Thursday, 24 November 2011

Immigration: more, please

So the news on immigration is that it has gone on rising - despite the Government's unrealistic and unlikely target to bring it down to the 'tens of thousands'. Good luck with that, Ministers, because it's simply not going to happen.

Anyway, I say this is news to make us get the champagne out, not to don the sackcloth and ashes. For three reasons really:

1. The country needs more young people. Someone needs to pay for our pensions, and the ageing 'home' population won't be able to go on doing that forever - at least not on such generous terms. This has been clear for many years. It's simple. So the arrival of young people, who often have more children themselves, can only be welcome.

2. Immigrants work harder. Historically, influxes of new peoples do the work that the 'British' (whoever they are) won't do, or don't want to do. Many people in the host population are as clear about this as the newcomers. Irish building workers among my own forebears helped to build the railways, roads and canals that criss-cross Britain today. Evidence piles up, all the time, about the long hours and the sacrifices immigrants will bear to secure a better life for their children - putting in more to the social security system than they take out. More power to them.

3. Migration says we're open for business. There's lots of evidence that (for instance) Mexican immigration into Texas draws in more and more investment, as well as raw movements of people. Confidence follows. Physical infrastructure gets built. A signal is sent that the United Kingdom is a dynamic, fast-moving, energetic place to live and work.

Jewish immigration in the 1880s and 1890s; Afro-Caribbean immigration in the 1950s; immigration from the Indian sub-continent in the 1960s and 1970s; the arrival of the Ugandan Asians in the early '70s: each wave has made Britain a better place to live. But those groups have also (and this is the critical point) ensured that the country has always been younger, more productive, harder worker and richer than it would otherwise have been.

Rising immigration? Time to celebrate.

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