Thursday, 14 April 2011

Cameron's myths and the "influx of people"

David Cameron claims in a speech today that the 2.2 million total of net immigrants from 1997-2009 is "the largest influx of people Britain has ever had".

But I was unsure, so I thought I'd check the data. 15 minutes of searching and downloading some national statistics data proved him wrong.

In fact, in the same length of period from 1946 to 1958, a net total of 2.8 million people arrived in Britain - none of whom could speak English, or had any assets, none of whom knew or followed our cultural norms, and none of whom got a job or started a business for at least a decade after arriving. Indeed the total arrivals in this period were 9.4 million, with 6.6 million people departing.

And yet nobody at the time had any problem with them - we fed, educated and housed them, and indeed they were one of the major reasons for the creation of the NHS. Today, those who are still here (nearly all of them) make an overwhelming contribution to our economy, creating much of the economy's wealth and paying a huge share of taxes.

Where is this group of newly minted British citizens? All around us. The period 1946-58 was the height of the baby boom, and those 9.4 million arrivals were newborn children. We could handle that many arrivals in the much poorer society of the 1950s, with far less infrastructure and productivity - indeed, it's inconceivable what our economy and society would be like today if they hadn't turned up. So we can certainly benefit from a few million more people now. The more people we have around us the better - let's welcome them in, help them learn the skills and language to make a contribution to our economy and cultural life, and we'll all be better off as a result.

3 comments:

Jim said...

Great post! Since the native population is no longer reproducing at a replacement rate, turning away the immigrants as well is a recipe for serious trouble in the longer term. Who will look after David Cameron in his dotage??

Anonymous said...

Excellent point, well made. Thank you!

Alex G said...

No offence but there's a vast difference between children and immigrants, to the point where your comparison really makes no sense.

The existing working population have a fierce and direct biological motivation to support their children - and young people can legitimately be educated to accept certain values in a way that won't necessarily work with adults raised abroad.

That's not to say that I agree with caps on immigration. The policy makes little economic sense and on a strictly moral level I believe anyone who is willing to come here and work and contribute in their own unique way to British society should be allowed in. I simply think that there are better defences of the right to free migration than a somewhat contrived analogy referencing the baby boom.