Monday, 13 February 2017

Labour shortages? What? But you said immigration is 'too high'...

Well, well, well if ever you wanted an example of what we Marxists call the gap between 'ideology' and 'conditions', this is it! For years, those in power have let it be known that there is something undesirable about immigration. In short, they say that immigrants are a problem - even 'the' problem. If you (the people) are in any way worse off (mentally, emotionally, materially) the fault is immigrants. That's been the story and the press have loved it. We've even had the repeated bogus business of interviewers rushing off and talking solely and obsessively to 'people on the ground' (nearly always old and white) and letting them 'voice their concerns' - ones that the media and government have stirred up over and over and over again even to point of objecting that immigrants speak their own language (what a crime!), practise their own religions (crime again!) and do the lowest paid jobs with the worst conditions whilst simultaneously sponging off 'our' benefits system. All this has been 'ideology' ie a consistent set of untruths, half-truths and a deliberate attempt not to present the whole picture of how immigration supports the kind of economy that the UK has.

Meanwhile, there are the 'material' conditions. That's to say, the organisation and cycle of work, production, distribution, and the making of profits. Quite clearly, immigration has been essential for this in a variety of ways. So there is a gap between what government and press have been saying and what has actually been happening. That's why Cameron talking about 'bringing down the numbers' was always hooey. He would have been told over and over again by employers' organisations (natural supporters of the Tories) that their businesses were only sustainable on the basis that young workers were coming in able and willing to do those jobs.

So now having 'won' the ideological battle: hooray we can 'control our borders' (euphemism for 'keep foreigners out') they're losing the material one ie businesses are short of labour.

This is an extraordinary moment. We'll have to see how serious it is, but a Tory government is going to find it extremely difficult to turn round to an electorate primed up to think that 'bringing down immigration' (or even telling immigrants to 'go home') was and is a 'solution' for something (it isn't), whilst at the same time maintaining the same levels of immigration.

Watch this space.
With the right to work uncertain after the Brexit vote, many non-UK nationals are returning home or seeking jobs elsewhere