Ed Miliband is, as I am sure all readers will know, the new leader of the Labour party. The final result was Ed Miliband 51%, David Miliband 49% – the same splits as in YouGov’s final poll of the electoral college. Unlike the poll though, David Miliband was ahead amongst both MPs and party members, with Ed only triumphing on the votes of the trade union section, something that Labour’s opponents are likely to make great play of.

Ed Miliband comes to the leadership already painted as “Red Ed”, someone who will move the Labour party to the left – in YouGov’s poll for the Sunday Times today 24% of people expected Ed to move the party leftwards, compared to 5% who expected him to move to the right and 27% who expected no change. It may be that the ideological differences between him and his brother were exaggerated, and that he was just playing to the left-wing audiences that made up Labour’s electoral college, but nevertheless he starts off with a media image as the left-wing candidate (he may want to dump that quickly if he is not going to take the party to the left – early impressions are hard to shift!).

There is, of course, plenty of polling around the Labour for the start of conference, though there will undoubtedly be a lot more in the week. On Friday the Fabian Society and Policy Network published the YouGov polling for their updated version of Southern Discomfort. As part of that we asked where people saw the Labour party as close to various different groups in society – people saw Labour as being closest to immigrants (59% close), trade unions (69% close) and benefit claimants (66% close), hardly election winning associations. Labour particularly struggled with being seen as close to the middle class (only 35%), homeowners (31%) and people in the South (only 32% – including only 23% of people actually living in the South).

Note that this is not a case of “it was ever thus” – when YouGov asked a similar question back in 2007 Labour were seen as closer to “professional and business people” than to trade unionists or the working class. With an electorate that is increasingly Southern and middle class, Labour need to appeal to the middle class south as well as their working class core.

(For comparison, 68% think the Conservatives are close to the middle class, 57% to homeowners and 72% to people in the South. They have their own problems though – only 13% think they are close to people in the North and Scotland, and 83% see them as close to “rich people”)

Labour will also need to come to terms with the reasons for their defeat in 2010. To coincide with Ed Miliband’s election as leader Michael Ashcroft has published Populus polling of Labour party members and voters Labour lost in 2010. Swing voters said the main reasons for Labour’s defeat were Gordon Brown as Prime Minister, Labour not having the right answers on things like the economy and immigration, and the party having run out of steam. Labour members though the reasons were that voters did not appreciate Labour’s acheivements, the right wing media, and not successfully communicating policies that were broadly right.

The biggest dilemma here will probably be spending. Labour will be tempted to oppose wholesale the coalition’s cuts, and will almost certainly gain a lot of support in the polls regardless as unpopular cuts bite. We have already seen opinion polls showing support for cuts wavering, and that’s likely to get worse when specific cuts are announced.

If the coalitions policies drive the country into depression or annihilate public services Labour have probably won the next election anyway, whatever they do. Things are trickier if the government’s policies don’t lead to disaster – then the next election will be fought on the background of the coalition saying they made the tough decisions that turned out to be right – then Labour will need to face up to saving they got it wrong. In YouGov’s poll for the Fabians/Policy Network 77% of people said most or a lot of Labour’s extra spending in office was wasted, compared to only 47% who thought they actually improved services.

In Populus’s poll of the voters Labour actually lost in 2010 the findings are even starker – 69% of lost Labour voters think the cuts are unavoidable, 74% think Labour must accept a large part of the blame for the economic problems that Britain faced, 84% think “Labour won’t be taken seriously on the economy until it comes up with its own plan to deal with the deficit – it can’t just oppose every spending cut”. That said, the same poll suggests there is fertile ground for an alternate solution – 77% of lost Labour voters think people on higher incomes should have to pay more tax to reduce spending cuts.

Meanwhile, today’s daily poll for YouGov has voting intentions of CON 39%, LAB 38%, LDEM 15%. That suggests a small boost for the Lib Dems from their conference, fifteen is their highest support from YouGov for a month. As I’ve said before, with only 1 point between the two main parties I’d expect us to see a poll with Labour in the lead sometime this week.

