When is an ‘open door’ immigration policy not an ‘open door’ immigration policy? Answer: when it’s a-jar.
Both the UK conservative press and lefty liberal press have reacted a little squeamishly this week to the news of UK Home Office figures showing that, including the self-employed, over half a million Poles and other central Europeans have joined the UK workforce since the expansion of the EU in 2004.
The tabloid Sun – never a friend of the immigrant – screamed about how Poles and others had forced down British wages. And the Guardian ‘liberal’ columnist Polly Toynbee wrote exactly the same thing, claiming that to support the open door policy was to support American neo-cons (!):
‘Near-full employment should mean pay rises – but cheap imported labour helps keep it low….[and a ] 10-year unbroken burst of growth’ and a decrease ‘in pay inflation’ are a consequence of ‘cheap imported labour’.
Both the opposition Conservative party and many on the New Labour front bench are calling for Romanians and Bulgarians to not be given the same opportunities to come and work in Britain when they join the EU next year.
But not all British journalists are scared of the Polish plumber. Neil Davenport at Spiked has been refreshingly forthright:
The case for an open-door policy should be central to any meaningful discussion of immigration. People from Poland to Peru, Estonia to Ethiopia, should be allowed to come and live and work in Britain as they see fit. What is wrong with people moving around the globe in search of work and a better quality of life? Draconian controls on human movement are not only an affront to individual freedom and liberty; they also popularise dangerous Malthusian notions that society’s problems are caused by there being ‘too many people’. …
Whatever arguments are used to justify them, the truth is that immigration controls are a disgrace and a menace to freedom, liberty and prosperity. That half-a-million Eastern Europeans have passed through Britain to live and work is good news for them, and us. Apparently, a million-strong ‘Romanian invasion’ is heading this way, too. Bring ’em all in, I say.
Britain should keep its doors wide open and not be so scared of being ‘swamped’ and ‘flooded’ by central and eastern Europeans. A rich country like the UK should have a little more confidence in itself.