Opinion: Confused Britain

Map of the European UnionEU citizens should have the right to live and work in the UK:
36% Yes, 46% No.

British citizens should have the right to live and work in the EU:
52% Yes, 26% No.

These results from ComRes were presented by the Guardian Data Editor Alberto Nardelli, alongside the title “Confused Britain“. However, in many ways it summarises an increasingly predominate view on the European Union. It seems vast swathes of the public are happy to have their cake and eat it when it comes to the EU.

It is a choice that has been presented to people by many Eurosceptics. Conservatives are increasingly discussing the notion of quota systems on EU migration, even though Angela Merkel has stated that such an impingement on free movement would be non-negotiable. Ukip have often stated that trade between the UK and the EU would be made easier, not harder, through removal from the free market area. Presented with such options, it has become popular thinking to believe that the UK can have a pick ‘n’ mix agreement with the European Union.

However, the findings of the ComRes poll show where the cracks in this logic begin to become evident. Figures released in February 2014, in response to a question in the Lords by Matthew Oakeshott, revealed that 2.3 million EU citizens lived in the UK, whilst 2.2 million UK citizens are living elsewhere in the EU. The problem, therefore, is UK citizens are as reliant on free movement for their jobs and careers as anyone else. To begin to discuss quotas on other EU nations, we also have to consider the possibility that any other EU nation could impose the same on us. If the ComRes figures are anything to go by, then such a move would be met with umbrage by many in the UK, who view our contributions to the EU as overwhelming positive.

The European Union has always relied on mutually accepted agreements of its member states. It is on this agreement that the future of the EU must continue. Yet, if we in Britain begin to counter fundamental principles of the European Union, then we must be ready to accept the consequences on our own citizens. If we are unwilling to accept the liabilities of European Union membership, we cannot accept to bask in the perquisites. Mooting quotas could have a detrimental impact on UK citizens working abroad, and if it does the 20% who accept UK emigrants, but not EU immigrants, may have to question the logic of their position.


* Scott Stables is Secretary for Edinburgh North East and Leith Liberal Democrats and blogs at Slant and Sensibility

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  • Richard Dean 20th Oct '14 - 9:20am

    The comments by Barroso suggest to me that there is confusion in the Commission too. Think of two types of EU immigrant

    1. an immigrant who comes because an employer in the UK has employed him or her
    2. an immigrant who comes to find work

    Barroso was talking only about immigrants in category 1. While that may be an issue for the UK, our main problem comes from category 2. Put another way:

    A. Barroso sees the primary aim of the EU as to benefit businesses
    B. Most populations think the primary aim should be to benefit people

    Solution? De-commission the Commission. They should be servants not masters. Re-think the balances of power and responsibilities between national governments represented on the EU Council, and an international government represented by the EU parliament.

  • Should we necessarily expect rationality from the electorate. At the general election I was impressed by the number of rather elderly voters I encountered who said first that they were fed up living surrounded by foreigners and secondly they were fed up with being dictated to by the EU and therefore they were going to spend their retirement years not in the UK but in Spain !!!

  • And Richard, I have sat in a bar or two on holiday on the Costa del Sol, surrounded by these … people. The selfish apology for logic they come up with is, frankly, less than welcome to a Lib Dem mindset. And I speak as someone who has spent several years as an expat worker (not in EU countries, I hasten to add).

    Richard Dean
    I agree with your solution as outlined, but I don’t think it is entirely relevant to the issue described in Scott’s article. I thought that free movement of people includes people in both your categories 1 and 2? The issue lies in the founding treaties, not with the President of the Commission, outgoing or incoming. As Lib Dems, I would think that most of us support a democratic political Europe (in your words, to benefit people). I would also say that view tends to be held more in some other countries than here in Britain. One reason why the “benefit to business” narrative has taken off so spectacularly has originated in the UK, with the vigorous support given to economic benefit given at the time of the 1975 referendum, the support by Thatcher for the Single European Act and numerous other interventions in the debate here both before and after 1973. It has recently been reflected in the defence of the EU given by Nick Clegg in his debates with Farage, at least partly leading to NC being “beaten” in those debates.

    Scott’s article was not really about people v business, but about fairness of outcome between nations, and how perception of that in Britain seems very skewed. Do you have anything to say on that?

  • Igor Sagdejev 20th Oct '14 - 10:39am

    Never mind. Confused or not, they’ll vote as they want, and think of the side effects later.

