[noborders-brum] 'Lets cap this myth of overpopulation' Fwd: [arcwm]

hub13 at riseup.net hub13 at riseup.net
Mon Sep 22 22:08:52 UTC 2008

Unsure of the provenance of this article, but I thought it was a good
expose of the latest anti-migration, pro-borders cult to form in

---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------
Date:    Wed, September 10, 2008 4:33 pm
To:      arcwm at googlegroups.com
Wednesday 10 September 2008
Lets cap this myth of overpopulation
The Balanced Migration group moans
that Britain will need seven new cities to cope with an influx of
immigrants. Well, lets start building then.
Nathalie Rothschild

Q: What happens when a Labour rebel, a Tory MP, a
former Archbishop, a Muslim peer and an anti-migration campaigner form
a cross-party group?
A: They propose a one-in, one-out migration policy and call it balanced’.
Unfortunately for non-EU citizens hoping to come to Britain  and for
British businesses and public sector organisations  the new Balanced
Migration group is not just a bad joke. It is the latest serious call
for putting a cap on immigration into the UK. The group reiterates an
idea that is widely accepted on both the right and the left today:
Britain is overpopulated.
>From the Malthusians at the Optimum Population Trust, to the cranks
of the British National Party, to various House of Lords peers, green
activists and government leaders, there is a widespread belief that
Britain is buckling under the weight of Too Many People. The situation
is said to be unsustainable and a threat to social cohesion, to the
smooth running of public services, and to the future of the planet. So
more migrants must be shunned.
Balanced Migration is chaired by Frank Field and Nicholas Soames,
Labour and Conservative ministers respectively, and supported by the
former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey of Clifton, and by the
Muslim Labour peer, Lord Ahmed. This week, it put forward the latest
panicked projections of the supposedly corrosive effects of population
growth. Citing official figures, Balanced Migration says Britain would
need to build seven new cities the size of Birmingham to house an
estimated seven million incomers between now and 2031.
The prospect of Britain building seven new urban centres is
envisioned as a nightmare scenario, of course, rather than as an
exciting prospect. This reveals an essential truth about the
overpopulation debate: there are not too many people in Britain; just
too few decent cities, too much weak infrastructure, and a lot of
poorly managed public services. Once again, what is presented as a
demographic problem is essentially a political and social one, a lack
of political will to remake Britain so that it can take more people and
become a bigger, better country.
The Migration Groups methods for avoiding the coming demographic
apocalypse are outlined in a report that it published with the
right-wing think tank Migrationwatch. It sets out a new approach on
controlling immigration.
Field and Soames told BBC Radio 4s Today programme that the
link between work permit and citizenship needs to be broken. They
believe the governments open-door policy on migration needs to be
reformed. In fact, the New Labour governments new points-based system
has already slammed the door on non-EU residents, allowing only the
most highly skilled to come to Britain and work here. This has turned
migration into a luxury pursuit for a small minority of the global
population; hardly an open-door policy.
For Balanced Migration, however, this points system doesnt go far
enough. The group believes that even the quite small number of non-EU
workers who are allowed into Britain should only be granted a four-year
work permit. And when it expires, they should be told to go back to
where they came from  or anywhere else, just so long as its not the
UK. The fact that within a four-year period a migrant might find a
career that he loves, and settle down and start a family here in the
UK, seems to be of zero concern to the Malthusians of Balanced
Those who wish to stay on beyond their allotted four years should be
subjected to another points system, argue Field, Soames and Co. Only a
tiny number of the highest earners, or those with unique skills,
would then have a shot at getting a British passport and becoming a
British citizen. Balanced Migrations suggested figure is 20,000
migrants-turned-citizens a year  and that, almost unbelievably,
includes their dependants, too.
The aim, as the name of this new group suggests, is to balance the
number of people settling in Britain with the number of Britons
emigrating, in order to create a net zero increase in population
levels. Field and his gang seem to envision Britain as a giant
nightclub, with a one-in, one-out policy at the door, with them and
their fellow ministers playing the role of Border Bouncers checking
everyones credentials. Inside the club, guests can spend their money,
help keep the club afloat and contribute to the feelgood, diverse
atmosphere, as immigrants do in the UK  but the bouncers will ensure
that no one stays after hours.
The New Labour governments immigration minister, Liam Byrne, has
rejected the idea of a fixed cap on migration, just as he dismissed the
UK House of Lords proposal for an annual cap earlier this year (see
Immigration should be a political football,
by Nathalie Rothschild). Yet this doesnt mean the government is
against limiting migration; it just doesnt believe a fixed cap is a
good way of doing it.
In order to gauge the best method for controlling migration without
harming the economy too much, the government set up the Migration
Advisory Committee (MAC) last year. Yesterday, the MAC announced new
proposals for controlling the number of non-EU foreign workers coming
to the UK, and provided a list of occupations that such workers are
allowed to pursue when they are here.
For example, non-EU maths and science teachers can work in Britain,
but teachers in other subjects should not be allowed in. Only care
workers earning at least £8.80 an hour  which is far above the average
pay levels in the care sector  will be allowed in. Other jobs in the
UK in which there are staff shortages, such as racehorse training, can
also be covered by non-EU citizens. However, employers must leap over
three hurdles before they can employ non-EU workers, says MAC: the
job has to be skilled; there has got to be a shortage of workers; and
it has to be sensible to bring in a non-EU worker to take up the
By arguing for a cap on immigration, Field and the rest are not only
proposing to restrict freedom of movement, and threatening to stifle
innovation and dynamism in the UK  they are also implying that the
government can predict long-term demographic, economic and labour
trends. Yet government predictions of population changes have proven
unreliable many times in the past.
As David Aaronovitch pointed out in The Times (London) this
week: In 1955 government projections assumed a UK population in 1993
of 53million. The actual figure was five million more. The reason that
the projection was so wrong was that it had not anticipated the baby
boom of the 1960s. So for the 1965 projection, now knowing better, the
assumption was made that by 2000 there would be a UK population of
75million. Birth rates fell; the 2000 population was 59million. (1)
Immigration patterns are also to a large extent unpredictable and
uncontrollable. As economic and political realities change, so do
peoples aspirations, desires and means of coping. For all the panic
about Britain being swamped by Eastern Europeans when Eastern bloc
countries joined the EU in 2004, recent economic growth over there has
meant that large numbers are leaving Britain to return home.
Patterns of immigration and emigration, population size, the number
of jobs and the people needed to fill them  none of these things are
fixed, and outfits such as the Balanced Migration group or the MAC are
not in a position to determine how they will look in the future. And
ministers will not achieve their backward, zero-sum vision for
population growth simply by restricting the number of foreigners
settling in the UK. Stabilising the British population would require
more drastic measures. So perhaps we should introduce a Chinese-style
one-child policy, prevent Britons who have moved abroad from returning
home, or chuck out anyone with a foreign background? That should do it.
Putting a cap on immigration seems to be an easy way of scoring
political points these days. It allows politicians to avoid
responsibility for failing infrastructure and public services by
blaming it on immigrants causing overcrowding. Here, the cap proposal
is presented as a balanced measure for dealing with what is often
said to be a sensitive topic, and it is done in the name of protecting
British workers and communities.
What truly is a waste of space are governmental committees devoted
to predicting overpopulation apocalypse and churning out misconceived
policy proposals.
Nathalie Rothschild is commissioning editor of spiked.
(1) Like house prices, immigration could fall too, The Times (London), 9
September 2008

reprinted from: http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/site/article/5707/

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