I’m Oscar, a friend of Aditya’s and I’ve recently accepted an offer to submit for the website. I’ll be writing similar articles to his, and I look forward to some lively and interesting discussions on politics and current affairs.
Below is an article I wrote a while ago about the immigration based arguments for leaving Europe. As such some of the statistics may be slightly outdated.
Please comment with any thoughts on the article or on the in or out debate as a whole.
By the end of 2017 the UK electorate will decide its future with a simple yes or no: Should the United Kingdom remain in Europe? The last time the question was posed in 1975 Britain’s political landscape was very different. The Labour party backbenchers were the most prominent eurosceptics. The conservatives under Margaret Thatcher, arguably the most right wing prime minister in modern times, were the main ‘Yes’ advocates.
But this time around it is unlikely that the Pro Europe campaign will triumph with as much ease as before. The rise of “pound shop Enoch Powell” Nigel Farage threatens to plunge Britain over the edge and out of the EU. Fuelled by people’s discontent over immigration and alienated from the mainstream parties, UKIP managed to secure just under 4 million votes. Current polls put the No campaign at over 33% and it will be sure to gain the support of many Tory MPs and a handful of Labour ones as well. But how credible are the immigration based arguments against EU membership?
One of the main arguments from the No campaign is immigration. With net immigration at over 300,000 people a year, they argue that jobs are being taken by migrants who will work for less, leaving Britain jobless and poorer. They say that many immigrants aren’t willing to work at all, and simply come here to claim benefits from the British welfare system. Nigel Farage also says that mass immigration from people who don’t speak the same language leads to a “dislocated society”. But the argument favoured most recently is that Britain is overcrowded and simply doesn’t have enough room.
And yet studies seem to suggest a huge net economic benefit from immigrants, and of the 5.3 million benefit claimants, only 130,000 were EU immigrants. By the 2nd or 3rd generation many immigrants, like the Afro-Indians expelled from Uganda in 1972, rise from next to nothing to prosperity, through hard work and determination. These people have also shown that given a generation or two they do learn the language and can assimilate into the British people without losing their cultural identity.
The argument that we are overcrowded seems to be the most credible. Britain faces a housing crisis, according to government statistics, in December 2014 there were nearly 62,000 households in temporary accommodation awaiting placement in a settled home.
And although the influx of immigrants isn’t helping, the situation is part of a much wider problem. Not only are not enough houses being built, affordable housing isn’t being built. That is a problem which cannot be placed squarely on the shoulders of immigrants.
Lastly, I want to talk about the NHS. A popular UKIP strapline goes along the lines of:
Accident and Emergency waiting times are already far too long and so immigrants flooding in to the country are only going to make them worse.
This seems to make sense, until you actually look at the figures. A paper from researchers at Oxford University suggests that not only did immigration rates not affect waiting times in A and E departments, a rise in migrant population correlated with shorter outpatient waiting times.
Again, please do comment with any thoughts on the article or on the in or out debate as a whole.
9 Comments Add yours
thank you Oscar – nice, clear article and I agree with your points. I think the in or out debate has been complicated lately by Cameron’s plan to ‘re-negotiate’ our membership agreement by demanding that we can opt our of various human rights, employment rights, social rights etc. and if he succeeds in this (no guarantee at all that he will), it may be that some on the left, possibly including Jeremy Corbyn, will have a dilemma over voting in or out. Plus, the EU elite’s treatment of Greece and its imposition of austerity on other struggling countries, e.g. Portugal, Italy and Spain, is also a cause of concern for those who seek a more equal and just EU. Like I said, it gets complicated… thanks again for your article.
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Firstly thanks for the comment, sorry I took so long to reply.
I agree that Cameron’s re negotiation is a little bizarre. I doubt that he’ll really achieve much and when he comes home empty handed it will just give ammunition to the Euro sceptics. I also agree that this won’t be a simple case of the left-wing voting to stay in and the right-wing voting to stay out, many on the left will undoubtedly join the sceptics.
