The BLP and Brexit January 10, 2017Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
It remains to be seen – at the time of writing this – if the report in the Guardian on Corbyn giving a speech today where he will support ‘managed migration’ is accurate. If so we can chalk that down as yet another defeat for progressive political approaches in the wake of Brexit. Add it to the growing pile as it were (and what of that left turn in British politics?).
But for the genesis of such thinking this from Stephen Kinnock and Emma Reynolds in the Observer is perhaps typical of a strand of BLP thinking on the issues surrounding Brexit which is hardly progressive at all. It’s quite a piece, which from the off manages to muddy the waters. For example:
The EU referendum was a vote for change on immigration. Free movement of people was rejected and now, as shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer stated in his recent Bloomberg speech, “the status quo is not an option”.
Actually the vote was on membership of the EU. Free movement of people can be part of EU membership or not, and vice versa. But if that’s where they’re starting we can see the destination coming into view fairly quickly. And the language used? Well, no real defence of progressive goals.
But people are worried about more than pressures on jobs, wages and housing: they are anxious about culture, identity and the rate of change of communities. Many of the areas that voted Leave on 23 June have little or no EU immigration, so it is clear that concerns are not limited to the areas that have experienced large and rapid inward migration flows. They are nationwide, strongly held and generally immune to arguments based on abstract economic data.
What’s fascinating about that last line of argument is that rather than using that to underscore how problematic the concerns are and how they are overblown Kinnock and Reynolds decide that they’ll double down on a more reactionary position. Indeed they don’t even begin to address how areas with considerable immigration have somehow managed in many many instances to vote Remain, in other words culture identity and rate of change of communities may well not be the pressing issue they seem to think it is.
Anyhow, their solution?
Labour must urgently press the government to put a progressive, fair and managed two-tier migration system at the heart of the Brexit negotiations. Within tier 1, highly skilled EU workers, such as doctors, teachers and engineers, could move to the UK on the basis of confirmed employment. The jobs they would fill must exceed agreed education, skills and income thresholds. For example, education to 18, plus a minimum of three years’ higher education or post-education work experience, combined with a minimum salary of £25,000 per year. EU students with a place at a British university would also be included in this tier.
And the second tier?
Tier 2 would comprise low-skilled and semi-skilled EU workers, whose access to the UK labour market would be restricted by sector-based quotas, negotiated between government, industry and trade unions. This tier would cover sectors such as agriculture, food processing, retail, construction and hospitality. Quotas must be phased in over time and carefully designed to strike the right balance between maximising job and training opportunities for local workers and ensuring that sudden workforce shortages are averted. This could deliver the ultimate prize of a higher-wage, higher-skilled economy.
By the by, note how Ireland yet again is not even on the radar in regard to their thinking. And this from supposedly progressive thinkers?
No real clarity of thought as to whether any of this would be acceptable to the EU.
Years of experience working in Brussels taught us that EU negotiations are successful only when a win-win proposal is on the table. But Theresa May’s approach has so far shown neither creativity nor ambition. She seems unable to recognise that an ambitious UK-EU trade deal will be secured only if we offer EU workers preferential access to the British labour market. This can be combined with restrictions on low- and semi-skilled workers and therefore meet the British public’s desire for greater control. It is imperative that May changes direction in 2017. Failure to do so would lead our country into a “hard Brexit”, inflicting huge damage on the economy, jobs and living standards across the country.
How that works in the context of events in Switzerland in relation to freedom of movement last month I’m not sure. But then if they’re not mentioning Ireland why would they bother their heads with anywhere else?
“It is ridiculous that Labour, a party that has supported regulation of businesses and markets, would want no limits on an open-door EU labour market. Backing fair controls on immigration is entirely in keeping with Labour values. Labour has an opportunity to put forward a case for a preferential labour migration scheme – or risk being ignored during these crucial Brexit negotiations.”