Thursday, March 10, 2016

We must ensure that the facts about our EU membership are described fairly.

“...I hold there is no sin but ignorance...”  Christopher Marlowe

This EU Referendum campaign is being marked out by the extraordinarily high level of lies, distortions and untruths being peddled by the agents of BREXIT, and these are having a deleterious effect upon the minds of those who are ignorant of the facts and short of proper information on which to make up their minds.

This is one of the major concerns of those, like me, who oppose the use of referenda to determine democratic policy, because too many voters are insufficiently provided for with necessary information, and instead, tend to be influenced by those mendacious politicians who campaign to appeal to their prejudices and inflame their ignorance.

As a result, we are in some danger of the Referendum being sidelined by apathy as many voters decide it is all too much trouble to vote on the day because they simply don’t have enough information on which to make an informed judgement.

It is in the interest of the BREXIT promoters to maintain this state of affairs. They themselves cannot say what life will be like if the UK is forced out of the EU, because they don’t know. They are instead calling for the British voters to make a huge leap in the dark, but because they do not have any facts on which to base their arguments, they are forced back on appeals to the voters’ prejudices, while making sure not to enlighten their ignorance.

Then, having manipulated various polls to meet their own ambitions, they then publish these analyses as empirical evidence. 

But in virtually every example, the answers are based entirely upon ignorance, prejudice and fear. One thing certainly becomes obvious and that is the British middle-aged xenophobic prejudice against foreigners. Foreign migrants suddenly become the butt of virtually any hysterical prejudice that masquerades as fact.

As an illustration, a poll of 5,828 over 50s, albeit published in that well-known, intellectually honest, pro-European comic, the Daily Express, reports that 65 per cent of people who responded, want Britain to ‘throw off’ Brussels. 

This is a classic finding. It is highly doubtful whether those responding negatively had sufficient knowledge of facts to come to such a decision, but it is entirely sure that their answers were solicited through the use of emotionally-charged statements which were predicated by falsehoods.

As an example, and ostensibly damningly for the Remain campaign, a third of those who backed staying in the EU in 1975 now allegedly want to change their vote and quit. 

Do we know why they want to leave? We are not told! But many people to whom I have put this question have said back then, they thought they were merely joining a Common Market for goods and services in 1975. And that is what indeed, they did join.

But then the respondents will pull out the usual shibboleths which they have heard used by people like Nigel Farage and Jacob Rees-Mogg, and which sound quite clever if they were true, which maintains they did not vote for ever closer union with Europe.

Well, I must have been one of the very few voters who in 1975 actually went and read the Treaty of Rome, first published in 1957, before I made my mark on the ballot paper?. Those who did read this document would have quickly observed the statement made in a short clause in the EU's founding document, wherein the signatories pledged to work towards “an ever closer union”.

If you were one of those who voted in the 1975 Referendum without having read the Treaty of Rome, then you only have yourselves to blame, because the full realisation of the EU was there for all to see, and if you voted without knowing the facts, or appreciating their meaning, then you were as ignorant then as you probably are now.

So, I thought it would be a good idea to look at the results of this survey, and then see if I could throw any genuine and honest light on the concerns, to establish whether they were based on logic or prejudice and ignorance.

The survey by ‘’ has shown that the biggest concern is immigration and the lack of control on Britain's borders, with 93 per cent giving it as a major reason to leave the EU while 74 per cent are worried about the drain on welfare from foreign migrants. 

Well, first of all, what does ‘control of our borders’ mean?

You see, this is another one of those highly emotive statements closely allied to the wholly mistaken one about the loss of our sovereignty!

Loosely translated, it means the right to determine who can enter Britain freely and legally and who must be denied such access! But put like that, it loses all its xenophobic appeal.

So who comes to the UK?

In the 12 months to September 2015:

617,000 people arrived in the UK. This is up 0.3 per cent on the previous year, but 294,000 left at the same time.

257,000, or 42 per cent, arrived from the European Union. This figure is up 4 per cent on the year.

130,000, or 21 per cent, arrived from the 'EU15' group of countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. This figure is up 5 per cent on the previous year.

69,000, or 11 per cent, came from the 'EU8' group of countries: Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. This figure fell on the year by 9 per cent.

55,000, or 9 per cent, came from Bulgaria and Romania. This was up 38 per cent on the year.

The remaining 2,00 (0.3 per cent) came from Malta, Cyprus and Croatia. This figure was down by 60 per cent on the previous year.

Every single one of those people has a legal right to come here under the free movement of people principle in the EU charter, so why do we worry so much about them? This figure is not even worth discussing as they have the same rights to come here as any other EU citizen, so why the panic?

Total immigration to Britain in the year to the end of September was 617,000 - off set by emigration of 294,000 people – making a total of 323,000 staying here..

In the detail of its analysis, the Office of National Statistics said the total level of EU immigration was largely unchanged - but did note a 'statistically significant' rise in the number of Bulgarian and Romanian migrants of 15,000 to a total of 55,000.

Of these, 28,000 had a firm job to go to while 45,000 of the group were in Britain for work-related reasons. 

So, what about Non-EU immigrants?

Well, the total of non-EU immigrants amounted to a paltry 66,000.

A large percentage of such immigrants are here on short-term student visas.

Student visas is essentially the big statistic here and this is the only area in which the government have been able to make a difference, and The Home Office has implemented stricter entrance criteria and other limitations to the student visa system since early in 2011, as part of a pledge to reduce net migration to less than 100,000. 

The government won’t cap the number of foreign students, because that would cause trouble for the higher education sector, but it does want to tighten the system by which universities are certified to admit them. 

All these foreign students are paying the top rate of fees for their education and get no state help in costs or expenses. They represent a real level of financial benefit to UK plc, and many want to come back to the UK to undertake important post-graduate research which in turn finds its way in many cases into the EU business sector.

