Burma election: in pictures

Voting has begun in the country’s first election in 20 years. It is widely expected to be a sham.

Above: Buddhist monks walk near a polling station in the capital, Rangoon. There have already been reports of intimidation. This is the first election since 1990, when pro-democracy candidates won by a landslide in a result that was ignored by the military junta.

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A woman checks names on voters' lists displayed outside a polling station at Inle Lake, north-eastern Shan State, 6 November.

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Two men ride a tricycle past a campaign poster for the junta's Union Solidarity and Development Party.

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Scrutinising a party chart. Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the opposition National League for Democracy, is still under house arrest.

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People cast their vote at a polling station in Rangoon. The internet has barely been functioning in the city for weeks; it is thought that the junta orchestrated failures to prevent information-sharing.

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Burmese exiles and supporters protest outside the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok, shouting anti-junta slogans, 5 November.

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Political activists dressed as Burmese soldiers guard a mock-ballot box outside the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok, 5 November. There is tight security at polling booths across the country.

All photographs: AFP/Getty Images.

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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Leave will leap on the immigration rise, but Brexit would not make much difference

Non-EU migration is still well above the immigration cap, which the government is still far from reaching. 

On announcing the quarterly migration figures today, the Office for National Statistics was clear: neither the change in immigration levels, nor in emigration levels, nor in the net figure is statistically significant. That will not stop them being mined for political significance.

The ONS reports a 20,000 rise in net long-term international migration to 333,000. This is fuelled by a reduction in emigration: immigration itself is actually down very slightly (by 2,000) on the year ending in 2014, but emigration has fallen further – by 22,000.

So here is the (limited) short-term significance of that. The Leave campaign has already decided to pivot to immigration for the final month of the referendum campaign. Arguments about the NHS, about sovereignty, and about the bloated bureaucracy in Brussels have all had some utility with different constituencies. But none has as much purchase, especially amongst persuadable Labour voters in the north, as immigration. So the Leave campaign will keep talking about immigration and borders for a month, and hope that a renewed refugee crisis will for enough people turn a latent fear into a present threat.

These statistics make adopting that theme a little bit easier. While it has long been accepted by everyone except David Cameron and Theresa May that the government’s desired net immigration cap of 100,000 per year is unattainable, watch out for Brexiters using these figures as proof that it is the EU that denies the government the ability to meet it.

But there are plenty of available avenues for the Remain campaign to push back against such arguments. Firstly, they will point out that this is a net figure. Sure, freedom of movement means the British government does not have a say over EU nationals arriving here, but it is not Jean-Claude Juncker’s fault if people who live in the UK decide they quite like it here.

Moreover, the only statistically significant change the ONS identify is a 42 per cent rise in migrants coming to the UK “looking for work” – hardly signalling the benefit tourism of caricature. And though that cohort did not come with jobs, the majority (58 per cent) of the 308,000 migrants who came to Britain to work in 2015 had a definite job to go to.

The Remain campaign may also point out that the 241,000 short-term migrants to the UK in the year ending June 2014 were far outstripped by the 420,000 Brits working abroad. Brexit, and any end to freedom of movement that it entailed, could jeopardise many of those jobs for Brits.

There is another story that the Remain campaign should make use of. Yes, the immigration cap is a joke. But it has not (just) been made into a joke by the EU. Net migration from non-EU countries is at 188,000, a very slight fall from the previous year but still higher than immigration from EU countries. That alone is far above the government’s immigration cap. If the government cannot bring down non-EU migration, then the Leave argument that a post-EU Britain would be a low-immigration panacea is hardly credible. Don’t expect that to stop them making it though. 

Henry Zeffman writes about politics and is the winner of the Anthony Howard Award 2015.