Why Vince Cable is wrong to call for an end to free movement

Vince Cable is fundamentally wrong to suggest that there is no great argument of liberal principle for free movement and his case for ending free movement is weak. He ought to revise his views to be in more in keeping with liberal values which, in the face of rising and fierce anti-migrant rhetoric, are sorely needed.

His assertion that ‘British opposition to immigration is mainly colour-blind’ is simply not true.

Fears and prejudices were purposefully stoked during the referendum with explicit scapegoating, disingenuous scaremongering about Turkish migrants and in particular Farage’s appalling blatantly non-colour-blind Breaking Point’ poster campaign.

Hate crime has soared since the referendum.  The vast majority of the targets of xenophobic incidents and abuse have been EU migrants in particular citizens from Eastern European countries.

Islamophobia and associated crimes have also risen exponentially. Note the 25 serious incidents of anti-muslim hate crimes recorded in the three days after the Brexit vote. People are explicitly abusing muslims in the streets ‘because we voted out’, shouting ‘shouldn’t you be on a plane back to Pakistan? We voted you out!’

The EU referendum vote has unleashed an ugly force of racism where those who hold prejudiced views feel emboldened to shout, abuse and attack people in the street, post excrement through people’s letter boxes and rip off people’s hijabs in public. 

Racially motivated anti-migrant rhetoric is alive and fierce today and must be opposed not ignored.

Secondly, Cable correctly notes that freedom of movement is not (currently) a universal right: it only applies to EU citizens. Migrants from non-EU countries face stricter controls and ‘harsh’ visa regulations. It is true that there is an inconsistency here.

However it does not follow that we ought to have stricter and ‘harsh’ controls on EU citizens. If  Vince finds these harsh regulations on non-EU migrants unfair, and is in favour of freedom to travel and work as he suggests, then he should be in favour of reducing such restrictions, not increasing them for EU citizens. It would be consistent to argue for fewer restrictions and, in Cable’s words, a ‘more rational’ immigration policy.

Cable’s case for restricting freedoms and rights of EU citizens (including our own) is controversial and unsupported. His case may depend on the claim that there is ‘no great argument of liberal principle for free EU movement’. This is his third fundamental error.

Let’s start with universal human rights. Article 13 of the UDHR states that ‘everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and return to his country’. We can assume that Cable fully supports this right. If he didn’t he would support repressive military states denying their citizens their freedom to leave.

It is inconsistent to not then recognise that therefore another state must receive the person. The world is fully divided into territories with borders. You physically cannot leave one without entering another. If you have a right to leave a country then it is simple fact that you therefore have the corresponding right to reside in another country. Migration then is considered a human right: a fundamental liberal principle.

Furthermore, free movement is grounded in liberal principles of individual freedom and autonomy as well as egalitarianism. Individuals ought to have maximal and equal freedoms and opportunities to live their lives as they wish according to their own values. If that includes migrating to work or for pleasure then it is impermissible for the state to decide to restrict their freedom or opportunity to do so.  There are even further liberal values of freedom of association, non-discrimination, tolerance, respecting multiculturalism and diversity as enriching society that ground freedom of movement. We can take our pick of arguments from liberal principles in favour of free movement.

Lastly it is empirically overwhelming that migration is not the cause of the problems and challenges we face in our country and in fact it is vital to our public services, enriching society and supporting the economy. The housing crisis, social care and NHS funding problems, lack of investment and opportunities in lower-income communities, rising wealth and income inequality and so on are not the fault of migrants and Cable knows this. He is wrong to give in to UKIP to concede migration as the significant issue to be addressed.

His case for ending free movement is very weak indeed. In the face of the deafening onslaught of anti-migration rhetoric, liberals should be extra vigilant and strong in standing up for our pro-migration principles.

The Conservatives are seemingly opting for hard-brexit and an end to free movement and Labour are showing signs of trying to out-UKIP UKIP in scaremongering that immigration ‘risks the safety in our streets’. If we are the last party in the UK defending free movement and the rights and freedoms of our migrant brothers and sisters then so be it. This defence has never been so sorely needed and Cable should revise his views to be a part of it.

* Bradley is an active member of the Lib Dems as a council member for both the SLF and LD4SOS, standing for local elections in 2014 and 2016 and as borough organiser for Camden in 2016. He also has a leading role in the Lib Dem campaign to raise donations for refugees and lobbying the government to settle more refugees. He is currently studying for his PhD in moral and political philosophy specialising in the philosophy of migration, borders and refugees.

Read more by or more about or .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Alan Depauw 8th Jan '17 - 9:42am

    Article 13 of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights indeed grants everyone the right to “leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country”. But it does not grant a “corresponding right to reside in another country” as the author suggests. The freedom to choose a place of residence is limited to the state in which a person lawfully lives, as summarised in part 1 of the article and further specified by the UN’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Part 3, article 12).

    I believe Vince is wrong to renege on freedom of movement within the EU; but it is equally wrong to equate the argument against his thesis with a demand for a world free of borders.

  • ‘Racially motivated anti-migrant rhetoric is alive and fierce today and must be opposed not ignored.’
    That is a given. But your implication that discussing the subject makes anyone in anyway passive towards racism/xenophobia is rather holier-than-thou of you, Bradley.
    It smacks of all the Labour supporters who tell me I “don’t care about the poor” because I don’t think Corbyn is the saviour.

  • Actually, it’s not empirically overwhelming that migration does not cause problems. The fact that 75-78% of the population want to see it reduced suggest that it is seen as a concern in and of itself. Economics is one aspect of a societal argument, not the entire argument and the notion of cultural enrichment is a subjective value judgement not a fact. In truth immigration can have good and bad effects. A mix of cultures can enrich in some respects but introduce problems in others and spark political tensions that actually make society less liberal in the long run.

  • OK Bradley here are a few questions that will be asked by Marr/Neil/Coburn et al for which the Lib Dems are completely unprepared:

    1. If you have unlimited free movement from the EU why not from the ROW?

    2. Do you agree that there should be an impact assessment for British workers in the Civil Service?

    3. What do you think are the rights and responsibilities for being a British citizen and a worker? – is it more or less or the same as an EU citizen? If so on what aspects?

    4. We currently have 63m people in a relatively small landmass. 300,000 extra people a year net means by 2050 means at least 73m people. Where will they live? What will they do? What is the optimum amount of population and why?

  • Migration leads to strains on the inferstucture of the country the migrants are moving too. Different cultures can lead to a feeling of being swamped within the indiginous population. Resenting either or both of these doesn’t make you a racist, it merely means you a human. However you have to look at why migration is occurring and in the case of the UK it’s

    1. Because there are jobs.
    2. Our society requires immigrants because we fail to invest in our population. Our attitude seems to be why train someone when you can employ someone from another country already trained.

