If Labour really wanted to get serious about Immigration……
Mark at Labourlist praises the Labour leadership for speaking about immigration – something the rank and file are too scared to do. At least Ed’s trying to do something about it, says Mark:
Ed Miliband has decided to do something different. Something smarter. Something more humane. And something incredibly risky. He’s decided to try and change the debate on immigration.
Worried about immigrants “taking British jobs” by taking rock-bottom salaries? Then tackle the root cause – unscrupulous employers who seek to exploit the overseas poor to undermine the British poor.
Now I’m all for closing the loopholes which allow the minimum wage to be avoided. But it’s quite wrong to suggest that unscrupulous employment practices are the “root cause” of economic migration.
The root cause of economic migration to the UK is that some countries are poorer than us.
If we don’t want people to move here – and I accept that’s the current majority view – the root cause to tackle is the poorness of those countries.
That is, of course, the principle reason for the European Union existing in the first place (well, that and stopping wars). The Single Market is fundamentally about convergence of economies so that we all have roughly the same standard of living, and so that we move from country to country because we want to, not because we have to.
The problem – the “root cause”, if you like – is that the single market hasn’t worked as envisaged, because capitalism’s not like that, and that’s where Ed’s opportunity for ‘something smarter” lies.
As I’ve set out in some detail, there’s a very clear line to be struck about the functioning of the European Union, which would at one fell swoop undercut Cameron’s “renegotiation” froth and provide a real and timetabled solution to what is seen as the migration problem. This involves a temporary trade-off, agreeable within the current Lisbon Treaty, between freedom of capital* and freedom of movement restrictions, which would allow the poorer countries in the EU the opportunity for much more rapid growth and convergence with the richer countries, this reducing the need for people in the poorer countries to earn money abroad and send remittances home.
If Labour really wants to get serious about migration, it really needs to look to do more than tinker round the edges.
*The original thinking about this ‘artificial devaluation’ via changes to freedom of capital rules was from proper economist, Duncan Weldon, but he dismissed it as unrealistic in the context of Single Market law. As I’ve shown, it’s not, because that law was set up specifically with the ‘get out’ clauses that Duncan wanted to see in mind. It’s simply that Duncan hadn’t read the law at the time. Oddly, the 90 Tory MPs who wanted to curb A” migration at the last minute, did pick up on an aspect of these provisions, though they got it wrong by referring to the 2005 A2 Accession Treaty rather than the actual Lisbon Treaty and the 2004 Directive which reinforced that.