UPDATE: Here’s an article I wrote for Progress last month going over similar ground, but based on some slighter older polling figures http://www.progressonline.org.uk/articles/article.asp?a=6720


254 Responses to “The challenges facing Labour”

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  1. Colin
    Millions of people?
    For Conservatives, the worry should be that the Big Tent is the Labour Party. Almost all political discussion about the UK’s future is taking place around the Labour Party.
    This is not to minimise any problems Labour now face includung increasing relevance in the south of England.
    Frederik Stansfield had particularly powerful comments on Kent etc which Labour do have to look at

  2. I don’t think Ed is unelectable for the simple fact that people probably confuse him for David, who is presumed electable. They look alike and sound alike (and probably think alike too…they did get into the exact same profession, followed nearly identical career paths, joined the same party, and supported reform of that party).

    @ Robin Hood

    “EM did what US Democrats do – they run to the left to win their party’s “primary” and then move to the centre to win the general election.”

    A small quibble (I don’t disagree with your other comments). I’m not sure Democrats really run to the left in order to win primaries and then move back to the center. In fact, I’m hardpressed to think of a primary winner who did that in the past elections. Bill Clinton ran proudly as a centrist in 1992. Al Gore didn’t have a competitive primary but he didn’t really switch positions after the election. John Kerry and Barack Obama did not move right after getting the nominations either.

    Howard Dean in 2004 did run to the left and because he was such a moderate as Governor of Vermont, it seemed like he would swing heavily to the right after he won the nomination. Only he didn’t win the nomination. :)-

    @ Amber Star

    “I believe that David will remain & support Ed. I believe his cool head & strong character will be invaluable.

    David will be a Mandelson for the Party, without the downside. He is in a position to change the political landscape of Britain – why would he leave British politics while that challenge is in front of him?”

    It may be a better role for him. He’s clearly an extremely bright guy. But just because he knows what is needed to win an election doesn’t mean he will have the appeal to actually win it.

    @ Sue Marsh

    “Amber- I think it needs some very imaginative thinking. The role for DM must be almost as important as Ed’s to reflect the closeness of the vote.”

    See this is where Brits are far more conciliatory than Americans. After Obama won the primary, even though it was narrow and even though he had less popular votes than Hillary, there was this whole emphasis on completely shutting out Hillary and getting rid of Clintonites from the Democratic Party. “It’s Obama’s Party.” You can imagine their surprise when Obama nominated Hillary to be the Secretary of State and of course when all of Clinton’s old people came back to work for Obama in the White House.

  3. @ Barney, Roland

    To summarise: Why should the UK be characterized as bigotted or anti-immigrant by pursuing policies that make the UK less attractive?

    We must prevail upon our EU neighbours to make their countries more attractive to foreign workers. Then the free moving labour will have a wider choice of destinations. Surely, if this free movement of labour is good for a national economy, we are only helping other EU nations help themselves. How can that be construed as bigotted & anti-European? 8-)

  4. Amber,

    Cracking post. The best red post on EU realted matters in a very long time.

  5. @ Éoin

    :-) again

  6. eoin

    The highest return of MPs in LD history was on a tax raising budget. Your 2005 manifesto was a masterpiece

    lol

    thanks for that, but good as that budget was it didn’t win us the election. if fact i doubt very much if that budget had anything to do with our success in 2005

    if we had been a serious contender in 05 then that budget would have blown us out of the water

    i really mean it, how can you sell tax rises? and how can you campaign against tax cuts?

  7. Richard,

    Before March 2010, YG ran a poll on tax rises or spending cuts….

    38% backed tax rises

    Given that Labour acquired 30% in the poll I think they could have done better by more up front tax rises…

  8. eoin

    oh yes, people say they want tax rises but when they get in that polling booth it’s another matter, also people tend to think that it is other people that should pay more.

    do you really think the way forward is to say no tax rises and then do some stealth taxing after an election

    without a serious answer to the tax Q the world is doomed to drift endlessly to the right. timid nu labour govts followed by radical blue ones…and so on

    just to make sure you understand me, i want more tax to pay for basic infrastucture that benifits industry. i’m not trying to set you up

  9. “prevail upon our EU neighbours to make their countries more attractive to foreign workers.” — huh?

    ‘prevail’ how do we do that? Say to Sarko – ‘look we don’t care about the riots in your streets’ ??