    Richard Dean: there is little difference between your Type 1 nd Type 2. Both are essentially coming to work, and it normally takes an interview or something to get a job, so most Type 1s go through the Type 2 stage. I would rather add Type 3: those coming to use benefits, beg, or steal, and these are really different and not very welcome.

    Barroso was mostly right, except I didn’t like the exaggerated and arrogant comment about “zero influence”. And the Commission is a necessary body, doing day-to-day work. But, yes, they should be constantly watched and disallowed to become masters (just the same as any govrnment).

  • It would be interesting to see the results of a similar survey conducted in each and every EU nation. I suspect you would see similar results, namely the majority will be against ‘foreigners’ in their home country, whilst at the same time be for their right to go wherever in the EU.

    I don’t see any ‘confusion’ in the results, it is what you would expect in a society that is becoming dominated by the needs and demands of ‘me’.

  • All surveys rigged in one way or other so don’t think much to this one

  • Richard Dean 20th Oct '14 - 11:06am

    There are plenty of countries in the world which operate free movement of labour in Category 1, in the sense that, if you get a job there the immigration people will automatically give you a work permit, with the condition that you leave the country if and when you no longer have that job. If you change jobs in that country, you simply get a new work permit automatically. In general the company employing a foreign worker would also need to show that it had advertises locally and found no suitably skilled candidate. This achieves the socially acceptable aims of business, without putting local people out of work, and without saddling local social systems with burdens associated with out-of-work Category 2 immigrants.

    @Richard, Tim13
    Go to Spain and talk to the ex-pats. Most have not gone there to work, but to retire. They are spending money, not earning it in Spain, so their position is entirely consistent. In the UK they want control of who controls them, as wealthy ex-pats in Spain they believe they have control through the money they pay.

  • Richard Dean 20th Oct '14 - 11:28am

    In EU documents, the EU Council is said to represent the national governments, the EU Parliament is said to represent the people of Europe, and the Commission is said to represent the interests of “Europe”. That is a fundamentally flawed concept, because the interests of Europe can and should already be represented by the Council and the Parliament. National governments and populations have an interest in keeping Europe together in a way that suits them, and it is those two bodies that can and should further those interests.

    I expect the concept arose because the architects of the EU didn’t expect governments or parliamentarians to cooperate with each other. I guess Barroso and Junkers and others see their role as making cooperation happen – hence Barroso’s arrogant and counter-productive remarks. But all that is really needed is to get ready of people like Barroso. Turn the Commission back into what it should always have been, a civil service at the beck and call of the other two bodies. Cooperation will then be free to develop in a way that is democratically acceptable.

  • Igor Sagdejev 20th Oct '14 - 11:28am

    Richard, could you name those countries that give work permits *automatically*? I want to go there! wherever I have worked before (first and foremost, the US) there is nothing automatic about work visas – it’s a painful and expensive process, subject to yearly quotas (as it is here now as well). And, trust me, it produces social disruption as well, as (a) the process of “trying to hire local people” is often fake, and (b) I have seen middle-class Americans quite happy about illegal Mexican immigration, as they could have their lawns cut cheaper, but rather unhappy about educated people (including myself) coming and “unfairly” taking th “good” jobs they themselves wanted.

    On the other hand, the countries, using points based immigration (not in Boris Johnson’s imagination, but in reality), do “hand out” (as the British tabloids would have it) permanent residence to your Type 2. I have immigrated to Canada in 1996 without any arranged employment, and I did it myself, without any lawyers.

  • Nice article perhaps had an option C been on the table saying would you be content with EU residents having option for freedom of movement if numbers kept at a level the host country could grow services many would say fine.

    It always feels that parties think lots just want out I don’t think that’s the case just for the numbers to slow down

    As for UK residents moving in the EU would it be so dire if they had to apply for tempory residence and perhaps health, school and housing

  • Apologies forgot to say voters are angry because they are put off years at a time we are not daft we do know you all just hope we come to accept the new 4 weeks for gp appointments and no housing as the norm

  • Igor Sagdejev 20th Oct '14 - 11:38am

    I wonder how are things with GP appointments in Torremolinos and around?

  • Proof positive we are an unequal and double standard society!

  • Richard Dean 20th Oct '14 - 11:54am

    Work visas are automatic in my experience in the US, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Australia, India, and West Africa. It’s true that the system can be perverted by locals wanting cheap foreign labour, but the perversion leaves a paper trail and the practice in some of these jurisdictions seems to be that the company making the application for a work permit for a foreigner essentially takes some responsibility if problems like that occur.