    There were ways to ensure migration was handled better but our poltical class failed, because I’m afraid they tend to take the easiest way of doing nothing and offending no one while blaming the poor.

  • As to free movement unless you can get the EU to change its policy, it’s either free movement and a single market or no free movement and no single market. I’m afraid the have your cake and eat it option doesn’t seem to be available, no matter what Brexiteers want.

  • Glenn
    Maybe 50% of British people living in the UK would emigrate if they could.

  • Manfarang,
    And your gnomic point is?

  • Surely the right question is `how can the Liberal Democrats ensure that in a globalised world move from a mass migration UK economy to a higher productivity and skills economy`.

  • Glenn
    If they could then the population of the UK would fall saving the NHS, schools, housing transport system and what ever else. (if we are to believe all these problems are caused by an increase in population)

  • Manfarang,
    I see.
    My argument isn’t based on that. It’s based on the reality that people are tribal, are somewhat nativist and that ignoring this in favour of a purely economic reading is limiting because it’s based on wishful thinking. Fundamentally, I don’t believe that shifting patterns of demographics is innately progressive so don’t really get why it’s such a big ideal. If I’m honest, I sometimes think it’s actually driven by a sort of fetishisation of novelty.

  • John of Gaunt
    “This land of such dear souls, this dear dear land,
    Dear for her reputation through the world,
    Is now leased out, I die pronouncing it,
    Like to a tenement or pelting farm:
    England, bound in with the triumphant sea
    Whose rocky shore beats back the envious siege
    Of watery Neptune, is now bound in with shame,
    With inky blots and rotten parchment bonds:
    That England, that was wont to conquer others,
    Hath made a shameful conquest of itself.”

  • Glen,
    But your well-being depends on cheap trained labour from abroad. If the economy fails it will be the foreign skilled workers that leave. No foreign doctors or nurses etc etc. Of course we could train the British workforce (and we should) but that’s not a short term fix and they might emigrate to more successful economies ( then truly the boot would be on the other foot).

  • David Evershed 8th Jan '17 - 12:10pm

    Can and does a “philosophy of migration, borders and refugees” exist?

    The author’s subject of study.

  • Free movement is more a cause (or at least a trigger) of racial disharmony than it is a cure, if it’s imposed on people who don’t consent to it, and if it is not managed competently. If you want these problems to reduce, you should at the very least be seeking reforms to free movement rather than simply endorsing free movement as it works now.

    If people believe free movement in its current form operates to the detriment of the UK, how can Lib Dems tell them they are wrong when senior Lib Dems have been arguing for years that free movement does indeed cause problems and needs to be reformed? See for instance the following speech from Nick Clegg, August 2014 :-


    The way to improve community relations and keep the UK open and tolerant is not to religiously attach oneself to a flawed concept and attempt to browbeat people into accepting it. The way to achieve those things is to listen to people and give them a system which they consent to. I trust the British people enough to think that this can be achieved. Many Lib Dems don’t seem to.

  • Frankie.
    Two Ns please.

  • Stuart, that was an important and well constructed speech by Nick Clegg noting:
    “…the way freedom of movement works should change as Europe changes.
    The EU is a very different creature to when freedom of movement was first conceived – when the then European Community was 15 countries of similar sizes and with similar economies. It is now a 28-member bloc, with huge wealth discrepancies across its members. It is only right – and I say this as a pro-European – that we reform freedom of movement to reflect these realities. It is a right to work. It was never intended as an automatic right to claim benefits, but over time the distinction has been blurred.”

  • Frankie.
    Ifs, buts and maybes. You can have foreign labour without free movement or the right to reside. You hire on a limited contract with clear rules and you can apply for citizenship which is pretty much up to the needs of the day. It might seem a bit mean, but it’s what happens outside of the EU.
    I’m not blanket against immigration. I just don’t see it as innately progressive or romantic.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 8th Jan '17 - 3:09pm

    Mark Wright re comments on Bradley’s article:

    If it were not for comments like yours , and the several terrific , mainstream, common sense and pragmatic, and genuine Liberal arguments , I would truly despair at modern politics !

    As I said the other day on the thread about the Cable article , Liberalism ,in every corner of the globe now and in each party , and in every ideological hue and period of history , has been and is , a flexible philosophy.

    Not one Liberal party pre EU freedom of movement , not in any region now or ever , outside of Europe , has ever wanted freedom of movement for that continent.

    Liberals in the entirety of the Americas would be horrified if all from every country could live anywhere in that continent.And in Asia , and in Africa.

    The author of articles such as this one seem to know or care nothing very much for the history and geography and variety in the philosophy of Liberalism. They seize on one area and run with it . They play rugby with a liberal ball , not tennis , not football, not athletics. Their ball , and that’s that ! The left of our party always accuse the right of it of doing that in recent years. Well at least the Orange book tendency have a range of ideas.

    Freedom of movement in one continent in one generation , is not the world or the history of the world . It is a policy . It can be changed , it is not an article of faith.Fundamentalism and Liberalism are incompatible.

  • Bradley is absolutely right. Freedom of movement is a very liberal idea. I haven’t seen any official comment saying it is just restricted to the EU.

  • Martin – do you actually think the EU has done anything wrong?

  • Glenn,

    Immigrants flock to a country for a reason. Young people flocked to the UK for jobs and money. Older residents of the UK moved to Spain for the weather and a better standard of living for the money they have. The problem is if the UK economy plummets young people won’t flock (or you cut off the supply) and our economy relies on that .The older less productive population won’t move because they won’t be able to. Now you might say that means the UK economy will adjust and it may well do, but it will adjust like an addict going cold turkey, in the long run it might be much healthier but it could also be dead.

  • David Evans 8th Jan '17 - 5:03pm

    Mark Wright is spot on here. Over many years, Lib Dems learned that to actually achieve anything more than the very little the Conservatives or Labour found expedient to give, you have to get in power (i.e. get elected) to deliver Liberal Democracy. Once elected you rapidly found (although many knew it already) that you never got 100% of what you wanted. In a good year you may have got 70% – the 30% you didn’t get was what you had to sacrifice to get the 70%. Sometimes you found you didn’t even get 50%, but it did mean you survived to have another go next time.

    However the alternative was to get maybe 5%, because that was all that the average Labour or the Conservative manifesto would ever include that was really Lib Dem. So to everyone who says Vince is wrong and we should disown him for giving up on pure Liberal Democracy, I say ‘Get real.” One reason we lost the referendum was because too many of us portrayed ourselves as 100% free movement or nothing. And we lost and so we now we now have to fight like mad to avoid ending up with nothing.