    Don’t the rest of the EU have unemployed indigenous workers?

    Has the penny not dropped yet that as 1 million Brits were parked on benefits we imported another million cheap EU workers?
    Thats all under labour – have they really it yet?

    Labour are not qualified to run a raffle – they have just shown they are not competent to run an election – so are quite unfit to run a country.

  10. Eoin

    “More like £12bn p.a. £60 bn over lifetime of parl. then a utilities tax… Gas/Lecky/Telephone/Cable services of £1.5bn p.a. (remember our target is half the struc def.)”

    Well its £4bn per 1p in the Treasury ready reckoner.

    “Over the life of the parliament” is irrelevant Eoin.

    You are looking for £150 BN PA-every year- to clear the deficit.

    If you only aim to halve some part of it over this parliament, cumulative debt continues to rise-interest bill continues to either require more cuts-or in your plan more tax increases. It becomes a runaway unsustainable debt mountain-all totally reliant on some future growth forecast which may or may not happen………….

    …………..and then there is the Ireland scenario-the holders of your sovereign debt push take fright & push its interest rate up to 6%, and the spiral of debt/interest-more debt increases…………then there is the Greece scenario-the holders of your sovereign debt won’t roll it over at maturity date-want repaying-you don’t have the money -you apply to the EU/IMF lifeboat-and they FORCE you to cut your cloth.

    ….and the Public Sector unions will still come out on strike.

  11. Trevorsden
    If you just want to dish out abuse, you are on the wrong site. This is meant for non-partisan comment which most people manage given a wee bit of lee-way

  12. Anthony

    I enjoy reading your analysis, even where I disagree. however, I think you have let yourself down over this;

    “If the coalitions policies drive the country into depression or annihilate public services Labour have probably won the next election anyway, whatever they do.”

    Shame on you!
    You wrote a landmark article some 18 months ago which failed to gain the attention it deserved. You argued that history has shown that the outcome of the election does not always relate to the prevailing economic conditions (eg 83, 92 & 97 elections).

    If your argument holds true, the electorate may well stick to the ‘devil they know’ in 2015, especially if they continue to blame Labour for the economic medicine.

    Still a good article though!

  13. Governments lose elections and oppositions rarely win them; that is not related to prevailing economic conditions.

    If we are in a double dip recession ‘the devil you know’ will not enable Tory/ Libs to win. A week is a long time in politics to state the blindingly obvious; if I am unemployed I will blame the govt of the day.

    Anthony is correect no matter your tory view.

  14. In fact, blaming Labour in20915 would be a frankly laughable policy.

  15. Somewhat less laughable in 2015 :)

  16. @ Trevorsden

    Don’t the rest of the EU have unemployed indigenous workers?
    —————————————————
    Do they? Then it is a European issue that requires a joint solution. Blustering & re-hashing old points, where does that lead us? Nowhere.

    As to the Labour election, if people didn’t like the rules why wait until after the fact to make a big noise about it?

    I doubt you are a Labour Party member, I doubt you would ever vote Labour, never mind join the Labour Party. Therefore your post is a bit of a pointless exercise, I hope you enjoyed venting. 8-)

  17. Barney Crockett

    “Almost all political discussion about the UK’s future is taking place around the Labour Party”

    Labour have just had a leaders election-with a controversial outcome.-so they are getting a lot of news coverage.

    Meanwhile the Government is quietly dealing with “the UK’s future”.
    It will shortly begin rolling out legislation to put it into effect.
    From next year as this hits the HoC, the economic, political & social future of UK will most certainly be under discussion-and the agenda will of course be that of the Government..

  18. Sue

    “He suggested there might be some more taxes on the banks, but that ADs plan was a good starting point.

    Hardly no cuts v cuts, much as you’d like it to be so ”

    I stand corrected.

    He did say that -but I have provisos.

    What does “starting point” mean ?-it implies a revision to AD’s plan.

    If he appoints EB as CoE how can AD’s plan have any relevance whatsoever?

