Tuesday 26 June 2012

Migration And Muddle

There has been comment that the Rio conference has gone for “economic growth” rather than the inconvenient 1992 decision to pursue the will o’ the wisp of “sustainability”. 

Well, of course as the population of the world rises and as more fiat money is pumped out to deal with the consequences all the figures will indeed show “growth”.  The trouble is that this will not be equally shared.  The other problem is that the “growth” may not be half enough to cope with the consequences.

Over a decade ago I was at a session at the LSE where someone expert in the study of the environment was trying to explain what he understood by “sustainability”.  He did this by using the idea of the “footprint” of major urban areas on the world and the amount of resources and effort needed to sustain each and any of them.

He suggested that the competition for the earth’s resources was likely to increase and as these were not distributed evenly this had implications.  Given the history of the world in the past this meant that uneven distributions of apparent wealth and access to resources generated activity that in many cases was far from peaceful.

In the absence of effective world government or any hope of it and given the rival needs and ideas in the existing political structure it was inevitable that a good many stresses would develop and conflicts arise of both states and interests within states.

One area of probable difficulty would be the movement of people and in some cases populations and the impact it might have.  He skirted this issue delicately, but did say that one way or another the nations heavily involved in foreign trade and finance would be at the centre of this, in short the UK had a problem.

During the questions up popped a lawyer from over the road at The Temple to declare that as far as the UK was concerned there should be no question of any control of immigration and that it should be unlimited.  This was in pursuit of the ideals of human rights and free movement.

He was adamant that we could and should afford it.  The speaker made some generalised comments and moved on quickly to the next question.  The lawyer concerned was very well connected and it was wise not to offend him.

This appears to have been the mindset of the small group central in the Labour government of 1997 to 2010.  There are two key aspects to this.  One is that it did not seem to occur to any of them to run the numbers or look at the realities.  The other is that this occult wish fulfilment to transform us all was born from a long past.

If you take those areas of the world that were once the Empire, add up their populations and then add some other places from whom people may want to move for various reasons and you have a lot of people, call it between two or three billion.

Consequently if only quite small minorities from all these places head for the UK then this country is looking at some big figures relative to the size of its population.  The UK has a free on demand health service, a generous little controlled benefits system and a social housing policy that is attractive to incomers.

If the countries from which these minorities move do not have these advantages and on the whole are much poorer with limited urban and social facilities then the UK will have a strong attraction.  Once established the chances are that these minorities could then grow rapidly in numbers of incomers.

How we have arrived at the present situation has a long history.  It begins before Empire with the wars of religion when it was a matter of faith to welcome Protestants and others.  During Empire the education of our elite was based on the ideals of Ancient Rome and its ideas about citizenship.

Alongside this other political groups were attracted to ideas about internationalism and the working classes and in diversity of culture.  Some sixty years and more ago I became acquainted with these ideals through the Council for Education in World Citizenship. 

During the 50’s and into the 60’s many Conservatives were still bound by notions of Commonwealth, the Sterling Area, world influence and all the rest.  On the other hand many on the Left were committed to other ideas about internationalism.

Consequently, encouraging immigration appealed to many on both sides.  On one there was the added attraction of cheap labour undermining the Trade Unions and on the other the idea that the newcomers would necessary be socialist in their views and confirm the inevitability that the Left would win the class war.

From this the present muddle has arisen.  Especially in that in the last two to three decades the politicians have become increasingly unrepresentative of either the old working class or that middle middle and lower part of Britain and its commerce. 

It was in this situation that a small doctrinaire group of people bought by big money allowed the existing situation to develop. 

So in a state with a n adverse balance of trade, too dependent on the movement of hot money, that does not feed itself, is heading into an energy crisis and whose public finances can no longer cope with the increasing demands of social expenditure we do not really know what we are doing.

Or why, or what might happen, or when it will happen or how it will affect us.  One thing is certain and that is that the global economic “footprint” of London now is a lot greater than it was in 1997.


  1. Thank you. I really wish I could find a point on which to disagree. I am not able to find the right words, but coming from a very poor but loving background, have found it obvious for years and years so many many things are wrong. The basic rules I was taught at home have all been broken. And no wonder history has not been taught properly for a very long time indeed - one learns too much. Suppose it's a case of "Don't panic, Mr. Mainwaring...".

  2. Beautifully put about an ugly failure of the politically corrupt deception played on the gullible British people.