Coffee House

Cameron’s immigration problem

25 August 2011

1:34 PM

25 August 2011

1:34 PM

Poor David Cameron. He pledged to reduce annual net migration from the current 240,000 to the "tens of thousands" and what happens? Net migration in 2010 was up by 21 per cent from 2009. In a way, he deserves the flak he’ll get because this was a daft target that could
only have been set by someone poorly-advised about the nature of immigration. And the target allows success to be presented as failure.

The inflow to Britain has stayed steady (see graph below), but the number emigrating from Britain has fallen. This is a compliment to Cameron: the most sincere vote people can make is with their
feet. And in our globalised world, countries have to compete for people. Britain is as attractive as ever it was to immigrants, and more natives are staying put.  

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Cameron should only ever have pledged to stem the inflow. Governments of free countries can’t stop people emigrating, so the net figure, ie the inflow minus the outflow, is not something he could
or should have given a pledge on. In my view, Britain’s immigration inflow is driven primarily by a demand for migrant labour (foreign nationals account for almost the entire employment rise under Cameron so far). This can only be
changed by radical labour market reform (tax, regulation etc), which I don’t expect to happen. So I’d say Cameron has a snowball’s chance in hell of meeting his target. Today’s figures will be the
first of many over the next four years making that point.

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Show comments
  • Walter Barfoot

    ulian F – immigrants (non-EU) do not have access to the welfare state immediately. Not entirely. I know of two examples who emigrated without jobs. One American, one Kiwi both of whom relied on their savings until they secured positions here. Neither of which were entitled to benefits while looking for jobs.

    Becuse they were white.

  • Stephanie Tohill

    “Of 575,000 immigrants in 2010, only 110,000 arrived to take up a definite job. 228,000 came to study. That leaves 237,000 who will presumably be reliant on the welfare state in some form”

    Julian F – immigrants (non-EU) do not have access to the welfare state immediately. Not entirely. I know of two examples who emigrated without jobs. One American, one Kiwi both of whom relied on their savings until they secured positions here. Neither of which were entitled to benefits while looking for jobs.

    EU citizens do not need to secure jobs prior to arrival nor do those on working holiday visas.

    A tiny bit of research would have told you this.

    So it’s unlikely that a large number (if any) of the 237,000 you mention will be on benefits. Also Britain is not the only country to allow some people (depending on your class of visa) to immigrate without a job. Australia has the same in their highest class of visa typically the skilled migrant visas (state sponsored or independant.)

  • Framer

    Cameron picked on the net figure as the BBC kept saying you are taking no account of the number leaving. Of course the BBC are now desperately reporting it is the declining number emigrating that is the relevant figure when it is in reality the incoming figure that matters and always was.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    In my view, Britain’s immigration inflow is driven primarily by free housing, health, generous benefits, the ‘right to family life’, and the political class’ hatred of its own population.

    In my view anyone who argues otherwise is a dissembling facilitator of this process.

  • Julian F

    Simon, thanks for pointing me towards the Evan Davis post. I’m struck by this comment:

    “In practice, we do not know whether the labour market effect of any particular new migrant employee is to create many other jobs, to create the one job they themselves fill, or to create no jobs at all, and hence to displace one domestic worker.”

    I can’t see any compelling argument that immigrants create as many jobs as they fill – each new entrant to the jobs market-place does not automatically create new jobs, almost by definition. If they did, there would be no such thing as unemployment.

    Evan Davis doen’t actually present any arguments for his preferred assumption that immigrants create as many jobs as they fill. IN fact, he admits that it is a “simplifying assumption”. And he passes no comment on the effect of a large immigrant population on benefits.

  • Julian F

    Simon, I accept the argument that immigration may have some positive impact on employment opportuinities, but my point remains an arithmetical one and, hence, unarguable.

    Let us strip it down to a very easy example. At time T1, an economy has 2000 jobs and a workforce (indigenous population plus former immigrants, it doesn’t matter) of 2200. So, there is unemployment of 200 amongst the population before the arrival of immigrants AFTER time T1.