  • and it’s taken how long to get the non-existent deal on services? Why do you say `the UK` when it was Blair/Brown/Cameron and the establishment of the time?

    All the while we have no FTAs with much of the world in decades flat. And we pay extra for this!

    The Labour/Lib Dems/Cameronites need to hang their heads in shame regarding the accession rules regarding migration. It’s been a disaster for the aspirational left behind. Along with the failed Euro it’s meant a suppression of wages, terms and conditions, working cultures. Along with this is the naivety of the left regarding corporations who are looking for the cheapest labour possible. The only way the left behind are going to get the opportunities on training and advancement are tight labour markets and that means a hard-headed view on migration. Even S Kinnock and Emma Reynolds have seen the writing on the wall: https://labourlist.org/2017/01/kinnock-and-reynolds-eu-vote-shows-public-thirst-for-change-on-immigration/

  • Frankie’
    still ifs and buts and maybes.

  • Little Jackie Paper 8th Jan '17 - 5:30pm

    Does a single market in labour mean that that labour has an open-ended right to, for example in-work welfare irrespective of contributions into a particular national social welfare system? If the design of social welfare systems is a competence for national governments then surely ELIGIBILITY for that welfare shouldn’t just be swept under the free movement/single market carpet? If we want a single welfare system then fine, but I don’t think I’ve seen anyone argue for that.

    I fail to see that a free market or a single market in labour should be the same thing as an open-ended right of establishment or the right to social welfare. At least not in an EU with such gaping asymmetries.

    The wisdom or otherwise of in-work welfare per se we can and should debate.

  • Lorenzo
    “Liberals in the entirety of the Americas would be horrified if all from every country could live anywhere in that continent. And in Asia , and in Africa.”
    The USA was built on immigration. In the second half of the last century record numbers immigrated there from all over the world.
    The same is broadly true of South American countries. It is still reflected in the laws. In Argentina only a three year period residency is required before an application for citizenship can be made.
    Africa and Asia have also experienced migrations. Millions of Chinese went to live in SE Asia.

  • Rebecca Taylor 8th Jan '17 - 6:05pm

    One point hinted at but not mentioned is that EU free movement is reciprocal. That’s why it doesn’t apply to non EU countries. Australians need a visa to live in the UK because Brits need a visa in Australia. There is nothing stopping the UK having free movement with Australia, but I suspect Australia would never agree.

    I would also point out that the UK has never used the conditionality available in relation to EU free movement unlike other countries (see my blog here: http://rebeccataylormep.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/radical-idea-on-eu-free-movement-use.html).

    In addition, the U.K. unlike other countries has failed in many policy areas such as
    housing, higher vocational education, NHS funding etc and the very basic task of providing greater support to poorer areas of the country.

    This is why when Cameron went to Brussels to beg for special conditions for the UK due to heavy negative impact of free movement and was asked for evidence, he couldn’t provide any, even with Migration Watch’s help (they came up only with one newspaper article about a hospital in Corby). What other countries saw is a UK which benefitted economically from gaining many EU taxpayers filling unfilled jobs while failing to invest in poorer communities.

    What I find disturbing is how Cable, Starmer, Reynolds et al are making no attempt whatsoever to dispel the false UKIPesque view that the housing crisis (30 years in the making), NHS problems (mostly due to increased demand on social care at a time when social care has been cut to the bone) and the low skill low wage sectors of the economy that people get trapped in, are all down to immigration when they’re NOT. Immigration including EU free movement may in some circumstances exacerbate these problems, but it didn’t cause them.

    We need to tackle these problems, but blaming them all on immigration and claiming that cutting immigration will solve them is patently FALSE and it stops real debate to generate real solutions* that can actually help.

    * In my (non political) day job, I’m trying to get some work done on access to (non-university) education & training for over 30s (to enable people in low skilled low paid work to improve themselves). If anyone is interested in that topic, please get in touch.

    and sneaky politicians aided by right wing media have happiled blamed these domestic failures on free movement.

  • David Evershed
    “Can and does a “philosophy of migration, borders and refugees” exist?”
    Yes-the study of the theoretical basis of a particular branch of knowledge or experience.
    E.g.”the philosophy of science”

  • Rebbeca
    Well said.
    Under the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement there is free movement between Australia and New Zealand.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 8th Jan '17 - 7:02pm

    What , what ?!

    I mean , and am clear thus , freedom of movement as defined and obsesses over in the EU! You don’t need to try and convince me to be for migration and immigration. I am the son of an Italian father , a half Irish mother, the husband of a wife of American, Italian , Polish origin !

    No country and no Liberal party in any continent has ever incorporated freedom of movement as a right to enter and settle in any part of the continent .

    Americans have no right , nor Mexicans , nor Canadians , as a result of The North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement , to settle , or apply , for work in each others country .

    And no Asian or African country has a system anything like the EU in the continents of Asia or Africa.

    I am a Liberal Democrat , of mixed origins , from Europe . I am also a born and bred patriotic Englishman , who can see a problem and a solution. Not dramatic . Pragmatic !

  • Alan Depauw 8th Jan '17 - 7:11pm

    Rebecca: +1

  • Lorenzo Cherin 8th Jan '17 - 7:16pm


    You make such excellent and radical points here and in your blog , on the conditionality. These are educative , and are a sorry indictment of this country being quite frankly an incompetent soft touch .

    You ruin your points by your calling decent people like Sir Vince , things associated with the ghastly UKIP ! You do not need to . Sir Vince has not stooped to the lower level of populist nonsense that Andy Burnham did , and nor has Sir Keir .

    Burnham is a populist . He was on the NHS and the scandals he presided over in Mid Staffordshire.

    Sir Vince and Sir Keir are not .

    Sir Vince is a fine man , whose late , lamented first wife was Indian , and his two sons half Indian .

    Leave alone the insinuating and insulting and you are very good at educating !

  • David Evans 8th Jan '17 - 7:32pm

    Unless you have a Criminal Record.

  • David Evans 8th Jan '17 - 7:33pm

    Unless you have a Criminal Record, in which case freedom of movement between Australia and NZ doesn’t apply.

  • Katharine Pindar 8th Jan '17 - 8:08pm

    We are talking about continuing to support free movement of EU citizens within the EU, because, as Martin points out, that is part of the concept of the Single Market in which we wish to remain. We want EU citizens to be able to come here freely, and for us to be able to go to the other EU countries freely. Any higher ideals of free movement are impractical, because as Glenn says three-quarters of the the UK population already want to see migration here reduced. So the question is, how can the right of EU citizens to move here be reconciled with restricting their numbers?