    For some strange reason, my earlier response has been replaced by a grey box. Having experienced both Conservative Home and Labour List, I find that the LibDems are the only mainstream party that prevents free speech. What a surprise!

  • Richard Dean 20th Oct '14 - 11:55am

    GP appointments on the Costa Brava are immediate, and generally the health system is absolutely fantastic.

  • Richard,
    Your solution is interesting, but even low skilled jobs are arranged through agencies witch recruit from the migrant’s country of origin. We already know that most migrants, certainly from the EU, do not add very much to unemployment. However, it isn’t really about employment and economics as far as most of the people who object to migration are concerned, It’s actually about the right of a country to control the number of people who migrate to that country. Liberals tend to be internationalist whilst most voters whether rational or not are nationalists. to a greater degree than advocates of the EU are willing to admit. It also isn’t unique to Britain as many EU countries have seen the rise of Nationalist politics and anti immigration sentiment.

  • Igor Sagdejev 20th Oct '14 - 12:10pm

    Richard, I don’t know about India and West Africa, nor fancy trying these places, but in the US, where I have lived and worked for 13 years, the word “automatic” cannot be applied to the most common of the work visas, H-1B. As to the abuse, it is not so much in hiring on the cheap (the State Departments of Labour has a list of “prevailing wages” by profession, some of them real, some rather questionable, and the employer has to match these), as in using work visas as a kind of family visas, usually by already settled immigrants from societies with extended family values. If done “properly” (i.e., having paid enough to an immigration attorney), it works well – the job description is crafted so that only the distant nephew fits it well, and every other applicant is “justly” rejected.

  • Richard Dean 20th Oct '14 - 12:22pm

    You go through a process, yes, and maybe you had a hard time, but the outcome is more or less automatic. If the application has been made correctly and the job has actually been advertised locally and no local applicant is suitable or there is another valid argument for employing a foreigner, then the work permit is granted. It’s a system that is fair to everyone, pretty transparent too, and of course it needs policing because some people will try to get around it.

  • The main point is that any change of this nature would require a fundamental treaty change that would trigger referendums across the EU.

    Even if Cameron got his proposals accepted, what are his plans for winning referendums in all the other EU states? I would not rate his chances much better than if he tried to persuade FIFA to change the shape of the ball.

  • Igor Sagdejev 20th Oct '14 - 12:37pm

    Richard, I don’t say it’s unfair, but tell the Americn employers and applicants about it being automatic, especially those, who have to wait for up to a year until the next year’s quota comes up, and is used in a day (I have even heard they use kind of a lottery nowadays, to select the applications that make it within the quota – that’s surely very automatic! – or should we call it automated?).

    BTW, the actual comparison here (for the EU migrants, not for everyone ) should be with the TN visa. You know, the US and Canada have kind of a EU-like treaty. Now, a Canadian (but only those who have higher education are eligible) finds a job in the States, comes to the border with the job offer, and gets the TN visa. That is pretty much automatic. Don’t forget that the Canadians can freely travel to the US and find work, then go back for the visa.

    I still don’t get the importance of your Type 2. They now don’t get benefits (and rightly so), don’t get NHS, until they get work (again, rightly so). Those who find jobs quickly enough become Type 1, those who don’t usually go elsewhere.

  • Richard Dean 20th Oct '14 - 12:53pm

    What Barosso wants is increased competition in the labour market. Presumably someone once thought that this would lead to greater efficiencies for businesses, thereby benefitting populations through lower prices. But that thought has limitations that have not been well recognised.

    The increased competition means that wages are actually driven down, which puts stress on populations and social care systems. At some point the additional stress outweighs the price advantage, and the net effect of the increased competition is social damage. That is what many voters throughout the EU are saying in the Euro elections, and will say in national elections.

    Another limitation is that, by and large, employers do not pass on the benefits of increased competition by reducing prices, they instead pocket larger profits. The % share of GDP paid in wages has gone down rom about 60% in the 1970’s to nearer 50% now, which means that businesses have gained greater financial power. So the intended effect of increased competition has not been realised, quite the opposite has actually occurred.

  • You talk about ‘Confused Britain’ which I agree with.

    However there is also a confusion shown within this article, the media at large and many politicans and policy makers

    Britain is an island settled 8-12,000 years ago. The UK is the state we live under, created by the few in the 18th century…….., this includes Northern Ireland aswell as the island of Britain (plus other colonies like Gibraltar)

    Why do we continue to confuse both.

    Calling this place only ‘Britain’ is mislabelling and ignorant of the people in Northern Ireland surely?