    Between time T1 and time T2, 50 of the previous 2000 jobs become vacant. In addition, 100 entirely new jobs become available. This increase in jobs MAY have as one of its functors the demand created by immigrants who arrived prior to T1 – good, but my point is about what happens between time T1 and time T2.

    So, at T2, there are 2100 jobs available – job “creation” of 100.

    Between T1 and T2, the non-immigrant workforce increases by 100, as it happens. So, without any immigration between T1 and T2, the total number of unemployed would remain at 200.

    If between T1 and T2, 100 immigrants enter the workforce and take all of the net jobs “created”, there will be 300 of the T1 population unemployed come T2, ceteris paribus (I am ignoring the effect of emigration and other factors for the sake of this simple example).

    Now, it MAY be that SOME of the jobs created between T1 and T2 are in anticipation of the arrival of 100 new immigrants and the additional demand they will create, but it almost certainly will NOT be the case that ALL of those 100 jobs is accounted for by the migration FLOW (not stock, note – this is a point about dynamics, passing no judgement on what has happened before T1).

    I think most people will see that the net effect of the description above is probably not good for the T1 population.

    Add to that – in our fictional example – another 100 immigrants who arrive as “benefit-seekers” and the situation is, as I noted initially, neither encouraging nor sustainable.

    This is not to decry immigration as a concept – as a libertarian, I’m all for it, in fact. But it is a simple – and, I repeat, unarguable – comment on the numbers.

    You will note I have not made many “assumptions” – my comment is based on the ONS data and Fraser’s comment in the original post that most of the jobs created since Cameron became PM have gone to foreign nationals (one assumption here – that those “foregn nationals” are new immigrants). There is also a shortfall between the numbers arriving for employment/education and the total arrivals, SOME proportion of which I have assumed will end up reliant on the welfare state: not an unreasonable assumption, I would suggest.

    I think our point of difference is that you are thinking about the positive overall impact of the STOCK of immigrants and I am commenting on the impact of the FLOW within a defined period.

  • Edward McLaughlin

    Simon Stephenson

    After all of the pontificating around the finer points of new jobs and existing jobs and the dangers of generalisation, we are left with the ludicrous situation in which a minibus full of east European builders pull up at a site, one gets out to speak to the site manager to offer the first week’s labour free as a sample, after that they will work for just over half of what is paid to the current workers.

    Sixty workers were finished at a week’s notice. My nephew was one of them. This happened in January this year.

    How many times, I wonder, is this replicated across the country? And why is our government, repeatedly applauded in the pages of the Spectator, facilitating such?

  • Simon Stephenson.

    Julian F

    No.

    Basic maths only if the total number of jobs available is the same whether or not there is immigration. In other words, that the immigrants’ entry into the economy has no effect on the overall demand for labour, only its supply. This is an example of the Lump of Labour Fallacy, explained pretty well by Evan Davis, here:-

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/evandavis/2007/11/05/

  • Julian F

    “Not correct. Not all immigrants have found places in newly-created jobs. Some of them have replaced people in existing and continuing jobs – either through retirement, resignation or some other sort of departure.

    It’s highly likely, I’d say, that the vast majority of newly-created jobs have been filled by the indigenous population – not by new immigrants.”

    It’s the net effect that matters, not whether the jobs filled by immigrants are specifically new or not. Let’s take it step by step, with a fictional illustration. In one year, 100 “new” jobs, that did not exist previously, are created At the same time, 50 “old” jobs become vacant. In total, that means 150 vacancies are created, but only 100 additional employment opportunities arise jobs (this is what most people mean by “created”). If the newly arrived immigrants take up 25 of the “old” jobs and 75 of the “new” jobs, the situation faced by the population as it stood prior to the arrival of the new immigrants is exactly the same as if they took up 100 entirely new posts. There are 100 fewer opportunities for employment compared to the situation if those immigrants had not entered the country. Basic maths.

  • Ron Todd

    Dennis Churchill

    You are right about the courts. Unfortunatly we have the type of judiciary and politicians that will make a intallectual rather than a practical interpetation of the law. The only solution is to change the law to one that the judges can only implement one way.

