game for them. Weak and fractured communities with no common language and culture are far easier to exploit with low pay and poor conditions than cohesive ones.

Charles Lawton
Charles Lawton
2 years ago

Good essay which I cannot fault, my only concern is this: will this and successive Governments import cheap labour from elsewhere as happened with the Windrush Generation? Already businesses are short of HGV drivers and ok some of this is due to Covid slowing driver training and licensing but this should have been an obvious risk to flag up as a Government and take measures to overcome it in the 5 years since the referendum. Successive Governments have done little to try and match workforce skills to the needs of the country.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles Lawton

With a high enough minimum wage and corporation tax level it would no longer be cheap labour. Successive governments have done little to try and match workforce skills to the needs of the country because they either took the view that the market should determine wage levels or that the Government should subsidise incomes in order to allow companies to keep wages low and maximise profits.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
2 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

A complex inefficient bureaucratic substitute for the simple, effective remedy of controlling the border and reducing inward migration.

Bernie Wilcox
Bernie Wilcox
2 years ago

2016 interview with Bernie Sanders by Ezra Klein of Vox.com 

Ezra Klein
You said being a democratic socialist means a more international view. I think if you take global poverty that seriously, it leads you to conclusions that in the US are considered out of political bounds. Things like sharply raising the level of immigration we permit, even up to a level of open borders. About sharply increasing …
Bernie Sanders
Open borders? No, that’s a Koch brothers proposal.
Ezra Klein
Really?
Bernie Sanders
Of course. That’s a right-wing proposal, which says essentially there is no United States. …
Ezra Klein
But it would make …
Bernie Sanders
Excuse me …
Ezra Klein
It would make a lot of global poor richer, wouldn’t it?
Bernie Sanders
It would make everybody in America poorer —you’re doing away with the concept of a nation state, and I don’t think there’s any country in the world that believes in that. If you believe in a nation state or in a country called the United States or UK or Denmark or any other country, you have an obligation in my view to do everything we can to help poor people. What right-wing people in this country would love is an open-border policy. Bring in all kinds of people, work for $2 or $3 an hour, that would be great for them. I don’t believe in that. I think we have to raise wages in this country, I think we have to do everything we can to create millions of jobs.
You know what youth unemployment is in the United States of America today? If you’re a white high school graduate, it’s 33 percent, Hispanic 36 percent, African American 51 percent. You think we should open the borders and bring in a lot of low-wage workers, or do you think maybe we should try to get jobs for those kids?
I think from a moral responsibility we’ve got to work with the rest of the industrialized world to address the problems of international poverty, but you don’t do that by making people in this country even poorer.

Vince Magyar
Vince Magyar
2 years ago

Completely agree with Paul Embery re the effect of mass immigration on British workers (and the deleterious effect emigration has on the countries the immigrants come from) and the ridiculous response of much of the Left as he describes it. Keep up the fight Paul.
And congratulations on your victory at the Employment Tribunal, overturning an abuse of power by the FBU leadership. I look forward to seeing how they are going to try to wriggle out of this.

Zorro Tomorrow
Zorro Tomorrow
2 years ago

I have no issue with “Polish” plumbers especially if they have a better work ethic. There are common sense facts with a shortage of skilled labour, seen after the Plague centuries, good for the working man. Increased wages (or increased duties in budgets) are inflationary and self defeating. Passed on to consumers with price increases. The fixed incomes people suffer. The average Chelsea or Kensington dweller never cared about the price of a bottle of spirits or a packet of cigarettes; a litre of petrol. After the war we spent fortunes on the Armed Forces, nuclear weapon testing at Woomera in Australia for example.
The immigrant skills ratio should reflect their presumable community infrastructure, assuming the islamists will congregate as do our own retired expats overseas e.g Irish bars, fish & chips, golf courses. X % should be doctors, nurses, dentists, engineers relative to community needs. i.e the type of people who do not normally arrive in dinghies. The left cannot run a bath. That they think their deluded opinions bear any relation to reality is a mystery. Personally I’d trade the left for the enterprising hungry immigrant any day.

