Last week’s immigration figures have angered the Tory rank and file and fuelled more racist headlines in the Tory press. Suella Braverman and her allies are blaming Sunak for failing to adopt her plan to reduce migration, claiming that he had agreed to a deal on migration policies in exchange for her support in the Tory Party leadership contest last year.
It is not just the Tories. Starmer stepped in to claim that the figures were too high and marked a failure of government policy. His Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Darren Jones, said Labour would reduce immigration to 200,000 a year over the lifetime of a Labour government. Everyone seems to agree that the current level of immigration is too high and unsustainable. Something has to be done. But why?
The biggest group of migrants are students. They pay higher fees than British students, mostly between £10,000 and £25,000 per annum. Science and medical students pay the most, and elite universities like Oxford and Cambridge command the highest fees. According to London Economic students who started their courses in the 2021/2022 academic year will provide a net benefit of £37.4 billion to the UK economy over the course of their study.
Many thousands bring their families with them and graduates can extend their visas by two years after graduating. For postgraduate students the extension is three years. Tories want to restrict students and dependents to reduce immigration figures. That was part of the alleged deal between Sunak and Braverman. But these are not migrants. As well as their fees, they pay just under £1000 per head for visas and access to to the NHS. Most will return home with their families after they have qualified. Those who apply to stay will be amongst the best qualified people in the country. Furthermore, if Brexit Britain is really open for business with the rest of the world, it must help that 57 current world leaders were educated in Britain. We are second only to the USA, which boasts 65 world leaders as alumni of American universities.
So we make loads of money out of these students. They go home to top jobs in their own countries and those are the people we want to do business with. Why even include them in the immigration figures?
It is the same with the rest of the migrants. They come here on work visas which they pay for. They play a vital role in our economy. Most go home when their contracts are over. The rest apply to stay here and bring their families over, all perfectly legally. Family members account for around 70,000 of the immigration figures.
For all their bluster, the number of students, workers and their family members is going to grow because they bring value to the UK economy. We have an aging population and a real problem with long-term sickness. It was bad before COVID. Now it is worse. 2.6 million working age people are unable to work due to illness. and the NHS has record waiting lists. Cutting immigration would make this worse, as most of the increase in work visas is for people in health and social care.
The government is pursuing an agenda that makes no political or economic sense because it is fuelled by racism. We are British and we are best. Migrants come here to abuse our hospitality. They do this in a deliberate attempt to demonise asylum seekers and make people think that asylum and migration are the same. It would be laughable if it wasn’t so tragic in its consequences. And Labour goes along with it!
In 2020 when Starmer wanted to be leader of the Labour Party and was pretending that Corbyn was his friend he said,
The whole of the UK is better because of immigration, and I think if I’m honest the Labour Party’s been a bit scared of making the positive case for immigration for quite a number of years and I think we need to turn that around.https://twitter.com/SaulStaniforth/status/1727701873132458297?s=20
A year ago Starmer was making a speech to the CBI blaming immigration for low wages in this country. Instead of challenging racist ideas he is openly supporting them. One more reason to reject Labour and revive the basic tenet of our movement that working class solidarity has no place for racism. We say, “No to racist immigration controls. Migrants and asylum seekers welcome here.”
Life long socialist. Now retired, I have been an office junior, a bookseller, a docker and a teacher. I write a lot and read a lot more. Committed member of the Society of Authors, English PEN and the National Education Union. Never voting Labour again.