Friday, July 01, 2016

Immigration is not your enemy - bad handling of the impact is

I rarely comment on global politics on this blog - but the UK's vote to leave the European Union - marginal though it may be - prompts me to try to rebalance how the mainstream media is characterizing this event.
TV and press reporting is consistently telling us that the key reason behind the Brexit vote were concerns about immigration.
The concerns about immigration that people had were NOT about immigration itself, but about the impact of it on their lives. These are different and distinct things over which there are separate controls and separate controllers.
Freedom of Movement does mean people can come to the UK to work. In good times the net flow will be inbound. All these people arrive, work - and pay taxes.
The local government - in our case the UK - then decides how to spend that cash.
The decisions our government has made in how to deal with the impact of immigration are pretty much (barring a few language issues) exactly those they would have to deal with if we had a zero immigration policy but the native population boomed. New schools, additional hospital beds, ensuring there are job opportunities for all, infrastructure is kept up to pace..
. Freedom of movement means more people can come to help service those who are already here, if you have shortages in, say, science and maths teachers...
The Remain campaign was led by a PM and Chancellor who were themselves responsible for the inadequate response to the impact of a growing population. That was not a reality they could dare to confront in the campaign. But it's one Labour should of.
But from now on in it's essential that the opposition is heard - that immigration (and freedom of movement) is not the enemy - bad handling of the impact is.
Those responsible sit on local councils (having much to do with resourcing on the ground) and central government (having everything to do with providing enough for local councils to do something positive with).
We've punished the wrong institution for entirely the wrong reason.

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The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?