The most important immigrant requirement is identified in the medical sector, particularly in finding sufficient trained doctors and nurses to help staff the NHS. Every single voter in the forthcoming Referendum needs to factor in that any medical treatment he or she receives in the future, will almost inevitably be provided by the reviled foreigner. The UK relies on these people to maintain her NHS staffing levels.

Up to 3,000 doctors have been hired from overseas by the NHS in the past year, as the service battles to tackle staff shortages that medical professionals say are serious and growing.

They came from at least 27 countries, including India, Poland, Australia and Greece – but also even Iraq, Syria and Sudan – according to 32 of the 160 hospital trusts in England who responded to requests from the Guardian for details of their recruitment.

Dr David Rosser, medical director of University hospitals Birmingham, one of England’s biggest trusts, said: “The NHS doesn’t have the number of doctors it needs. The shortage is real. We aren’t training enough doctors in this country, and so we are dependent on foreign-trained doctors. 

Painting a picture of how wide the NHS is having to cast its net for doctors and other clinical staff, the research shows that:

• University hospitals NHS foundation trust in Southampton recruited the highest number of foreign doctors – 113 in the last year.

• The service is struggling to find enough doctors to work in particular medical specialities, including A&E, radiology, ophthalmology and general medicine.

• The 23 foreign medics hired by the University hospitals Bristol trust included six Greeks, three Pakistanis, two Hungarians, two Romanians, two Sri Lankans and one born in Sudan with British nationality.

• Five of England’s 10 regional NHS ambulance services are also pursuing new recruits abroad. More than 100 of the 200 paramedics the London Ambulance Service is hiring before the end of March will be from Australia and New Zealand. 

• NHS trusts in England said they had hired just over 1,000 nurses from overseas, with experts warning that hospitals were competing with each other for overseas talent.

Overall figures from the General Medical Council show that the number of foreign-trained doctors on its register rose by 2,957 between 31 December 2013 and 6 January 2015. They made up two-fifths – 39.4% – of the 7,500 year-on-year increase in the overall number of doctors, which rose to 267,150. Of the 267,150 doctors of all types registered with the GMC on 6 January, 97,915 (36.6%) were foreign-trained, including 34,120 (41.2%) specialists. 

When our British Xenophobes are recuperating from their hip replacement operation, they won’t care one jot about the nationality of the man or woman providing their highly expert care!

As for the second element of the irrational fear of immigrants, their drain on the welfare system? Well, contrary to popular belief, most non-EU migrants can't claim benefits. They can use the NHS (with a surcharge) and schools (depending on residence), but they have no access to JSA, disability allowance, tax credits, or housing benefit. 

EU migrants can claim certain benefits, but a major report by University College London demonstrates that such immigrants who arrived after EU enlargement in 2004, and who have at least one year of residence – and are therefore legally eligible to claim benefits – are about 60% less likely than natives to receive state benefits or tax credits, or to live in social housing.

Comparing the net fiscal contribution of these immigrants with that of individuals born in the UK, in each fiscal year since enlargement in 2004, the immigrants made a positive contribution to public finance.

In the fiscal year, 2008/09, immigrants paid 37% more in direct or indirect taxes than was spent on public goods and services which they received. This is even more remarkable because the UK has been running a budget deficit over the last few years. 

The study also shows that on average, immigrant workers have a better educational background than UK-born workers, but receive lower wages - especially in the period immediately after coming to the UK. Despite this disparity, these immigrants are net contributors to the public finances.

The main reason for this is that they have a higher rate of labour force participation (increasing the number of fiscal contributors), and make less use of benefits and public services.

For example, in 2008/09, immigrants represented 0.91% of the total UK population, but contributed 0.96% of total tax receipts and accounted for only 0.6% of total expenditures.

The author of the study says: “Our research contributes important facts to the debate on the costs and benefits of EU immigration. It shows that these immigrants are far less likely to live in social housing or to claim benefits. We were surprised about the large net fiscal contribution made by these immigrants, given their relatively low wage position in the UK labour market.” 

Not only are these people demonstrably not a drain on welfare benefits, they are net contributors to the UK economy. 

I suggest that taken as a whole, these researched figures overwhelmingly demonstrate that any fears of immigration that the over-50s in the UK manifest, are wholly over-amplified, and are simply inflated by xenophobic fears aggravated by the inflamed rhetoric of people like Nigel Farage, Iain Duncan Smith and other Right-wing politicians whose best interests lie in spouting lies, untruths and distortions about immigrants and the EU right to free movement! 

Go figure!


Dave said...

Thank you for the xenophobic label. Yes I believe in putting my kids first and I fully accept that we do not know how long it will take to negotiate new trade deals and what the terms will be.

However, the Inners cannot forecast how many more EU migrants will arrive and what other countries may join the EU. Like a number of people you make the point about migrants being net contributors to the government's coffers without considering their impact on British nationals in terms of wage rates, rents, house prices, hospital queues, school places and traffic congestion, either at the national level or locally where we in fact all live.

In economists' jargon, prices are set at the "margin": in layman's terms a small change can have a big impact. If hospitals are already running at near full capacity it doesn't take much for queuing times to explode, and of course new hospitals are expensive to build; more so than houses and we are struggling to build even those.

Estimates vary on total net migration over the past 15-odd years - one million? two million? - but personally I think it lacks credibility to argue these sorts of numbers have had no impact in the areas I mention.

I am also concerned by the TTIP trade deal and the rumours that foreign firms will be able to sue the British Government (i.e. all of us as taxpayers) for profits foregone. As you know neither the EU nor our Government are publishing the draft terms of this treaty, nor delaying the referendum, so that we can see what we are sgning up to.

For these reasons I will be voting to leave.

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