• The usually excellent Aditya Chakrabortty’s outrage over the immigration debate conflates the duplicitous use of this issue by leading Brexiteers with a misinterpretation of what really concerns people. Accusing the vast majority who want controls on immigration as being anti-migrant and racist is unacceptable. As is denying that the rapid increase in immigration has made it more difficult to cope with stresses on social infrastructure and that it will continue to do so even when austerity is swept away. Also worrying was the anti-internationalist acceptance of continuing to take Indian doctors and skilled eastern Europeans “educated at someone else’s expense”.
For the left to regain credibility it must rethink migration and make a progressive case for limiting “new, large-scale, permanent migration”. New makes it clear that curbing future levels of migration involves no changes for those already legally resident in the country, such as the Windrush generation and those from the EU. Permanent has the caveat that foreign students are welcome to study here and workers fill vacancies here, but only for a specified period. Crucially, the UK must train its own population to prevent the shameful long-term theft of doctors and nurses from the poorer counties which originally paid for their education. There will also be the need for some exceptions, such as genuine marriage partners, civil partners or reunited family members. Colin Hines East Twickenham, Middlesex
Nick Cohen is right that those who oppose a hard Brexit need to say what they would do about immigration (“We recognise the grievances of the left behind. But we have no solutions”, Comment). Central to this has to be the acceptance of the crashingly obvious – that most people want stricter controls over immigration. This could be achieved in a progressive manner if the goal were one of minimising “new, large-scale, permanent migration”.
What makes this approach progressive is that “new” makes it clear that curbing immigration involves no changes for those already legally resident, such as the Windrush generation and those from the EU. “Permanent” has the caveat that foreign students are welcome to study here and that workers fill vacancies here, but only for a specified period. Crucially, the recipient countries must rapidly train enough doctors and nurses, for example, from their own population to prevent the shameful theft of such vital staff from the poorer countries that originally paid for their education. Given there is bound to be the need for some exceptional academics and wealth generators, as well as genuine marriage or civil partners or reunited family members to settle permanently, then their numbers might be roughly in balance with the numbers of people emigrating. Colin Hines
The ever supportive Brave New Europe website highlighted this 3 minute clip from an interview with Bernie Sanders where he made the same point made in Progressive Protectionism that open borders are a bosses’ charter, in this case giving the Koch brothers as an example.
• John Harris is right to say the left has articulated no comprehensive answer to the existing and future threats posed to employment by automation. Key to this must be prioritising labour-intensive sectors that are difficult to automate, such as health, education and elderly care. Equally key is a climate-friendly infrastructure programme. Crucial to this will be to make the UK’s 30m buildings super-energy efficient, thus dramatically reducing energy bills, fuel poverty and greenhouse gas emissions. The housing crisis should be tackled by building affordable, highly insulated new homes, predominantly on brown field sites, and local public transport links need to be rebuilt.
This massive work programme would provide a secure career structure for decades, and would involve a large number of apprenticeships and professional jobs, as well as opportunities for the self-employed and local small businesses. It can be paid for by “people’s quantitative easing”, from fairer taxes, local authority bonds and green ISAs. Since such savers are likely to be predominantly older, this would also be a necessary exercise in intergenerational solidarity. Colin Hines Convenor, Green New Deal Group
Protectionism is a logical response to national insecurity, but it doesn’t have to be left to the right, suggests Colin Hines
Saturday 21st Apr 2018
There is a link between your warning that the International Monetary Fund needs to change policy to ensure that the benefits of global economic activities are shared by the majority (Editorial, 20 April) and Yanis Varoufakis’s gung-ho ode to The Communist Manifesto (The long read, 20 April). Continue reading →
Jeremy Corbyn’s refusal to countenance a peoples’ poll on the Brexit deal is thought to be based on two major concerns – one his desire to respect the majority’s views on the need to control migration of EU citizen’s, which he appears to think can’t be adequately done if we remain. Secondly his adherence of the oft stated ‘fact’ that the EU has become a neoliberal, pro austerity bloc, unlikely to change. Therefore in an unspecified manner never detailed, we will somehow or other be better off outside it.
The first step to an effective response by progressives to the rising tide of right-wing populism in Italy and elsewhere is to realise that ever more open borders are the problem. It was predominantly opposition to inadequately controlled immigration Continue reading →
The first step to an effective response by progressives to the rising tide of rightwing populism in Italy and elsewhere (Editorial, 6 March) is to realise that ever more open borders are the problem. It was predominantly the opposition to inadequately Continue reading →
There is a real opportunity offered by the fact that the much followed rapper Not3s is opposed to Brexit, but doesn’t know what to do about it (‘Young want to stop Brexit..we can help them’ The New European February 8th-14th).
Were he and like minded musicians to join up with the young Remainers of ‘Our Future Our Choice’ they could put pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to campaign to ‘Remain’ and support a second referendum.
To ensure this approach gets maximum coverage in mainstream and social media these young activists should replace the feel good, but directionless, chant of ‘Oh Jeremy Corbyn’ with ‘No Brexit,.Jeremy Corbyn’.
This last sentence was cut:
T shirts with #No Brexit Jeremy Corbyn could then dominate every Labour gathering.
For more detail behind the thinking of this letter see yesterday’s blog:
A different Remain. Colin Hines is one of the few trying to promote remain, while correcting the failed policies that resulted in Brexit. The question is if the Tories and the EU are seeking an amicable solution or trying to secure their own power?
We at Brave New Europe don’t take a position on Brexit. While we recognise that many dark and odious forces lay behind the Brexit vote, and that the process will inflict significant economic damage on many people, we also know that European institutions and policies typically reflect a strong neoliberal slant – and we launched this project to oppose and change this. We have sympathy with the anger against European institutions – but we also believe in the principle of European cross-border co-operation and co-ordination in many areas. Reflecting this complex reality, we will host both pro-Brexit and pro-Remain articles.
2018 is the year to campaign for halting Brexit, since unless adequately challenged, Tory infighting and disarray could mean that next year the UK is dragged out of the EU on the worst possible terms. And what role is Labour playing during all this destructive mayhem? Why babbling impotently that a ‘jobs rich Continue reading →