Last edited 2 years ago by Zorro Tomorrow
Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
2 years ago

Congratulations to Paul Embery on the result against the FBU.
Just saw this reported on the BBC. It is totally clear you were the subject of a witch hunt. The truth will eventually out (at least for the moment) in the UK.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago

Great article, the only thing I’ll point out is that there’s no mystery as to why the Left refuses to join open debate on this or most other issues. It isn’t some odd quirk of left-wing attitudes, is a core component of the left-wing paradigm that it, and only it, gets to declare Truths which are then not to be questioned.

Those who then question those Truths place themselves outside both reason and decency, and can therefore be dismissed or attacked instead of debated with, and can be dehumanised entirely if necessary.

Left wing politics is not really politics at all: it is a set of secular religions whose adherents are profoundly intolerant of dissenting views and those who propound them.

David Harris
David Harris
2 years ago

Irish Congress of Trade Unions: “It is an iron law of economics that an abundant supply of labour pushes down its cost. It is insulting people’s intelligence to pretend otherwise.”
But then the Left have been doing that for decades… on any subject you care to name.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
2 years ago

Whether you agree with Paul or not I think it’s pretty clear it’s no longer appropriate for him to refer to himself as a ‘footsoldier of the left’. The majority of people regarding themselves as on the left probably have moved on as he implies – they no longer look to achieve socialism in one country, or maximise benefits for one particular group of workers within a country, or look to protect wages by restricting entry into particular jobs rather than arguing for universal rights and equality/equity. In many ways, freedom of movement being one example, the left has become more libertarian, less protectionist. While it is probably true that freedom of movement has resulted in mixed outcomes for some citizens of the places people have moved to and the places they have moved from the conclusion of that is not necessarily that freedom of movement is wrong, An alternative conclusion would be that the governmental/economic/legal mechanisms that could be used to protect those citizens are not working in a way that benefits those citizens but rather allows employers to maximise profit by paying low wages and low corporation tax. If that’s what Paul means by holding a more nuanced debate I agree with him.

Last edited 2 years ago by Last Jacobin
Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
2 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

So yes, the progressive global left has become so internationalist that it no longer wants to address the needs of the local working class whose interests they were originally created to secure – they would much rather take a global view and address local needs through institutions at the global level. But not everyone on the left is obliged to subscribe to this version the left – many Lexiteers want to tack back to the original purpose of the left which was to look after the interests of the local poor they were created to serve.
In any case there’s a few problems with the internationalism of the progressive left.
The first is basic honesty. The left still relies on the votes of everyday people here to get into power, but in order to garner those votes, they are resorting to soft-peddling their internationalism, are they not? For example Kier Starmer and many other senior Labour figures have now accepted Brexit as fait accompli, but I struggle to believe they have had a change of heart – and many people sense this and are therefore wary of trusting them. Should they not instead be upfront about “arguing for universal rights and equality/equity” as you say, be honest about what they really believe, state honestly that they would still want to reverse Brexit if they get into power, state clearly and honestly that the starving refugee in Syria is a bigger priority for them because clearly no one in the rich west is in such trouble so the needs of the locals here (yes, the ones who voted them in) should go to the back of the queue, and so on, and we as voters can take it or leave it when we get to the ballot box?
The second problem is about the use of “governmental/economic/legal mechanisms” to achieve global equity as you state the progressive left wants to do. Let’s take housing as an example. We now have the situation where millions on the average wage (never mind the minimum wage) cannot get on to the housing ladder because they are priced out of housing in their own country because the international wall of money, permanently on the lookout for decent returns, has descended on to UK housing like vultures. So say a progressive left government says we will double the minimum wage – from the current rate of ~ÂŁ9 per hour to say ÂŁ20 per hour. Well, it still wouldn’t be enough, not even close, for most people on average wage to gather the deposit, or meet the requisite income multiples – typical housing valuations are ten times and more the average wage in many many places. This happens because asset valuations (like housing or equities) can double in a flash when international finance moves around whereas wages will always lag far, far behind. I venture to suggest the progressive left cannot actually solve such a problem because their internationalism will get in the way – you have no doubt seen how rigid the EU is about maintaining the purity of the so called “Four Freedoms”. Shouldn’t they be honest about this instead of pretending they have solutions for something like housing?