  19. Amber
    Your 7.50 post is spot on about the uk.
    the only reservation I have is that htere isone big problem for other countries adopting English as an official language ( I of course exclude Ireland and Malta which already have)
    When it is possible to survive indeed live normally only speaking English, it threatens indiginous languages with extinction. This can then provide fuel for a powerful backlash which we have seen in the Netherlands and Denmark.
    others will point to the problem in your later post that we do not have methods of prevailing over the other main countries in the EU. However the other reality is that EU migrants are very reluctant to go to other countries particularly France and Germany because they often wish to become British-full-stop. This may set up a tension with immigrants to the UK from a previous era who have not always had that ambition
    ps the next most popular eu nation for EU migrants is Spain partly because of the labour market but also because it is percieved as partly within the UK shere, rightly or wrongly.

  20. By far the greater proportion of net inward migration to UK is from outside EU.

    EU content of Inward Migration has been :-
    around 25% over the last decade
    around 50% over the last 5 years
    34% 2009

    During the period 1997 to 2008 net inward migration to UK from outside EU has totalled 2.3 million people

  21. Jack
    “if I am unemployed I will blame the govt of the day.”

    What a weird attitude! I have been made redundant several times. It never even occurred to me to blame the government. It might have been market conditions, poor management, or even – speak it softly – my own fault!

  22. @Robin Hood

    “Sue & Cosmo – I agree with you 100%. Labour should be proud of being seen as the party of immigrants”

    I tend to agree with you, and your sentiments remind me of the best reason I’ve ever heard for voting Labour, given many years ago (ironically in 1979 on the cusp of an election that Labour went on to lose). When asked why they were voting Labour, a voter responded with what I think are priceless words;” to protect the unfortunate from the tyranny of the fortunate”.

    Poetic and, to these ears certainly, politically profound words. And here’s a reflective thought to dwell on. Wasn’t the Thatcherism that followed that seminal 1979 election, which broke forever the post war political and social settlement, an exact manifestation of what that poetic 1979 voter feared? The tyranny of the fortunate stalked our benighted land for 18 long years.

  23. @Nick Hadley
    To quote Barney Crockett: “If you just want to dish out abuse, you are on the wrong site. This is meant for non-partisan comment which most people manage given a wee bit of lee-way”

  24. @ Barney

    Of course there will be reaction against adopting English as the EU’s second language. That is why we must firmly & patiently insist that the horse left the stable a long time ago. English is the world’s ‘second’ language.

    At least it gets the subject out in the open – that other EU nations are using ‘culture’ as a barrier to the free movement of labour in a way that makes it affect EU nations unequally (blessing or curse, is for each nation to decide) but it is unequal.

    Immigrants from within the EU are rarely able to demonstrate any need to become British full-stop. Or am I wrong about that?

    Regarding non-EU immigration, a great deal of the wish to become British is because of familiarity with the English language & culture, IMO. In this respect, you seem to acknowledge I also have a valid point because you say Spain is seen as being an attractive destination. Partly because of the large English speaking enclaves that exist within Spain, perhaps?

    Of course it may be unpopular to raise this issue with the EU – that they are using cultural protectionism to restrict the free movement of labour instead of dealing with the issue. Well too bad; we should raise it anyway!

    And I am only proposing it as one point of a multi-stranded strategy to deal with the issue in an open & fair way. 8-)

  25. @ Barney Crockett

    “However the other reality is that EU migrants are very reluctant to go to other countries particularly France and Germany because they often wish to become British-full-stop. ”

    Yes

    There’s a clue in there somewhere-perhaps we should ask them why we are so much more attractive than France or Germany.

  26. Amber

    “Regarding non-EU immigration, a great deal of the wish to become British is because of familiarity with the English language & culture”

    What evidence have you for that Amber?

    40% of non EU immigrants come from Asia; 32% from Africa.

    Top sending countries are Pakistan, Somalia & India.

  27. Amber

    “Regarding non-EU immigration, a great deal of the wish to become British is because of familiarity with the English language & culture”

    40% of non EU immigrants come from Asia; 32% from Africa.

    Top sending countries are Pakistan, Somalia & India.

  28. Colin,

    I am tired but I will dig up IFS estimates on returns for you tomorrow… rememebr the NI 1% yeilded 6bn shouldnt it be the exact same for an Income Tax 1%? Given that both target waged labour?