    Thanks to Stuart’s posting the link to Nick Clegg’s August 2014 speech, we realise (or remember) that the growth of the EU to 28 states with great disparities of wealth had resulted in large numbers of Poles, Romanians, Bulgarians and other EU citizens flocking to Britain, causing ordinary people here to feel a sense of unfairness and a threat to their way of life, and causing Nick as Deputy Prime Minister to see that immigration must be better managed. The Coalition Government therefore put some restrictions on the right to claim in-work benefits and on access to public housing. Other measures were taken. But they evidently didn’t go far enough to satisfy our population. So what next?

    There are suggestions made, not by us, for work quotas for particular areas of employment to be arranged, or for obliging migrants to live and work in particular areas of the country, but these are not compatible with free movement of EU citizens.
    We could restrict in-work benefits further as a deterrent, though that is verging on the illiberal. But the best remedy seems to be Rebecca Taylor’s suggestion of using the EU’s ‘conditionality to free movement’, by which free movement is allowed for three months, after which people must show that they are working, are registered students, or can support themselves and have comprehensive sickness insurance. She shows how that has been used in Belgium. Surely this is a way forward to achieve the ‘well-managed immigration’ of EU citizens that Nick Clegg and most of us want?

  • It’s a bit late for Vince Cable to come out with something like this. Just because freedom of movement isn’t 100% better for everyone and was arguably mishandled does not necessarily mean it should be scrapped. Voting to Leave the EU was a mistake. All this does is come across as trying to pander to Brexiteers. It’s all very well being a broad church but if you all sing different hymns you will only create white noise.

    As Liberals we need to be ahead of the game not behind it. Rebecca Taylor is right, immigration is not the main driver behind the biggest political challenges we face. The party is also in a position to gain by being most clearly identified with remain. Let’s not waste that.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 8th Jan '17 - 9:14pm

    As ever ,unless pushed to the limits of tolerance , Katharine Pindar , one of our most thoughtful herein, is offering patiently , possible ways forward. Apart from the tone of Rebecca’s blog piece, separate from her comments herein, on Sir Vince , Rebecca’s , conditionality point is something as I said above , she does well to share ,we need to trumpet , but nobody has !

    I agree with Sir Vince , in his piece, on everything bar Ireland , a red herring in my view.
    You do not . I respect you and your view. The difference is , as always , some , like Katharine and Mark Wright , above , and several , contributions , reveal a desire for not only a range of views , but a less precious and holier than thou attitude to what Liberalism is or is not , and thus accomodate all with shared values.

    I abhor the sudden disownership of colleagues .Whether Sir Vince, Nick Clegg , uncle Tom Cobbly and all !

    Freedom is not the same as a free for all. Liberalism is not Libertarianism. As we know that , so we show that . And that means not questioning the ending of freedom of movement throughout the European continent , as being some sort of writ like Magna Carta .

    I think there are many who call themselves Liberal Democrats , who know next to nothing , if that , about the harm principle , of John Stuart Mill. If we perceive harm in a policy where once we didn’t , we can change it. Precisely for the reason , that we are Liberals.

    And as Democrats , we respect the wishes of those who won the referendum. And this means listening.

    That doesn’t mean pandering .I do not like populist rhetoric , even in decent people like Andy Burnham it is unwelcome . But being unpopular too , is bad. Being wrong is worse.

    To cling to freedom of movement in my view is wrong now.We need to at least adapt it. Or more than this .We need to enthusiastically reform the whole of our politics so as to not be knee-jerk , left , right . But flexible ,and correct and right, in this way !

  • I don’t want to stay in the Single Market and not have control over our borders period unless there is a reform from within the EU that addresses the single issue of the need to break the 1% scheme of allowing this crazy free movement of people fleeing economic terror in Portugal, Spain, Greece and the sort of freeloading from A8 to undermine the dreams of the workers in the UK. All that does is help the corporate elites at the expense of the aspirational working class. It’s all very simple – we need to change from an economy that expands with mass migration to one that expands.through training, productivity and R&D increases. If the Lib Dems really put their minds to it and address their prejudices there are no end of ideas and policies they can promote – reform JCP? Older peoples apprenticeships? Radical devolution of power? Strengthen workers rights? That’s what’s called being ahead of the crowd. Unfortunately, you have Tim Farron to deal with on these issues.

    It’s only populist if you are psychologically ingrained with the European superstate project. Perhaps it’s time for the Lib Dems to temper their purist extremism and compromise with `populism` which, by the way, doesn’t go unnoticed as a term of the elites designed to put down the `little people`.

    Here’s a game for the Lib Dems to play – every candidate who wants full free movement of people should explain where an extra say 500 homes will be placed in their ward.

  • If the 1% move your job in Europe you theoretically have the ability to follow it. If the single market allows jobs to travel but not people I think the word we are looking for is Serfdom.

  • @James

    Absolutely, great post

    I especially love you last paragraph, “Here’s a game for the Lib Dems to play – every candidate who wants full free movement of people should explain where an extra say 500 homes will be placed in their ward.”
    I doubt many if any LD councillors or candidates will take up the challenge though. Though to be fair to LD’s, I wouldn’t expect Labour or pro EU Conservatives to take up the challenge either. That’s the problem with pro remain politicians, they say our Government is entirely to blame for the shortage of housing and it has nothing to do with immigration and yet when you put forward proposals for new houses in their local wards everyone becomes a not in my back yard.

  • Katharine Pindar 9th Jan '17 - 12:24am

    It seems to me there has been an almost hysterical reaction lately to the renewed idea that the UK has allowed in far too many migrants and free movement must be ended. (Not from you, of course, Lorenzo, fair-minded and moderate as ever.) The reaction is disproportionate to the facts, in my view. The opening of the gates which caused a great influx from East Europeans happened some years ago. Even the Coalition took some remedial steps. Now all the focus is on the disquiet about immigration made plain by the Referendum voting analysis, rather on the immigration itself. Speak to groups of people in different areas and they can see advantages locally. Even in the east farmers are anxious that migrants may not come to pick the crops this year because the pounds they will earn have lost purchasing power. In the tourist areas we need extra staff for the hotels and cafes, and everywhere building workers are needed for that expanding industry, and care workers for people in homes.
    It just seems to have become a popular myth, that immigrants are a problem rather than a solution to our ageing population, where so many are drawing pensions rather than paying taxes as the working migrants do. And it is a pernicious myth which allows the broader and valid discontents of Leave voters to be disregarded.

