Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Ekklesia media comment (with additional annotated links and resources): The government's foreign labour statistics gaffe does not justify the apocalyptic tones of the current debate about migration, which is about people and development, not numbers and panic, says the religion and society think-tank Eklesia.

Analysts have pointed out that the revised government figures indicate that foreign labour amounts to 7 or 8 per cent of the 29 million total labour force, and that a good proportion of those concerned are married to British citizens, or are from countries like the United States, Australia, New Zealand and other parts of the Commonwealth.

"Politicians will go to endless lengths to deny it, but the agitation about migration, which in terms of labour has generated some £6 billion for the UK, is about black and Eastern European people coming into Britain. They say it is 'sensitive' because they know it is about racism and prejudice, as well as global economic trends exacerbated by policies endorsed by the main Western governments," commented Simon Barrow, co-director of Ekklesia.

"Migration has been increasing worldwide due to globalization, the impact of vast inequalities, war and conflict, human rights abuses, people's search for a stable and prosperous life, a huge expansion of cross-border trade and investment, EU labour shortages, falling costs of transportation and communication, environmental degradation, and other international and regional factors", noted Barrow.

"A sane debate would be about these issues, not knee-jerk discriminatory policies on marriage, the government's decision to close the door against Bulgarians and Romanians, or the opposition's projecting net migration ten years ahead without proper regard for flux," he added.

Ekklesia points to the poineering work of places like the Development Research Centre on Migration, Globalisation and Poverty (DRC) at the University of Sussex, which aims "to promote new policy approaches that will help to maximize the potential benefits of migration for poor people, whilst minimizing its risks and costs".

See also:
Politics and prejudice on migration.
Realism on the migration debate.
The dynamics of migrant labour (South Lincolnshire example).
Churches Rural group (on mistreatment of foreign workers).
Trades union international campaigns.

Data and information:
Development Research Centre
on Migration, Globalisation and Poverty.
Migration Policy Institute - data.
International Organization for Migration

1 comment:

Jane said...

Thanks so much for not passsing by on the other side of the question of immigration. I wonder about how to try and shift the discussion onto new ground, but maybe I'm too much of an idealist. In Switzerland's recent vote Blocher's party produced an appalling racist poster with a black sheep being kicked out but Caritas reworked the poster showing a mix of different coloured sheep in the same Swiss field. Is there an adveritsing agency that would take on the brief for immigration?
The tabloidisation of the current debate disturbs me almost as much as some of the opinions expressed. How many Brits currently live and work abroad as migrant workers, sun-seekers of retirees?
Somehow I suspect that even those statistics would be used to fuel fear about immigration.
As a second generation immigrant British citizen and a very privileged migrant worker between France and Switzerland I feel particular responsibility to speak up with integrity on the issue. As you have been discovering it is really hard to be a different drummer and get a fair hearing.
Anyway bravo for the errudition and the commitment of your writing.