Editorial....5th March, 2020
Useless larrikin Boris Johnson recently announced a “new” points based immigration system.
Speaking via alleged bully and verified liar Priti Patel, the Government said it was launching the “new” system to ensure that the UK “continues to attract the brightest and the best from around the world”.
Leaving aside the fact that points-based systems are generally used by countries that want more migrants not fewer, this is not true.
What they’ve done is extend an existing system, introduced between 2008 and 2010, to cover the EU; the Press release did explain its opening mistruth by qualifying with: “The new single global system will treat EU and non-EU citizens equally” but if you think “taking back control” means fewer foreign, non-EU workers, you’re wrong.
You can look at the list of people the country wants, as it’s all online. It’s a long list. It includes all categories of biological scientists, civil engineers, electronic engineers, architects, web designers, secondary education teaching professionals and orchestral musicians as well as some chefs (the more skilled ones).
For all talk of the training British-born staff for the NHS, the current points system allows all medical practitioners, psychologists, medical radiographers, nurses, social workers and paramedics, so we’d guess the new one that includes the EU will be similarly accommodating.
Hopefully the new system include the “brightest and the best” candidates for prime ministers, home secretaries and leaders of the Opposition; we could do with some of those.
An accompanying policy document explaining the system makes it clear it’s an expansion of the points system, not something new, saying that the immigration system has been “distorted by European free movement rights”.
Interestingly, the policy statement’s line that “We will reduce overall levels of migration” attracts a footnote, that footnote being “reduce in most cases” — giving the Government wriggle room to say that while immigration has not fallen overall it has fallen in some cases, such as for right-handed jugglers who can whistle La Marseillaise while playing a banjo.
There’s more wriggle room with the fact that — while saying the Government will not allow in unskilled workers — applicants will be able to “trade” characteristics such as their specific job offer and qualifications against a lower salary, which may allow pretty much anything, if the “specific job offer” is, say, two months picking strawberries and no-one else will do it.
No-one knows how this is all going to pan out of course, but happily we can look to our prime minister’s chum over the water, where — despite all the rhetoric — the picture over migration is clear: more unskilled legal migrants.
The Economist reported recently that for all Donald Trump’s talk about stopping unskilled migrants, the number of legal, temporary migrants doing low-wage work had increased, rising to 408,000 visas for guest workers in 2019 — up from 103,000 in 2010.
The Economist reported that there were jobs for people who wanted them, but those people weren’t American, hence the rise of guest workers.
Indeed, Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, told an audience at the Oxford Union last month that migrants were essential as the US was “running out of people to fuel the economic growth.”
“We are desperate, desperate for more people,” Mr. Mulvaney told his audience. He said the country needed “more immigrants” but wanted them in a “legal” fashion. Clearly no-one anywhere supports illegal immigration, so what he’s saying is that the US needs migrants, full stop.
While guest workers are on the increase, migrant numbers are generally down in the US and The Economist reported that the wages of those without high-school diplomas had risen by nearly 10%, a figure you might perhaps see quoted over here. “Wages rise when you reduce migrants”, the Daily Mail will thunder.
But this is not expected to last, as migrants do not affect wages to any real degree.
The best example of this was Fidel Castro’s inadvertent real-life experiment: in 1980, 120,000 Cubans landed in Florida, 45,000 of these working age, about 7% of that city’s working population.
Economists found this flood of cheap workers had no impact on wages — native-born skilled Americans would own (say) a building company and employ cheap migrants to do the grunt work, but these people did not take local jobs or lower average wages.
Having cheap labour made contracts cheaper, which made the work more affordable for more people, so more people could afford to use builders and there was more work all round. Some of those migrants then started their own businesses, employing local people.
Whatever Mr Johnson is trying to say he’s doing he’s probably not — though as he currently has no effective Opposition, he’s going to carry on saying it.
Similarly, he has promised that the NHS is ready for coronavirus and that the Government “will make sure the NHS gets all the support it needs to continue their brilliant response to the virus so far”, a claim none of us believe for even a second.
Indeed, more than 99% of 1,618 NHS medics questioned appeared not to agree with the assurances given by Mr Johnson that the service will cope, according to a survey carried out by the Doctors’ Association UK.
In the real world, you only have to read the inquest in this week’s Chronicle of Matt Waby, who I was at school with, to see problems the NHS faces before a major epidemic even starts.
Matt was admitted to Macclesfield Hospital on a day when it was “under huge operational pressure” with “significant crowding” — eight ambulances were received between 4pm and 5pm, the inquest heard.
A nurse at Macclesfield told the inquest: “There are huge pressures within our trust as well as nationally. We have been under extreme pressure for a number of months now.”
Janet Napier, assistant coroner for Cheshire, concluded: “Investigation … highlighted the extreme pressure hospitals are facing; this appears to be a national problem.”