17 days to shape Lib Dem policy on immigration

The first events of the Southport Conference last Friday afternoon were three policy consultation sessions. These sessions are the intermediate stage of the policy development process. The first is the establishment of a policy working group which looks at the key issues and takes evidence and then produces a consultation paper to be discussed at Conference and which is also accessible online for members to comment on.

The three papers discussed at Spring will be finalised in light of the consultation and then put to Conference for a final decision.

I went to the session on Immigration. I  should have read the consultation paper weeks ago when it first came out, not on the way down on the train. However, when I did read it, I pretty much spontaneously combusted. I am pretty much a “people should be able to live wherever they want” sort of person. I am not daft enough to think that that is going to fly in the current political environment but I do think our policy should reflect the fact that people are falling in love with life partners from all over the world and we should do all we can to keep them together. 

My disquiet with the paper began at Page 1. Any policy which uses the word “robust” before “humane” needs to step out of the shadow of the Daily Mail. It is left to us to challenge the rhetoric that immigration is a bad thing. We might find out the hard way how good it is when we have a chronic shortage of nurses, doctors, skilled engineers and fruit pickers among other things.

I was also disconcerted by the idea that we should keep the appalling minimum £18,600 income threshold for people to be able to bring their spouse in to this country. That is so cruel, discriminates against women who tend to be lower earners and to take time out of the labour market to have children and has led to an estimated 15000 children growing up with one parent in another country.  It was one of the worst things we enabled in coalition.

The photo above shows Lib Dem Immigrants Chair Lisa Maria Bornemann, Harrow activist Adam Bernard and I. We all spoke up against elements of the paper. Lisa Maria talked about the Life in the UK test and asked us how many of us knew the height of the London Eye.

There was a powerful intervention from Richard Flowers who said that immigration is good for countries and we should enthusiastically spread that message.  A few others were a bit less enthusiastic and warned against being too liberal.

Whatever your views on these things, you have until 31st March to get them in to the Policy Unit at LDHQ (full details in the paper).

Now, does anyone who was at the other consultation sessions on tuition fees or power for people and communities want to write them up?

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • “warned against being too liberal”

    Because it’s not like it’s IN THE NAME OF THE FLIPPING PARTY or anything

    *headdesk headdesk headdesk*

  • Considering the kids from a mixed nationality marriage can get British passports the financial restrictions seem unnecessary.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 14th Mar '18 - 2:13pm

    I think we need a humane and robust stance, agree with Caron on priority words, these matter a lot.

    I do not understand the views that are , people should live wherever they like.

    If there is overcrowding in a house, we say this is exploitation, wrong, maybe a landlord, if owned by those in it, it might be too noisy for neighbours or we might worry for safety.

    Areas are like this too. A country is a large area. It would be far worse to have a government dictate where people could live within a country rather than in it at all. We have governments criticised for homelessness, where do people think huge populations can reside, on the streets .

    We as Liberals believe or should and might do well to more, in quality of life. Not much of that in an area where most get the bus and you wait ages and stand packed on them.

    We believe or should and do not emphasise it, in the rule of law. Not much chance of that if there are no real rules as to coming and going and being allowed to settle anywhere you like.

    Those who love free for all of free movement often live in areas where they use a car, and have stable and low population growth. The same is true of those who loathe it.

    Most of us who are in busy and crowded cities are moderates on this.

    Those of us of immigrant part lineage or married to someone who is, are even , far more so.

    We love, the immigrant, loathe the spousal veto threshold, and like an immigration policy based on anyone coming here with a connection and to settle. Like marriage for a start. Or immediate dependent family. The coalition was shameful on the former, the Brown government on the latter. Both put money ahead of humanity. But the economic neoliberls or so called liberals who think any old business has needs ahead of communities, are nearly as inhumane at times, because they put the economy before society.

  • For many it is not a case of living where you want but living where a job can be found.
    People hope to move to where they can find better prospects.

  • Peter Watson 14th Mar '18 - 3:33pm

    @Lorenzo Cherin “It would be far worse to have a government dictate where people could live within a country rather than in it at all.”
    With regards to immigration, wasn’t this Lib Dem policy (perhaps it still is)? I remember Nick Clegg in the leaders’ debates talking about a regional points based system for migrants.