  • Richard Dean
    Good comments . Immigration has greatest impact on those earning average and near average salaries and those working in unskilled and semi-skilled jobs in industries such as construction , agriculture, catering and hotels where there are large fluctuations in in demand. In the late 80s , Labourers in Canary Wharf could earn £35K /yr because of a lack of competition from immigrants.

    Chemical engineering is one of the highest graduate starting salaries at £30k/yr because very few people have the ability to complete this degree.

    In the short term , immigration benefits the employers of unskilled and semi-skilled work where there are large fluctuations in demand and clients by keeping wages down. When it comes to the economy what percentage of the immigrants salaries are spent in the UK?

    However, in the medium to long term low wages means good people are deterred from the industry and employers and colleges do not develop high high quality training schemes. We also develop a massive gap between poorly paid and low skilled Britons and much wealthier and skilled Britons who employ them. A generous welfare system, and high taxes encourage unskilled Britons to stay on welfare. Tax credits encourages people to remain in un and semi-skilled poorly paid work.

    The majority of immigrants undertake un and semi-skilled skilled on below average salaries . The situation is much like the Roman Empire from AD300: wealthy Romans gave the dole and circuses to keep the unskilled poor happy: foreigners manned the frontiers and the wealthy avoided fighting for the nation.

    Full employment with extensive employment in un and semi skilled industries removes the incentive to move into high value advanced businesses requiring high skills. Germany in the 1990s moved out of low and medium value manufacturing into high value manufacturing because it had the skills to do so. As it takes 5 years to train an apprentice and 8- 10 years to train a Chartered Engineer( 3-4 years degree plus 5-7 years of post graduate training )
    we had better start producing more skilled people now!

    The Industrial and agricultural Revolutions meant knowledge, technical skill and innovation created wealth for those skills in demand. Those who did not have skills became low paid factory worker as did those whose skills were no longer wanted: there are very shipwrights or sail makers today. What Britain has ignored is that as technology evolves and markets grow , the skills required for well paid employment change. A hard working hod carrier could make good money in the 1970s; changes in technology on building sites mean they are not needed.

    Heavy industry, such as steel, mining and shipbuilding employed large numbers of un and semi-skilled men . The reason why immigrants working in construction industry causes problems it is one of the few industries which pays reasonable wages for un and semiskilled men.

    Immigration is a bandage to cover up the lack of skills and determination and could bas detrimental to the UK as Rome employing foreigners to man the frontiers, rather than Romans undertaking the task.

  • I would suggest that Britain’s craving for immigrants means that we fail the marshmallow test. Immigrants provides a quick way of filling un and semi-skilled places in low to medium value businesses but prevents us from undertaking the 5-10 years of hard work required to produce highly skilled personnel capable of employment in high value businesses.


  • Richard Dean 20th Oct '14 - 2:13pm

    That’s right. If a UK employer can’t find a suitable UK applicant, two options arise, to train someone, or to get someone from the EU. By providing the second option without apparent cost to the EU, the UK workforce loses out on what would otherwise be a beneficial training opportunity.

    Perhaps the answer is to get the EU to pay the costs incurred by a country for its immigrants in Category 2. At present Barosso is free to pontificate without having to back up his pronouncements with cash – power without accountability, which is a well-known recipe for disaster.

  • jedibeeftrix 20th Oct '14 - 4:39pm

    ” The main point is that any change of this nature would require a fundamental treaty change that would trigger referendums across the EU.”

    Agree, which is why it strikes me as a discard able bargaining position and little more.

  • I don’t think Britain is confused. We don’t like the Lib Dems much.

    In this weeks Lord Ashcroft phone poll you are in fifth place. Go check it out (must have missed the reference to it on here).

    Where is the confusion? You are the party most supportive of the EU and unlimited immigration. You are the least popular.


  • Good article. I’ve always been amused by those who dislike immigration so much that they become immigrants.

    But the Lib Dems are guilty of their own little bit of confusion too, as demonstrated by Stephen Tall in his Orange Book article the other day. Most Lib Dems seem to acknowledge that we have a serious housing crisis in this country, yet at the same time they tell us there is no problem with sustaining high levels of net immigration, or even unlimited immigration. This is logically incoherent. Their attempt at making some sense out of it at the last election involved proposing to stop immigrants from living in certain parts of the country where “resources” were stretched (generally, parts of southern England where the Lib Dems were scared of losing seats to UKIP!) and forcing them to live elsewhere, a policy so ludicrous that it has since been disowned by everybody. It’ll be interesting to see what solution the Lib Dems come up with next year.

