The unions and migration

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey’s speech at the CLASS conference in London, on November 5.

Unite is proud of the part it played in establishing the movement’s very own think-tank [CLASS], and it is wonderful to see it now advancing its work by leaps and bounds.

Of course, it is hard when you are as adrift in the opinion polls as Labour is today. Most of what CLASS is advocating – the policies it is developing across a range of issues – will require a Labour government to put them into practice.

There are many reasons for this present poll deficit, one of them of course the summer wasted on an unnecessary bout of internal warfare triggered by some in the PLP.

But another is the subject I want to say a few words about today – immigration, the free movement of labour or however you want to describe it. What I would like to do is open up a debate on how our movement should respond, rather than pretend to say the last word on it.

There is no doubt that concerns about the impact of the free movement of Labour in Europe played a large part in the referendum result, particularly in working-class communities.

It is those same communities – traditionally Labour-supporting – where our Party is now struggling.

It would be easy to simply say – let’s pull up the drawbridge. However, that would be entirely impractical in today’s world and it would also alienate many of those whose support the Labour Party needs to retain as part of its 2020 electoral coalition.

But we are well past the point where the issue can be ignored. Indeed, I can reveal that as long ago as 2009 Unite private surveys of membership opinion were showing that even then our members were more concerned about immigration than any other political issue.

And we are also, I would argue, past the point where working people can be convinced that the free movement of labour has worked for them, their families, their industries and their communities.

It is fine to argue values and perspectives for the middle distance, but if it comes up against the reality of people’s daily experience, these arguments will fail.

Let’s have no doubt – the free movement of labour is a class question. Karl Marx identified that fact a long time ago. “A study of the struggle waged by the British working class,” he wrote in 1867, “reveals that in order to oppose their workers, the employers either bring in workers from abroad or else transfer manufacture to countries where there is a cheap labour force.”

So it is today. Anyone who has had to negotiate for workers, in manufacturing in particular, knows the huge difficulties that have been caused by the ability of capital to move production around the world – often to China and the Far East or Eastern Europe – in search of far lower labour costs and higher profits.

Likewise, the elite’s use of immigration to this country is not motivated by a love of diversity or a devotion to multi-culturalism. It is instead all part of the flexible labour market model, ensuring a plentiful supply of cheap labour here for those jobs that can’t be exported elsewhere.

The benefits of this are for sure easier to see in Muswell Hill than they are in Middlesbrough. Of course, all socialists must ultimately look forward to a day when people can move freely across the world and live or work where they will.

But that is a utopia removed from the world of today, and would require international economic planning and public ownership to make a reality.

Argument that wage rates are not affected does not stand up to scrutiny either. Put simply, if all you have to sell is your capacity to work, then its value is going to be affected by an influx of people willing to work for less money and put up with a lower standard of living because it nevertheless improves their own lives. Supply and demand affects the sale of labour too, pitting worker against worker.

Of course, there is a straightforward trade union response – we need to do everything necessary to organise all workers here into trade unions, wherever they may have been born and whatever their history, and fight for decent pay, proper working conditions and full rights at work.

And we should join Labour in demanding that this country – the sixth richest in the world – provides every worker, wherever they are from, with a decent job and every family with a decent home.

And unions here need to unite with trade unions in other countries to end to the playing off of workers in one part of the world against each other, to oppose the power of global capital with the power of a renewed international labour movement.

The problem is not cheap labour in Britain – it’s cheap labour anywhere. And let’s not pretend that free movement is a straightforward benefit to the countries workers are leaving behind, being denuded of young people and skilled labour. We need to work with Socialists across Europe and indeed the world to create a system that works for everyone, wherever they are born.

There is another more immediate argument for free movement of Labour – it is the price for keeping access to the single market, which is essential for so many British jobs. That problem needs to be frankly acknowledged – fixed barriers to free movement will hardly be acceptable to the European Union if access to the single market is to be retained.

So we need a new approach. I believe it is time to change the language around this issue and move away from talk of “freedom of movement” on the one hand and “controls” on the other and instead to speak of safeguards. Safeguards for communities, safeguards for workers, and safeguards for industries needing labour. At the core of this must be the reassertion of collective bargaining and trade union strength.

My proposal is that any employer wishing to recruit labour abroad can only do so if they are either covered by a proper trade union agreement, or by sectoral collective bargaining.

Put together with trade unions own organising efforts this would change the race-to-the-bottom culture into a rate- for-the- job society. It would end the fatal attraction of ever cheaper workers for employers, and slash demand for immigrant labour, without the requirement for formal quotas or restrictions.

