There is a migration policy for recipient countries that is democratic, progressive and internationalist. This is one that meets the concerns of the majority with stricter border controls, but which also grasps the urgency of seeing all foreign policy, aid and trade agreements in terms of helping minimise migration globally. Progressive policies could range from increasing living standards for the poorer section of society through fair taxation, limiting arms sales, decarbonising economies and reducing resource use.
Twickenham, Greater London
PROGRESSIVES SHOULD NOT JUST FOCUS ON THE INTERESTS OF MIGRANTS
Another key blind spot of the progressives’ view of migration (that was cut from the letter above) is their invariable focus on the desires of migrants, rather than also considering the interests of the majority in recipient countries or the economic and social effects on the countries they leave. Yet it is the former which is shaping the inadequately challenged rise of populism.
• 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 →