Wednesday, 7 December 2016
Opening a conversation with Andy Burnham about immigration.
Andy Burnham says the poorest communities pay the cost of high immigration. Or, the way he put it, the people in these communities think that they shouldn't have to pay the cost of high immigration.
"Ok, Andy, it's their perception and you are entitled to put it that way. You could say that it's people perception that UFOs hover over Birmingham. However, neither the UFO perception or the one about immigration are worth reporting unless you have a reason to be talking about it in the House of Commons.
So, can you please spell out the way in net terms the poorest people are 'paying for high immigration'? To help here are some pointers:
1. Is 'high immigration' a 'cost'? Or is it a net benefit?
2. If poor people have been made poorer, what has made them poorer? a) government policy on freezing their wages? b) govt policy on taking away their benefits d) govt policy which has resulted in increase in housing costs or e) if none of the above, is it really immigration that has made them poorer?
3. If you really believe and can say that it's 2e can you give us figures which disentangle the other reasons why poor people are poorer from the specific claim you are making that it's 'immigration'?
4. Can you direct us to the exact mechanism by which this happens? Do immigrants turn up somewhere and force poor people's expenses up? And/or wages down?
5. Yes, we've heard the 'wages down' argument but this brings in another actor to the business: the employer. You know, Andy, that in actual fact, workers don't raise or lower wages. Ultimately it's the deed of the employer. Why they do it is another matter. So, if wages come down then we need to look at employers, do we not, not immigrants who are after all fellow workers.
6. Is there any mechanism that is always in place which gives employers reason to lower wages? Might that not be the day to day workings of capitalism ie reasonable business practice: keep wage 'costs' low. And employers to that all the time, don't they Andy, whether there are immigrants there or not. That's the job of the employer to do that.
6. To sum up Andy, can you tell us precisely how this thing you say is going on, is actually going on?
7. If it's not going on and you know it's not going on, isn't it your job as an MP to tell your constituents who have this 'perception' that they've got it wrong?
8. Or is it your job to attach yourself to their coat-tails and indeed to the coattails of UKIP and the Tories and repeat 'immigrants make poor people poorer' (or words to that effect)?
9. The work you've done on Hillsborough and Orgreave is fantastic and nothing can take that work away from you."