Add to this proposal Jeremy Corbyn’s commitment to fair rules and reasonable management of migration, as well as Labour’s pledge to restore the Migrant Impact Fund for communities suddenly affected by large—scale migration, and there is the basis for giving real reassurance to working people in towns and cities abandoned by globalisation.

And let’s not forget what unites all of us: anger at the government’s disgraceful treatment of refugees, who deserve safety and protection; shame at the Tory attempts to use EU citizens already living and working here as a sort of negotiating card – they must have the right to remain; and a determination to resist the rise in racist attacks and invective which has blighted our society past-referendum.

But we can no longer sit like the three wise monkeys, seeing no problem, hearing no problem and speaking of no problem. We must listen and respond to working people’s concerns – because that is the only way to earn their support. That way we can consign today’s opinion polls to the dustbin and convince working people that the labour movement is their best protection in an uncertain present and their best hope for a prosperous future.

This article first appeared in LabourList (November 6)

79 comments on “The unions and migration

  1. Richard Farnos on said:

    Hi John my concern is that McCluskey is opening the door to politics of hate. Racism is not just an evil in itself but it has been used to divide the working class.

    McCluskey makes the false assertion that migration has brought down wage levels. This is simple not true. Jobs in catering, care, retail and agriculture have been low paid and been on the minimum wage rate since minimum wages were introduced. In industries such as the building trade wages have been brought down but this is as result of blacklisting and breaking of the unions. On the contrary migration help build the economy and migrant help fill hard to fill roles.

    As worrying is McCluskey’s seeming to want to close down debate by using the 3 Monkey’s metaphor.

  2. Richard Farnos: This is simple not true.

    The serious research confirms it is true. There as a paper by the Bank of England a few months back on this, and also a detailed research paper by the House of Commons.

    I am writing an article on this issue, politics aside, just looking at the statistical evidence

  3. Richard Farnos: On the contrary migration help build the economy and migrant help fill hard to fill roles.

    Cui bono?

    One of the considerations in the research is to weigh the distribution of the economic benefit.

    Looking at low skilled jobs in particular, if the result of immigration is substitution of the existing workforce with a new workforce prepared to work for less, then there may be economic growth that benefits the newly arrived immigrants, and the employers. Does it benefit those who have been displaced out of those jobs, or who now face a more competitive labour market with lower wages?

  4. Richard Farnos on said:

    Andy Newman: The serious research confirms it is true.

    No, One report undertake by the Bank of England suggests that ” in the semi/unskilled services sector,
    where a 10 percentage point rise in the proportion of immigrants is associated with a 2
    percent reduction in pay.”

    Unfortunately the report is not clear on the time period [well I cant find it] and it should be noted that it is a correlation so not necessarily a causal. Certainly the effect of migration do not effect wages in neo-classical economic way that Andy or McCluskey suggest. For if this was the case then wages in all sectors would be significantly effected.

    Migrants in work clearly does benefit everyone: the migrant and their family; the user of the service or product produced by the migrant; and the user of public service help paid for by Migrant taxation.

    Andy you playing a very dangerous game in dividing the world into migrants and non-migrants. Where does it stop. These sort arguments have been used in the past to argue that woman should not be “allowed” in the labour market “as they undercut men.”

    McClusky site Middlesbrough forgetting that town problems are result of de-industrialisation and flight of capital not immigration which has been minimum. It surprises me that people talk about limiting the movement of people but never limiting the movement of capital!

    Capitalist will utilise any division in the class to undermine condition, wages and rights. The answer is not engage in class-collaboration wall building but to organise with our fellow workers, from wherever they belong. We must defend the freedom of movement of people in Europe.

  5. brianthedog on said:

    Richard Farnos: We must defend the freedom of movement of people in Europe

    No thanks and it appears to be a very narrow and racist way to deal with migration. What about migration of people from Asia and Africa.

    Free movement of EU people does have an affect on wages, job conditions and unionisation in the low pay sectors. I realise the reality of Sports Direct, ASOS, hotels and restaurants and Uber may have passed you by, but it is a fact. It looks more like an inconvenient truth that you choose to ignore as it doesn’t fit in to your liberal and neo-liberal world view.

    This policy is driven by big business, employer associations and politicians that are in their back pockets.

    Not sure if you have also noticed that working class people in Britain and the US have just rejected the neo-liberal corrupt status quo. You can write them off as all racist bigot and delude yourself that unlimited free movement of EU workers benefits everyone whilst reality and life moves on and passes you by.

  6. Andy Newman on said:

    Richard Farnos: in the semi/unskilled services sector,
    where a 10 percentage point rise in the proportion of immigrants is associated with a 2
    percent reduction in pay.”