  • Katherine,
    Interesting post.
    But to me the main myths about mass immigration on the present scale is that it is driven by need. It only starts after the 1997 election of a Labour Government that wanted to remarket Britain to the world as sort international hub a bit like the selling of the American Dream. Even then it doesn’t even get into full swing until the early 2000s. The next myth is that the objections mainly come from the white working classes. Actually the 75-78% of the population that want to see immigration to drop to lower levels is an overwhelming majority that cuts across al income brackets.. Another myth is that there is any notable support for Britain to become even more open. Actually only about 2% of the population think immigration levels are too low. And IMO the last and biggest myth is that it leads to a more progressive liberal society. In fact what you end up with is lots of problems surrounded by taboos because we have to pretend that the tensions caused by mass immigrations are created by locals rather than by pointless levels of mass immigration. The whole subject is distorted by incessant virtue signalling.

  • Mick Taylor 9th Jan '17 - 3:18am

    The real question that needs to be tackled is who will do the dirty work in our public services and in homes for the elderly, disabled and mentally ill?
    I have met EU nationals who working social care who are lawyers, industrial workers and from all sorts of professions. They do the work UK nationals will no longer do.
    The NHS relies on immigrants to provide the levels of service (however inadequate) that it does. This includes doctors, nurses, porters, cleaners, you name it.
    The real crime of the political class (including some in our own party) is to have not spoken up about the realities of life in the UK with respect to the role that EU nationals and other foreign workers actually play in modern Britain.
    I have not noticed those who want to stop free movement or immigration from non EU countries lining up to offer their services to replace those non UK citizens who work in the NHS, in Social Care and who provide services like plumbing, agricultural work, street cleaning and many more roles that allow Uk citizens to enjoy a full life.
    Sir Vince, normally a man I admire and agree with, has totally failed to address these issues in his fatuous and illiberal comments.

  • Little Jackie Paper 9th Jan '17 - 9:00am

    Lorenzo Cherin – ‘Burnham is a populist . He was on the NHS and the scandals he presided over in Mid Staffordshire.’

    According to Wikipedia, Andy Burnham was the Secretary of State for Health between 5 June 2009 – 11 May 2010. The events at Mid-Staffs covered by the Francis Report took place between January 2005-March 2009.

  • The question we need to ask is not so much about movement of people but about the enlargement of the EU which was not sufficiently debated at the time. Can Romania and Bulgaria really be considered to have governance arrangements which are compatible with membership?
    I live in an area where there has been for a long time a comparatively high level of Dutch people, but people do not seem to notice. They tend to speak better English than the rest of us do, oh, and sometimes have names that are difficult to spell. Most people in Wirral are of British – or Irish – descent but still many people complain about the number of immigrants. I suppose one reason might be that the is frequent bus service and a frequent rail service passing through which joins Liverpool and Chester. I hear many people speaking foreign languages. I assume they are tourists.
    We really need to recognise why people want to come to the UK. We speak English. I was in Warsaw at the ALDE conference before Christmas. I went by train and didn’t come across anyone who spoke no English at all. I did meet a number of staff in the hotel who had been on courses in England. We really need to consider the huge benefit we could get if we worked out how better to use this advantage.
    By the way houses are being built in the ward I represented until recently, I never opposed this, nor do my 3 colleagues who still represent the ward. You don’t always have to oppose things.

  • @ Mick Taylor I agree with the main thrust of your argument but not with, “They do the work UK nationals will no longer do.”

    As a former Convenor of Social Work I can tell you what I guess you already know. There has been a Morton’s Fork of downward pressure on local government budgets which in turn has pressured down contracts with private providers. The knock on to NHS budgets is obvious.

    Many residential care home providers have been bridging the gap by actively recruiting overseas workers (not all from the EU – and not all with the English language skills I believe necessary for elderly care) to evade the minimum wage requirements through the provision of providing ‘accommodation’.

    It’s not a question of work that UK nationals will no longer do – it’s a question of proper wages and conditions.

    Politicians of all parties have dodged the issue of elderly care for far too long and the whole question of elderly care is on the point of meltdown. Market forces privatisation is not the answer.

    A dogmatic utilitarian Tory Government has no answers, neither it seems does a timid Labour Party. Have the Lib Dems got the guts to face up to this and tell the British public the truth ? On the basis of 2010-15 I’m afraid I have my doubts.

    For many people the prospect of reaching a great age is more than a bit scary.

  • @Mick Taylor
    “who will do the dirty work in our public services and in homes for the elderly, disabled and mentally ill?”
    Why do people continue to peddle the myth that British People will not do these jobs.
    How do you think we cared for the elderly before the mass EU Migration? Were the care homes understaffed? Er No
    “The NHS relies on immigrants to provide the levels of service (however inadequate) that it does. This includes doctors, nurses” Yes and through an immigration policy that allows skilled workers, the NHS will still be able to access people from these professions.
    Stop portraying British workers as Lazy and above themselves, you are no better than the tories when they were labelling the unemployed and disabled as work shy and feckless, or do you support those accusations as well

    @ Katharine Pindar
    “Even in the east farmers are anxious that migrants may not come to pick the crops this year because the pounds they will earn have lost purchasing power. In the tourist areas we need extra staff for the hotels and cafes”“It just seems to have become a popular myth, that immigrants are a problem rather than a solution to our ageing population, where so many are drawing pensions rather than paying taxes as the working migrants do”
    Do you accept then that
    A) Most of these temporary seasonal workers are on very low pay so probably pay little to no tax
    B) To top up their low pay, they will receive in work benefits and entitlements to housing benefits
    C) A lot of their earned income is being sent home to their home countries to support their families there and not actually going back into the local economy
    D) So if you accept A) & D) it stands to reason that more is being taken out than is being paid in, especially if the migrant returns to their home land at the end of the season
    So please explain to me, when we have so limited resources in the forms of housing, services and cutting welfare budgets for everyone else, how is either liberal or acceptable to expect the British tax Payer to foot the very high costs of these temporary migrant workers by subsidising their wages and housing?

  • Little Jackie Paper 9th Jan '17 - 9:25am

    Rebecca Taylor – I have some considerable sympathy for the argument that there are things that successive UK governments (Coalition included) could and probably should have done WITHIN the EU. You perhaps should note in passing that liberals probably would not have liked some of those things. But I’d agree that many of the problems the UK faces are not really the direct fault of the EU. I’d also agree that from an EU perspective they probably don’t really see what the UK’s problem is at least to the extent of economic arguments. But I’d make 4 points on this:

    1 – Frankly you are a day late and a dollar short. I don’t remember anyone (LDP included) during the referendum making the case that things could be done differently within the EU, still less setting out proposals. As interesting as that article you link to is, the thinking is still six months too late.

    2 – You say, ‘EU free movement may in some circumstances exacerbate these problems.’ Fine – but that’s not something that should just be glossed over. If you don’t have an answer all you have is cant.

