Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The UKIP on Immigration

DK, has a BBC interview with Nigel Farage on his blog which he appears to be reconciling with his libertarianism by citing economic and integration problems.

Economic migrants are, and pretty much every sensible study confirms this, of huge benefit to our economy. Those who come here are not benefits scroungers (put yourself in their shoes... you'd go to Sweden) but those who want to work hard and make a success of themselves. They often arrive here already schooled and leave when they're going to take a pension, the two periods when people are most costly to tax-payers. If too many people arrive serious strains on infrastructure arise but the influxes from previous new entrants have not been that large. Equally, if you have an inflexible labour market, with collosal youth unemployment as in France for example, then you might want to worry but we do not.

In the end, the big problem with immigration comes if there are difficulties with integration. This is inconvenient for the UKIP as immigrants from Europe immigrate quickly and easily. Eastern Europeans are generally poorer and prettier than us but there is no big difference in cultures to integrate. Turkey might change that somewhat but its entry is some way away.

The big problem with integration at the moment is with Pakistani and Bangladeshi Muslims. As such, if you're worried about integration then the best solution is to support plenty of new EU entrants and impose no restrictions on their labour movement which will make economically plausible an incredibly hard line stance on other immigration. The EU actually allows us to discriminate in immigration towards those who cause us the least cultural difficulty. Whether this, rather than working harder at integration of those coming from outside the EU, is the best solution depends on how hopeful you are that integration is a practical political project but leaving the EU makes it much harder to distinguish between migrants who will prove difficult to integrate and those who will not. If we were outside the EU such discrimination would still be possible of course but would become politically implausible as it would require us to make the kind of hard headed decision, choosing between 'good' and 'bad' immigrant groups, that politics is awful at.

In other words, if you are worried about the growing difficulties with integration and "cultural clashes" then the EU is a part of the solution rather than the problem. There is little reason for Britain to worry about the economic effects of migrants from Eastern Europe. None of this is convenient for Farage which is probably why he's ignoring the contradiction between the supposed libertarian principle of his party and the anti-foreigner bias of many of his members. Unfortunately, this is a problem that the Tories have as well but it is less acute and less troubling for a party which does not claim to be as radical as the UKIP.


Anonymous said...

there are huge cultural differences with eastern europe-much bigger than with say Jamaica which has caused trouble enough, "less different than bengalis" is not the same as "essentialy the same"

I say this as someone who is partly eastern european

Gracchi said...

Ah Edmund but purely British in terms of culture. I agree with Matthew here the difficulties are less- just look aat the language, the shared christian values and outlook, the architecture of the churches- if you go to Belgrade or to Budapest or even to Istanbul you are in the same universe- then go to Beijing and that's a different place. And as for Jamaica I think immigrants from there haven't caused much trouble at all- you'll find them involved in all sorts of important places in British culture like music. Furthermore we are beggining to get new MPs coming up from the black communities which after 40 years ain't bad- given another 40 and that'll be ok. We also have experience with Eastern Europeans integrating well- who were less culturally like us than most other Eastern Europeans- the Jews- who have become central to what Britain is just like Jamaicans.

Gracchi said...

And by the way just in case anyone misunderstands the last comment- I think that Jewish Jamaican integration has worked and that Eastern European would too.