    Have you read the report, or the press coverage of it? 2 per cent pay drop per 10 per cent, but some sectors – such as unskilled manual work – have seen a 30 per cent change.

    Also that is the drop in wages, not taking into account the increase in wages that might have happened with a tighter Labour supply

  7. Andy Newman on said:

    A paper well worth studying is

    Impacts of migration on UK native
    employment: An analytical review of
    the evidence
    Ciaran Devlin and Olivia Bolt, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
    Dhiren Patel, David Harding and Ishtiaq Hussain, Home Office

    2014

  8. Richard Farnos on said:

    brianthedog,

    I agree with you Btd that Capitalists are always inventing new ways to screw the working class ie über etal, but that this has nothing to do with a) ‘minorities’ gaining rights or b) migration. We are all ultimately working class.

    Now Btg if you think Brexit and Trump are good for the working class you are idiot. These are red herrings funded by far right capitalists to prevent you focusing on the real enemy – Capitalism!

  9. Richard Farnos on said:

    Andy Newman,

    I have read the report and make a direct link to it. I can find no reference to a 30 per cent cut. Quite frankly , I would suspect the credibility of any report that made such a claim. As I have pointed out before chronic low pay existed prior to significant EU citizen migration. And the minimum wage was introduced before it happened. Indeed it has been argued that this was a factor in the increased EU migration into the UK.

    Your arguement Andy depends on a neo-classical ie Capitalist understanding of economics. The Labour market does not behave in the way that neo-classical economics predicts.

    As a Socialist I am not clear what the policy or strategy point your trying to make. Are you seriously suggesting that we abandon the free movement of people in Europe? What do we do with the 3 million EU citizens who live in the UK, are they going to be thrown out? Or treated as second class citizens? And how does this advance Socialism?

  10. #17 We need to have an anti racist immigration policy.

    One part of which is that people who wish to come here from Europe do not have preferential treatment to those from Jamaica or Pakistan.

    Another part of this is that existing EU migrants have their pre referendum rights protected (BTW Andy thought they should all have had a vote in the referendum).

    The idea that opposition to immigration controls full stop or support for open borders is some basic principle of socialism is quite simply a relatively modern myth, perpetuated by British trotskyIsts primarily to draw another artificial line in the sand.

    Cuba has immigration controls, as does Venezuela. As did the Soviet Union, including when Trotsky was in the government.

  11. Brianthedog on said:

    Richard Farnos:
    brianthedog,

    President Hollande also calls himself a socialist but like you also sounds like a liberal. I think the British working class helping break from the neo-liberal EU empire is a really good thing. Like wise the working class voted against the neo-liberal establishment in the US. They actually get it as they have to endure it.
    Useful idiots like you enable the liberal elites to exist and without a coherent alternative you can’t blame the working class voting for Trump. You are part of the problem and not the solution.

    I agree with you Btd that Capitalists are always inventing new ways to screw the working class ie über etal, but that this has nothing to do with a) ‘minorities’ gaining rights or b) migration.We are all ultimately working class.

    Now Btg if you think Brexit and Trump are good for the working class you are idiot.These are red herrings funded by far right capitalists to prevent you focusing on the real enemy – Capitalism!

  12. Andy Newman on said:

    Richard Farnos: What do we do with the 3 million EU citizens who live in the UK

    I think they should all be offered permanent rights of residency, in the hope they stay and continue to enrich our society.

  13. Andy Newman on said:

    Richard Farnos: I have read the report and make a direct link to it. I can find no reference to a 30 per cent cut.

    Nor do I make a reference to a 30 pet cent cut, I refer to the findings of the report which say that a 10 per cent increase in immigration in work sectors where there is substitution lead to a 1.88 PC wage cut.

    I observe that in some work sectors the proportion of the workforce who are migrants is 45 PC. Figure 3 in the report.

    In the semi skilled sector migrants earn 5.4 PC less than natives, so each 10 PC, which would lead to a composition effect on average wages of 0.54 PC, whereas the measured effect is 1.88 PC, showing that migration also depressed native wages in thus segment.

    I am happy to be corrected, because I am still reading through this and may have missed a counter argument

  14. Andy Newman on said:

    Richard Farnos: As a Socialist I am not clear what the policy or strategy point your trying to make

    I am suggesting that we shouldn’t start from an ideological principle and deduce what we think the facts should be based on what would be politically convenient.

    Nor am I very receptive of advice from people who have not personally organised migrant workers on how it should be done.