  • Peter Watson 14th Mar '18 - 3:43pm

    “Any policy which uses the word “robust” before “humane” needs to step out of the shadow of the Daily Mail.”
    That is not new. Looking back at previous manifestos, in 2010 the party’s approach was “firm but fair” and in 2015 it was “robust and fair”. By 2017 it had become “fairly and efficiently”, so perhaps the Daily mail vote was no longer being courted? 😉

  • Thanks for highlighting this, Caron.

    One thing that strikes me is on the quality of decisions around asylum seekers. Having seen decisions made by the Home Office as part of my former job I was often appalled by them and even as a non-lawyer I could see they were pretty dreadful legally within minutes. I would highlight:

    1. Restoring adequate legal aid so that lawyers and para-legals can afford the time to provide more than a “cookie cutter” one size fits all approach.

    2. Implementing and resourcing the recommendations of the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration’s report on the asylum casework system which is very damning. see https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/627853/ho_annual_report_and_accounts_2016_2017.pdf

    3. Making the ASYLUM visa decisions body independent of the UKBA and the Home Office.

    4. There should be in-built on-going independent quality assurance of the whole process of asylum – from initial processing, the legal advice available, the home office assessment and the tribunal system.

    4. Highlighting of the past good work that things such as the kindertransport did in preventing death and torture.

    5. Highlighting the incredibly small number of asylum seekers there are to the UK – just 30,000 into a population of 60 million.

    What do others think? If you agree with these points broadly please support them in a submission to the policy department and campaign for them with your own MP.

    While wrongly refusing someone a non-asylum visa is disappointing for them – wrongly refusing someone an asylum visa is tantamount to being complicit in their death, torture and maiming – and that responsibility falls on every single one of us and the society and country as a whole for not standing up for the rights of asylum seekers. I believe that Liberals should be at the forefront of doing so.

  • Michael, those seem like an excellent start to me.
    I think we do need to work on the perception of immigrants as well – and yes, I know, the press are against us, but when are they not? – and relentlessly point out the good they do in aggregate and individually.

  • So I still don’t get it. Are people saying immigration is a good thing? Yes? Is that completely open immigration? And if not why not?

  • Phil Wainewright 14th Mar '18 - 7:35pm

    Didn’t conference pass a strategy motion that said we would no longer avoid being “too liberal”?

    On topic, I feel we should get into the habit of using the word ‘migration’ as opposed to ‘immigration’, The ability to move from the UK to live, study and work is an important dimension of this debate that gets neglected if you only look at the flows in one direction.

  • The Migrant Policy Integration Index http://www.mipex.eu/key-findings ranks countries on the basis on effectivness of immigration policies – Sweden, Portual and New Zealand are ranked 1,2 & 3 respectively. The UK comes in 15th out of 38 on the criteria.

    One of the key findings notes:

    “Immigration should be a top item on the EU agenda, according to an increasing number of EU residents (24% in autumn 2014, up +16% since 2012, esp. BG, DK, DE, IT, MT, SE, UK), ranked just after the economy (33%), unemployment (29%) and public financing (25%).”

  • David: I’d be up for that, to be honest.
    The older I get the more I think we should just drop all the borders and sod it.

  • And would that go as far as leaving your front door open with a sign outside saying, come on in and stay as long as you like? If so try selling the idea to all the neighbours in your street and see if it provides a clue as to how successful it would be in getting Liberal Democrats elected.

  • “A few others were a bit less enthusiastic and warned against being too liberal.”

    Well you have welcomed a whole bunch of people into the party who aren’t necessarily liberals (not all but certainly some). Some of us said the party has now have changed significantly since 2010 (even 2014). So its perhaps not an unexpected thing to happen.

  • Jennie
    East, West, Home’s Best

  • Personally
    The older I get, the more convinced I become that you have to work within the limits of what is acceptable to the general population.

  • What David Evans said. And Glenn.

  • Malcolm Todd 15th Mar '18 - 9:04am

    What Jennie said.

    And why does anti-migration rhetoric always sweep immediately to metaphors of letting people in your house? A country isn’t a house, rather obviously. I’ve no intention of letting David Evans in my house, but that doesn’t mean I think he shouldn’t be let in the country.

  • David Evans 15th Mar '18 - 9:12am

    I would amend what Glenn said slightly by adding ‘you have to start by working within the limits of what is acceptable to the general population, but keep nudging it steadily in a better direction.’ When you go for broke and then lose (which you usually do), you strengthen your opponents and often put making progress back many years.