  • Stevan Rose 20th Oct '14 - 9:06pm

    The solution lies in reform of the benefits, health, and public housing systems to discourage the notion that recent EU migrants get a better deal than long term residents. A minimum 5 years of residence for all. We can do that ourselves. I would not expect to move to France or Germany and expect their citizens to house and feed me. But that does not have to mean removing my rights to live and work in those countries. I suspect most migrants into the UK feel the same. The vast majority of EU migrants contribute, pay taxes, are not a drain but a gain. A small minority feed UKIP and some Tory propaganda lines. Deal with that small minority and the polls will move the other way rapidly.

  • Eddie Sammon 20th Oct '14 - 9:24pm

    The “confused Britain” poll on immigration is a powerful one. Here are two reasonable policies to improve migration relations:

    1. All EU countries should have the right to refuse residence to anyone who does not speak their national language.
    2. The Lib Dems should rule out support for Turkish membership of the EU. Our cultures are too different at this stage.

    With the UK Conservatives talking about Australian immigration systems and today France almost saying “me too” it looks like the EU could unravel unwell we get to grips with issues surrounding immigration.

  • stuart moran 20th Oct '14 - 9:37pm

    Eddie Sammon

    What do you mean by ‘speaking their national language’? I think again we would see a repatriation of most Brits living in the EU as the ones I know would in no way pass muster…..could end up keeping most of the current immigrants and having to accept back all our ex-pats.

    Do you have any numbers to say what % of EU immigrants don’t speak ‘Sammon Standard’ English?

    Do you have a competition with yourself to come up with the daftest idea of the day?

  • stuart moran 20th Oct '14 - 9:50pm

    Look, the free movement of people is enshrined in the Treaty of Rome and is a natural consequence of the development of the EU

    We have signed all the treaties that set out the rules (both Labour and Tories)

    There is no way the EU will allow us to change the free movement rules without the backing of a large majority of the other countries and that is not going to happen

    All this talk of Category 1 and 2, language tests etc is redundant

    If we don’t want to be a member of the club anymore because we cannot accept one of the ey principles based on freedom of movement of goods and people then we should leave the club and reap the undoubted benefits (that the proponents of this approach sell) but also take the consequences (Schengen as the price for the free market access like Switzerland who are going to pay a high price as well from 2016 for messing around with Free Movement?)

    I am just fed up with this continual whimpering and moaning about Europe – it is not the thing that is causing the most problems in this country. The problem is our own incompetence at Governing ourselves and tho be honest I would be concerned if the British Government were allowed to do it on their own – especially the Tories and their UKIP off-shoot

  • Eddie Sammon 20th Oct '14 - 9:55pm

    Lol! Stuart your comment made me chuckle. They are only ideas, continue the debate and I’ll feed back tomorrow.

  • “What do you mean by ‘speaking their national language’?”

    No more Saxons in the UK unless they can prove fluency in Welsh.

  • I don’t see a problem in principle with Turkey in the EU, but it should be recognised that there are already considerable differences in economics and cultural attitudes within the EU (and it’s not a question of right or wrong, just of differences) and, as the EU grows, it might be advisable for it to recognise regional groupings and devolve a certain amount of power to those regions. Even the Roman Empire ultimately divided itself into a western and an eastern empire, for similar reasons.

  • stuart moran 20th Oct '14 - 10:04pm

    I am serious Eddie but you are so very charming with your responses……..

    We Brits are the last who should be criticising immigrants for speaking foreign languages. I have lived abroad in Europe (I worked in the language of the country so became pretty fluent quickly) and have seen so very many people being quite proud of the fact that they didn’t speak any of the local tongue

    There are different levels though and the locals have different approaches to all of them

    i. Fluent – rare and treated as a novelty. A Brit who speaks the language!
    ii. Not very fluent but tries – accepted and used to practice their English on. My wife is in this category and she was always frustrated that often the other person would reply in English.
    iii. Can’t be bothered and proud of it. A large minority at the best (I think it is the majority to be honest) who just speak English and expect the other person to speak English

    The Brits get away with ii. and iii. because a lot of people have English as a second language.

    I am unsure what level of English would be good enough A1, A2, B1, B2, C1? To be completely autonomous, and confident, in the language they would need to be B1 at the very least……..a lot of Brits are heading home if that is the case!

