Wednesday 7 October 2015

12 things you should know about Theresa May's immigration rhetoric

During the Tory party conference in October 2015 the Home Secretary Theresa May gave a speech about immigration, which seemed clearly designed to boost her credentials as the future party leader with the Tory party hard-right and Eurosceptics by using a lot of tough-talking anti-immigrant rhetoric. As is to be expected from a Theresa May speech it was as full of bile and misleading propaganda as it was devoid of facts and evidence.

In this article I'm, going to run through twelve things that you should know about Theresa May's appalling track record of failure and the delusional nonsense that she spouted in this speech.

Theresa May's appalling track record

Before we get to the content of Theresa May's speech, it's first important to note her dismal track record of failure. Back in 2010 the Tories went into the General Election with a pledge to reduce immigration to below 100,000 per year. For all of Theresa May's headline grabbing rhetoric and bizarrely ill-conceived immigration crackdowns, by 2015 there had been a huge rise in net migration to an all-time record high of 330,000

The Tories were so embarrassed about their failure to deliver this "contract with the electorate" that they simply deleted all traces of it from the Tory party website in the hope that the electorate would just forget all about it (and all of the other failed promises it contained).

Theresa May's open discrimination against British families

One of the most disgusting elements of Theresa May's (abject failure of an) immigration crackdown is the way that she has been using a loophole in EU immigration law to openly discriminate against British families. When Theresa May introduced draconian new economic apartheid measures to ban British people from ordinary backgrounds from bringing their non-EU spouses to the UK, she knew full well that immigrants from elsewhere in the EU would be able to continue to bring in their non-EU spouses under European Freedom of Movement legislation. She knew that her rules would openly discriminate against British families but she went ahead anyway.

Theresa May has inflicted untold misery on tens of thousands of British children by putting them in the situation where either one of their parents isn't allowed into the country, or the whole family is forced to live in exile from the UK.

Aside from all of the suffering Theresa May's family wrecking anti-British discrimination has caused, it's also worth noting that immigrants coming into the UK to be part of a British family are pretty much the ideal kind of immigrant. They're highly likely to speak good English, integrate into British society and continue to work and pay tax in Britain on a long-term basis. 

Instead of offering advantages to immigrants who are most likely to integrate into British society and stay in the UK to make a long-term contribution (using some kind of points based system perhaps), Theresa May has been actively driving them away with legislation that only affects British families, not the families of migrants from any other EU state.

Attacks on foreign students 

Another completely illogical part of Theresa May's (abject failure of an) immigration crackdown is the way that she has targeted foreign students, as if wealthy well educated immigrants are some kind of burden on society, instead of a hugely important source of revenue to British universities and a great net benefit to the UK economy, especially if they choose to stay and work here when they've gained their qualifications.

In order to put the insanity of Theresa May's draconian crackdown on foreign students into perspective, it's worth contrasting her policy of actively driving well educated and highly motivated students out of the UK economy with what the Germans have been doing.

You may have heard that university tuition fees have been abolished in Germany, meaning that anyone from within the EU now has the right to free university tuition there.  Additionally they have also made free tuition available to students from non-EU states such as the USA too. In my view this is a fantastic ploy because it will attract intelligent youngsters from less-privileged backgrounds who have been priced out of UK and US universities. What they seem to be doing is setting up a brain-drain into Germany by offering overseas students some university education without the burden of tens of thousands of pounds worth of debt to achieve it.

Recycling old pledges

One of the most ludicrous things about Theresa May's speech was the fact that she decided to revive her failed pledge to cut immigration to below 100,000, as if the UK electorate are such a bunch of drunken half-wits that they've completely forgotten that she already pledged that five years ago, and also failed to notice that under her watch immigration hasn't fallen at all, in fact it's risen to an all-time record high of 330,000.

It worked for George Osborne so why not?

In 2010 Theresa May pledged to reduce immigration to below 100,000 by 2015 and George Osborne pledged to completely eliminate the budget deficit by 2015.