    3 – I’m not at all impressed by this argument that a single market therefore requires an open-ended right of establishment beyond free movement of LABOUR. Yes, the UK’s policy of in-work benefits is problematic. Yes, on paper we can all head to the A8/A2 and yes national governments do find it too easy on occasion to hide behind the EU. But for all that surely you have to see that the lack of reciprocity in practice is a serious problem politically? That seems to me the core of Cable’s argument and he’s right. If 2m+ young UK un/underemployed could all head to the A8/A2 tomorrow for wages/housing/in-work benefits we’d just have had a 95% IN vote.

    4 – There is a wider issue with non-EU migration. There seems to be a more general question here that all political parties are ducking about realistically how far we can have influxes at the levels we are seeing. The fact that parties are ducking is leaving the gap for populists to fill. James might be a little mischievous however his point, ‘every candidate who wants full free movement of people should explain where an extra say 500 homes will be placed in their ward,’ is one I think some people might do well to dwell on.

  • Little Jackie Paper 9th Jan '17 - 9:34am

    Kahterine Pindar – ‘Even in the east farmers are anxious that migrants may not come to pick the crops this year because the pounds they will earn have lost purchasing power.’

    Currency fluctuations can happen at any time – post 2008 the £ saw very significant falls. Some of my wife’s friends were paying for school fees for siblings in their home countries and the falling £ created severe problems. None of this is new or a product of the referendum. There never were any guarantees on seasonal (or any other) labour coming.

    ‘It just seems to have become a popular myth, that immigrants are a problem rather than a solution to our ageing population, where so many are drawing pensions rather than paying taxes as the working migrants do.’

    But that was one of Cable’s better arguments. That these people come but any benefit is not recurring. They will get old themselves. And that benefit is not guaranteed to go on. Basing a pension policy on the right sort of immigrant possibly coming and possibly making contributions and possibly saving into a private scheme and possibly working in care sectors for possibly driven-down wages is not a policy – it’s crossed fingers.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 9th Jan '17 - 10:01am

    Mick, you are absolutely right to mention the vital role of immigrants in the NHS and social care. Indeed, without immigration, the NHS and social care would simply collapse. In this, and in so many other ways, immigrants are part of the solution, not the problem.
    But, going off topic a bit, could I just mention that I don’t think it’s very helpful or appropriate to describe work with the elderly, disabled and mentally ill, as “dirty work”. I know you didn’t mean it this way, but that sort of thoughtless remark adds to negative stereotyping of elderly, disabled and mentally ill people. It also leads to the undervaluing of those who work in health and social care, doing jobs which are among the most important and worthwhile of careers.

  • Alan Depauw 9th Jan '17 - 10:05am

    It may be useful to take into account the migrants own patterns of behaviour. I do not know whether there is data on this. My impression is that whereas people from the developing world and from troubled nations may state a long-term intention to return home, time and geography lead to them settling permanently. EU migrants, coming from countries much closer, are perhaps more likely to go back to them. If this were so, then surely from a purely pragmatic view it would be better to continue favouring the latter.

  • Denis Loretto 9th Jan '17 - 10:13am

    First of all let’s get out of the way the idea that the world is ready for some sort of borderless regime whereby all human beings can settle anywhere they like without let or hindrance. I doubt if that situation will ever become viable. As to Europe let’s go back to the origins of what is now the EU. After centuries of conflict the visionary founders wanted more than anything to make war between European nations unthinkable. This was bound to mean much more than a free trade agreement. The most idealistic had in mind some sort of United States of Europe as an ultimate destination, which I think even they would have regarded as only feasible if a limited number of countries with broadly similar economies and cultures were to be included. Anyhow, the objective of all was to so integrate the major European powers whose rivalries and enmities had caused so much death and destruction that close co-operation would be the long-term norm. Hence the “four freedoms” were always intended to go way beyond moves towards freeing up trade. As has been mentioned in this thread it was politicians – led by the British – who feared a slide towards losing too much national identity who pushed for expansion of the EU (widening rather than deepening they called it) with such a degree of success that the maintenance of absolute freedom of movement has been put under enormous strain.

    So where do we go from here? Nick Clegg has opined that some sort of limitation of overall absolute freedom of movement throughout the EU may become inevitable and he is not alone in this. I am one of many who fervently wish that the UK were still at the table to address this and many other problems which we Europeans face. Unfortunately that is not to be and the last thing any of our erstwhile 27 partners will want is Vince Cable or any other Brit lecturing them on what they should or should not do about free movement or anything else.

  • Little Jackie Paper 9th Jan '17 - 10:15am

    Alan DePauw – Try http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-25880373.

    There are three problems here:

    1 – There is nothing at all to suggest that current or past patterns of migration will carry on into the future. So even if all the EU migrants were young, non-claimants now there’s no promise that’s forever. This is one of Cable’s points I think.

    2 – None of this tells us anything about non-EU people who get EU passports. See this report for example https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/jan/28/british-dream-europe-african-citizens

    ‘They found that 141,000 people, 7% of those who came to the UK under EU rules were born outside the continent. Somalis are one of the biggest such groups, with an estimated 20,000 coming to the UK from the Netherlands alone. Studies show that between one third and a half of the entire Dutch Somali community has moved to the UK.’ Quite why these people feel the need to flee the Netherlands is anyone’s guess.

    3 – I still have to ask the question about reciprocity. To get some idea of the scale of how far free movement has been in one direction so far try – http://blogs.ft.com/ftdata/2016/05/27/eastern-europe-has-the-largest-population-loss-in-modern-history/

    I do agree by the way that one response to Cable’s point that EU people are getting a better deal than others is, ‘so be it.’ But for me that is opening up a massive can of worms.

  • @frankie – the 1% is regards to the top 1% loving free movement as it lines their own pockets at the expense of the lives of both UK and PIGS citizens.

    `I have not noticed those who want to stop free movement or immigration from non EU countries lining up to offer their services to replace those non UK citizens who work in the NHS, in Social Care and who provide services like plumbing, agricultural work, street cleaning and many more roles that allow Uk citizens to enjoy a full life.`

    Err I worked in such an environment with a lot of EU, BME British and foreign nationals. It was an appalling environment that uses people and spits them out. It’s also the end game of the eurocentric economic model in microcosm – global corporation, taxed in Luxembourg, mostly insecure employment with an employer that doesn’t give a shit about anything but the rate at which you can work (the more superhuman the better) while those at the top cream of that organisation more and more wealth at the expense of those at the bottom – mean, inhuman and untrusting.

    @David Raw – `Many residential care home providers have been bridging the gap by actively recruiting overseas workers (not all from the EU – and not all with the English language skills I believe necessary for elderly care) to evade the minimum wage requirements through the provision of providing ‘accommodation’.

