Why there are not legitimate fears about immigration [2010]

by Dominic Blackwell

This is a quick point and relates to the UK – but there may well be read-across to other societies. There is an unpleasant politcal consensus here post-election. Some actors in the immigration debate are straightforward racists – the arguments of these people have been much discussed and will not be dealt with here.

My problem is with the stance of the mainstream parties. This has boiled down to deploring racism and prejudice against other cultures while admitting that British people have legitimate concerns about immigrants coming in and depressing wages. I want to say something very simple.

No they don’t.

There is a worrying use by mainstream policies of the term ‘indigenous’ about existing communities. (Anyone with any knowledge of British history would know that the complex mix of Celtic, Viking, Saxon, Norman and other immigrant groups could not possibly be described as indigenous).

Leaving aside the clumsy allusions to ugly notions of racial purity the economic case is wrong. In Britain we have a minumum wage to stop wages falling without limit. And if the market rate for your job is the minumum wage whether or not this market has been influenced by legal migrants you have to deal with it. You can either accept the minumum wage or get education or training to increase the value of your labour.

But the notion that you should be paid more than what a free market has decided for your work just because you are British or white is simply racist.

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