“Immigrants cause job losses? Like ice-cream brings sharks
To claim the statistics show that foreigners are to blame for rising unemployment is a leap of xenophobic bad faith.”
The imbalance of the facts presented by the majority of the UK media, regarding immigration, make rational debate nearly impossible. They are often coloured by the media corporations, publishing the news and invite division and derision, resulting in a public so divided about the what the facts ARE, that the interpretation of that news becomes warped beyond recognition. The facts are selected poorly with the specific intent to stir up fear and sell more papers. It matters that the stories printed foster xenophobia and resentment, because the sad fact of the matter is, we are living in a culture in which bad news sells fastest. We have been conditioned to expect the worst from people. The tabloids cynically sneer and mock those who have done well ‘to bring them down a peg or two’ (sarcasm alert) because of course we can’t have people feeling proud of themselves for their achievements can we. We are living in an Orwell’s Eurasia versus Oceania, and it is entirely of our own making. While the media are scaring the public about the government having their eye on every move we make and rewarding laziness, we are playing (or paying) right into their hands.
A Mori poll taken in 2002 showed that nearly 1/3 of the UK population believed that there was too much immigration into the UK and that residents born outside the UK held 24% of the job market. The reality of the fact was that this was only 4%. These polls reflect a stark contrast between the level of concern between the issues of immigration and unemployment.
- Q7 What would you say is the most important issue facing Britain today?
- Q8 What do you see as other important issues facing Britain today?
January 8 16 3 9 February 8 18 2 10 March 5 15 4 8 April 5 13 3 8 May 20 39 3 6 June 14 32 4 10 July 10 22 3 10 August –
September 9 21 3 8 October 6 18 3 10 November 8 18 3 9 December 14 23 4 9
With the right-wing press shouting that immigrants are flooding into the UK, I am really not surprised at this. Last week, the National Office of Statistics released a PDF of the most recent employment figures, showing a rise of 188,000 between April and June 2010 compared with the period between January and March. 41000 of those were UK born Residents and 145000 were born outside the UK. I am left wondering what happened to 2000 people.
Mr Matthew Elliot of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, deemed that the reason for the flood of immigrants is that our benefits system is overly generous and gives not incentive for people to work. The Romanian President has apparently congratulated his own citizens for coming to the UK to do work that Britons are supposedly too lazy to do. I for one, don’t think it is acceptable that the right-wing gutter-press xenophobia is not only negatively affecting the popular attitude of UK toward those who for one reason or another have no job but it seems to be creeping past our own shores. We are being portrayed as pampered, work-shy malingerers to the rest of the world. These papers don’t know individual circumstances and, as I have said before, it is easy to poor scorn on those we have not taken the trouble to know.
MigrationwatchUK, is another right-wing anti-immigration pressure group who are one step away from the BNP. It was founded by Sir Andrew Green, who was quoted, in the article by the Express, as saying that the rise to 12.5% last year, from 7.5% in the UK in 1997 (over 12 years), of non British-born workers is “astonishingly high” and claims that this is proof that immigration adversely affects British workers. Not only is this untrue but is also racist and is being used to fuel the animosity toward immigrants to our country during an already turbulent economic period. Claiming, however indirectly, that immigrants to this country are stealing the jobs that should be given to British born residents, simply on that merit, is nothing short of xenophobic scaremongering.
The language of the daily mail also implies that the legal migrants to the UK are ‘taking’ jobs that should be prioritised tp British-born residents and only if they absolutely cannot find a ‘Briton’ to fill the role, should employer’s look for overseas applicants. Minister Damien Green wants to see UK immigration levels reduced to the level of the 1990s but the limit on the migrants from outside the EU will make not a jot of difference and as such is yet another Tory non-promise. MigrationwatchUK claim that immigration has damaged the employment prospects of UK born, residents. I do not see how the place of somebody’s birth will affect their ability to do a job. It of course claimed that figures showed that the areas with the highest levels of immigration also had the highest levels of unemployment. This is like comparing levels of global warming with the number of pirates again. When will people learn that statistics can be applied to prove just about anything you want and there for cannot be relied upon as a sole source of evidence?
The Daily Telegraph are also using an aggressive tone in their headlines, claiming record numbers of non-UK citizens gained lawful employment in Britain between April and June this year. Senior MPs are in very real danger of igniting some severe social problems and a row over ‘British jobs for British people’. It gave a figure of 3.85 million people working in the UK who are not British citizens but migrant workers. What the papers fail to mention is that 1.5 million of those were actually UK Nationals. They also fail to pass on the fact that although the figures they pass along are based on place of birth rather than nationality which gives a less news-worthy idea of the actual statistics. My husband, for instance is a passport holding British citizen who was born in Zimbabwe and has been living in the UK since 2004. That means he is entitled to live and work in this country.