  • I would be happy to rule out full Turkish membership on three grounds. Firstly Cyprus. Secondly, economic. Thirdly commitment to democracy and human rights is of concern. If Turkey why not Georgia. Or Ukraine. Or Armenia. We have to focus on the economic development of existing members who were not ready rather than adding more problems. Consolidate.

  • Igor Sagdejev 20th Oct '14 - 11:31pm

    But the English retirees living in Spain are an entirely different matter! They are paying coostomers! The Spanish must be double happy to have them. Smallish things like using the local health system (and using it a lot at this age) and other subsidies for… ahem… mature people don’t really matter. How can we compare them to young, single Bulgarians, barely using schools and GPs, who “threaten our English culture”? (this gem is from the neighbour across the street).

    As to Turkey, and, god forbid Ukraine and Gerogia (I have first-hand knowledge of the latter two) – certainly not in the near future.

  • Igor Sagdejev 20th Oct '14 - 11:38pm

    Stuart, it is fun reading your posts.

    BTW, the Brits are not the worst in learning languages. Russians are about that bad too, not to mention the Americans.

  • Igor Sagdejev 20th Oct '14 - 11:41pm

    B1 is the standard for immigration/citizenship now. I have passed the spoken test last November, for naturalisation (I procarastinated long enough to have to take it). 15 minuts, 125 quid. Immigration is now a big business here, British jobs for British people!

  • The solution lies in reform of the benefits, health, and public housing systems to discourage the notion that recent EU migrants get a better deal than long term residents.

    This is essentially the strategy the Tories have been following for the last few years. It will never work. Firstly because you are saying UKIP are essentially right to blame immigration for our problems and secondly no set of measures you come up with will ever be credible or stringent enough to satisfy those that are buying the UKIP narrative.
    Telling the electorate your opponent is right and then trying to position yourself as a pale imitation is not a winning strategy.

  • Richard Dean 21st Oct '14 - 1:57am

    If LibDems don’t want to go further into the electoral wasteland, it would probably be a good idea for them to look up and outwards and with open eyes to see how the electorates in the UK and Europe feel about this. In many countries, immigration is a problematic issue.

    It’s fine to move if you’ve already got work, and fine to move to look for work if you use your own money. But not fine to expect the population you’re moving in with to provide you with free money.

    It’s an error to think of Barroso’s concept of free movement as providing opportunities for people to improve their lives. Some people will succeed but probably most end up in dead-end jobs they don’t want. Improvement can best be achieved by getting hired before you move.

    So it’s entirely feasible that in a few years time, the EU treaty-system and associated bureaucracy will be forced to back-track on the poorly thought-out freedom-of-movement rules.

    Richer countries will end up wanting more realistic rules to protect their welfare systems, and poorer countries will welcome such rules to avoid the ghettoization that comes from losing their best talent.

    Problems tend to get worse with time if they’re not fixed. This one needs fixing because otherwise it has a high potential to break the EU apart in the long run. As well as breaking a few political parties.

  • “I would be concerned if the British Government were allowed to do it on their own ”

    If you want a summary of quite how much British sovereignty has been destroyed by the EU, there you have it. The only way we will restore this country to any sense of self worth is to leave the EU.

    We did pretty well as a nation up till 1971. In fact for a time we were the most successful nation in history. The idea, stated without embarrassment and in apparent seriousness, that we can’t be trusted to run our OWN country but need European bureaucrats to rule ourselves, hows how far we have sunk. The only way up is out.

    You guys don’t get what the electorate’s problem with the EU is, and why you are so unpopular. All this scrabbling around trying to find measures to palliate immigration is risible and pointless. Can’t you see this?

    Immigration isn’t the cause of the problem. It is a SYMPTOM. The cause is our loss of national sovereignty. To a failed experiment in supranational state building.

    The EU is finished, we will be the first but not the last state to leave. The common currency, free movement of labour, all a disaster.

  • Coming back to that Lord Ashcroft poll I mentioned last night (as I say it may be referred to on here, so this is the wrong place to post, but if so I haven’t seen it) the most interesting aspect, to me, was the performance of the Greens.

    They are taking more 2010 Lib Dem voters than UKIP now (perhaps not surprising) but also eating in Labour support too.

    None of which disturbs my (and most others I think) prediction of a Miliband administration in some form or other.

  • It is rare to see such outmoded, jingoistic clap-trap as this from
    simon 21st Oct ’14 – 8:41am
    ” We did pretty well as a nation up till 1971. In fact for a time we were the most successful nation in history. ”

    But even UKNP (United Kingdom Nostalgia Party) is not what it used to be.