    Amber,

    You should be wholeheartedly commended for trying to have a sensitive dicussion about a topic that is obviously very important to voters….

    Well done :) :) :)

  29. @ Colin

    EU content of Inward Migration has been :-
    34% 2009
    During the period 1997 to 2008 net inward migration to UK from outside EU has totalled 2.3 million people
    —————————————————–
    Therefore I have suggested an approach that addresses 34% of the current issue.

    EU immigration is the difficult issue. We are in the EU for better or worse & are not withdrawing from it any time soon.

    Non-EU immigration is purely a political issue. Politicians can take any approach they choose & then they must live with the political consequences, IMO.
    Polling can help inform them to some extent. Then it is up to them to decide what they can persuade their voters to support.

    It is an issue that is said to split the country – & not along convenient party political or left/ right fault-lines. Only ideas to address the issues are useful; opinions simply illustrate the complexity of the political split. 8-)

  30. @ eoin
    NI includes employer payments too. Off the top of my head that is worth £1.5bn and employee £4.5bn

  31. Re the immigration debate on here. The last few years have shown about 25% live births in the UK are to foreign-born women. Note that this does not include first and second-generation immigrants.

    I do realise that the UK has traditionally welcomed refugees etc, but this is on an unprecedented scale. Whether we like it or not, the nation will be irrevocably changed in another generation. This will lead to serious unrest at some stage, and needs to be planned for.

  32. amber & barney

    unfortunately most younger europeans speak very good english. often english is taught in school from the age of six on top of this is the endless stream of english langauge tv shows and films. your vision of english as europe’s second language is already coming true

    i would much prefer Esperanto to be taught in all european schools, that would provide a level playing field and protect small languages

  33. Amber

    “Spain is seen as being an attractive destination. Partly because of the large English speaking enclaves that exist within Spain, perhaps?”

    I doubt that retired ex-pats and criminals on the run employ that many English speaking servants. :-)

    The fact that Spain is very close to Africa is probably more to the point. Indeeed Ceuta and Milellia are actually in North Africa.

  34. I was wondering tonight what will be labours big ideas taking us into 2015. Think back to 97: minimum wage, BOE independance, ref on scottish parliament, welsh assembly, windfall tax, tax credits, HOL reform ,smaller class sizes etc

    I am hoping constitutionally will be on the agenda, bill of rights, more HOL reform, written constitution, local government charter to guarantee services, adavancing the campaign for living wage, aboloshing tv license, perhaps bringing in property tax as opposed to death levy, graduate tax etc

  35. @ Old Nat

    I enjoyed the humour of your comment – but there are many British businesses in Spain & many outsource/ off-shore service providers are based in Spain.

    The attraction is two fold:
    British businesses employ non-English speaking immigrants & surround them with English. The immigrants accept the low wages, in exchange for an opportunity to be immersed in the English language.

    British & offshore businesses in Spain employ immigrants that cannot speak Spanish, if they can speak English. Many Africans have English as their second language.

    Again, I am not running on a for or against platform.

    I am exploring an issue that is widely ignored. Billions of people see speaking fluent English as a way to improve their lives. They set their sites first on countries that have English as a first language.

    Non-English speaking countries call for open labour markets & free movement because they know it will be pretty much one way traffic. Should we want to level the playing field? If yes, how can we level the playing field? Or must we simply accept that it is a political choice that must be made?
    8-)

  36. Amber

    It’s good to see a ‘leftie’ addressing these issues. For years it has seemed that Labour’s immigration policy was to bring in as many as possible.

  37. Amber
    I hope everyone is reading your 10.40 post. Especially the comment about billions of peole. The incredible truth is you are right. I may have posted that it is not only a matter of second languages. I spoke to an Indian of Moslem background who is the first person in her family’s history to speak English as her first language which is true of her generation in her wider family. It is a social earthquake. the countries most affected include not just the UK but also the “old commonwealth,” and Sweden etc (where you can get by in English and the drawbridge is not too firmly up)

  38. Personally I have never seen immigration as a problem per se, after all we are all decendants of immigrants in some way. The problems lies where you dont know that they are coming so the services that are needed to cope are unprepared. The other problem is of course we are only a small country which is probably full enough as it is. Most other issues are perception and cultural differences. The problems that immigrants are treated more favourably than british born are a matter of perception as poor immigrants are more likely to be in need. Economic refugees are more likely to take low paying jobs so therefore keep wages lower. I dont think it is their fault there are so many lazy brits who think living on the dole is a better option that pushing a broom. I know there are far more issues than I have mentioned but I have yet to be convinced that immigration is a problem in the way that many people speak, but I do believe it needs to be better co ordinated.

