For cleaners and cockle-pickers

After gulping down (piecemeal, it must be said) educational theory for years, I am still frequently blown away by the value of good questions when you have something to persuade people about.

One, two, three, four, five posts of questions for the BNP from Jai on Pickled Politics, a nice round 85 questions in all (n.b. one or two of these are pretty goofy). Strange, I wasn’t able to find any other collections of questions. Some good social networker should set up a wiki to collect them.

Relatedly (via JimJay) the LSE has published confirmation, in the form of the report ‘Economic impact on the London and UK economy of an earned regularisation of irregular migrants to the UK‘, that an amnesty on ‘irregular’* immigrants working illegally in Britain would provide the state with a net saving of (if I have this right after projected admin costs) £185bn.

Contrary to JimJay’s reading, the report doesn’t claim that immigration is good for us, just that regularisation of existing workers is. GDP and tax bucks, innit. And Boris Johnson is, along with people of many political affiliations and none, signed up to the Strangers Into Citizens campaign.  He proposes a twin-track approach to immigration – amnesty along with tightening of border controls to prevent entry of ‘irregulars’ – which has a sound internal logic. Greens, who have long favoured an amnesty, also have policy to avoid increasing net immigration.

The LSE report was conducted for the Mayor’s Office and can be read on the LSE site (see link at bottom of exec summary). The researchers estimate that there are (high end) 863,000 such workers here, and slightly less than half would be eligible for regularisation under an earned amnesty. Those categorised as ‘illegal migrants’ tend to come from Central and South Americas and other ‘poor countries’. A high proportion of the remainder – over 400,000 – are failed asylum seekers, mostly from the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern Europe. The researchers estimate that “80 per cent of failed asylum seekers from before 2000 are in London, together with around 60 per cent of those entering later.” Well, if you were an asylum seeker, of course you’d stick around regardless – there’d be no going back and what would you have to lose by remaining?

Eligibility for regularisation is based on 5 years’ residence and no criminal record (both are going to be difficult to ascertain for these limbo people, so in practice eligibility may vary either way from 400k). Regularisation here means entitlement to minimum wage and some services (access to increase with progress along a Path to Citizenship).

Bob links to some practical thinking on how to avoid collusion in the politics of perception about immigrants which is quite prevalent in British thinking. Kingsnorth – hat-tip Bob – is a good example of this collusion, encouraging us to think of the BNP vote as one of the “downsides of mass immigration”.  On the other hand, as an unjingoistic state nationalist (i.e. espousing a distribution rather than centralisation of geo-political control; not incompatible with free migration) I’ve encountered depressingly little sound evidence to support free migration into states like mine, now. As a population, even our trade unions are wedded to protectionism, material aspiration and inequality; these things are incompatible with free immigration.

I’m keen on the idea of free migration myself. Proletarian cosmopolitanism – it’s an old term for globalisation, right? The question is how to bring it about so that everybody in the world doesn’t try to move to the states with infrastructure, welfare and rights. You come across the metaphor of the ferocious fending off of drowning people by the Titanic passengers who had made it onto the lifeboats. But globally, we are not in a lifeboat situation. In Britain our lifestyle is generally obscene, while in Mozambique you’re lucky to see 35. The answer is clear – share the world’s wealth and knowledge more equitably – but the path to this eventuality is not so clear. Liberty and equality have always appeared to be at different ends of the political spectrum, and we have delegated our affairs to successive administrations that can’t even sort out looking after our older people in a humane way. Anyway, climate change projections forecast a drastic shrinkage of the world’s temperate, habitable zones so in Britain we’d better get used to designing structures for masses of unaccounted-for incomers. We wouldn’t want to shirk our responsibilities on that. Get on with it, wankers.

This is descending into a dejected rant, so let’s be wrapping things up. The report, at any rate, promises to make a difference to nearly half a million people. Welcome, exiles and migrants, to this exquisite isle. May I particularly recommend setting up home in Barkingside, Redbridge? I think it is the best place in the world.

*I wonder whether Steve Cohen, founder of No One Is Illegal, would be satisfied with ‘irregular’. I think not.

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