    Ultimately politics is a long game, not a five year dash.

  • Malcolm Todd 15th Mar '18 - 9:26am

    Now, that is a fair position, David Evans. I might still not agree in principle, but I’ll probably let you into my house after all.

  • David Evans 15th Mar '18 - 9:29am

    Malcom, that is disappointing, As a good Lib Dem, I would have no hesitation in inviting a fellow Lib Dem into my house. For the simple reason that we agree on much more than we differ.

    Perhaps you fully support the view that we should “Drop all the borders and sod it.” I disagree with it. But it would be interesting to consider how best to make the electoral progress we need so we can improve things.

  • Jayne mansfield 15th Mar '18 - 9:41am

    @ Malcolm Todd,
    ‘Why does anti -migration rhetoric always sweep immediately to metaphors of letting people in your house?’

    Good question.

    I have always assumed that it is for the same reason some liken the running of the economy to a household budget.

    It seems like a nice homespun way of simplifying and explaining a complex situation to the less educated in such matters, one that they can identify with, ( me included), but in reality providing false analogies.

  • David Evans 15th Mar '18 - 9:42am

    Malcolm, Cross postings, which clarified things. Hope to meet you one day. We have friends in Gedling. Maybe if you have a by election sometime. All the best.

  • “Immigration policy” is a strange term worth dissecting. In practice, an island-nation can formulate its wishes in two matters: whose departure from other countries’ (air)ports to block and whom to send back, if they arrive. I am leaving aside the option of sinking or shooting down northbound ships and planes, respectively. It becomes apparently clear that practicalities trump law. The UK has today outsourced a large portion of its immigration practice to France, India, Bangladesh, etc. The EU has done so with Turkey, Lybia, Marocco, Algeria. These countries are not bound by any UK Government’s “immgration policy” (and soon neither by EU-law), but by what they agree to do in the prevailing circumstances. At some point, they will yield to population-pressure, and let people move on. Likewise, expulsions need the unenforceable approval of the receiving country.

    Eventually, there are two scenarios: either Europe succeeds in making Africa a liveable place for more than 2 Billion people, or it will be overrun. So, don’t worry too much about the LibDem immigration policy; it does not matter much, other than feeding the widespread “take back control of our borders” illusion.

    I am not even addressing the irrelevant non-issue of EU freedom of movement in this context.

  • Malcolm Todd 15th Mar '18 - 11:21am

    Arnold Kiel
    Agreed. Quite apart from matters of principle (vital as those are!), the practical fact is that migration will happen, especially in a modern world of mass transport and information; and when there are huge disparities in global income and opportunities (to say nothing of environmental degradation) it will be largely one-way.

    Of course, this is also why the answer to extreme population/housing pressure in London is to try to equalise the economies of the regions of the UK, not to build walls and immigration checkpoints at every exit to the M25!

  • @ Jayne – I don’t think that it is “a nice homespun way of simplifying and explaining a complex situation to the less educated” or that it is “in reality providing false analogies,” but is in reality a good point to start to build a model to assess the consequences of a massively complex socio-politico-economic system, that no one on this planet comes close to understanding in full.

    Certainly when assessing the consequences of a suggestion that “we should just drop all the borders and sod it,” I would contend it is a very sensible starting point.

    Personally, I would love it to be that we could have no borders and no-one felt they could be disadvantaged by it, so they would all vote Liberal Democrat and we could do lots of the good stuff we all want to do. Sadly for me it falls over at the first step.

  • I think the house anology needs a few more caveats. Letting people come into your house to babysit your child because you need to go out to work and the opporutnity costs of you foregoing your day job to look after your infant child between 9-5 is far tooi great. Let us start form this position. I think it’s too tame an dunrealistic to start from a position of where one only takes rather than what they contribute (unless you are talkign about asylum). Both eocnomic and indeed social.

  • Jayne Mansfield

    I seem to recall that the home metaphor was introduced into these threads by Arnold Kiel in a previous discussion. I apologise if I’m wrong,. Arguments tend interconnect so sometimes points from one post carrying over into another.
    Personally, I’m not keen on metaphor and am even less keen on cod-psychology being used as a way of explaining the actions/opinions of opponents.

  • >And why does anti-migration rhetoric always sweep immediately to metaphors of letting people in your house?