  • Stuart Moran
    Orwell has some interesting comments attitude to languages and class is involved. Historically the middle and upper classes spoke foreign languages. Classical languages were the main aspect of a gentleman’s education and to be considered cultured for both men and women to speak French. Upper middle class women went to finishing schools where French was spoken and followed French fashion and food( Joanna Lumley speaks French). Officers at Sandhurst were taught French and German. The Grand Tour introduced classical and modern European civilisation to the wealthy in the 17-19 Centuries .

    Those in the colonial services and Army spoke the local languages : the ICS required fluency in at least 4, Burton spoke 12. Those employed in international Trade spoke the local languages . Empire was the reason SOAS was founded.
    In fact , some one who did not speak the local languages and did not go up country was called a “Box wallah ” which meant he lived out of box in town. A knowledge of Latin meant Romance languages were easily learnt and Greek mean that Indo -Aryan languages ( Arabic, farsi, Urdu , Sanskrit) were easily learnt, hence the the term ” British Brahmins”.

    I would suggest the rise of social sciences , degrees such as PPE ,the fact that Latin or French is no longer required at GSCE to enter university; the end of Empire and people having to learn foreign languages to work overseas has reduced our knowledge of languages. Pre- WW2 one had to speak French and German to enter to enter the FO; working as an international correspondent required two foreign languages and even working as air stewardess required a knowledge of French. I would suggest that the education system becoming dominated by Cert.Ed/B.Ed teachers in comprehensive school who lack French, German , Latin or Greek has resulted in the removal of foreign language requirements to enter university , the FCO or even becoming a air stewardess. If one looks at those entering university pre 1960s, most arts degrees would have meant that people took classics or history and modern languages at A level. The old O Level in French gave one the grammar and vocabulary to speak French , what often lacking was practice in speaking and the confidence it brought.

  • Rita Giannini 21st Oct '14 - 10:22am

    I have been saying for years that the UK should be out of the EU for a few years, and then see how they like it! The problem is they think all they can do in Europe (travel, work, retire, use the health service, the schools, the social services) comes to them because they are British, not because they are Europeans! A few years out would disabuse them of this notion.

  • Matthew Huntbach 21st Oct '14 - 11:52am


    Immigration isn’t the cause of the problem. It is a SYMPTOM. The cause is our loss of national sovereignty. To a failed experiment in supranational state building.

    In other words, you are saying that the people of the UK think the Parliament in Westminster is wonderful, and the politicians in it are wonderful, and are upset at them not having complete power over our lives. Isn’t that the opposite of what you usually say?

  • “It is rare to see such outmoded, jingoistic clap-trap”

    I know, the fact that we set up colonies in North America, then beat France and Spain to take control of the whole of that continent as it was then, did the same to stymie the French attempt to colonise India, sailed across to the other side of the globe to found successful nation states in Australia and New Zealand, all of that history is just “clap trap.”

    Here’s the Lib Dem pitch to the voters of Rochester and Strood. Your history is outmoded. Don’t even teach it in school it is too shameful. To even refer to it is “jingoist.” Feel guilty and apologise because you are to blame for all the ills in the modern world.

    The more I read this forum and see the lamentable, right on, cringing to political correctness and cultural relativism that you all demonstrate unthinkingly, the happier I am to see how big the decline in support for your party there is.

  • @Richard Dean – The poll clearly shows that a third of people are perfectly happy with EU citizens enjoying the right to live and work in the UK, and only a minority actively oppose this right. It is not therefore correct to suggest, as you do, that the Lib Dems must reject their liberal, open, internationalist tradition by joining the Tories and Labour in a competition to see who can be the harshest on European migration.

  • Matthew

    I am not an anarchist, and neither are UKIP. There has to be Government, and Parliamentary Democracy, sited in Westminster is the least bad option. It isn’t great, but I don’t know of a better alternative short of rule by my good self under the Fuhrer Prinzip. (That was a joke by the way, although thinking about it…) 🙂

    We seek to shake up the political elite, and to get them to be more responsive, yes we despise them, yes we seek electoral reform, but seeking to improve Westminster is not the same as seeking to destroy Westminster. As an institution.

    The European Union we DO seek to destroy. Well it can carry on without us if it wants, but I don’t think it will for long, personally. British sovereignty not pan European sovereignty. Both can’t exist at the same time.

    So no contradiction. Do you see?

  • Richard Dean 21st Oct '14 - 2:03pm


    Isn’t that rather a biased, closed-eye interpretation?