    To do that we need to regain control over our own laws.

  • Rhoda Klapp

    Why Simon, if everyone followed your precepts it would do away completely with argument by blind assertion, and then where would we be?

    (As close as Rhoda gets to an apology)

  • Simon Stephenson.

    Rhoda Klapp : 2.57pm

    If I’m right in thinking that I’m one of the people whose “point doesn’t stand”, can I ask exactly what point this is? I’ve deliberately attempted not to judgementalise about any aspect of immigration, just to point out the shakiness of the case being presented for it being unquestionably detrimental to the position of the indigenous population in the UK jobs market. I really don’t have enough information to conclude whether it is net-good or net-bad, but then, equally, neither do any of the other commenters on this thread.

    I see that my “point” is no more than that one shouldn’t assert something as a fact, or an unqualified truth, when it’s no more than a conclusion which depends upon one or more assumptions, or which has been reached via fallacious reasoning. If you believe that this point “doesn’t stand” then I’m sorry, but I disagree.

  • Rhoda Klapp

    Look, neither of your points stand, because neither of you know or can find out the truth.

    Plainly some immigrants are good for the country, financially, and some are not. What remains to debate is whether the effect of mass immigration as a whole is overall advantageous or not. I’d say we should have had that debate, but we the people were ploughed under by the political class deciding for us, with one side wanting dependent voters, and the other cheap labour. Note that we are not really able to have the debate even now, lest the pols have to actually fix it, which they are both unable and unwilling to do.

    And what gets me about Cameron is that he knows fine well that he cannot do anything, but speaks as if he can. He is a dissembler. He cannot be trusted. And once you lose trust, it is damn difficult to regain.

  • Simon Stephenson.

    Julian F : 12.23pm

    Let’s have another go:-

    “I think we may conclude with reasonable certainty that immigration has NOT created ALL the new jobs in the past year.”

    Yes, correct.

    You may wish to take into account, however, how many existing jobs have remained in being only because of the demand created by immigrants.

    In other words, to see the whole picture, you have to look not only at the new jobs, but the existing ones, as well.

    “But it has certainly filled all of them – on the basis of official statistics.”

    Not correct. Not all immigrants have found places in newly-created jobs. Some of them have replaced people in existing and continuing jobs – either through retirement, resignation or some other sort of departure.

    It’s highly likely, I’d say, that the vast majority of newly-created jobs have been filled by the indigenous population – not by new immigrants.

    “So, net-net, my point still stands and is basically unarguable.”

    No, your point doesn’t stand, and is almost certainly mistaken. It is built round the fallacy that the introduction of immigrant labour has no effect on the economy other than to fill jobs that would otherwise be provided for, and taken up by, the indigenous population.

  • Grumpy Optimist

    I know – lets make this country such a shit hole that 500000 emigrate every year. Then we will have reached the Tory target.

  • Simon Stephenson.

    Julian F : 12.23pm

    “I think we may conclude with reasonable certainty that immigration has NOT created ALL the new jobs in the past year. But it has certainly filled all of them – on the basis of official statistics. So, net-net, my point still stands and is basically unarguable.

  • Linda Jones

    Nelson Fraser findings fail to show that the real increase in net migration is citizen of new EU member. This is not David Cameron’s fault as there is little or nothing Britain can do if we are still member of the EU. Mind you, non EU figures are down either as a result of work permit or other for of settlement migration. Migration should not be Britain headarce but productivity. Revive manufacturing and productive sector of the economy and all other problems would solved. Cameron is doing fine but fraser is misleading.

  • Julian F

    I think we may conclude with reasonable certainty that immigration has NOT created ALL the new jobs in the past year. But it has certainly filled all of them – on the basis of official statistics. So, net-net, my point still stands and is basically unarguable.

  • Simon Stephenson.

    Tom Tom : 9.38pm

    Yes, this is perhaps one example of where the demand created by immigrants is not spread across the indigenous population. But, equally, there are examples where it is. I’m not trying to say that immigration is all-good, just that it’s not all-bad either, and if we continue to form conclusions based upon something having to be classified as eother black or white, we’ll meke an awful lot of bad decisions.