Nice Article Oscar. However, I feel you ignore one of the key arguments about immigration and it would be interesting to hear your thoughts. You talk about the British Housing Crisis, but you do not mention some other crucial aspects of the “overcrowded argument”. For example, Primary School Places are prevalent in arguments for leaving the EU. It is estimated by The Local Government Association that 900,000 more children in England over the next decade will require state education, with £12bn required to create those places. In addition, by 2017, it is estimated that half of all English schools will have more pupils than places. Although this is clearly a wider problem than immigration, do you not feel that REDUCED immigration could allow us to maintain a good education for all those who require it.
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Thanks Ed, you’ve brought up an interesting point and I can tell from your impassioned response that you clearly went to a state run school at some point. You said that £12bn pounds is the amount required to create the new required places, but as I’ve already said, immigrants have a positive impact on the British economy (European migrants made a net contribution of £20bn to UK public finances between 2000 and 2011), and will contribute more in taxes to pay for those places then native britains will.
As you’ve said, it is part of a much wider problem, but I do ultimately agree with you that immigration must be managed better than it currently is. However I do not agree, as I suspect you may be implying, that this is a credible reason to leave the EU.
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Most Migrants arriving in the UK have no transferable work skills that could benefit our economy, so they normally become employed in the unskilled work sector, in the process they usurp low paid indigenous unskilled workers thus driving down wages in those sectors. Migrants if single persons normally rent accommodation in the private housing sector thus increasing pressure for such accommodation and driving up rents(supply and demand), if families they normally apply for social housing thus adding pressure on available public sector housing stock, in both cases working for low and sometimes very low wages increases the incident of additional state benefit claims putting greater presssure on public spending.
England has a finite amount of habitable space once we subtract the 30% of English land mass occupied by mountains, lakes, rivers, canals, resourvoirs, roads, railways, airports seaports, industrial areas, farmlands and greenbelt areas, which means that out of the 130,279 square kilometres of England only 91,195 are fit for habitation for the 55,000,000 residents of England which equates to a population density of 603 per km2, whereas our nearest European neighbour France has a population density of just 117 per km2.
So as the UK is the most populace country in Europe migration is a negative influence on our nation.
“Most Migrants arriving in the UK have no transferable work skills” I don’t have the time or resources to verify this and so I’d be interested to know where you got this ‘fact’ from.
“they usurp low paid indigenous unskilled workers”- No, they do not.
Leading economist Jonathan Portes, head of the National Institute for Economic and Social Research, said: “EU migrants don’t appear to have a negative impact on the employment prospects of natives – several different studies have failed to show any link.
“thus driving down wages in those sectors” Its not really that simple.
“However, there is some evidence that migration, while having some positive impact on wages overall, might have a small negative impact for the low-paid.
“But these impacts appear quite small. Other factors, like general labour market developments or minimum wage, appear to be considerably more important.”
Again I don’t have the time or resources to verify the specific ‘facts’ behind your arguments regarding housing but I have already addressed it generally and identified it as a much larger issue.
I don’t really understand your argument about space. Are you trying to suggest that we’re going to run out?
This article highlights the rail-roading of the immigration debate by all of those politicians and media outlets who have no respect for the idea of a democratic mandate.
The biggest problem with the above article and associated arguments is that there does not need to be any major monetary costs or benefits to the issue of immigration or mass immigration for public opposition to it to be valid or invalid.
I think I speak for a very large portion of the population when I say this.
Who gives a stuff about the costs and benefits? Most of us are just pissed off by the sheer numbers of people coming into the country.
Foreign people. The sheer numbers. That is the problem. Its not particular nice to have to see or experience. It has p*ssed enough people off now that they want something done about it.
That is enough of a reason for parliamentary action. Monetary costs and benefits need not enter into it at all.
The concerted effort by ‘plastic democratic’ parliamentarians just highlights the contempt of those politicians for the general public and the idea of popular will.
Exactly how the labour party can still call themselves such is beyond me. Personally, I would prefer to see them adopt a new name derived from the words ‘cosmopolitan’, ‘elite’, ‘hipster jet-set’.
I find your unapologetic xenophobia disturbing. I think the point you raise about politicians ignoring such views interesting, but that does not give credibility to your views.
I think the recent issue with Sports Direct, along with the more recent research emanating from the Bank Of England both beg to differ with you RE: wage compression and jobs.
Your argument sounds a lot like denial and/or wishful thinking.