    If you are not prepared to live by your beliefs and principles then I have no respect for your viewpoint: walk the talk!

  • Malcolm Todd 15th Mar '18 - 3:26pm

    Roland 15th Mar ’18 – 3:08pm
    A complete non-sequitur.
    I believe that we have every right to our own homes, including the right in most circumstances to refuse entry to our own home. If I were to then demand entry to your home (or that you let anyone else come and live in your home for that matter) then I would be guilty of not living my beliefs, but that’s not what we’re talking about.

    A country is not a family home.

    If this is hard to understand without a metaphor, how about this:
    When your next-door neighbour sells her house, are they required to sell it to someone else who lives on the same street, or was born there? Does everyone in the street get a say in whether a stranger to the area should be allowed to live there? Do you think there should be such a restriction on who can move into the house next door? No? Well then, if you don’t let anybody who wants to march into your house, what a hypocrite you must be!

    Doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it? But it’s the same argument.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 15th Mar '18 - 3:40pm

    The issues are twofold.

    Firstly this country does not have the space for a population growth that would be greater than the size allows for. The absurdity of the immediate allowance of new EU countries to arrive here, but made to wait , seven years to do so in most other EU member nations, meant that this country went from being the obvious first choice for a better prospect, London financial and cultural capital, plus the uk, the country of the English language, to the only choice. This meant they got used to it, more came, and more. A good thing they liked it here but there is a down side which even an economically literate party like this seems to miss because it is not able to connect the economic and social liberal easily.

    This country does not implement, whatever the farther left might say to the contrary, a private public partnership in public services, nor a social market.Supply and demand is a law of the economic universe even in a socialist economy , and it is in those where its absence is most evident in people waiting in line for basic food often that runs out.

    If every immigrant who came here was told, not that their country would pay for their treatment in the NHS, which , because of a lack of understanding or funding, does not implement the supply to meet the demand, but , if the immigrants, as is so in most countries, had to have insurance, or pay directly to use only a private market for health, or a social market wherein the provision was private run, the funding a mixed bag according to circumstances, we would not have overcrowding in services like healthcare, ditto, housing, education, though different .

    But that yet, leaves out physical space and security issues. These matter too, and the way of the world and crises in it, more than ever.

    Cultural progress, and liberal values, means, we embrace others, but if they are not sharing those, why should we. We as a party should be standing with those who want to connect here by marriage, the income thresholds must go. We should be for immigration that is about people, not profit, for government, or business.

    We should listen to people in centre oriented liberal parties like Germany and Holland, and those brave ones of similar views here like Maajid Nawaz.

    Then we might be, hey, popular, as well as right.

  • Nonconformistradical 15th Mar '18 - 4:13pm

    “either Europe succeeds in making Africa a liveable place for more than 2 Billion people, or it will be overrun”

    Exactly. Many people migrate because of the sheer difficulty of making an honest living in their home country. I say honest in the perception that some find it all too easy to make a dishonest living anywhere…

    And climate change is going to make it all a whole lot worse…

  • @Lorenzo Cherin

    “Firstly this country does not have the space for a population growth that would be greater than the size allows for. ”

    Well yes by definition if you had built on every inch on land – and even then you could build upwards but fly over Britain and you will see that there is a lot of open space.

    The biggest driver of the need for housing are things such as housing household size is diminishing and that there is not necessarily the “right” type of housing and people are migrating and staying to some parts of the country and not others.

    Where 2 or 3 adult generations might live together – adult children, their parents, and grandparents – now it can just be the parents. Although this is changing with adult children living with their parents for longer once again. The house then becomes comparatively underoccupied with may be 4 or 5 bedrooms where only 1 is needed.

    Lacking are things like starter homes, smaller units for older people.

    Obviously people moving to and then staying and bringing up their families particularly in London and the South East.

    The biggest percentage growth in population from memory was in the 50s-70s from people having babies!

    There are of course issues around immigration. We would have no problem having a population of say 10-20 million more.

    Actually the problem we will have is net emigration – even if stay in the EU! Then we will have “offshoring” of jobs and a smaller working population to support the retired.

