I was sent Nick Boles’s “Which Way’s Up” to review. The first couple of chapters was full of loyal support for the Coalition government, and discussion of how Lib Dems and Conservatives had a lot in common. It seemed unremarkable.
Then I came to passages on equality. He takes the argument often used by the left that societies like Sweden and Japan are happier ones because they have greater income equality. He suggest instead that these societies are happier because they are more homogeneous, allowing far less inward migration than the UK has experienced in recent years.
Warming to his theme, he devotes a whole chapter to making a series of very radical and contentious proposals on immigration. His critique states that 70% of the new jobs have gone to workers born overseas since 1997. He says:
“We will not be able to sustain a social contract in which schooling and healthcare are provided to all citizens free of charge and are funded by taxation if we continue to allow, every year, hundreds of thousands of people from around the world to join the queues at A and E and send their children to British schools. Nor can we sit back while eight million British citizens of working age are either shun or shut out from all forms of useful economic activity because employers can find migrant workers who will accept subsistence wages to do menial jobs”
There is a raw edge and anger in his language, backed by figures higher than the official ones. His remedies are equally contentious:
“Britain needs a new immigration settlement, involving tighter controls on the number of people who can move into the UK every year (from both inside and outside the EU), greater selectiveness about who is allowed to settle here, tougher financial demands on new immigrants and those who want to employ them, more robust measures to remove those who break our laws, and more intensive efforts to ensure that all those who do settle in Britain adopt British values and become part of a truly united kingdom.”
So what does he propose?
1. A cap on the numbers of non EU migrants each year of up to 20,000 to 50,000 – putting a number on stated Coalition policy.
2. Requiring a surety deposit from all non EU migrants. This would be repaid after they had paid taxes here for a number of years, or forfeited if they committed an offence or lived here without paying income tax.
3. For EU migrants the UK should enforce the Directive which only requires a member state to allow free movement for the purpose of residence supported by work income or independent means. “Whenever a migrant from within the EU applies to a central or local government authority for benefits or housing or part of the NHS for non emergency healthcare, that authority should be required to check whether the individual in question has a job or sufficient funds to support themselves in the Uk. If they don’t, they should be told to leave the country…”
4. No-one should be eligible for social housing until they lived here for five years.
So what do you think of that? I am sure there will be some strong views out there on such radical proposals.