The papers are selectively using statistics and deliberately obfuscating the facts by omission of the whole story in order to back up various claims and force hateful ideological changes by influencing public opinion. What is worse is that these claims, rather than being direct and verifiable, are couched generalisations. These are;
1. The majority of ‘new’ positions are given to ‘foreigners’, rather than ‘British’ citizens. (WRONG)
This is an overly simplified interpretation of the statistics. The papers are deliberately leading people to believe an incorrect image of the situation. This is NOT what the figures actually tell us as there were not 101,000 new jobs created in the period between April and June. A more realistic estimate would be hundreds of thousands if not millions of jobs were actually created while thousands disappeared. It also does not take job changes into account and millions were advertised. Whether a vacancy is new or not is largely irrelevant, it just matters that it is available. The employment rates have indeed increased for non-UK Nationals but only very slightly. Many migrants who lost their jobs may have returned home, migrants are less likely to come to the UK when they don’t have a job to go to and immigration laws for people from outside the EU already vastly favour those who already have employment or are likely to be easily employable. The net effect will appear as an increase in the employment rate in migrant workers. Migrants are also less likely to be settled and can therefore relocate more easily to areas with higher rates of employment and away from those areas where there are job shortages. The type of occupations are also glaringly obvious. While the Telegraph speculated that the majority were in IT, it give a mere passing reference to catering staff, and completely overlooked the people who clean up our mess as if cleaning did not even qualify as employment worth mentioning. (See point 3)
Employment of non-UK nationals in the UK rose only very slightly between the 2nd quarter of 2009 and the first quarter of 2010 (0.6%) while the rate of employment of UK nationals fell by only 0.4% over the same period. The number of UK nationals actually rose.
2. Immigration has reduced employment, forced rates of pay down, and increased unemployment for ‘British’ citizens. (SCAREMONGERING)
The employment statistics themselves are useless for determining causal relationships between the differing rates. While it is true that the rate of immigration COULD adversely have affected the employment market, that doesn’t prove that it has. The second possibility is that migrant workers are filling roles which British not qualified to fill and would otherwise not exist in the UK; in other words, migration has had NO adverse affect on employment. Thirdly migrant fill roles which allow UK firms to expand and consequently take on more staff. Unemployment statistics generally come out on a monthly basis so this issue is a regular bug-bear of mine. The papers report that ‘immigrants’ take the vast majority of new UK jobs, without qualification, and leave the readers to fear the worst.
The report which MigrationwatchUK purports to show that immigration has had a negative effect on our employment prospects for ‘British’ workers. It shows no such thing. Their report merely showed a comparison between the 50 local authorities with the highest levels of net international migration between 2003 and 2009, and the 50 with the lowest. The figures can only be taken at face value. The second part of their report looks specifically at London boroughs controlling for only a few factors such as the difference between rural and urban areas. It also looks at the relationship between international migration between 2003 and 2009 and employment rates. They have used scatter charts in an attempt to demonstrate a ‘distinct linkage’ between immigration and unemployment. They have used this dubious correlation to justify their false claims. It does not give a causation and it is about time that the population of this country learned to tell the difference.
They would have needed to have invested themselves in a much deeper study in order to really prove that immigration was a cause of ‘waning’ employment among UK-born residents and UK nationals and controls for a range of other factors and establish some meaningful data. I am glad we do not relay on Agencies such as MigrationwatchUK to dictate our foreign policy. Real investigations have been undertaken and have found that there is either no or very little connection between immigration and unemployment. The claims of MigrationwwatchUK are definitely NOT supported by the evidence.
3. The difference between British and migrant workers is that the british are work-shy spongers who would rather live off benefits than work. (GROSSLY INSULTING.)
This claim changes the ‘problem of high’ immigration from being a cause to being a symptom of an existing employment problem. It shifts the blame from the hard-working migrant to the ‘lazy Briton’. While it is certainly the case that most migrants have not the same access to benefits and tax allowances that other residents have and this may be part of the reason why migrants are more willing to accept work that other Britons may turn down particularly in jobs that are temporary, part-time or low-payed. It brings up the rehearsed clichés of the welfare system being overly generous’, ‘poverty-traps’, ‘insecurity’, timescales for returning to work being too long, the need for specific ‘job-creation’, but these issues will take up a post of their own in the effort to de-bunk them. Welfare reform is not a simple issue and it both trouble saddens me that it is being used to justify some extremely distasteful ideas and attitudes.
- There are a number of key factors which affect employability.
- Migrants in general, tend to be more highly educated, and skilled than UK nationals who are unemployed or ‘economically inactive’.
- Mobility and receptiveness to relocation.
- High proportion of migrants are young adults without attachments or families, which mean their financial outgoings are not as demanding and do not have the need to arrange childcare in order to work.
Welfare reform is not going to be the quick fix for unemployment problems that both the Conservative Party and the right-wing media make it out to be because as soon as that patch job is seen to not work, the papers will be all over the politicians blaming them for a new problem that the media actually had a hand in creating. This is a reflection of a political attitude which is poisoning one portion of the UK against the other: in other words DIVIDE & RULE. Between them they are keeping the population so off-balance and inviting resentment between social groups, that we have lost track of who the culprit really is. It is not the migrant who wants to work and improve their lives, and it is not the Briton who is for whatever reason stuck in their own circumstances. It is the politician who has the nerve to claim mortgage repayments renovations of a family home as an ‘expense’. It is the large employer who would happily pay as little as possible without fear of recrimination knowing that they pay their employees less than the cost of living and they will take on whoever will work for that little.