  • Thanks for the reminder Caron. As a Liberal I think everyone should have the freedom to choose where they live, but I want the government to do things to encourage them not all to move to London and south-east England, not because I don’t want them as individuals to live there but because it is bad for the area they have left and puts too much strain on the area they move to. What is true within the UK is true across the world. We cannot allow everyone in the world to live in the UK. We should not even allow everyone in the world who wants to live in the UK to live here. We should do as much as we can to encourage people to remain in their own countries and not become economic migrants. We object to the “scaremongering” about the number of people who might want to come to the UK, but to have an open door policy is to give credence to being attacked for saying everyone who wants to come to the UK should be allowed to live here.

    We say immigration is good for the economy, but this doesn’t convince anyone to change their mind and think it is a good a thing. It is much better for the UK for a UK employer to employ someone already here who is not in work than for them to employ someone who has to move here before they can work. So yes when we have achieved full employment let us allow more people to move to the UK to live and work.

    In the meantime we need to argue why particular workers are needed in the UK. We should be looking at how we can reduce the number of doctors and nurses that the NHS recruits from outside the UK. This will mean having policies to encourage people who already live here to train as doctors and nurses and only recruiting from outside the UK because there are not the people already here who want to do the job. There are many roles where people here lack the skills needed to do the job and hence employers recruit people from outside the UK, we need to provide the training for people already here to do those jobs.

    We need to consider the case for seasonal workers. Would it be better for our economy if instead of huge numbers of seasonal workers coming into the UK every year the employer invested in machinery to do the job employing less people?

  • @Jennie 14th Mar ’18 – 4:40pm

    “Michael, those seem like an excellent start to me.”

    Thanks v. much – do appreciate the kind words!

    If you support them, put in a submission and lobby your MP!

  • Nonconformistradical 15th Mar '18 - 6:27pm

    “….The house then becomes comparatively underoccupied with may be 4 or 5 bedrooms where only 1 is needed.

    Lacking are things like starter homes, smaller units for older people. ”

    And/or maybe conversions of one large house to two smaller dwellings – ground floor primarily for occupation by elderly or disabled people and first floor for young sprightly people?

  • @Michael BG 15th Mar ’18 – 5:31pm

    “So yes when we have achieved full employment let us allow more people to move to the UK to live and work.”

    I appreciate the sentiment and your subsequent paragraph on training British people. But to train a doctor, say, does take a five year medical degree plus then several years of on the job training and experience. The issue for other jobs may be not just training but ability and experience.

    On unskilled jobs, there may be an issue as to whether it is particularly attractive for someone here to give up housing benefit and other benefits to earn what may be, say, under a £1 extra an hour or less – especially for a temporary or seasonal job.

    Also an increasing number of jobs can be done over the internet if you don’t allow people to come to this country.

    In all these cases, it is better that the job is done today in the UK then is left unfilled – generating economic activity through people spending their money in the economy and the subsequent knock-on multiplier effects.

  • @ Michael 1

    I am sorry I was not clearer. The long-term aim should be to train people already here to do the jobs which we currently recruit for outside the UK. I accept that it takes a long time to train as a doctor, but we don’t train enough doctors and nurses and I think this is because we don’t have enough places. So firstly we must have enough places and then if they are not filled provide encouragement for people to take them up.

    We don’t know if it is a lack of ability which means people don’t have the necessary training to gain the necessary experience. This is why we have to provide enough training which people can afford to meet future demand for workers.

    If a person receives housing benefit unless that person is single it is unlikely that they would not be entitled to housing benefit if their salary is low and they work enough hours. The problem is often it costs more to be in work than being unemployed and our system doesn’t allow people to keep enough before they start to lose their benefits.

  • Nonconformistradical 15th Mar '18 - 10:58pm

    “The issue for other jobs may be not just training but ability and experience. ”

    And attitude (towards doing a job properly).

  • Katharine Pindar 16th Mar '18 - 1:03am

    If we have to wait for full employment, meaning no more than 2.5% unemployed, before we let more people in to live and work, Michael BG, then we will have a pretty illiberal immigration policy. I don’t think you want that. But either way, the Liberal wish to let more people in (particularly Syrian refugees, for heaven’s sake), should take account of their housing, health and education needs, which ought to be considered together.

    Nonconformistradical, if your suggestion is met of having big houses (whose exactly we won’t ask) divided into two to meet housing need, the upper half for ‘young sprightly people’ and the bottom half for the elderly and disabled, then there had better be an extra requirement, that the downstairs people are deaf, so they won’t be disturbed by the dancing and singing above them! 🙂

  • @Malcolm Todd
    I can see that you haven’t really thought this through.

