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Immigration missing government target

Citizens from non-EU countries continue to be the largest group of migrants to the country.

Estimated total long-term immigration to the UK in the year to September 2011 was 589,000, compared to 600,000 for the same period in 2010 and mostly remains similar to that seen since 2004, according to the migration statistics quarterly report (MSQR) released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) today. The lack of reduction means that the government is no closer to meeting its target of reducing net migration to less than 100,000 per year.

The UN definition of a long-term international migrant is someone who moves from their country of previous residence for a period of at least a year.

Estimated net long-term migration to the UK in the year to September 2011 was 252,000, which is the same as the final estimate of 252,000 in 2010. Net migration has remained broadly at similar levels since the year to September 2010, was estimated at 255,000.

As per the report, formal study is the first reason for migrating to the UK, while work remains the second reason.

Speaking on the release, Sarah Mulley of IPPR said:

The Government has so far made no progress towards meeting its target of reducing net migration to less than 100,000. It has also found that it is very difficult to reduce immigration to the UK without imposing significant costs on the economy. Recent changes to the student visa regime will deprive the UK education sector and wider economy of much needed income, but will have only limited impacts on long-term net migration because the vast majority of foreign students only remain in the UK temporarily. The Government should exclude students from migration figures and count them only if they stay in the UK for the long term.

An estimated 165,000 citizens from the EU (excluding British) migrated to the UK in the year to September 2011, not a statistically significant difference from the estimate of 182,000 in the year to September 2010. The estimated number of EU citizens (excluding British) emigrating from the UK was 91,000 in the year to September 2011, not a statistically significant difference from the estimate of 101,000 who emigrated in the year to September 2010.

Citizens from non-EU countries continue to be the largest group of migrants to the UK compared to British and the rest of the EU. An estimated 343,000 non-EU citizens arrived to live in the UK in the year to September 2011, which is 58 per cent of all immigrants. This is slightly higher than the estimate of 326,000 who arrived in the year to September 2010.

The estimated number of non-EU citizens emigrating from the UK in the year to September 2011 was 105,000, similar to the estimate of 108,000 in the year to September 2010.

In the year to March 2012 the overall number of entry clearance visas issued for work and study was 439,855, a decrease of 13 per cent (507,939) compared to same period last year.

A total of 148,498 work-related visas were issued in the year to March 2012, a decrease of 8 per cent (161,775) compared to same period last year. The number of visas issued for the purposes of study was 291,357 in the year to March 2012, a fall of 16 per cent (346,164) compared to same period last year

Some 671,000 national insurance numbers were allocated to non-UK nationals in the year to December 2011.

The estimated number of British citizens emigrating long-term from the UK in the year to September 2011 was 142,000 not a statistically significant difference from the estimate of 136,000 in the year to September 2010.

The MSQR series brings together statistics on migration that is published quarterly by the Home Office, the Department for Work and Pensions, the Office for National Statistics, and the National Records of Scotland.

David Young
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The Tories are the zombie party: with an ageing, falling membership, still they stagger on to victory

One Labour MP in Brighton spotted a baby in a red Babygro and said to me: “There’s our next [Labour] prime minister.”

All football clubs have “ultras” – and, increasingly, political parties do, too: although, in the case of political parties, their loudest and angriest supporters are mostly found on the internet. The SNP got there first: in the early days of email, journalists at the Scotsman used to receive bilious missives complaining about its coverage – or, on occasion, lack of coverage – of what the Scottish National Party was up to. The rest soon followed, with Ukip, the Labour Party and even the crushed Liberal Democrats now boasting a furious electronic horde.

The exception is the Conservative Party. Britain’s table-topping team might have its first majority in 18 years and is widely expected in Westminster to remain in power for another decade. But it doesn’t have any fans. The party’s conference in Manchester, like Labour’s in Brighton, will be full to bursting. But where the Labour shindig is chock-full of members, trade unionists and hangers-on from the charitable sector, the Conservative gathering is a more corporate affair: at the fringes I attended last year, lobbyists outnumbered members by four to one. At one, the journalist Peter Oborne demanded to know how many people in the room were party members. It was standing room only – but just four people put their hands up.