4. The government must reduce immigration in order to get ‘British’ people back to work. (RACIST.)
The cap on non EU migrants is ineffective as 77,000 of those accepting jobs in the UK were from within the EU. Of that figure 38000 came from India. Intra-company transfers are excluded from the existing points based scheme brought in by the Labour government. This exclusion has attracted criticism as it is seen as a loophole, allowing companies to bring in cheaper labour. The ONS has not provided a breakdown of the types of jobs offered and accepted by migrant workers, either, but it is suspected that a large proportion are IT-based jobs. James Clappison MP (senior Tory backbencher), assumes that British companies are not looking for staff within Britain and calls the figures ‘astounding’.
This is again blaming the benefit system for creating an attitude to working vs handouts which doesn’t even exist, at least not on the tragic proportions that the right-wing press portray it as. It invokes resentment and hostility where there should be empathy and assistance. Reducing benefits will not get people back to work. It is a short-term ideal which will ultimately do more harm than good.
It has already been proven that the Regan/Thatcher idea of trickle-down economics doesn’t work as there is absolutely NO accountability for where those profits go. Where big corporations have tax exemptions in lieu of massive profit margin, who will stop them from just giving their board members huge pay rises? How will their particular product or service benefit the population as a whole?
Right now, we are stuck with Conservative-Liberal coalition Government who are making cut after cut to benefits and other public services they claim are non-essential, have already overturned the Human Rights act, put an end to the child trust fund scheme and are busily trying to privatise our schools, rather than raise taxes from those who can afford to pay them. They have made no sign of reclaiming the funds leant to the banks which are now showing profits. Instead they are increasing the cost of living to those who can least afford it. It is a truly horrifying idea that there are still people in this country that would have the minimum wage abolished and that companies should be allowed to pay their staff as little as possible regardless of the cost of living. I can fully understand why people resent their taxes being spent on what the media and right-wing parties present as ‘long term benefit spongers’ and the lazy Britons who won’t do anything to find a job because they ‘are better off on benefits’ but having tried living on the £60 a week job-seekers allowance when I was made redundant, Welfare benefits are NOT ridiculously high; the minimum wage is ridiculously low and the answer is not to cut benefits but to make the minimum wage enough to live on without having to claim benefits at all.
Ordinary people should not have to work two or three jobs just to make ends meet. We work to live, not the other way around and he benefits system is a safety net for those who hit hard times. It is not meant to be used as a long term solution and I do believe that strict time limits should be implemented for particular benefits in particularly for Housing and unemployment. This is why I support Ed Milliband’s campaign for a living wage. The express has also sneeringly stated that legal migrants are entitled to the same benefits as British-born workers. This is true but it doesn’t take a moment to find out the actual rules on tax and benefits for migrant workers. Just to clear the issue up;
The rules are complicated and can be different for different groups and nationalities. Foreign nationals are not entitled to benefits when they are seeking work, unless they have already worked here and are temporarily unemployed. Citizens from the A8 countries for example, become entitled to benefits and housing if they are self-employed here, or if they have a job and register with the Workers Registration Scheme. Once they have been working lawfully for a year they no longer have to register when changing jobs and they become eligible for benefits when temporarily out of work as well as when working.
They are not entitled to any benefits.
They are not entitled to any benefits.
The claims of the news papers do not stand up to the evidence and nor do the selective findings of the pressure groups. Mori surveys only reflect the current opinions which we have already demonstrated can be easily manipulated by the media. It is not an issue to be complacent about, though. The employment rates of UK Nationals have not risen significantly enough that we should ignore the issues and barriers to work that I have shown. Immigration is not harming the UK or the British work force and while EU citizens have the right to relocate and work here it is worth remembering that we also have the right to relocate ourselves. The fact the we choose not to should not be borne out on those who wish to work here. The government intends to place a cap on skilled labour entering this country from outside the EU which is unlikely to have any long-term beneficial effects for us and instead divert those skills, that could so easily be passed on here, to other EU or international nations.
It is backward logic to link our unemployment issues with immigration and declare that the minor correlation proves causation. The coalition is using unemployment as a justification to deal with what they see as a difficult issue and it is morally wrong. History should have taught us these lessons over and over but we seem to keep repeating the same mistakes and expecting a different result every time. (That is the definition of insanity by the way.) It is morally wrong to socially engineer a worker shortage by artificially placing a limit on those who wish only to improve the standards of their lives by working here, if only for a short time. How about we begin to suggest that the UK residents follow suit and find work overseas rather than whinge about ‘immigrants stealing jobs.’ First of all we need to stop swallowing the couched racism of the gutter-press and start doing our own homework.
Sources mentioned by Guardian (Main source in bold)