Net Migration: More than a numbers Game

Numbers go up; numbers go down. If there is one thing that you can be certain about with statistics it would be that statistics and never certain. Statistics are just numbers – it’s how they are used that makes the dialogue happen. That is why careful choices are made as to when to use Net migration numbers rather than gross incoming numbers.

The news yesterday and today has been filled with the issues of industry being affected by migrants coming and going. We’ve discussed NHS nurses, other skilled workers, and the news was covering agriculture yesterday. We could argue about the value of immigration forever but we would never be able to escape the irony that immigration is a natural part of society.  Donald Trump can close his borders as much as he likes, under the guise of “protecting” his national security. I could point out to him that the American he is “protecting” only exists because migrants settled, took over the land from the natives, and committed what we would now call “genocide.”

The UK did the same. We took our prisoners, dumped them in “Australia” and slowly but surely persecuted the natives there.

The Net Migration numbers game

The problem mainly comes from a sense of entitlement. Cultures migrate to new places and settle, and after long enough they claim “ownership” – just like other races mark their territory – although humans don’t usually urinate on their new territory. (The temptation to take that analogy further is strong…). We use flags and symbols; we use architecture and agriculture; we use community settlement and advancement.

However, we are also perhaps a little too prone to ignorance. Take the example of Polish people. A lot of post-Brexit tension has been shown to people from Poland, and even before the referendum one could easily find a joke about builders being Polish, and so on. But people from Poland have been coming to the UK from the very beginning of the 1900s. We then brought thousands of Polish Children to the country in the late 1930s.  Consider the number of Irish people in the UK – yes, they ARE immigrants too. And despite all the tensions over decades, and all the terrorist attacks – far more than any attacks from Muslims. And yet it is only Muslim pupils our teachers are told to watch carefully for signs of “extremism.”

Nevertheless, the Government has made big promises to reduce net migration and it needs to deliver on that. So how are they going to do it?

They can’t build a wall and just say “no” to all: that could cripple a lot of industry and have a negative impact over all. Some experts repeatedly say that the average migrant brings a positive net value to GDP…but that would be just another statistic. Or the government could start deporting people in mass numbers – you know, undesirable people. But we did that centuries ago.

So the only other way to make a significant dent in the net migration figures would be to reduce the number of people allowed into the UK…

…and one way to achieve that would be to refuse more applications for visas.

Make visas harder to get; refuse more applications; price people out of the visa market by making the government costs unreachable; or make minimum salaries unobtainable for many more individuals and families.

Maybe there is more to this net migration numbers game than meets the eye.