Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Labour: East European migrants are coming to take your job

Today has been the day the Romanians and Bulgarians did not come. The BBC's coverage would have been over the top if the Martians had landed, while Keith Vaz managed to find a new way to get his picture in the papers.

How has Labour responded?

The Guardian has a story headed "British workers left unprotected says Labour as immigration row deepens" which quotes the shadow immigration minister David Hanson.

For a full account of his comments go to Press TV:
The UK government fails to protect low-skilled British workers, Shadow Immigration Minister David Hanson has warned following the reversal of working restrictions on European migrants. 
Hanson slammed the government for ignoring the rights of British employees, saying their jobs could be threatened by influx of migrants from eastern European countries, including Romania and Bulgaria. 
He said the British government has ignored calls to enforce minimum wage and to focus on recruitment agencies, which are recruiting solely from the two EU countries. 
And then there is Yvette Cooper writing a blog on the Labour Party's website. She begins by calling for "a calm, considered debate" and then proceeds to gabble.

You may think its hard to gabble in a blog post, but she pulls it off:
David Cameron and the Conservatives have been rushing around with a frenzy of last-minute briefings and announcements, and ramping up the rhetoric. But they still aren’t addressing the practical problems around those who exploit migrant workers to undercut local businesses and staff. The last-minute confusion and heightened rhetoric is alarming rather than reassuring, and risks fuelling hostility, too. 
However, the Liberal Democrats’ position - suggesting there is no problem - won’t reassure people either. In a global economy, trade, travel and migration is really important for Britain. People are concerned about the impact of European migration, particularly on low-paid work and there are sensible policies we should pursue to make the immigration system fairer for all. 
That is why Labour won’t ramp up the rhetoric or join in empty tough language that just increases hostility and tension
And so on and on until her splendidly contradictory final paragraph:
Britain has always been an outward-looking country dependent on travel and trade. Hardworking and talented people have come for many generations and contributed to our nation. For the sake of investment, jobs and business in the future we mustn’t turn our backs on those traditions. Stronger controls and better management so that immigration is fair for all help us to do just that and that is why a calm long-term approach is so important.
Much of this relies on what economists call the Lump of Labour fallacy, but I am interested in the politics here.

One of the notable features of the recovery of Labour under Tony Blair was that is was designed to reassure the middle classes that the white working class would be kept under control. That is what the concern with antisocial behaviour was all about.

Now the white working class is being wooed again. Does that mean that Labour is worried about the inroads Ukip could make into that vote?/

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