Thursday 7 December 2023

Why concentrate only on one side of the equation?


The government claims that its proposed changes to the rules for legal migration into the UK will reduce the net total by around 300,000 per year. If they fully implement what they have announced, that may well turn out to be an underestimate; their numbers are based on the English exceptionalist belief that people are so keen to come to the UK that people will leave their families behind and come to take up low-paid jobs as carers, and that the brightest and best post-graduate researchers will similarly abandon their families and come to the UK alone, at least until their salary crosses an arbitrary threshold. It’s a big ‘if’ though; and the chances of the Tories fully implementing the plans are vanishingly small, not least because it will take time to draw up the detailed rules and procedures and process all those applications already in the system whilst the clock is already ticking down to the next election.

However, that isn’t the only reason for doubting whether they will ever do more than talk about the plans. Assuming that potential immigrants will happily leave their families behind as well as paying increased fees for the privilege of coming to the UK is only one of the silly assumptions that they’re making. They are also assuming that the electors whose votes they are chasing would either prefer to see the social care system go into meltdown than have immigrants working in it or else don’t understand the degree of dependency on those immigrants. The reality will become obvious at some point. It’s not a crisis which would hit social care overnight, of course – but like Hemingway’s description of bankruptcy, it’s something which will happen in two ways: slowly, and then suddenly. Perhaps there are some people who really would be happy with that – but it’s unlikely that those whose relatives are dependent on that care will agree. And as things slowly get worse, the government will inevitably be tempted to reverse its policy, albeit as quietly as possible. Hopefully before the collapse enters the sudden phase.

Labour’s response has been little better. Equally convinced that the population are demanding an immediate halt to immigration, they have come up with an entirely arbitrary proposal to cap net migration at 200,000. Why 200,000? Why not 250,000? Why not 150,000? These are not questions to which they have any sort of rational answer; they’ve simply produced a figure from thin air which they think might be acceptable to the racists and xenophobes whose votes they seek, with no real thought given to the implications. Yet still they are likely to win the next election. Suella Braverman has said this week that the Tories face “electoral oblivion” if the government’s Rwanda legislation fails. In a rare moment of consensus, I agree. But then I’d also agree if she’d said that the Tories face “electoral oblivion” if the government’s Rwanda legislation succeeds. Saying that the Tories face electoral oblivion is one of those sentences which currently works perfectly well without any qualifying clause.

There is one policy change that they could make which might actually get the net migration figure down without the performative cruelty which they both seem to think is essential politics. Mathematically, in any ‘net’ figure there are two factors involved – so increasing emigration would have the same effect on the net numbers as decreasing immigration. It’s unfortunate that they shot themselves in both feet by removing freedom of movement, but if the financial incentives were good enough, there might be quite a few people willing to help the government out of its troubles by emigrating. It’s not a solution that’s ever likely to occur to them though: from their exceptionalist position, they would never understand why anyone would ever want to escape the dysfunctional rogue state which the UK has become.


dafis said...

I just don't get why immigrants want to come here. The jobs on offer are at the crappy end of the spectrum. Rates of pay for people with expertise are generally low-ish other than in the financial /scammer sector where the national and international greed and cravings for big returns for little or no effort continues to suck money into the City and its institutions.

NHS could be recruiting foreign talent for decades as it has never got to grips with having a structured approach to planning its people needs and sourcing it through a mix of recruitment and training. I keep hearing anecdotes about Med schools turning down pupils from state schools despite excellent A level results. They should be recruiting people with a proven capacity for learning and adapting to the work environment. Adopting higher level apprenticeships - an approach favoured by some of the smarter industries - could also help. It would mean paying a modest salary/allowance while training but the mix of formal education and workplace exposure would pay dividends longer term. But this should have happened 10-20 years ago.

So I remain puzzled why so many wish to end up in the UK and mostly in the stinking big cities.

Pete said...

I'd like to mention this from a personal perspective.
In 2016 I retired and, as planned returned to Wales. My wife and I had been married 28 years at that time and had two sons, both with U.K. passports. After an initial disaster, she was deported for 10 months but I won't go into that, she is now on the 5 year track to permanent residency. It has been necessary to show an income of at least 18,600 GBP per year to prove she would not be a burden on the state. Her final application, due in June 2024 falls under new rules.
So far we have done everything legally and above board with the sole intention of enjoying our later years together in the land of my birth.
The rules have been changed and instead of the 18,600 it ids now to become 38,000 per year. Previously we were comfortably in compliance now I don't know if we can make it.
The Torys don't just screw asylum seekers.