Last edited 2 years ago by Prashant Kotak
Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
2 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Thanks, really good points. That have got me thinking.
On the honesty question – internationalism is soft peddled (thinking of your examples of Starmer and Labour Party) and I’d argue that is a tactical decision. Having just marginally lost (and I know many Brexit Supporters were left of centre) a major vote on a question of internationalism, general election to a party promoting a pretty explicit call to nationalism, tougher immigration controls, reduction in foreign aid and the removal of rights for asylum seekers there is a lot of work to be done to change that zeitgeist. Add to that the problem of the UK electoral system not accurately reflecting the views of the majority and I can understand current reluctance to come out all guns blazing on internationalism.
The global finance freedom of capital issue is another good point – the EU four freedoms only apply in the EU to three – goods, services and people within the EU. Capital is free to move anywhere in or out of the EU so has a natural advantage and out-guns the impact of the other freedoms. I also have to admit the EU is a protectionist grouping out to benefit its members and so in its own way is discriminatory and exclusionary.
I don’t know the answer – but I don’t think the answer is to retreat from attempts to frame the question internationally and to focus solely on improving things for the local poor – though I can see how attractive that might seem in terms of short term popularity. To do that reinforces the view that it’s the immigrants to blame which plays into the hands of those using racism or xenophobia to explain why there are local poor.
The UK is a pretty progressive country in many ways compared to other ‘Western’ capitalist democracies. I don’t think the way to encourage and grow that progression is to isolate ourselves from other progressive countries or institutions and people or pretend that we can create the circumstances where we can maintain our own social democratic state in the face of a hostile external environment and global capital.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

On housing, we have tenaciously held onto a free market, so any foreigner may buy anything. (and they weren’t even liable for capital gains tax on residential properties until recently).
That’s fine in most other European countries such as France, with much lower densities of population than ours (at least England), but we are much more like Singapore, which limits house ownership. That, incidentally, increases the incentive to buy a property in the UK, probably London, to add to being English-speaking and having trusted and comprehensible law.
Interestingly, despite the EU’s holy ‘free movement’, Denmark’s government showed more wit than UK government by opting out of free movement when it came to house ownership.

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
2 years ago

I share your pessimism regarding much of left’s inability to grasp reality, face inconvenient truths, and to be open to a genuine, intelligent exchange of ideas. Although it is not just a problem on the left, it is certainly more pronounced there. The garish primary colours of a virtue-signalling culture of obsessive mobile phone use and insta-celebrity for all who aspire to it have washed away nuance and reason, replacing them with groupthinking certainties that cannot be challenged even if they are specious nonsense, particularly but not only amongst young adults. Just look at how Labour – both its left and centrist wings – responded last year to Chinese Communist and globalist propaganda surrounding the outbreak of a nasty respiratory disease and a resulting sharp increase in pneumonia deaths amongst the sick and elderly, and the moral, political and intellectual morass that Labour now finds itself in as a result. They don’t, sadly, have the courage or the humility to find a way out; many of them are so far gone in to this vortex of unreality they have don’t even know how lost they actually are.

I hope I am proven wrong in time but I won’t hold my breath.

James Jenkin
James Jenkin
2 years ago

Hey Paul, I’m a fan.

But it’s too simplistic to say because abundant supply of labour pushes down cost, wages will necessarily go down.

For example, lower wages also means it’s cheaper to start a business, so more people do. This increases demand for labour, and pushes up wages.

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
2 years ago
Reply to  James Jenkin

He does cover that – from above:

“The extra jobs may not appear immediately and there may be quite a long transition period during which native workers experience unemployment (or lower wages). Moreover, if there is a continuing inflow of migrants, the labour market may be in constant disequi­librium, with economic growth and new job creation lagging constantly behind the growth in labour supply due to immigration. In its extreme form the ‘lump of labour fallacy’ may well be a fallacy, but it points to a genuine issue.”