During Grant Shapps’s stint at Conservative headquarters, serious attempts were made to revive membership. Shapps, a figure who is underrated because of his online blunders, and his co-chair Andrew Feldman were able to reverse some of the decline, but they were running just to stand still. Some of the biggest increases in membership came in urban centres where the Tories are not in contention to win a seat.

All this made the 2015 election win the triumph of a husk. A party with a membership in long-term and perhaps irreversible decline, which in many seats had no activists at all, delivered crushing defeats to its opponents across England and Wales.

Like José Mourinho’s sides, which, he once boasted, won “without the ball”, the Conservatives won without members. In Cumbria the party had no ground campaign and two paper candidates. But letters written by the Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, were posted to every household where someone was employed making Trident submarines, warning that their jobs would be under threat under a Labour government. This helped the Tories come close to taking out both Labour MPs, John Woodcock in Barrow and Furness and Jamie Reed in Copeland. It was no small feat: Labour has held Barrow since 1992 and has won Copeland at every election it has fought.

The Tories have become the zombies of British politics: still moving though dead from the neck down. And not only moving, but thriving. One Labour MP in Brighton spotted a baby in a red Babygro and said to me: “There’s our next [Labour] prime minister.” His Conservative counterparts also believe that their rivals are out of power for at least a decade.

Yet there are more threats to the zombie Tories than commonly believed. The European referendum will cause endless trouble for their whips over the coming years. And for all there’s a spring in the Conservative step at the moment, the party has a majority of only 12 in the Commons. Parliamentary defeats could easily become commonplace. But now that Labour has elected Jeremy Corbyn – either a more consensual or a more chaotic leader than his predecessors, depending on your perspective – division within parties will become a feature, rather than a quirk, at Westminster. There will be “splits” aplenty on both sides of the House.

The bigger threat to Tory hegemony is the spending cuts to come, and the still vulnerable state of the British economy. In the last parliament, George Osborne’s cuts fell predominantly on the poorest and those working in the public sector. They were accompanied by an extravagant outlay to affluent retirees. As my colleague Helen Lewis wrote last week, over the next five years, cuts will fall on the sharp-elbowed middle classes, not just the vulnerable. Reductions in tax credits, so popular among voters in the abstract, may prove just as toxic as the poll tax and the abolition of the 10p bottom income-tax rate – both of which were popular until they were actually implemented.

Added to that, the British economy has what the economist Stephen King calls “the Titanic problem”: a surplus of icebergs, a deficit of lifeboats. Many of the levers used by Gordon Brown and Mervyn King in the last recession are not available to David Cameron and the chief of the Bank of England, Mark Carney: debt-funded fiscal stimulus is off the table because the public finances are already in the red. Interest rates are already at rock bottom.

Yet against that grim backdrop, the Conservatives retain the two trump cards that allowed them to win in May: questions about Labour’s economic competence, and the personal allure of David Cameron. The public is still convinced that the cuts are the result of “the mess” left by Labour, however unfair that charge may be. If a second crisis strikes, it could still be the Tories who feel the benefit, if they can convince voters that the poor state of the finances is still the result of New Labour excess rather than Cameroon failure.

As for Cameron, in 2015 it was his lead over Ed Miliband as Britons’ preferred prime minister that helped the Conservatives over the line. This time, it is his withdrawal from politics which could hand the Tories a victory even if the economy tanks or cuts become widely unpopular. He could absorb the hatred for the failures and the U-turns, and then hand over to a fresher face. Nicky Morgan or a Sajid Javid, say, could yet repeat John Major’s trick in 1992, breathing life into a seemingly doomed Conservative project. For Labour, the Tory zombie remains frustratingly lively. 

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.

This article first appeared in the 01 October 2015 issue of the New Statesman, The Tory tide