    We live in uncertain times, and we have no knowledge of what the Brexit negotiations will bring, and even the UK govt has limited opportunity to shape thr outcome. So a Labour movement response needs to be based on organising not posturing

  15. John Grimshaw on said:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/05/29/migrants-wages-uk-immigration_n_5409319.html

    I have looked all around on this issue the above is just one example. Logically migrant workers who are prepared to work for lower wages should undermine “native” workers wages but there seems to be very little evidence of it. Other than the very low skilled. In my “industry”, teaching one of the biggest problems is caused by the casualization of labour. Schools routinely use private agencies to fill posts for unspecified periods of time. Most of these teachers are usually “natives” in my experience. I won’t argue with Andy’s point because I haven’t worked in his industry and I carefully read his stuff on a different thread about M&S. What it does suggest to me is that union organisation is the best way to proceed rather than focussing on the background of these workers.

  16. Brianthedog on said:

    John Grimshaw,

    You need both. Where you have a existing culture of unionisation is easier
    , but a culture of unions in many low pay sectors are thin on the ground and an unlimited reserve army of free movement labour makes it very difficult to organise and raise standards.

    Lefties need to wake up and realise this. EU Free movement is not a good thing for the working classes and they are not stupid and are voting with their feet. It’s the liberals that are thick and out of touch.

  17. Andy Newman on said:

    John Grimshaw: Logically migrant workers who are prepared to work for lower wages should undermine “native” workers wages but there seems to be very little evidence of it.

    There is evidence, it depends on the overall state of the economy, during a boom any negative will quickly be overcome, in a recession they won’t.

    John Grimshaw: In my “industry”, teaching one of the biggest problems is caused by the casualization of labour

    It is obviously harder for non native English speakers to get jobs as teachers. However 30 PC of doctors and dentists are immigrants, which has had no adverse effect on wages and among doctors there is high density of union membership, this is because the migration is in response to a skill shortage and is demand led.

  18. Andy Newman on said:

    Brianthedog: an unlimited reserve army of free movement labour makes it very difficult to organise and raise standards.

    There is also a difference of perspective between different migrants, some intend to stay, others do not, some come from countries with traditions of unions, some do not. Some speak English, some do not, some are sustained by a large community with self support, some are not.

    I offer equal respect and dignity to everyone, from wheresoever they come, but let us not wish away problems with mantras about ” unions should do more”

  19. Richard Farnos on said:

    Andy Newman: I think they should all be offered permanent rights of residency, in the hope they stay and continue to enrich our society.

    So you agree migrants enrich society, so why not have more?

  20. Richard Farnos on said:

    Andy Newman: Nor do I make a reference to a 30 pet cent cut, I refer to the findings of the report which say thata 10 per cent increase in immigration in work sectors where there is substitution lead to a 1.88 PC wage cut.

    I observe that in some work sectors the proportion of the workforce who are migrants is 45 PC. Figure 3 in the report.

    In the semi skilled sector migrants earn 5.4 PC less than natives, so each 10 PC, which would lead to a composition effect on average wages of 0.54 PC, whereas the measured effect is 1.88 PC, showing that migration also depressed native wages in thus segment.

    I am happy to be corrected, because I am still reading through this and may have missed a counter argument

    Good on you Andy, smaller men (and women) would have tried and bluffed out.

    We can move on.

  21. Richard Farnos on said:

    Brianthedog,

    Who do you think youre kidding? Most of Europe is far more organised than the UK, especially in the service sectors most effected by migration.

    In my experience EU migrants are shocked at the lack of TU organisation in the UK.

    Anyway this should be totally irrelevant, are people really suggesting that people should be denied entry because the nations they have come from don’t have have strong TU history?

  22. Brianthedog on said:

    Richard Farnos,

    Yes it’s all the bureaucrats fault in the IK unions, they must do better. Migrants workers are just shocked that these lazy racist officials have never asked them to join and part with 3 quid a week.

    As Andy said don’t let your (trot) theory get in the way of reality. You obviously have no clue about organising workers in low pay sectors. Those that have on here are just idiots. Farcical.

  23. Brianthedog on said:

    Richard Farnos,

    “Most of Europe is far more organised than the UK, especially in the service sectors most effected by migration.”

    Not true. Eastern Europe where the majority of free movement EU workers come from to work in the low pay sectors are a trade union free desert. They also have almost zero free movement workers in the low pay sectors.

    The UK has higher union density than France. The Spanish and Portugal trade unions in the low pay sector are not strong. Germany has high unionisation in traditional white ‘German’ jobs but not in low pay sectors. The Nordics are different and have strong sectoral bargaining and structures but they also have less free movement migrants than the UK.