It might well be cheaper to start a business, and in time the wages will go up as those businesses take root. But that takes time, and is no good for someone who works in an industry affected by stagnated wages from surplus labour.
How long is an acceptable period for people to get by? 5 years? 10 years? Longer (as it would appear)?
Paul’s point is that we have not seen these wage increases yet – except recently in the exceptional case in hospitality and retail where large parts of the migrant workforce has left due to covid
Furthermore, what you say would be true if a finite amount of labour arrived into the economy. As the quote above points out – continuous immigration will see a continuous suppression of wages.

Last edited 2 years ago by A Spetzari
Nicholas Taylor
Nicholas Taylor
2 years ago

As a Remain voter, and having worked closely with people in several EU countries, I valued membership and feeling part of a common project, and welcomed the diversity of people coming to work in the UK, but on the understanding that it was two-way traffic and those from poorer east European countries would have an incentive to return as their economies improved and things balanced out. Maybe that has stalled, but it is not inevitable. I used to live near a large farm, walking through which I would greet workers in the fields, passing signs printed in Polish and Russian. Of course this was unsustainable, but so is welcoming thousands of economic migrants, potentially permanently, from failed or fragile states. In any case, if British native workers, if one is allowed to use that term, are not at present interested to do those kinds of jobs, either we have to enforce a limited-stay ‘guest worker’ system, or be prepared to accept a general decline in standard of living, and certainly not a more generous and equalising welfare state – or find some technological solution that will inevitably marginalise some people. The UK has become so dependent on its borders being permeable that it would be very hard to reverse this. You might say the same about Switzerland, but unlike them we cannot make our neighbours an offer they cannot refuse. Whether our borders are open or closed to people, economic pressures will still tend to come into balance across them. Just substituting one ‘temporary solution’ for another is no answer.

Last edited 2 years ago by Nicholas Taylor
Rob C
Rob C
2 years ago

We can continue to have generous welfare policies as long as the middle-class and upper class are destroyed. Which these people are fine with.

Matty D
Matty D
2 years ago

I

Rob C
Rob C
2 years ago

It’s really very simple. The “new morality” is not “results based”. You do the right thing because it is right. So new moralitists simply don’t care if their policies make things worse for people in Britain (or any other locale) because it is simultaneously making things better for the world population as a whole.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago

Any economic growth stemming from increased immigration is a Ponzi scheme because guess what, immigrants use school, roads, hospitals and get old too. It always makes me laugh when the pro immigration progressives also claim to be most concerned about climate change and sustainability – but neglect the elephant in the room of population growth. Every 3rd world immigrant to the West also becomes a 1st world consumer with a carbon footprint to match.

MJ Reid
MJ Reid
2 years ago

Why are the Left seen as a homogenous group? That is lazy thinking. The “Left” is as diverse as the population with people who behave like sheep as well as thinkers, those willing to debate and even some law makers as well as breakers.

As with most articles on Unherd there needs to be some more unpicking of the labels to see exactly where the “thinking” is coming from, otherwise we are getting more of the same old, same old when Unherd is striving for something different.

Matty D
Matty D
2 years ago

This is a rather partial argument about the economic case for immigration. It is true that reducing supply of something will, if demand remains the same, push up its price. So it is true of labour- less of it, means higher wages. For example, if the workforce of the fire brigade was restricted to ginger haired socialists from Dagenham, this would give those strawberry blondes a hefty premium in the Labour market.

This however ignores the other side of the equation. Yes, wages have gone up – but at a great cost to those who require those services. Having only East London syndicalist gingers populating the fire service would greatly reduce the number of firefighters. Great news if you are a socialist ginger. Bad news if your house is on fire.

The same applies in more real world examples. In healthcare, it would mean fewer, better paid carers. That means worse care. Or fewer, better paid child carers. Which would mean fewer women able to return to the workplace post maternity – which can hardly be a good outcome for any decent socialist, ginger or not.

Aha! Embery writes in Despised, investment in automation is the key! Well, good luck with that in childcare and elderly care and many other examples where the supply of physical labour is the only answer.

And another partial economic argument is the one about other countries. Firstly foreign remittance is a major source of income for many middle income countries. It provides money which is invested in essential services in those countries, such as Romania. If you truly cared about the fate of these countries in a comradely, socialist way, you would applaud this money transfer.

