A little while ago I thought hate blogs might make an interesting article for someone so, by way of research, I subscribe to a couple of dodgy RSS feeds. I soon found I’d overestimated them all. It would be hard to talk up a threat. Nevertheless, the kind of person who adds the red inked rant, ‘The Left have… made “Fascism” a swear-word’ at the end of their blogposts for months (this is as insightful as harmless John Ray gets) is quite excited by articles like this in the Telegraph.
To be fair, the rather hysterical headline – ‘we just can’t cope’ – is almost certainly the work of a subeditor enforcing the party line than that of the author, the rather unconvincing Professor Robert Rowthorn. Rowthorn begins with the grand claim that, ‘all the research [into the benefits of immigration] suggests that the benefits are either close to zero, or negative’. He’s not looked very far: Professor Peter Spencer’s research suggests immigration drives economic growth.
Oh dear. Perhaps we’re left to pick and choose a professor to suit our prejudices; Robert Rowthorn for the right and Peter Spencer for the left. But perhaps not.
Careful to qualify his words, Professor Rowthorn focuses on a particular kind of immigrant. He is careful to concede that highly skilled immigrants do benefit the economy as a whole; generating wealth, paying taxes et cetera. He’s not talking about migrants from the rest of EU (like the Poles Scotland is trying to attract) either. Nor is he talking about asylum seekers or refugees. His beef is with the kind of unskilled, but perfectly legal, immigrant that might find themselves working as a cleaner in the NHS.
Furthermore, not all the social change that these immigrants bring will be bad, concedes Robert Rowthorn, before complaining about smears of racism and paraphrasing the BNP’s line that ‘nobody asked us’: nobody voted for the Industrial Revolution either, professor.
Professor Robert Rowthorn finds it ‘bizarre’ that the Labour Party allegedly supports the creation of a reserve pool of cheap labour. What’s more bizarre is Professor Rowthorn’s failure to acknowledge that the immigrants he complains of would find it very difficult to get a work permit or visa. They’d need to be able to demonstrate a shortage of labour in their line of work.
It seems unlikely that the class of immigrant Robert Rowthorn complains of really exist in significant numbers. But let’s assume that they do and that the professor isn’t just scaremongering. After all, he worries that their numbers may be swelled by ‘the children that they will produce,’ failing to note that while the fertility rate is at its highest for thirteen years, we only produce 1.8 children per woman. We can relax.
These immigrants must be taking jobs indigenous unskilled labour will not; that’s why we let them in. A simple solution might be to raise the minimum wage, stop people opting out of the EU’s working time directive and do whatever else it takes to tempt British workers to take these jobs. Sure, that may destroy some jobs but, as Professor Robert Rowthorn would have it, those jobs could only be filled by immigrants who will change our society without asking our permission.