By 2015 net immigration had increased to 330,000 and Osborne had failed to even halve the budget deficit. However instead of admitting his abject failure to eliminate the budget deficit, Osborne and his Tory mates simply reframed this abject failure as a stunning success by endlessly harping on about how they'd "cut the deficit by a third" (as if missing your target by two thirds is some kind of laudable achievement) and simply resurrecting the pledge to eliminate the budget deficit as part of their 2015 General Election campaign.

Campaigning on a pledge that you abjectly failed to achieve the last time around is a brazen move indeed, but with the unrelenting support of the mainstream media it worked and the Tories managed to scrape back into power with their austerity propaganda narrative, so why shouldn't Theresa May campaign on a pledge that she too failed to deliver last time around? Her thinking must be that if one potential Tory leadership candidate (George Osborne) can get away with it, then surely she must be able to as well.

Economic apartheid

One of the central planks of Theresa May's plan to deter immigration from within the EU is to set up a system of economic apartheid against EU migrants by banning them from claiming in-work social security for four years.

The fact that such a vindictive discriminatory policy has widespread public support just goes to show how venal and terribly misinformed a lot of people must be, because in order to support such a policy it's necessary to completely misunderstand what tax credits actually are.

Tax Credits are not a handout to workers, they're a subsidy to greedy employers who pay their employees significantly less than enough to cover their costs of living. The Tax Credits system has allowed greedy employers to get away with severely underpaying their employees, safe in the knowledge that the taxpayer will make up the shortfall.

Denying certain workers access to this greedy employer subsidy would blatantly lead to a situation where these workers and their families would be forced into poverty simply because of where they happened to live before they took the job that they're currently doing.

Tit-for-tat retribution on the continent

The idea that migrants from within the EU are some kind of infection that needs to be treated with a severe dose of economic discrimination is foul enough in its own right, but the logical consequences of such a policy of xenophobic economic apartheid are also worth consideration.

Does anyone really believe that the other states in Europe wouldn't respond with tit-for-tat measures should the UK decide to bring in economic discrimination against their citizens? 

Why should the hundreds of thousands of Brits who choose to go to live and work elsewhere in the EU be allowed access to social security in those countries if EU citizens are barred from receiving social security here?

Does anyone really think that it would be fair for the UK to ban EU citizens from accessing social security like Tax Credits and sick pay, while British citizens remain entitled to those things in other EU states?

Isn't it obvious that as well as forcing EU migrants into poverty in the UK, tit-for-tat measures would end up forcing UK citizens into poverty elsewhere in the EU?

Incoherent partisan rubbish

One of the themes of Theresa May's speech was that the left is somehow to blame for the mass immigration of the last three decades. The barefaced cheek of such a stance is pretty incredible to behold. 

It's bad enough to hear someone on the right trying to cast blame for immigration onto the left when anyone with the vaguest degree of political literacy knows that there hasn't been a properly left-wing government in Westminster since the 1970s (anyone who thinks New Labour were economically left-wing must be bizarrely misinformed about politics). However what relly takes the biscuit is that the person blaming the left is the very same very right-wing politician who was responsible for overseeing the biggest inflow of migrants ever recorded just last year!

How on earth is it the left's fault that almost four decades of right-wing governance have resulted in the most right-wing Home Secretary in generations overseeing the biggest inflow of migrants ever?

How is anyone gullible and misinformed enough to believe this ridiculous "blame the left" fantasy? 

Stoking xenophobia with outright lies

So aside from her own appalling track record of failure and her brazen attempts to cast blame on the liberal left for her own abject failure to deliver what she promised, there's also the fact that Theresa May used a lot of desperately misleading xenophobic anti-immigrant rhetoric in her speech.

One of the worst parts was her claim that "we know that for people in low-paid jobs, wages are forced down even further while some people are forced out of work altogether", which contrasts sharply with her own government departments' research last year that found that "There is relatively little evidence that migration has caused statistically significant displacement of UK natives from the labour market". But then who cares about facts and evidence when dishonest xenophobic fearmongering is so much more popular with the punters judging by the delirious reaction of so many right-wing pundits and below the line commentators?

I mean who else could be better placed to achieve the extreme-right wet dream of reducing immigration than their favourite hard-talking liar woman who has just overseen the biggest flow of migrants into the UK in recorded history?

