British Conservative Group Urging Cameron To Drop Migration Target


Credit: dannyman/wikimedia

A group of Conservative MPs are urging the British government to adopt a different approach to immigration and to abandon its pledge to cut net migration to the U.K. to below 100,000 people a year. The group, Conservatives for Managed Migration, which according to the BBC claims to have the support of "up to 20" Conservative MPs, is led by Mark Field MP, who said in a statement on his website that his party is perceived as hostile to immigration despite the fact that "many immigrants in Britain demonstrate just the kind of vision, enterprise and family values that would make them natural Tory voters." Field adds, "There are many minority and migrant communities who are bursting with the sort of entrepreneurial vision and family commitment that should make them natural Conservatives – but they are hardly going to embrace our Party us if we rarely seen to embrace them."

It is certainly true that the Conservative Party is often perceived as anti-immigrant, and polling from November shows that Britons who intend to vote for Conservatives are less likely to agree that immigration has "generally speaking" been good for the British economy than those who intend to vote for Liberal Democrats or a Labour Party candidate. The same polling showed that as a whole only 31 percent of Britons think that immigration has generally had a good effect on the British economy and 57 percent think that immigration has generally been bad for the British economy, highlighting the fact that anti-immigrant sentiment in the U.K. is by no means politically isolated.

Given the state of British opinion on immigration it shouldn't be surprising that The Telegraph's Political Editor James Kirkup wrote that there are Conservative ministers "who agree entirely with the group's aims, but don't dare so in public." It is also telling that so far, of the 303 Conservative members of parliament, only "up to 20" support Field's new group.

This is shame, especially considering that the Conservative Party is supposed to support free markets. As I argued back in January, there is an inconsistency in believing in the free movement of goods but not of people. But with public opinion the way it is, there is little chance that Conservative members of parliament who understand the benefits of immigration and the free market will publicly criticize the government's attempt to bring down net migration. This is unfortunate, considering that the argument can be made that recent immigrants are net contributors to public finances and drive down housing prices.

While Field's group should be welcomed, it is a shame that, according to Kirkup, Field's group wants to take a firmer position when it comes to deterring those who are not "smart, skilled, or successful" from coming to Britain. Those who are not smart, skilled, or successful have the same natural right as smart, skilled, and successful people do to make their lives better by moving.

Below is a graph illustrating British net migration from June 2004 to September 2013 (British Prime Minister David Cameron wants to reduce met migration to the U.K. to below 100,000 people a year):

BBC screengrab, data from Office for National Statistics

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  1. UKIP says “lul”

  2. Am I the only one who at first glance read: British Conservative Group Urging Cameron To Drop Midget?

    1. Yes. But the world would be a better place if more people read it as you did, in my opinion.

  3. Why should the movement of labor be treated any differently?

    OK, SLD, but people are NOT goods. With teh welfare state, and all the bullshit that comes with it (again, SLD), I at least understand how some people argue that people shouldn’t be allowed to flow across borders as freely as goods. I get it. Don’t necessarily agree, but I get it.

    The facts Feeney noted in the other article are fair enough – but I’ve certainly seen evidence to the contrary.

    So – yeah, in Libertopia, all would be welcome. This ain’t Libertopia, DEY TUK RRR JERRRRRBZ, I understand why people who might be for free minds and free markets in GOODS might also not be for free minds and free markets in PEOPLE.

    I guess what would surprise me more is if Mr. Feeney does not also realize and understand this, and is just trolling a bit.

    But I may be mistaken….

  4. there is an inconsistency in believing in the free movement of goods but not of people.

    Matthew, we fought a Civil War over this. The ‘people aren’t goods’ side won.

    1. I agree that people aren’t goods, but I don’t see how it follows that there ought to be more restrictions on the movement of people.

      1. “Free movement of people” and “free movement of goods” are two different positions on account of people not being things to be packed onto container ships. You can for both, against both, or for one and not the other and be perfectly consistent.

      2. The best argument for restrictions on the movement of people is the effect that those people would have on the body politic. Recent immigrants are a reliable constituency of the Left and all of the social “justice” economic suicidal tendencies that entails. While having some diversity in society may have net benefits (an arguable point), achieving that diversity is best done in trickle instead of a flood. Assimilation of second and third generation immigrants into the American tradition of liberty and capitalism is necessary, and simply being overrun by hordes of immigrants doesn’t facilitate instilling those values well.

  5. I see that the UK has a population of 63,896,071 (in 2012) – that’s damn crowded considering the size of the land. At 200,000 (visual average), we are looking at a roughly 0.3% increase (minus deaths and all that) every year. Not exactly a crazy influx, but over time it will change the country in expected and unexpected ways.

  6. Those who are not smart, skilled, or successful have the same natural right as smart, skilled, and successful people do to make their lives better by moving.

    Well if they were buying their own houses, sure. But they won’t. They’ll get government housing as soon as they’re off the boat. Because the EU demands they be eligible if they’re poor regardless of their immigration status. If they’re not smart, not skilled, and not successful, what the hell do you think they’re going to do when they get there?

  7. Libertarians tend to have a blind spot on this subject. Humans are not simply economic units. (Though from p.o.v. it can be bad enough, when poor people are brought into a bankrupt welfare state with high unemployment.) But people are also cultural units. The UK, like a number of Western countries, are under a great deal of social stress due to mass immigration from cultures very unlike them. A little immigration is fine: it’s spice in the melting pot. But too much, and you get the Putnam Effect, which can be summarized as multiculturalism decreasing social trust.

    It’s also hugely problematic in the UK and elsewhere because many of the immigrants are Muslims. The result is honor killings, female genital mutilation, attacks on gays, rapes, and support for sharia law and terrorism.

    1. Agreed. And the nature of much immigration in the European continent isn’t creating a multi-cultural society, but in effect creating a bi-cultural society. And such societies generally teem with resentment.*

      *British immigration is a bit more diverse than broad Euro immigration, but nonetheless the majority of immigrants into the UK are of Islamic cultural background.

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