    36% yes … means “perfectly happy”
    46% no ….. means “only a minority”

    Difficult to see how one could ignore the statistical reality in a more obvious way!

  • OK, Richard, let me reword it for you: a third support the right of EU citizens to live and work in the UK; less than half oppose that right. Just less than a fifth don’t seem to care either way. I just think that those numbers need to be born in mind by those who suggest that everyone in the UK apart from some kind of tiny, unrepresentative Westminster elite virulently hate free movement in the EU. Fewer than half oppose that right, and a third support it.

  • Nigel Quinton 21st Oct '14 - 4:57pm

    The key statistic in the post is not the poll results, it is the answer to Matthew Oakeshott, which ‘revealed that 2.3 million EU citizens lived in the UK, whilst 2.2 million UK citizens are living elsewhere in the EU’. In other words NET EU MIGRATION TO THE UK IS ONLY 100,000! Not per year, even, but as a balance over time. So this is not the reason for our housing crisis, for our stretched local services, for anything much at all.

    Evidenced based policy – isn’t that what the LibDems are about?

  • Nigel Quinton
    Many people who live overseas rent out their homes. One has to look at every school, GP ‘s surgery , hospital etc, etc.
    Where there are many immigrants , many who have low academic standards then it is difficult for a school to achieve high academic standards- comparable to the best rural C of E Primary schools.. If the immigrants have low levels of literacy and numeracy in their own languages , they are unlikely to improve academic standards. There is the saying ” A Mother educates the family”. Where immigrants have high academic standards such as many Jewish people in the 1930s( Isiah Berlin) , then they may raise academic standards .

    A points system which only allows entry of skilled immigrants which the country needs plus requiring ten years of tax, health insurance and NI payment for any welfare payment is allowed , including use of social housing would prevent competition for un and semi-skilled employment.

    If one earns £250K/yr , 33% reduction in salary does not greatly reduce the quality of one’s life : is one’s salary is £25K/yr , a 33% reduction has massive adverse impact.

  • Eddie Sammon 21st Oct '14 - 10:08pm

    Hi Stuart, I don’t have much more to say on this for now. I’ll just say I’m against any “tough” action on immigration. I think my proposals were pretty mild.


  • “Firstly because you are saying UKIP are essentially right to blame immigration for our problems and secondly no set of measures you come up with will ever be credible or stringent enough to satisfy those that are buying the UKIP narrative.”
    I don’t think there is a significant problem but there is a small number of migrants that do not come to the UK to contribute and we should no more house and feed them than their home Governments should house and feed UK citizens who have no intention of contributing to their economies. Deal with this small group and you do not interfere with the original intent of the EEC in respect of free movement of labour but you do remove a lot of hot air capability from UKIP. And the Tories have not been doing anything because the anti-EU press this small group generates suits their purposes. If you cut me in two you would see European Citizen inside like a stick of rock. But the EU was designed for free movement of workers not free movement of beggars, criminals, and those demanding homes and welfare and health treatment without ever contributing to the host country. These are tiny minorities that cause resentment against the vast majority of hard working migrants that enrich this country in so many ways. I suggest lancing that boil will also lance the UKIP boil. I also suggest you would get no argument from those hard working contributing migrants, nor would you get much opposition to EU reforms along those lines (even though I think you could legally achieve this without reform).

  • Neil Sandison 25th Oct '14 - 4:13pm

    The shorthand the leadership is using to discribe our position on the EU and a referendum is inadeqaute .We believe in reform of the EU but we are not insisting upon treaty change that will deliver that reform .A call for such treaty change that devolves decision making to the appropiate level .subsidarity would be a clearer message than the one we currently giving the public .That that treaty change would then be put to the electorate in a referendum following negotiation with an honest recommedation by the government of the day and that it would address some of their concerns on employment and the single market.

  • “I don’t think there is a significant problem but there is a small number of migrants that do not come to the UK to contribute and we should no more house and feed them than their home Governments should house and feed UK citizens who have no intention of contributing to their economies.”

    We have lost our sovereignty on whether or not we pay foreigners to come here and live off us. Other countries now decide whether you and I pay for their nationals to live on benefits. You can’t “deal with this” (as you put it) unless you get our European “partners” to agree. They won’t.

    The only answer is withdrawal from the EU. Is there an echo around here?

    Why don’t you just admit that we have handed our country’s sovereignty over to Europe in exchange for a free trade deal we could get outside Europe anyway?

    At least that would be being honest with the electorate. Popular, no, but honest. At the moment your unthinkingly, Europhile position is neither popular nor honest.

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