    >I believe that we have every right to our own homes, including the right in most circumstances to refuse entry to our own home.
    We are in agreement.

    >A country is not a family home.
    A country such as the UK with its long history of land ownership is to all intents and purposes a collection of family homes ie. all the land is owned by individuals (yes, I know things are a little more complicated).

    So now addressing the core issue. In a stable society people can buy and sell homes and there is no problem. The problems arise when there is a lack of balance, which is where we are now with respect to immigration, where more people are wanting to live in the country than there are homes.

    And herein lies the problem, to accommodate these additional people, we are going to have to ask householders to reduce the size of their homes, so that space can be made available for new homes. Hence if as an advocate of positive net immigration you are wanting others to reduce the size of their homes but are not prepared to accept a reduction in your home then you are a hypocrite.

    It is irrelevant whether you live in a house with several acres of land or a one bedroom inner city apartment, the principle is the same; even though in practical terms the impact may be very different.

    Note. In the above I haven’t actually defined just what a ‘home’ is, that is deliberate, because I can understand that someone who has grown up surrounded by streets of terraced housing will have a different concept of home to someone who has grown up on the Yorkshire moors.

  • @Malcolm Todd – re: your metaphor

    This actually contains some interesting points, which aren’t really to do with immigration policy, but do have a bearing on the type of society we wish to live in.

    >When your next-door neighbour sells her house, are they required to sell it to someone else who lives on the same street, or was born there?
    Well this depends on how much you take account of other (LibDem?) policies, such as wanting people who grow up in an area being able to live in that area or not – an issue in areas such as Cornwall.

    >Does everyone in the street get a say in whether a stranger to the area should be allowed to live there?
    This is an interesting discussion point, particularly if you are interested in social cohesion. I have relatives who had to be approved by an established community before they were allocated a home within that community. If you wish to become a Quaker (or get married in a Quaker meeting) then everyone at the meeting concerned gets a say in the matter.

    >Do you think there should be such a restriction on who can move into the house next door? No?
    Well once again this depends on how much you wish to take in to consideration (LibDem?) policy on housing ownership. Many don’t like the fact that people can sell their houses to non-UK (and mostly absent) residents a problem London has for example, this driving up the price of homes and reducing the number of homes available to people who wish to be residents of a particular neighbourhood.

  • I think in this discussion it is worth noting that EVERYONE can benefit where you might think no-one is benefiting.

    Take the example of a retired person that goes to live permanently in another sunnier country while a couple come to work in Britain. A net immigration of 1 to this country.

    The retired person benefits by living where they want and may be their health improves. The couple benefits by living where they want. The economy benefits by having two working people here. Public services benefit by not having the health and social care costs that shot up as people get older. The housing situation benefits as the retired person now rents out or sells their under-occupied house to a family.

    It is easy to think that net immigration is a lose-lose situation. But in many cases it is a win-win situation. Of course circumstances vary but it is often with everyone winning.

  • Neil Sandison 17th Mar '18 - 10:58am

    Due to good health care,an improved diet ,relatively full employment and a stable environment are population is living much , much longer .However compared to 50 years ago our birth rate has dropped and we expect higher levels of service from others .Migration helps us replenish our population provides a flexible workforce and generates much needed income and taxes into the economy .Provided flow is managed unlike the Blair years where there were no transitional arrangements put in place or provision for population growth planned for we should be able to manage migration ,we should also note outward flow to Europe ,Australia and the USA .

  • Malcolm Todd 17th Mar '18 - 2:00pm

    It depends what you mean by “thinking it through”. As none of what you said in your lengthy reply remotely justified the ludicrous home=country metaphor, I’m not sure what your thinking really achieved. A matter of quantity versus quality, perhaps?
    I see there is a certain consistency in your thinking, though: you really do want to give people prior control over who moves in next door, not just stop foreigners coming into the country. What a wonderful world that would be…

  • Neil Sandison
    Flexible employment is just a phrase used to gloss over ruthless hire and fire deregulation and the use of itinerant labour to cut wage costs. No, no, you’re not expected to be at the beck and call of employment agencies twenty-four-seven to do a couple of hours work one week and 48 hours of shift work another. it’s you, know, “flexible”, like in the 1930s American depression era when people would stand outside factory gates was a liberating model of “flexible employment”.

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