    It’s not a question of work that UK nationals will no longer do – it’s a question of proper wages and conditions.`

    You realise what this actually means – it means putting British workers first. This is in stark opposition to Farronite open borders philosophy where everyone is equal as if `a job is a job` and that there are no differences to the drivers behind the attitudes to work.

  • David Raw above is correct, and makes an important point. Anyone who thinks that restricting immigration will result in better wages for any more than a minority in this country is kidding themselves.

    There are some jobs that only still exist in the UK because wages are low. These are the manufacturing and service jobs that can be outsourced or offshored (or whatever you want to call it). Restrict labour supply to push up wages in those industries, and the jobs will simply disappear from the UK and move to India, China, Bangladesh, the Philippines or wherever. That doesn’t make individual British people better off, and it doesn’t help the UK economy as a whole.

    There are jobs that can’t be exported, such as in the Caring professions. But as David points out, those jobs are low paid because of the pressures on health and social care budgets. If you want those people to be paid more, then we all need to pay for that in higher taxes (or cuts to other budgets). I have yet to hear a Leaver honest enough to say that.

    There are no valid economic objections to ending freedom of movement, and most people who think that it will make them personally better off are deluded.

  • Alan Depauw 9th Jan '17 - 12:12pm

    Little Jackie Paper: Surely the ‘More or Less’ article you quote tends to support my suggestion? (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-25880373)

    The article attempts to quantify the ‘whole-life’ contribution to the public purse of EU and non-EU migrant groups, thereby including ‘non-productive’ people such as the elderly and dependents. It says that when you divide their net contribution by the number of people in each group, that of EU migrants has been positive; whilst that of non-EU migrants has been negative (as for the average Briton).
    This would support my suggestion that EU migrants tend to return home whilst non-EU migrants tend to settle.

    The example you give of non-EU people who get EU passports such as Somali born Dutch people is in fact covered by definition; because they are EU citizens they are included in the EU migrant group. Presumably they reduce the net contribution of that group, which overall however remains positive.

  • Alan
    I think the problem with your argument is it’s based mostly on a narrow economic view. It ignores the reality that vast majority of the population just doesn’t want mass immigration and never really has. It’s much more about culture and a degree of nativism than economics.

  • @Mark Wright – I absolutely do not think that lower wages are great (and I’m sure I have never said that either here or elsewhere). Quite the opposite!

    I’m simply saying that ending FOM won’t fix that problem, and anyone who thinks it will is going to be badly disappointed.

    Globalisation and automation (and Government policy in some cases) are suppressing wages, and will continue to do so whether we are in or out of the EU. When you credit the Tories will raising wages at the bottom end, and you referring to the “National Living Wage”? Are you happy to give them the credit for that?

  • Rebecca Taylor 9th Jan '17 - 4:23pm

    @Lorenzo – I didn’t accuse Vince Cable, Keir Starmer etc of being racist or having UKIP like views, but not doing enough to challenge such views. Sorry that wasn’t clear!

    @Mark – falling social housing didn’t start in the early 2000s; council house building fell sharply in the 1980s, and reached a low point in 1990s where it stayed. While housing association housebuilding has increased, it isn’t enough (see useful graph in this article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14380936).

    UK doesn’t lack housing overall, but in areas where people want/need to live. If poorer areas had been better supported, we wouldn’t have this inbalance. The greying of the population and increased single person households also has an impact on housing not often mentioned. None of these factors have anything to do with immigration, which can exacerbate housing problems, but isn’t the root cause (if it was Germany should be suffering a massive housing crisis right now and it isn’t!).

    You’re correct that BOE study found wage depression (2% or 2p per hour) in low skill low paid roles where migrant workers increase by 10% (very limited sectors of the economy). In the economy as a whole, immigration isn’t correlated with falling wages; high migration areas tend to have higher wages than low migration areas. That doesn’t mean do nothing about those (minority of) people affected, but claiming immigration as the sole cause means not tackling rising inequality and weak workers’ rights (convenient for bad employers/Tories).

    @Little Jacky – when I was an MEP, I raised the point about UK not using free movement conditionality many times (through EP leader and in written submissions), but it fell on deaf ears in Westminster. I can’t quite recall why (absence of population registration system?), and I didn’t pursue further, sorry!

    I also understand that UK funding formulas take too long to adapt to changing population (size & structure) both in terms of total funding and targeted budgets. This is surely something worth looking at?

    @James, IF the UK leaves the single market (as May indicated yesterday), I fear that corporations will find the UK an even softer touch in relation to worker’s rights and paying taxes. Turning the UK into a kind of low regulation, low tax sweatshop is the ultimate aim of the right wing elite Beleavers (Farage, Gove, Hannan).

  • @ James (the anonymous one). No I don’t agree with you. It means tackling dodgy companies who cover up dodgy employment practices, who don’t pay proper wages and who take advantage of the people they employ.

    Don’t muddle up your Brexit prejudices with my real life experiences of trying to deal with these matters. It’s more important than that.

  • Peter Watson 9th Jan '17 - 6:21pm

    @Rebecca Taylor “that BOE study found wage depression (2% or 2p per hour)”
    Surely 2% is more than “2p per hour”?

  • And what will really strong terms and conditions do? Yep you got it – more and more migration and less and less job opportunities. If you want that particular economic model you have to bite the bullet and lay a system of British first access for employment and not this global free for all.

  • `Globalisation and automation (and Government policy in some cases) are suppressing wages, and will continue to do so whether we are in or out of the EU. `

    So why would you want to carry on with FOML?

  • Mark – the poorest members of society wont be thanking you when the plunging pound feeds into soaring prices. The price of limiting immigration for you is going to fall very heavily on the poorest.

  • Katharine Pindar 9th Jan '17 - 10:33pm

    Starting from the position that we wish to stay in the EU, and this may yet be possible, we should uphold freedom of movement because it is one of the four freedoms insisted on by EU rules, and without it we cannot retain our free access to the single market in goods and services which we regard as so desirable.
    Moreover, belief in freedom of movement is one of our Liberal Democrat principles. It cannot in practicality be extended to the whole world, but we can demand it be retained in our EU. From a political point of view, it is part of our uniqueness which we should boldly proclaim. Rebecca’s information, which it is not too late to begin to use, should enable us to explain that EU immigration can still be managed sensibly; and we can use the figures dug out from a BBC article by Alan Depauw to show that EEA migrants contributed 34% more in taxes than they gained in benefits and services in a recent decade.
    As to migrants growing old here and needing more benefits, particularly health care, this is not a good argument. Not only do recent migrants tend to be younger, they may also in due course have children, who will also grow up to work and pay taxes. (But let us for everyone continue to demand fair pay and decent services and living conditions.)