    Ruby Duck : 9.49pm

    Some of them, certainly, in the same way that a similarly numbered group of the indiginous population will “create” such jobs themselves. There will also, I’d argue, be considerable “new” demand created by immigrants for products which are more obviously value-added. I don’t know how much, and neither do you, but to take the stance that immigrants must be pernicious to the indiginous population is just prejudice, not reason.

    daniel maris : 10.22pm

    Poor argument, for you. I’m not claiming immigration to be all-good, or even net-good, just that it hasn’t been established to be all-bad or net-bad either, and those who claim that it has are over-stating their argument either in ignorance or in a need to pander to their prejudices.

    Edward McLaughlin : 10.33pm

    All I’m trying to show is that the problems we have won’t be cured by taking the immigrants away – that bogey-men arguments are usually far more about denial of our own shortcomings than accurate determination of real causes of problems.

    But in a culture which is swamped with artificial and largely unwarranted self-esteem, it’s impossible to see a problem and accept any blame for it – it must be someone else’s fault, irrespective of where the responsibility really lies.

    MairT : 12.24am

    No

    Peter From Maidstone : 10.02am

    “If 1.4 million jobs have been filled by immigrants and migrants then it is reasonable to conclude that at least 25% of these would have been created in any case and could have been filled by English people.”

    It’s not “reasonable” at all. It’s a self-serving assumption selected to fit in nicely with a prejudicial conclusion you’ve already reached. Like, seemingly, the entire population, you’ve started from what you want to be true, and then built an argument round it.

  • Peter From Maidstone

    If 1.4 million jobs have been filled by immigrants and migrants then it is reasonable to conclude that at least 25% of these would have been created in any case and could have been filled by English people.

    Were all of these 1.4 million jobs in the private sector it would disappointing that most have not been filled by English people, but it would be interesting to know how many immigrants and migrants are working in positions paid for by the English tax payer. In such a case not only are we paying for an English person to be unemployed, but we are paying twice for a non-British citizen to make a British citizen unemployed.

    When my father left school in the early 50’s he went to the job centre, he was handed a card, and turned up for work. He wasn’t offered an open-ended benefit system that required only the obviously fraudulent filling in of a form once a fortnight to show that a person was looking for work. He was just given a job.

    When I was last made redundant a couple of years ago I started my own business, which is still operating. Twenty years before when I was made redundant in the last recession I applied for every job going and was offered a job in Toys-R-Us the same day that I was offered a job in the place I ended up working for 18 years. I’d have worked anywhere.

    It is a myth that English people will not work in the jobs that immigrants do. In fact English people are being paid not to work and so make a career from not working. If that was changed then people would work. There is no shame in working in a coffee bar, or doing any work at all. The shame is in not wanting to work. But the state has engineered a system whereby there is no shame in not wanting to work, and indeed a system where many people think it foolish to want to work.

    The wellbeing of our society requires that wanting to work is universally considered normal and honourable and that those who do not want to work are not subsidised. But this also requires a halt to immigration so that British jobs go to British citizens in all but the most unusual of circumstances. It means the explusion of the half a milliom ‘students’ who are not engaged in formal university studies but are registered at the North Peckham International College of Business while working and then disappearing into the population. It means a halt to all immigration from Pakistan, Bangladesh and India, and the strict enforcing of EU rules on travel.

    The EU Law states that there is to be a free movement for trade but not for benefits. Anyone coming to the UK can be required to have full health insurance, anyone coming to the UK can be removed if they are not able to support themselves. The UK does not enforce these EU rules.

  • Peter From Maidstone

    FvH, when I was a teenager, 30 years ago, it was all English people who picked fruit. There is no reason why this should not be the case again.

  • FvH

    But who is going to pick all the asparagus and raspberries if immigrants are sent home?

  • michael

    More of the same… 4 legs good 2 legs bad.

  • ed h

    I rarely bother visiting the Spectator blogs pages these days. This article, which would appear to be a spoof, if it wasn’t written by Fraser Nelson shows how low the magazine has sunk.

    Appalling, verging on treasonous, drivel.

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