  39. @ Epochery

    I dont think it is their [the immigrant’s] fault there are so many lazy brits who think living on the dole is a better option that pushing a broom.
    ———————————————————
    I am asking people to think about this. An Englishman pushing a broom is only earning minimum wage.

    An immigrant pushing a broom is earning minimum wage & a valuable, marketable skill – the English language.

    Please try to understand, what a huge difference that makes. If the Englishman pushing the broom knew that he was also learning something that would make him richer & – more importantly – respected by his family & peers would he be more inclined to enthusiastically push that broom?

    Where is the level playing field? Where is the fairness in one worker gaining a valuable benefit that is not available to the other worker, simply because English as a first language in Britain, is virtually ‘worthless’ but as a second language, it is pure gold.
    8-)

  40. If we’d addressed the lack of good social housing, the immigration problem would have been less fearful for people.

    If we had ensured foreign workers were not brought in on lower pay to do jobs we could have done ourselves, the immigration problem would have been less fearful for people.

    Immigration is not the problem imo, it is integration and a fair playing field that people want.

  41. @ Pete B

    The last few years have shown about 25% live births in the UK are to foreign-born women.
    ——————————————
    And the fathers were UK or foreign born, do you know?

  42. @PeteB

    “It’s good to see a ‘leftie’ addressing these issues. For years it has seemed that Labour’s immigration policy was to bring in as many as possible.”

    Ah, I see. I’m starting to get the gist what you mean by “non-partisan comment” now. Thank you for clearing matters up for me because I was starting to get a little confused..

  43. @Sue Marsh

    Ed Balls proposed putting £6b into building 100,000 new homes, i assume for social housing. It is clear that if housing lists were reduced there wouldnt be this perception that only immigrants and single mothers get housing.

  44. @Amber,

    You’re making some misconceptions (‘scuse the awkward English) about the EU, what it is and what it can do. Going thru them as follows:

    * The EU and the EU-27
    The EU-27 is the 27 countries that meet in the European Council. The EU is the organisation that the EU-27 subcontract some governmental stuff to. The EU doesn’t impose stuff on the EU-27, the EU-27 imposes stuff on the EU.

    * The European Council President and the European Commission President
    The President of the European Council (von Rompuy) is the EU-27’s enforcer/bouncer, who ensures that the man in charge of the EU (the President of the European Commission, Barroso) doesn’t get above his station and think he’s in charge of the EU-27.[1] Neither President imposes stuff on the EU-27, the EU-27 imposes stuff on the Presidents.

    OK, now we’ve sorted out the definitions, let’s deal with your points

    * The EU doesn’t have the power to impose languages on the EU-27, neither in law nor in muscle.
    * The EU doesn’t prevent the free movement of labour, it promotes it and is often hampered by the EU-27.

    So complaining to the EU that the EU-27 don’t parlez the Anglais may have little effect. You could argue that failure to unify government immigration documentation is a de-facto breach of each EU-27 country’s free-movement obligations and pursue the matter thru the courts, but you’d probably not win (may be worth trying, tho’). But elfandsafety and operating instructions? Er, the next time you go into work/public building, look at the little green running man fire exit sign (which is an EU standard), next time you buy an European car note the dearth of words and surfeit of pictograms on the instrument panel (which enables the car to be sold to folks speaking different languages), next time you buy something from, say, Argos, Dixons or B&Q, marvel at the number of languages the instructions come in (my bed had instructions in 12 languages). The EU would argue it is already dealing with the point you raise.

    But your first point (that the EU-27 should adopt English as a second language) would gain little traction: the EU cannot impose it on the EU-27 and the EU-27 would not collectively adopt it voluntarily. Telling people to do something they don’t want to do and which you don’t have the power to impose is a waste of time.