    Let us also denounce some new proposals on immigration from senior figures in the Labour Party, which would divide migrants into two tiers, the one composed of highly skilled workers who can move here for confirmed employment, the other of low-skilled and semi-skilled workers who will be restricted to sector-based quotas. I take it fellow Liberal Democrats will be as disgusted as I am at the idea of such a division being attempted.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 10th Jan '17 - 12:39am

    Little Jackie Paper
    Andy Burnham would not enquire into the goings on at Mid Staffs, not wanting or facing , anti NHS feeling , and thus the crisis aftermath was worse on his watch . Read up on it , it is there to be understood clearly . I do not say he did wrong , he did not do what would have been the braver thing.He faced much in the way of backlash , but those who are more neutral on the NHS, ie it can do wrong as well as right , must be able to see the NHS right no matter what that is in the background of the Labour ethos , as worryingly complacent and populist in Labour politics.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 10th Jan '17 - 12:40am


    Initially would not enquire , ie delay in it.

  • @Katharine
    “Moreover, belief in freedom of movement is one of our Liberal Democrat principles. It cannot in practicality be extended to the whole world, but we can demand it be retained in our EU. From a political point of view, it is part of our uniqueness which we should boldly proclaim.”

    Is this really the case, and if so, is it a recent development? It’s not so long ago (2010) that the Lib Dems fought on election campaign on a policy of curtailing free movement even within the UK, with their proposals to prohibit migrants from working in certain regions.

  • Katharine Pindar 10th Jan '17 - 4:27pm

    Stuart, those are good questions, to which I hope a more knowledgeable member will also reply, since I don’t have a copy of the 2010 manifesto. I do know we have policies on managing immigration in general, which have been referred to in these threads. The uniqueness I see is in our whole-hearted approach to the EU, wishing to stay in it, and therefore being prepared to go along with the ‘four freedoms’ as far as the EU, itself in a state of flux, requires their fulfilment in future. It is part of our outward-looking and openness stance, which is not shared by Labour or the Tories.

    However, I had this morning tweeted our Leader, asking for him to clarify his/the party’s position on the Brexit negotiations, and where we stand on freedom of movement for EU citizens, since I think it is time the party leadership spoke out. Perhaps Tim’s LBC appearance will help on that.

  • Re the comments that immigrants, including highly qualified professionals do the low skilled work that British people won’t do -:
    When did that comment become in any way acceptable when there is still the best part of a million people unemployed in the U.K.?
    If there are jobs available why should we be paying benefits to long term unemployed who can work but won’t take certain jobs? I would give 6 months, maybe even a year for someone to actively pursue obtaining their preferred job / career , after that if other jobs are available, then surely they should take one or have their benefits removed? As often stated many of the jobs that immigrants take are low skilled so one might argue that many of our young unemployed are uniquely qualified to fill these vacancies.
    If we have net immigration of around 300,000 a year and it is true that most obtain work, often unskilled and we also have around 1,000,000 people unemployed then surely we do not need such high levels of inward migration?
    We should be less tolerant of our own population choosing which jobs they will and won’t take, whilst sitting on benefits paid for by those who are working, often in jobs they don’t particularly like.
    I have on more than one occasion taken employment in areas in which I had no intention of making a career, however these jobs did supply an income, allow me to maintain a good work ethic, and gain a good understanding of what it is like to have to take what is available, until something better comes along. Even though I had no long term ambition to remain in those jobs I did derive an element of pride and self respect by carrying out the roles to the best of my ability, all very valuable experience.

  • @Katharine Pindar

    Hi Katharine
    you can find a copy of the manifesto that time forgot here:

    You should be able to search for “immigration” and find the entries, note it doesn’t differentiate between the EU/Rest of the World.

  • Katharine Pindar 10th Jan '17 - 11:12pm

    @ Chris_sh – hi, Chris, thank you for providing the link which has enabled me to read the 2010 manifesto, which as you say, ‘time forgot’! When I eventually reached the section on the EU (wanting strong and positive commitment to many shared purposes, but also ‘improved accountability, efficiency and effectiveness’) it was separate from the remarks on immigration. There, there is a recognition of an immigration system ‘in chaos’ and practical suggestions such as reintroducing exit checks at all ports and airports, with a strong National Border Force, and having rigorous checks against rogue employers with illegal labour forces.
    Basically, the ideal sought is for ‘a firm but fair immigration system’ with ‘managed migration’. And as Stuart pointed out, there is a suggestion of directing migrants to particular areas via a ‘regional ports-based system’, so they work ‘only where they are needed’. I won’t pretend I like that. But as you, Chris, say, this was a policy not differentiating between EU and other migrants. Presumably it was assumed that EU migrants would continue to go where they wanted, just as British emigrants go where they like in the EU, so it was really about non-EU migrants. I think in the present situation we can only argue for free movement to continue for EU migrants, as I have done in my various comments, and I hope this is party policy. The Manifesto went into no detail, except in its liberal policies regarding asylum-seekers, and granting eventual citizenship even to ‘those without correct papers’ after ten years of blameless residency here. The current situation was not envisaged.
    So now we must fight for the rights of non-British EU citizens living here who are being shamefully treated at present, for British citizens wishing to live elsewhere in the EU, and for all the young people to come who want the freedom of movement that we have cheerfully enjoyed.

  • Katharine Pindar 10th Jan '17 - 11:36pm

    As surely Bradley will agree, there have been many interesting comments on his article, and personally I have wished I could go on discussing points with many contributors. I am adding this one extra word, to appreciate Denis Loretto’s interesting historical take (January 9), where he tells us that Nick Clegg ‘has opined that some sort of limit of overall absolute freedom of movement throughout the EU may become inevitable’, and wishes we were ‘at the table’ to discuss it. I take comfort from the thought that other EU luminaries may sort out the problem for us eventually, and not in a way with which liberals could find much fault.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • Michael BG
    Jeremy, Please can you give the dates of the next three FPC meetings after 9th June? When you write, “This discussion then very helpfully informed an ea...
  • Marco
    I didn’t think that 2019 was as disastrous as many people thought. The result is a solid base to build on. Although the revoke policy was mistaken I am concer...
  • Marco
    I do despair of Lib Dems who claim Labour “aren’t progressive”. It was Labour governments who legalised divorce, abortion and same sex relations, abolis...
  • Andrew McCaig
    John, it is not having unitary councils that I object to (I am quite used to the unitary Kirklees Council), but to restricting local elections to once every fou...
  • Marco
    Congratulations to Sarah Green and everyone who campaigned and achieved a fantastic result. This result shows that the party is broadly on the right track. Y...