There was a great article in The Guardian yesterday (yes, of course I read The Guardian) about a possible upcoming shortage of Polish plumbers. It has been predicted that British householders will soon be moaning about having to use underskilled, overpriced native ‘workers’.
The serious point is that the immigration debate has often been overtaken by ridiculous trend analyses. The government’s claim to have reduced asylum figures needs to be seen in the context of steep falls across Europe, for example. Similarly, the upward immigration trends need to be seen in the context of:
1. The UK’s bold move to allow access to EU Accession State workers to our labour market, compared to the temporary restrictions imposed by other countries – which will have to be lifted soon.
2. A particularly strong period of growth in the UK economy, especially in the building and home improvements sectors.
3. Rapid growth but from a low base in Eastern European economies, where unemployment continues to fall.
Will Polish workers continue to want to live and work in the UK when they can soon live and work right across Europe, and can soon find well paid work back in Poland (thanks in part to EU development funds, admittedly)? Well, they aren’t exactly getting a warm welcome from the press here. They are the new bogeymen, having taken over from asylum seekers.
Lastly, what has this got to do with the title of the post? One fallacy the article points to is the use of snapshots of immigration trends. I’ve posted about this before. Migration Watch are particularly guilty of this and are either outright stupid or they are wilfully misleading. Consider this quote taken from The Naked Scientists:
‘The number of Elvies Presley impersonators has reached an all-time record high – there are now at least 85,000 Elvis’s around the world, compared to only 170 in 1957 when he died. At this rate of growth, experts predict that by 2019 Elvis impersonators will make up a third of the world population.’
Does anyone really think this will happen? No. Are the ‘facts’ correct? Yes.