    Your rhetoric doesn’t match reality.

  24. Karl Stewart on said:

    I heartily agree with Len McLuskey’s call for those EU nationals who settled here before the vote to have their right to stay guaranteed. I’d go further than that and give this group of people full UK citizenship.

    I’m not so sure I agree with him on the issue of our remaining within the EU single market (the EEA), as I’m not sure the extent to which this could impact on the ability of a future Labour government to carry out renationalisation, public ownership of our key strategic industries, large-scale investment in these industries (along with further large-scale investment in public services and infrastructure), selective import controls, and public procurement – basically, the range of policies that are essential for any kind of socialist orientation.

    On the question of the UK’s future immigration policies – and in particular, the question of free movement of individuals from EU countries to the UK, I can’t see how any restriction of this, or indeed any change to this policy, is possible if we remain within the EU single market (EEA). My understanding is that free movement within the EU is obligatory for all EEA members.

    So whatever the merits or otherwise of the author’s proposal to only allow UK entry to workers who are already covered by a collective agreement, unless this is enacted at an EEA-wide level, then our EEA membership may well prevent us from carrying this out.

    I think we need to either belong to the EEA, in which case, also accepting its rules and regulations, or take the decision not to belong to it, in which case we can decide these matters for ourselves.

    If we were able to decide for ourselves, there’s no reason why we could not apply free-movement principles if we so decided. Or apply Len McLuskey’s policy of restricting recruitment abroad to workers covered by collective agreements as he proposes, or take an approach which applies different criteria to different countries based on other trade agreements we may strike with them – something like this applies between the so-called ‘BRICS’ nations for example.

    But I do think it’s of high importance that we first establish whether we want to belong to EEA and that we understand fully what restrictions this could place – particularly in terms of our overall own economic planning – as it does seem to me that something of a ‘common-sense consensus’ appears to emerging on the left and centre that EEA membership is definitely the right way to go.

    But have we thought this through enough?

  25. Karl Stewart on said:

    I think the fairest system of entry rules and regulations should be that there is a starting assumption that people are allowed to enter unless there is a good reason why not.

    Criteria could be terrorists, criminals, or others who presence here is deemed to be potentially harmful or dangerous to society.

  26. brianthedog on said:

    Karl Stewart:
    I think the fairest system of entry rules and regulations should be that there is a starting assumption that people are allowed to enter unless there is a good reason why not.

    Criteria could be terrorists, criminals, or others who presence here is deemed to be potentially harmful or dangerous to society.

    Good for you Karl and join the rest of the neo-liberals.

    Fortunately in the Labour Party it looks like common sense and representing the working class is beginning to prevail.

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/nov/15/clive-lewis-labour-eu-free-movement-corbyn

  27. #39 Brian can speak for himself, but my response to that question would be that the first principle to establish is that there should be management of entry, as in the case of every functioning state in the world, including former and existing socialist ones.

  28. Karl Stewart on said:

    Evan P,

    And do you have an opinion as to how the basic principles on which it should be managed?

    Reason I’m asking is because all those who complain about immigration very rarely advance any actual proposals as to how it can be managed, or reduced.

    They’re against every suggestion, but without a suggestion of their own.

  29. There are 2 separate questions here: 1. should there be rules in place to decide who is allowed legally to take up residence and work in Britain and who is not?, and 2. what levels of net immigration or emigration will those rules facilitate? Question 2 is the one which seems to get the politicians excited, and it’s the one over which they have very little control.

  30. Karl Stewart:
    Evan P,

    And do you have an opinion as to how the basic principles on which it should be managed?

    Reason I’m asking is because all those who complain about immigration very rarely advance any actual proposals as to how it can be managed, or reduced.

    They’re against every suggestion, but without a suggestion of their own.

    My response is to a debate on the left in which I suspect we may be on different sides.

    One position (which I used to share when I was under the influence of trotskyism and more importantly of a very good friend of mine, the late Steve Cohen, a great immigration lawyer and campaigner) is that the correct socialist position is opposition in principle to all immigration controls as they are apparently inherently racist.

    Another position is that socialists,

    1) Oppose racism including specifically race discrimination.

    2) Stand for a planned economy and oppose neo-liberalism.

    3) Believe in protecting existing working conditions, wages and benefits.

    And that our policies on immigration should reflect the above.

    Also, whether we are reformist or revolutionary socialists we recognise that we are going to be living within a nation state for the foreseeable future, no matter how lovely it is to imagine there’s no countries (or possessions for that matter).

  31. John Grimshaw on said:

    John Grimshaw:
    Evan P,

    Evan, what? Even if the existing conditions are crap?