Last edited 2 years ago by Matty D
Julie Kemp
Julie Kemp
2 years ago

Flag’s words are childlike in their grasp of adult mature competent realities especially in terms of what Humans need regarding cares and treatments of its citizens, jobs and associated infrastructures that aid and abet a high degree of ‘progress’ and cultural refinements including government (limited by choice) services. A child more often than not senses very quickly which ‘elder’ and/or who has the sense of knowing and efficacy re safety and/or resolution in the danger zone. There are degrees in and of everything – in the gross world of form and in that world beneath the surface of the mundane. Otherwise its just a snowflake realm for a while until all cracks become crevasses or abysses – and there will be no rope hanging.

Last edited 2 years ago by Julie Kemp
Richard Slack
Richard Slack
2 years ago

I read on social media comments from a bloke called Embery that it was far to early to be highlighting things like empty supermarket shelves as being an effect of Brexit. This was all “project fear” it was far to early to be making such judgements about Brexit. Is he related to the same Mr Embery now confidently announcing the resounding success that Brexit has been in raising the level of workers’ pay after a few months when the Labour Market has been distorted anyway by the pandemic? As Private Eye used to say “are they, by any chance, related?.
The reality is that the upsides and the downsides of Brexit will both take some time to become apparent as the first Embery should tell the second. I believe also that amongst the first EU controls to be axed will be things like the Working Time Directives and similar, I am old enough to remember in the 1980s the Trade Union movement thought they were far more likely to get protection for workers from the EU than the Tory Government.
The big money, and the big press for Brexit was pretty exclusively big, footloose finance. “Singapore on the Thames” I believe is the ideal and Singapore is not renowned for workers rights. It does however have high levels of immigration. I find Mr Embery’s faith that these people will have nothing but the interests of the workers in their hearts, but I fear he is naive.

finnkn
finnkn
2 years ago
Reply to  Richard Slack

“ The big money, and the big press for Brexit was pretty exclusively big, footloose finance.”

Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and plenty of other investment banks came out publicly for Remain. Six figure donations were reported in the media at the time.
Big Finance is utterly enmeshed with Big Europe, just study the CVs of Draghi etc.

Richard Slack
Richard Slack
2 years ago
Reply to  finnkn

The press were solidly pro-Brexit and domiciled overseas

Bernie Wilcox
Bernie Wilcox
2 years ago
Reply to  Richard Slack

Have you been living since cave for the past 5 years or are you just trying to wind the rest of us up?

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
2 years ago
Reply to  Richard Slack

Brexit = empty shelves was posited to be due to changes to goods shipping rules, not inflated worker wages, no? I don’t think anyone ever claimed supermarkets would react to the tightening of EU labour by simply not stocking shelves anymore. That would be extremely silly. Supermarket work isn’t that unappealing.

Richard Slack
Richard Slack
2 years ago
Reply to  Norman Powers

that was what I mean. The point I am making is that if it is too early to evaluate Brexit then it should be applied to everything.

Edward De Beukelaer
Edward De Beukelaer
2 years ago

I am sure all your arguments are fine but if you want to blame the country’s problems on immigration , there is more likely a problem with the country rather than with the immigrants or immigration. I am sure it is possible to write a piece with the arguments on the contrary.
1) A successful country provides 3 things: 1)freedom, 2)equitable regulation and laws and 3)protection (policing) in the sense that the law is applied to all. This will created trustable relationships and a thriving economy. Borders are only there to tell people until where the equitable regulation is applied.
2) Then there is the issue on people’s identity: this comes out of the equitable society which remembers the best things of its past and upholds a degree of morality over selflessness.
This article is based on anger and discontentment: they are never good motives.

Bernie Wilcox
Bernie Wilcox
2 years ago

He’s not blamed the country’s problems on immigration. He’s pointed out that immigration at the levels we currently have / had causes certain problems. These are principally a downward pressure on the pay, working hours and working conditions of the low paid and the pressure on infrastructure whether that be education, health, housing or transport. If you’ve got some answers as to how we can’t reveal with these issues at the same time as having 500,000 people pa joining us I’m all ears.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  Bernie Wilcox

It’s tiresome having to deal with E.de.Beukelaer’s stale old canard. Thanks for taking the trouble.