Jonathan has already mentioned yesterday’s Fiscal Sustainability Report from the Office of Budgetary Responsibility. He appears to welcome mass migration both now and as an inevitable part of our future. Perhaps I could put a dissenting view?
Migration itself can be a good thing. But mass migration (in the numbers it has happened in recent years in Britain and many other Western countries) is a bad thing. It strains our welfare systems, encourages people to ghetto-ise rather than assimilate and creates not so much a multi-racial society as a country made up of different mono-cultural centres. It causes a breakdown in trust both between and among communities, and erodes the possibility of any collective history or common culture.
Of course the transformation of our country by mass migration is something that nobody ever asked for (indeed it was done in the face of opposition from the majority of the population). Yet still people create new reasons for explaining why it must be good for us. It used to be said that Britain needed mass immigration because we had a declining population. We did not, but we had mass immigration anyway. It used to be said that we needed it because we needed skilled labour. The result was that almost every job created in Britain in the last two decades went to foreign-born workers, then the term ‘skilled worker’ was allowed to apply to anyone at all and before long we all got used to the idea that products of Britain’s education system (a fifth of whom leave as functional illiterates) are not able to be trained for anything much other than life on welfare.
The latest excuse for why we need mass migration is that we are all going to live longer.
The central claim in the OBR report is that 17 per cent of the UK population is currently aged 65 or older. By 2061 that figure could be as high as 26 per cent. There are many ways to deal with this. But why should the only possibility for heading off what Martin Amis once referred to as a ‘silver tsunami’ be to import large numbers of immigrants?
Not the least of the flaws in the argument is the unfortunate fact that migrants grow old too. So they, in turn, also need to be looked after as they get older by a yet larger number of migrants. This model of society is like a pyramid which requires an ever larger base to cover for the ever-larger weight at its top. It is a completely unsustainable model.
To sum up: there is undoubtedly going to be a challenge in the next few decades as the dependency ratio in the UK of working-age adult to retiree narrows yet further.
One answer to this is to bring more and more people into the country until there is nowhere to move and we abandon the idea of having any right to exist as a nation. The upside is that we might still be able to retire at 65 with a modest pension plan.
But another solution might include trying to wean ourselves off a dependence on mass migration and down to a level of manageable migration. Among other things we might help to do this by:
1) Educating our young people to a standard that allows them to perform most if not all jobs that need doing.
2) Accept that the next generation will have a lower standard of care in later life than this one enjoys.
3) Accept that old people will have to pay their way more than the current generation expects.
4) Accept that the retirement age is going to have to keep rising slowly as life-expectancy rises.
Anyhow — it’s just a thought. And a reminder that not everything is inevitable.