    Surely your 3 could be re-worded to say something like we will campaign to improve pay and conditions of all UK workers including a reasonable minimum wage for all, pay parity for workers doing the same or similar work, good training for all etc. But you take my point.

  32. John Grimshaw on said:

    Up thread I said that most teachers were “natives” (#25). This is of course not entirely true. It depends on subject taught and where you are in the country. So for example it is not uncommon to find that modern foreign languages teachers are from either Spain, France or Germany. In London especially there are a lot of Commonwealth originating teachers especially when there is a shortage of teachers, which there often is. Which brings me on to appoint. A number of comrades contributing to this or similar debates on this blog have said that they oppose free movement for EU citizens because it discriminates against Commonwealth or other citizens. If the UK opts out of the EEA and bans free movement for EU citizens will this not stop those MFL teachers coming which schools need? and will it then not serve to discriminate against EU citizens in favour of Commonwealth ones?

  33. #49 I would have thought it axiomatic that defending existing conditions etc means defending them against worse ones.

    So yes, if they are crap I would be in favour of defending them against ones that are even more crap. Don’t we spend quite a lot of time doing just that?

    Obviously (because I am a socialist and a trade unionist) I want to improve existing conditions (In fact I want to change forthwith the old conditions if at all possible).

    #50 So by all means re-word it accordingly if you feel it’s necessary.

  34. #47 How you go about protecting a country’s borders surely depends on the nature of any potential threat?

    As I’ve said before (again Brian can speak for himself) the initial debate seems to be as to whether border/ immigration controls are in fact justified in socialist terms or not.

    Due to a conflation between right social democratic worship of the free market (read Gaitskell, never mind Blair) on the one hand and libertarian ultra-left utopianism on the other we seem to need to get a handle on this because I feel that by default we’ve ended up in a situation where large numbers of people believe that the standard socialist position is that there should be no immigration rules at all and open borders, and that people who have the temerity to disagree with this on the left feel forced to justify their position rather than the other way round.

  35. John Grimshaw on said:

    and that people who have the temerity to disagree

    Whatever our disagreements Evan I respect your opinion and those of your other comrades who appear on this blog. It just that I find it difficult to understand how securing borders would work in the interests of the working class. Also as I sure you know if and when the ruling class decides what sort of borders it wants they are still going to let people in (skilled?) according to the political climate, but it will be on their terms still.

  36. #54 That wasn’t aimed particularly at you John and apologies if it came across as hostile in any way.

    As to your question, I think the more relevant question is how having open borders would benefit the working class.

    Because every country in the world other than failed states has some form of border control, and that includes every socialist country.

    I may be wrong but I’m sure Soviet Russia under the leadership of Lenin had them. Cuba certainly does.

    It’s the default position in the case of nation states, and they aren’t going to disappear too quickly.

    We can imagine there’s no countries, and it may not be hard to do , but arriving at the position where that is a reality will be considerably harder.

  37. brianthedog on said:

    John Grimshaw,

    That’s your suggestion not mine. Ending EU free movement of labour is mine.

    Not sure if you have noticed but creating hysteria and the mocking carried out by liberals in the defence of neo-liberal policies is not working – Brexit and Trump.

    Try something new.

    Too much of left is so wedded to neo-liberalism and globalisation that its abandoned the working class and then acts surprised when it turns to the right for answers.

  38. brianthedog on said:

    Evan P:
    #47 How you go about protecting a country’s borders surely depends on the nature of any potential threat?

    As I’ve said before (again Brian can speak for himself) the initial debate seems to be as to whether border/ immigration controls are in fact justified in socialist terms or not.

    Due to a conflation between right social democratic worship of the free market (read Gaitskell, never mind Blair) on the one hand and libertarian ultra-left utopianism on the other we seem to need to get a handle on this because I feel that by default we’ve ended up in a situation where large numbers of people believe that the standard socialist position is that there should be no immigration rules at all and open borders, and that people who have the temerity to disagree with this on the left feel forced to justify their position rather than the other way round.

    You put it very succinctly.

    Especially about the ultra left libertarianism.

  39. Karl Stewart on said:

    It is very, very difficult to pin down people who complain about immigration to specific measures.

    I think a policy in which the starting point is a presumption that someone can enter, but that the state retains the right to exclude persons from entry if there is good reason for this exclusion actually works in a practical way.

    I don’t want to remain within the EU single market (EEA) or be bound by its rules, and I do think that potential entrants should be treated equally on the basis of the country of origin, but it doesn’t seem fair to me that people should be denied entry without reason.