Of course Theresa May's fearmongering rhetoric has gone down well with the extreme-right and hard-of-thinking who just like the sound of the familiar right-wing rhetoric they've rote learned from the right-wing press. However it's worth noting that several economically right-wing organisations like the CBI business lobby (which is normally  highly loyal to the Tory party) slammed the speech as "irresponsible rhetoric". Even the Daily Telegraph ran a critical analysis calling her speech "dangerous and factually wrong".

Who is really to blame for the housing crisis?

Aside from "don't worry about all your broken pledges, just make them again because the lower orders will have forgotten" and "tub thumping rhetoric always trumps facts and analysis of reality", another fundamental rule in the handbook of Tory propaganda is that "immigrants and other minority groups make very convenient scapegoats".

How is it that people are willing to accept a representative of the party that ideologically vandalised our social housing and has recently overseen the lowest levels of new housebuilding since the 1920s at a time of high migration, blaming others for the appalling state of the UK housing market?

It's not the fault of the migrants that there is a shortage of decent affordable housing in the UK. It's the fault of a government that sees the re-inflation of the UK's unsustainable housing bubble as the only way they can sustain their ridiculous "economic recovery" narrative. 

In their minds the construction of adequate affordable housing to meet the needs of the UK population would be dangerously counter-productive because a fall in house price inflation would undermine their whole fake growth economic strategy, and anger an awful lot of Tory voters by reducing the profitability of their speculative buy-to-let exploitation schemes too.

Clamping down on refugees

Another disturbing element of Theresa May's speech was the measures she has proposed to clamp down on refugees and the rhetoric she used to try to imply that people who are capable of fleeing persecution and terrible war zones are not worthy of refugee status because they had the means and ability to escape.

Other countries accept far more refugees per capita
than the UK (source)

The idea that the UK should set an arbitrary limit of admitting only 25,000 refugees per year, no matter what the global circumstances is utterly bizarre, especially given the fact that the UK takes a tiny proportion of the refugees that countries like Sweden, Malta, the Netherlands and Austria do. 

What makes this disparity even more unfair is that it's not the Swedish, Maltese, Dutch and Austrian governments that have been destabilising the middle east, causing chaos in Iraq, stoking the Syrian civil war and laying the groundwork for the rise of ISIS, it's the UK and US. Our foreign policy has resulted in huge refugee crises in the region, yet it's other EU states that have been predominantly picking up the pieces while Theresa May does little more than demonise the victims of distant conflicts and brutal regimes.

We need to talk about demographics

One of the most absurd things about the immigration debate in general is the way that hardly anybody mentions the ageing population demographics. It should be obvious that the UK needs an inflow of economically active migrants in order to fund the retirement of the baby boomer generation, especially given that the birth rate has fallen well below 2 children per family. The demographic situation means that without an inflow of economically active migrants an ever greater number of pensioners are going to be reliant upon a smaller workforce to sustain them.

Another factor to consider is that the Tory party is currently pushing through legislation to further reduce the birthrate amongst resident Brits with their abolition of Child Benefit and Tax Credits for all but the first two children per family unit.

It's quite ironic that many of the blowhard right-wingers who lap up Theresa May's immigration rhetoric without subjecting it to any kind of critical scrutiny are from the older generations who would have to accept a big cut in their standards of living if they were to get their fantasy scenario of closed-borders and forced repatriation, because the dwindling working age population clearly wouldn't be able to carry the burden, meaning their pensions would fall and the NHS would suffer terrible staff shortages and funding cuts.


The kind of right-wingers who rote learn their opinions from the pages of the right-wing press were understandably delighted with Theresa May's tough-talking anti-immigration rhetoric, but that just goes to show how these days words speak louder than actions in UK politics. 

Theresa May has overseen the biggest surge in immigration in history and has deliberately discriminated against British families in her abjectly futile attempts to reduce migration, yet right-wingers seem to be willing to completely overlook these incontestable facts because they so love hearing a politician talking tough on immigration, that they're willing to overlook Theresa May's appalling track record of incompetence. They're even willing to overlook the fact that she's making them precisely same pie-in-the sky promises that she so abjectly failed to deliver last time around.

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