After attacking the 'Tory Right' for disapproving of "those pesky foreign laws" contained in the Human Rights Act (in his second post from under the gloomy ConLib ash cloud), Mark Easton has now moved on to the new immigration cap proposed by the coalition. His latest post attempts to undermine it:
Mark Easton 14:06 UK time, Thursday, 20 May 2010
'It is the "mechanism" (to calculate the annual limit) that is going to be the really tricky bit', he says.
There isn't really a problem anyhow (thanks to Labour), or a least not a problem about too much non-EU economic migration: 'At the moment, the only non-EU economic migrants admitted into the UK are those with enormous wealth, enormous brains or with specific skills in areas where Britain has an identified shortage.' So stop worrying that there's too much non-EU immigration and start worrying instead about the idea of a cap and too little non-EU immigration!
Opposition is growing, apparently, to...the new proposal: 'How will the mechanism prevent the cap damaging the national interest? There are already warnings that stopping people coming to the UK who have skills or investment we need would undermine another of the coalition's stated aims - to "support sustainable growth and enterprise".' (Funny, how some 'warnings' are considered worth mentioning, but others not).
Mark Easton has been caught out over his (mis)use of statistics before, most notoriously over knife crime. Migration Watch (who he doesn't quote) record an instance of this from during the election campaign which is well worth a read:
So, it's with a strong dose of wariness that we read: 'As revealed on this blog, official data show that the number of non-EU economic migrants employed in the UK is falling - down 76,000 last year compared with the year before.'
Am I missing something here (and I very well could be!) but surely this figure - even if taken at face value -, which is being used by Mark to suggest a long-term trend for falling non-EU economic migration - is very possibly nothing more than a short-term consequence of the fact that we were in a very deep recession last year? This figure could be nothing more, therefore, than a blip (a spike) caused by people choosing, for the time being, not to come to a country that in 2009 was deep in recession - a blip that might run counter to the overall trend. Merely quoting a large-looking number which suggests a very significant drop without putting it in the context of that deep UK recession, or even fitting it into the context of several years figures (for example, had the year before last year seen a rise of, say, 96,000, then combined with 2009's drop of 76,000 this would have resulted in a two-year rise of 20,000. Context is crucial with statistics) looks suspicious. Mark Easton's quoting of a one-off figure seems far too convenient. Or, as I say, am I missing something?
This is followed by a repeat of an earlier point: "Some sectors of the economy are already complaining that they cannot fill key vacancies." (With some eight million Brits 'economically inactive', isn't that truly extraordinary? A point Easton doesn't choose to make.)
He goes on: 'The cap could only apply to Tier 1 and Tier 2 of the existing points-based system, since those are the only two categories under which migrant workers from outside the EU can come to the UK.
Tier 1 is for "Highly skilled workers, investors and entrepreneurs". It is hard to imagine that these are the kind of immigrants the UK would want to ban.
Tier 2 covers "Sponsored skilled workers", mostly defined as "people coming to the UK with a skilled job offer to fill a gap in the workforce that cannot be filled by a settled worker". Again, it is difficult to conceive how, in the short-term, stopping these individuals would be good for Britain.'
This last point is the third appearance of the point made earlier.
Then it was back to a Labour 'achievement', which (if Mark is to be believed) has struck a balance which 'business' thinks is too restrictive but the new government thinks isn't restrictive enough: 'The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) was set up to offer "independent, transparent and evidence-based advice to government on labour market shortages that can sensibly be filled by migration". Only non-EU workers with a job and the right skills in a sector identified by the committee are allowed in.
Some British business leaders are already fuming that the MAC has not agreed to put their sectors on the list of skill shortages which would allow them to bring talent in from overseas.' (The fourth appearance of the point made earlier). 'The suggestion that we need a cap seems to imply that the government believes the committee has not been tough enough.'
It's woe, woe and thrice woe for the coalition then: 'So it is going to be interesting to see how the cap "mechanism" might work: set the limit high and there's no point in having it; set it low and Britain deprives itself of workers which benefit the UK ' (fifth appearance). 'The thinking cap will be worn.'
Mark Easton's thinking cap will be worn too, trying to find ways to undermine this government.