    However, if people disagree with that proposition, on the grounds that it is insufficiently exclusive, then please set out some idea of what criteria you do think should be put in place.

    All I’m hearing so far are comments about ‘yahh liberals’ and ‘we really need to discuss this issues’ and ‘people really do have genuine concerns’ and ‘grrr…free-movement…political-correctness-gawn-mad..blah blah blah’.

    So come on, let’s debate this important issue and let’s have some suggestions guys.

  40. #58 As I said in response to John Grimshaw above, the way I pose it is that socialists should,

    1) Oppose racism including specifically race discrimination.

    2) Stand for a planned economy and oppose neo-liberalism.

    3) Believe in protecting existing working conditions, wages and benefits.

    And that our policies on immigration should reflect the above.

  41. Andy newman on said:

    John Grimshaw: If the UK opts out of the EEA and bans free movement for EU citizens will this not stop those MFL teachers coming which schools need?

    No they could come here under a Tier Two visa

  42. brianthedog on said:

    Evan P,

    I am not sure if Karl actually reads your well thought out posts and instead prefers that open borders and free movement of EU labour makes him right on and f%$k what it actually does to the working class in our country.

  43. John Grimshaw on said:

    Evan P: I would have thought it axiomatic that defending existing conditions etc means defending them against worse ones.

    I agree it does, but it’s just that there are plenty of people in the country who’s conditions are so crap that they might be a little bemused if we defended them.

  44. John Grimshaw on said:

    brianthedog: Brexit and Trump.

    Well yes there is definitely something going on there BtD. I note however that Trump of course is pretty hot on borders and foreigners. I’m assuming your not on his side however?

  45. John Grimshaw on said:

    Karl Stewart: It is very, very difficult to pin down people who complain about immigration to specific measures.

    Trump’s not difficult to pin down Karl. He’s going to build a wall across the USA/Mexican border. Well assuming it ever happens.

  46. John Grimshaw on said:

    Andy newman: No they could come here under a Tier Two visa

    They could. But is that a better thing? And does it do what it is supposed to do? All non-EU born foreigners who wish to work/stay in the country have to have a visa as far as I am aware but there are more outside of EU born foreigners living in this country than there are EU citizens as far as I aware. Presuamably usually because their countries are poorer than EU ones but also some of them may well have family here. The other risk of visas of course is the potential for tit-for-tat. There are an estimated 1.3 million UK citiznes living in Spain for example. Okay many are retired but a number work. They may well be forced to get visas as well or worse.

  47. John Grimshaw on said:

    Of the 1.2 million Britons living abroad, the largest communities are in Spain, Ireland, France and Germany. Many are retired and live on savings and UK pensions. It is estimated that the British government spent around 1.8 billion euros on state pensions to British retirees living elsewhere in the EU.

    In 2011, there were 7.5 million foreign-born residents in the UK, corresponding to 11.9 per cent of the total population. A 2010 estimate shows that 4.76 million (7.7 per cent) were born outside the EU and 2.24 million (3.6 per cent) were born in another EU member state.

    Three million EU citizens in the UK.
    Around 3 million people living in the UK in 2014 were citizens of another EU country. That’s about 5% of the UK population. Over 2 million nationals of other EU countries are in work, about 7% of the working population.

  48. Brianthedog on said:

    John Grimshaw,

    Liberals have conveniently forgot that Hillary’s husband built a very progressive fence to keep out Mexicans when he was President.

    Not a supporter of Trump but I think the world is a safer place as Hillary would have taken us into confrontation with Russia and tried to instal Islamic Salafist terrorists into government in Syria at the behest of the House of Saud.

    He has also got the neo-liberal elites that had Clinton in their back pockets scared and that he will tear up NAFTA and walk away from TTIP.

    Are you a Hillary supporter?

  49. John Grimshaw on said:

    Brianthedog: Are you a Hillary supporter?

    No definitely not the Clintons are part of the problem. But along with Trump they are two sides of a debate amongst the ruling class which has little to do with ordinary people. Trump is a populist (a very, very rich one) whereas Clinton is state insider (a very, very rich one).

    Brianthedog: He has also got the neo-liberal elites that had Clinton in their back pockets scared and that he will tear up NAFTA and walk away from TTIP.

    Maybe they were shocked but I doubt if they are scared and if they are not for very long. We shall see about the treaties you mention. As we speak Trump is meeting with Shinzo Abe to discuss TTP, I wouldn’t hold your breath.

    Brianthedog: Not a supporter of Trump but I think the world is a safer place as Hillary would have taken us into confrontation with Russia and tried to instal Islamic Salafist terrorists into government in Syria at the behest of the House of Saud.

