Socialist Worker

Playing the numbers game with immigration

Published Tue 9 Sep 2008
Issue No. 2118

“I’ll swap you one pensioner retiring to the Costa del Sol for one midwife from Nigeria.”

This is not some playground game, it’s the proposal from a cross-party group on immigration jointly chaired by former Labour and Tory Ministers Frank Field and Nicholas Soames.

They propose in a report published earlier this week that migrant workers from outside the EU should only be allowed into Britain in proportion to those who migrate.

It also demands that migrants be forced to quit after working just four years, unless they prove “exceptional”.

The report claims it wants “balanced migration”. In reality it is pandering to a sustained campaign by right wing newspapers, spearheaded by the Daily Mail.

The committee lists skilled workers it wants to bring to Britain for four years – engineers, surveyors, skilled chefs, and construction project managers.

It proposes that maths and science teachers should be allowed in, but not teachers of other subjects.

Midwives are not on its list, despite the Royal College of Midwives warning that the NHS urgently needs another 5,000.

Inaccurate

Field has used scaremongering figures to claim that in less than 25 years Britain’s population will grow by seven million, and this will “require building seven new Birminghams”.

This claim is based on highly debatable projections for population growth which have in the past proved inaccurate.

In 1965 the government told us that by 2000 the population Britain would be 75 million. In reality population grew to just 59 million.

But this numbers game itself is based on false premise that migrants are a drain on resources – they are not.

Migrants are not to blame for the closure of accident and emergency services announced last week at hospitals up and down Britain.

In fact, the NHS could not survive without foreign-trained doctors, midwives and nurses.

Field’s report was greeted by headlines saying that opinion polls show overwhelming support for its recommendations.

Some people might support curbing immigration if they think swathes of the country will be concreted over to make new cities.

But many will think again if they thought restricting immigration would mean removing the Nigerian midwife who delivered their child, the South African teacher in their children’s classroom, or the Polish worker looking after their granny in a care home.


Article information

News
Tue 9 Sep 2008, 18:55 BST
Issue No. 2118
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