    Your second point (that the UK government should improve employment opportunities in *other* countries) is interesting but arguably not the function of the UK government. “Give me UK tax money so I can increase the number of jobs in Bulgaria so illegal immigrants from the Western Sahara will turn right instead of left when they hit the beach in Malta at midnight” will perhaps be the oddest election slogan for some time.

    Regards, Martyn

    [1] Since the EU-27 are frequently disunited, von Rompuy has the powers of an asthmatic hamster, so the post is slightly comic. But neverthless, that’s the job function.

  45. a lot of money has been spent by the British govt promoting the english language, some might refer to this as cultural imperialism.

  46. Amber

    OK Finished painting and papering the stair well so time to give serious consideration to your point.

    To the main thrust of your argument. I agree.

    The dominance of the English language as a global phenomenon is new. However, the situation itself isn’t.

    I think useful insights can be gained by looking at the situation in 18th century England.

    Post-union, contemporary pamphlets are full of references to the hordes of invading Scots – culturally different and of a different religion, but able to speak English (though differently and, of course, “badly”). That process occurred because England was relatively near (though in terms of travel time & cost, London is “nearer” Turkey now than it was then to Scotland.

    Just as now it was due to economic migration.

    Points are made seriously, btw!

  47. As I develop this immigration debate, I hope my multiple points become clearer, rather than smooshed together.

    British workers are trying to explain that they are not bigots. They are framing the debate around resources & that is certainly part of the issue.

    But they struggle to articulate what I posted to Epochery. They see bright, attractive immigrants willing to enthusiastically do jobs for minimum wage.

    The immigrants receive kudos & respect for trying to get on in life. They also get the valuable benefit of learning English.

    The Englishman gets sneered at for having a cr*ppy minimum wage job; for being too stupid & uneducated to do anything else. He knows he can look forward to years of the same because for him, pushing this broom is not a stepping stone to better things.

    So, you are an employer with a minimum wage position to fill. General dogsbody in a trendy gymn or hotel. Who do you choose? A pretty, well educated immigrant who is working well below his capabilities for the non-cash benefit of being immersed in the English language; or a British ‘loser’ who can’t get a better job or wage than the one you are offering?

    It is not a level playing field. The total compensation (cash + future opportunity) is nowhere near the same. If it is true that the more you pay, the better the candidate, then obviously the immigrant candidate field will be better in every way (except, perhaps, their fluency in English) because they are being ‘paid’ more.

    Refusing to acknowledge this – & saying British workers are lazy by comparison – is a great injustice & is an unarticulated reason for the resentment that British workers feel towards immigrants. 8-)

  48. i don’t want any more foreigners speaking english, it’s bad enough with the yanks. i’m fighting a one man battle over here, i refuse to speak english with norwegian people and that’s not easy everyone wants to practice their english. it seem that you are saying that the only way to reduce immigration is to persuade the rest of europe to speak english

    what special about being english if we don’t have our own culture and our own language

    english for the english and the the scots and the welsh and the irish and maybe the aussies

    make the Americans stop perverting our language and find a language of their own

  49. @Amber

    * I do agree that globalization and the unprecedented ease of labour and job movement has meant that the interests of the economy of the UK and the interests of the people of the UK have become decoupled.
    * I also agree that this is a large problem.
    * I am, however, pointing out that neither the UK nor EU can impose your proposed solution (making the EU-27 speak English officially) without the consent of the EU-27, and that the other part of your proposed solution (improving employment opportunities in *other* countries) shouldn’t be a function of the UK government.

    Regards, Martyn

  50. Amber

    I think I misunderstood your point.

    “The immigrants receive kudos & respect for trying to get on in life. They also get the valuable benefit of learning English.”

    Most of the immigrants I come into contact with are in the building and hospitality industries. All the ones that I know learned English before they came here. Certainly they are improving their colloquial English – in exactly the same way that my son improved his knowledge of the colloquial forms of American English when he emigrated there.

    As to “kudos and respect”. I live in one of the most deprived areas of the country. I regularly meet ex-pupils who have “got on in life”. They get a helluva lot of kudos from me!

    In short, I think you are over-generalising about a very complex issue.

    “Immigrants” are no more a single cohesive group, than those born here.

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