    It could be Trump is dreaming of the era of Great Isolation before the last war. Who knows? If so I suspect he’s in for a rude awakening.

    Brianthedog: Liberals have conveniently forgot that Hillary’s husband built a very progressive fence to keep out Mexicans when he was President.

    Agreed. Although it wasn’t very successful, which is why Trump was talking about building an Israeli style wall.

    Brianthedog:
    John Grimshaw,

    Liberals have conveniently forgot that Hillary’s husband built a very progressive fence to keep out Mexicans when he was President.

    Not a supporter of Trump but I think the world is a safer place as Hillary would have taken us into confrontation with Russia and tried to instal Islamic Salafist terrorists into government in Syria at the behest of the House of Saud.

    He has also got the neo-liberal elites that had Clinton in their back pockets scared and that he will tear up NAFTA and walk away from TTIP.

  50. John Grimshaw: there are plenty of people in the country who’s conditions are so crap that they might be a little bemused if we defended them.

    Seriously?

    Can you suggest some examples of people who would feel like that?

    I remember when people used to ask me during the miners’ strike why I wanted to defend peoples’ right to do such horrible dirty work. Of course we can’t defend that anymore.

  51. John Grimshaw on said:

    Evan P,

    For the avoidance of doubt Evan I didn’t mean the people. I meant rather the crap conditions they work in. For example zero hours contracts. Of course we all defended the miners despite it being as you say dangerous and dirty work but by the late sixties it was reasonably well paid. I presume we wouldn’t have defended the prewar system which workers turning up at the gate and some being turned away?

  52. John Grimshaw on said:

    A study by the social mobility unit.
    The findings are summarised as follows.
    1) Millennials, those brought up in the eighties are the first generation since the war to start work earning less than the previous generation.
    2) Bright children from poor backgrounds still have little chance to “break” into the educational mainstream. In one year 2010 not a single child on free school means went to Oxbridge. Teenagers from poorer households are now more than a third likely to drop out of school at 16.
    3) Only one in eight children from poorer families is likely to become a high earner. The report warns that many towns are “hollowing” out as young people have to move to get jobs. This no longer just applies to north and south but also to seaside towns and midlands industrial twns like Stoke or Mansfield. Of the 65 parts of the country identified as social mobility cold spots only 3 voted remain.

    4) Rates of home ownership amongst under 44’s have dropped by 17% in a decade.
    5) Fewer than 3% of children on free school meals get 5+ A*-Cs if you live in Yorkshire and Humber or the East Midlands. The same figure is 10% in London.
    6) In London the number of high paid jobs rose by 700,000 in the past decade whereas in the north-east it was only 56,000.
    Research by University College London Institute of Education based on an analysis of 7000 people born in 1970 looking at their social background, education, employment and income. Those brought up by hih earning parents could expect an average salary of £85,000 (men) and £76,000 (women).

  53. I realise that John.

    I don’t think that makes a difference to either of our points however.

    John Grimshaw: For the avoidance of doubt Evan I didn’t mean the people. I meant rather the crap conditions they work in.

  54. Karl Stewart on said:

    My view on this is similar to bouncing a door – there’s a presumption of permitted entry, but the venue ‘reserves the right’ etc.

  55. Jellytot on said:

    John Grimshaw:
    http://edition.cnn.com/2016/11/16/politics/japan-abe-trump-visit/index.html

    Also I believe, at least rhetorically, Trump is thinking about encouraging South Korea and Japan to develop and deploy their own nuclear armaments to defend themselves against specifically North Korea. You don’t have to be the brain or Britain to see how, if that were to happen, ho else it might pan out. China’s not that far away.

    Japan and South Korea have had basically free defence courtsey of the US for decades. The fact that they did not need to spend billions on defence meant that they could divert monies into private R&D. It was a major factor in their “Tiger” economic rise.

    Trump being a businessman basically wants them now to start stumping up.

    Nothing wrong in that.

  56. John Grimshaw on said:

    Jellytot,

    Well. It’s more complicated than that Jellytot. But of course trump makes its sound like its simples. The USA was happy to provide the “defence” for a long period of time for these countries because they could obviously but also it put them in the driving seat. The USA also wanted these countries to be immunised against soviet style communisme so allowing them to use their surplus to develop into fully fledged western style capitalist democracies was, from their point of view, a good thing. The USA is not in same total hegemonic position it was in thirty years ago so new tensions are raised in us foreign policy directives.

  57. Jellytot on said:

    John Grimshaw,

    The US is also basically broke.

    It cannot afford to be as generous as it once was. Hence the rhetoric about Nato and the east asian allies paying their way.