There has been much head scratching as commentators try to explain why, when overall GDP is growing nicely, people are not feeling the benefit in their pay packets. Well, it’s not rocket science. GDP is back to the pre-recession level of 2008, but the UK’s population has risen by 5% since then. Two cities the size of Portsmouth, 400,000 extra people, were added in 2013 alone.
The country taken as a whole may be back to 2008 levels of economic output, but when that wealth is divided between more and more people we each get a smaller share of the cake.
Half of the 2013 increase in population was a direct result of immigration; 200,000 more people came to live here than left to live elsewhere. The other half was due to an increased birth rate, but with one in four births now to mothers born overseas, and indeed one in fourteen births to maternity tourists, this was also due in part to immigration.
As a result, 5,000,000 more people now live in the UK than in 2001. That’s nearly two extra Greater Manchesters (pop. 2.7m). Yet when house prices, rent prices, wage suppression, waiting lists, almost any issue in modern Britain is discussed, immigration is all to often the unmentioned elephant in the room.
Thanks to UKIP giving a credible electoral outlet for the concerns of ordinary people, the topic of immigration is at least now on the political radar. However, for the liberal left, usually the first to shed crocodile tears about the ‘cost of living crisis’, anything other than a supine acceptance of unlimited immigration is sneered at as “pulling up the drawbridge”. This is bizarre, when, as this recent Home Office report tells us, for every 10% rise in low skilled immigrants, wages fall 5%.
Freedom of movement may well have seemed a nice theory, 40 years ago, between countries of similar wealth and size. In reality, in the 21st Century, it only works one way. For example, the European Job Mobility Portal EURES, funded by your taxes, advertises 1.4million job vacancies across the EU. Over half of these, 800,000 jobs, are in the UK. All job vacancies held by UK job centres must be listed on EURES and advertised across the EU. Job seekers get travel costs up to £900 and the employer gets a £1,000 reward. At the time of writing, just 1,721 jobs were in Spain, just 1,545 in Greece.
If we had full employment in the UK then this might be defensible, but with over 2 million people unemployed, including a million under-25s, it is madness that job seekers in the UK have to compete against up to 500 million EU residents (or at least the 25 million people currently unemployed).
With higher wages on offer in the UK, it is hardly surprising that hundreds of thousands of people from poorer economies choose come to this country every year. A ‘middle-class’, professional Estonian or Latvian can expect much better wages picking fruit and veg in the UK than they could in their chosen career back home (part of the reason, I think, why UK employers often cite the superior work ethic and qualifications of their immigrant employees; in their home country they would have been further up the job ladder). The average salary in the UK is 6 times higher than that in Romania. If they were paying the equivalent of £150k a year to pick strawberries outside Bucharest I would say da va rugam and be on the next plane.
From the Mediterranean to the former Soviet bloc in the east, national populations are declining as their best, brightest and youngest abandon their homelands in search of work. Spain has unemployment levels of 25%, over 50% unemployed amongst the young. Their population fell in 2012 for the first time since the 1940s. This brain drain can only put countries like Spain, Greece, Portugal, Romania into a negative tailspin. They face a lost generation, where young people have to choose between unemployment or leaving their country.
Because we are obliged to take as many people from EU countries as want to come, we are forced to place artificial limits on those from the rest of the world. So as hundreds of thousands of mainly low skilled workers arrive each year to compete with the poorest already here, we turn away scientists, engineers, IT specialists, from China, India, Brazil.
I suspect this is why those of a left-leaning bent, living in metropolitan areas, are so supportive of mass immigration- it simply doesn’t affect them. Those that are coming here are not threatening their jobs, nor compressing their wages. If 100,000s of academics, marketing managers, or diversity consultants were arriving each year, flooding the job market and lowering wages, I suspect the Islington champagne socialists would choke on their organic, locally sourced, low carbon footprint, focaccia.
I’m fairly sure that British people lived in Spain, worked in Germany, holidayed in Italy before 1973. I’m equally sure that you can find Australians, Americans or Chinese living and working in EU countries despite them not having political union with the EU. UKIP are not anti-immigration. Where there are skill shortages that need filling of course we will look overseas. But this must be done on an Australian style points based system, not the open door policy that we have at the moment. It’s perfectly consistent to be of immigrant stock and support UKIP’s immigration policy (my father came to work in the UK in the 1970s). What separates the immigration of the past decade and a half from that of previous decades and centuries is the sheer, unprecedented scale.
UKIP’s is the fairest, most colour-blind immigration policy of any party. Immigration should be about skills, it should be on merit, not about blindly favouring a group of countries as we currently do. We must help newly appointed migration spokesman Steven Woolfe MEP to get our message across that only by leaving the EU can we regain control of our borders and begin to restore some quantity and quality control to our immigration.
The only option is to vote UKIP.