The Mail and Migration

kamsandhu —  November 6, 2014 — 1 Comment

“Migrants from outside the EU have taken £120 billion more from the state than they paid in taxes over 17 years”  

This headline is typical of the Daily Mail – a paper once described as ’the worst of British values dressing up as the best’ – in painting ‘foreigners’ as drains on ‘us Brits’.

Image: The Telegraph

Image: The Telegraph

Interestingly the article is a response to the apparent good news that EU migrants have contributed £20bn to the economy in less than a decade.

The Mail clearly views this as a myth that needs to be debunked – fair enough, let’s see what they have to say.

  • Report finds immigrants have cost more in handouts than paid in taxes

This is true, because it turn out all British people have cost more in ‘handouts’ than paid in taxes.  There is a deficit – or shortfall in taxes to expenditure, but this is mainly due to a massive bank bailout in 2008 of £1.7 TRILLION that has had to be shared by all of us.

  • Non-European migrants living in Britain have cost £120billion since 1995

The suggestion here, as in the headline, that this has been a cost that has been more than the contributions made by Non EU migrants.  This again is a cost that has been assessed by the total debt accrued by us all and dividing it proportionally, we all have a stake in this debt.

  • By contrast EU migrants since 2000 made a net contribution of £20billion

Great. EU migrants are largely (65%) university graduates here to do high paid jobs which mean they are able to contribute more, so that’s nice.

  • Research comes at a time when there is public concern over migration

Yes there is – because the Daily Mail (a paper read by nearly 3 million people) – runs daily stories on the negative effects of immigration by misrepresenting the truth.

Ultimately this is story of British Debt:

“Over the 17 fiscal years considered, the amount of public expenditures received by natives [Britons] exceeds the amount of government revenues they contributed in 12 instances.

Although such is also the case for non-EEA immigrants for all 17 fiscal years, it applies to EEA immigrants for seven years.”

They almost correctly assess the cause:

“Factors include rising unemployment and the large welfare bill during the financial crash, which began in 2008.”

It is true to cite rising unemployment as a factor, it would also be true to cite lower wages, job instability, welfare cuts (which cost more than they save), rising tax avoidance by corporations, outsourcing, large scale banking fraud, economic recession, and the nature of neoliberal capitalism.

It would also be true to cite the limiting of economic opportunity for the poor and ethnic minorities (Non EEA migrants tend to be both).

Due to the grammar of the following point I am not precisely sure of the meaning of ‘the large Welfare bill during the financial crash’, but I assume it is an attempt to associate the cause of the financial crash with a large welfare bill.

That is absolutely not the case.  The financial crash, and subsequent debt has nothing to do with the welfare bill.  Nor does the rise in unemployment and increase in low paid jobs – these are all to do with the ideological reforms done in the name of austerity (and the neoliberalism of Thatcher and subsequent leaders).

The reason for a shortfall of tax revenue to expenditure per person has several causes, but this has little to do with migrants or the welfare bill.  A focus on those at the top, who are skimming off more than millions of us together could if we tried, would be more fruitful in the search for the cause of this.

But then we would probably have to examine all those who advertise in the paper – and those who own it…

A note on sources

Civitas and Migrant Watch are both hard right think tanks funded by billionaires.  They are ‘independent researchers’ – they have an agenda to divide and rule for the economic elite and they help push it by feeding these flimsy excuses of stories to the national press

A note on the Liberal Press

They are almost as bad in many ways.   They want to paint migrants as only valuable for what money they can make the country – as economic units.

They also engender a kind of jealousy for the working class.  Migrants have all the low paid jobs, and the high paid university jobs.  It is easy to be pissed off at both, when you are being discipled for not getting jobs that don’t exist, or are working your arse off for nothing.

We are all human beings.  We live in a world of plenty.  We could be freed from lots of work, from jealousy, from division and competition.  We could be on an adventure together.

When we talk about people, we must talk about how we can work together to build something better, not talk about how we are ‘worth’ more or less than others.

Thomas Barlow



One response to The Mail and Migration

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s