Labour and immigration: the debate continues

More voices speak out against a lurch to the right.

There's an excellent post over at Next Left by the Smith Institute's David Coats, on why calls for Labour to take an even "tougher" line on immigration are misguided. Coats stresses how new arrivals from eastern Europe over the past decade have benefited Britain's economy:

The best evidence suggests that there was no negative impact on the employment prospects of "native" British workers and no downward pressure on wages either. Some may find this conclusion counter-intuitive and will draw attention to anecdotes involving job loss and wage cuts. But public policy has to be driven by social science, not by what somebody in the pub or at the school gates has told you.

A strong case can be made that the arrival of large number of Poles and Lithuanians helped the economy to grow more rapidly than would otherwise have been the case. Labour shortages were avoided, interest rates remained low and inflation was subdued. At the same time, of course, the National Minimum Wage was rising faster than average earnings, which guaranteed a firm floor in the labour market. These are hallmarks of policy success, not failure.

He links New Labour's immigration rhetoric (as I did last week) to a wider problem with addressing the concerns of working-class Britons. This is a point also raised at the weekend by the Guardian's John Harris, who consequently takes a dim view of the front-runners in the Labour leadership contest:

Some Labour people seem to have come to a truly stupid conclusion: that the Con-Dem coalition has to be outflanked on the right, because the proles demand it. This takes us to what might prove the biggest problem of all: that four ex-wonks with limited life experience may not be the best people to divine what exactly it is that the fabled white working class is after.

Daniel Trilling is the Editor of New Humanist magazine. He was formerly an Assistant Editor at the New Statesman.

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“Trembling, shaking / Oh, my heart is aching”: the EU out campaign song will give you chills

But not in a good way.

You know the story. Some old guys with vague dreams of empire want Britain to leave the European Union. They’ve been kicking up such a big fuss over the past few years that the government is letting the public decide.

And what is it that sways a largely politically indifferent electorate? Strikes hope in their hearts for a mildly less bureaucratic yet dangerously human rights-free future? An anthem, of course!

Originally by Carly You’re so Vain Simon, this is the song the Leave.EU campaign (Nigel Farage’s chosen group) has chosen. It is performed by the singer Antonia Suñer, for whom freedom from the technofederalists couldn’t come any suñer.

Here are the lyrics, of which your mole has done a close reading. But essentially it’s just nature imagery with fascist undertones and some heartburn.

"Let the river run

"Let all the dreamers

"Wake the nation.

"Come, the new Jerusalem."

Don’t use a river metaphor in anything political, unless you actively want to evoke Enoch Powell. Also, Jerusalem? That’s a bit... strong, isn’t it? Heavy connotations of being a little bit too Englandy.

"Silver cities rise,

"The morning lights,

"The streets that meet them,

"And sirens call them on

"With a song."

Sirens and streets. Doesn’t sound like a wholly un-authoritarian view of the UK’s EU-free future to me.

"It’s asking for the taking,

"Trembling, shaking,

"Oh, my heart is aching."

A reference to the elderly nature of many of the UK’s eurosceptics, perhaps?

"We’re coming to the edge,

"Running on the water,

"Coming through the fog,

"Your sons and daughters."

I feel like this is something to do with the hosepipe ban.

"We the great and small,

"Stand on a star,

"And blaze a trail of desire,

"Through the dark’ning dawn."

Everyone will have to speak this kind of English in the new Jerusalem, m'lady, oft with shorten’d words which will leave you feeling cringéd.

"It’s asking for the taking.

"Come run with me now,

"The sky is the colour of blue,

"You’ve never even seen,

"In the eyes of your lover."

I think this means: no one has ever loved anyone with the same colour eyes as the EU flag.

I'm a mole, innit.