There's a great example of something that does both in today's edition. The article 'Lib Dems say 600,000 illegal migrants 'should be allowed to stay'' appears in the paper version today, under the headline '600,000 illegal migrants 'should be allowed to stay' (naturally, the Lib Dems don't say that 600,000 illegal migrants should be allowed to stay, but only that some of them should), complete with the lovely plug for MigrationWatch that appears in the online version. It's positioned on the same page as something online readers aren't treated to. A half page comment piece responding to the Lib Dem's suggestions by none other than Sir Andrew Green. Hurrah!
It's a pity this bigger plug for one of MigrationWatch's reports isn't on the site so we can all laugh at it. [*UPDATE* There is a version on the MIgrationWatch site]. It is pretty awful, with some nice outrage that could have been lifted directly from the pages of the Daily Mail - hang on! It is lifted from the Mail!
'Who are these people the Lib Dems are suddenly championing?' Sir Andrew Green asks. He goes on to explain, before telling us how 'they have been doing us serious harm in two ways' here are the two ways:
First, they have been undercutting the wages of British workers. London is the most expensive city in Britain but unskilled wages are the lowest in the country - for the simple reason that there is a huge supply of illegal immigrants ready to work at, and often below, the minimum wage.These are some nasty people all round here - nasty illegals undercutting honest workers, nasty employers undercutting honest ones - how could we ever put a stop to that? Hmmm . . . let me think. How about, right, removing the incentive of both immigrants and unscrupulous employers to undercut honest people by, I dunno, giving the people earning the low wages the right to earn higher ones at the same time as forcing the employers to pay a minimum? Maybe we could do that by . . . offering amnesty to illegal immigrants! Why hasn't someone else thought of that?
Secondly, these workers are enabling unscrupulous employers to undercut honest employers who provide decent pay and conditions for their staff.
It's worth noticing that illegal immigrants have been harming us by unscrupulous employers paying them. The unscrupulous employers aren't responsible for their actions at all.
After this, we get some sterling reasoning why IPPR estimates for how much amnesty for illegal immigrants who have been here for ten years or more will net £1 billion in unpaid taxes are rubbish and they won't in fact contribute anything. I'm going to pause here and let you guess why. Go on, guess. Did you guess that it was because they'd all be claiming benefits to cancel out contributions in taxes? Hooray for you if you did! If you guessed it was because they'd go on to take our council houses - and their kids too, eventually - you can give yourself an extra sweetie.
This is where Green gets to plug MigrationWatch's report on a amnesty, 'The True Cost of an Amnesty for Illegal Immigrants'. Basically, it says that these people will claim benefits and nick our council houses so that instead of earning us money in unpaid taxes, an amnesty would cost us a billion from their grasping benefit scrounging. The working is characteristically slipshod. The report moans that the IPPR figure for the number of illegal immigrants working (61%) must be an overestimate because they're based on the employment figures for non-illegal immigrants and these include people from developed countries who have a higher employment rate. The
That's it! Illegal immigrants can't get any benefits, so their employment rate must be higher than the average for people from developing countries or they must have some way other than claiming benefits or working to support themselves. Unless they're somehow claiming benefits anyway, in which case an amnesty won't make any difference in how much the unemployed ones claim in benefits since they're claiming it anyway. Ah.
The report is also based on what would happen if quite a high proportion of illegal immigrants were granted an amnesty, when Clegg is pretty clear that it would only be open to some. The Mail article and the comment piece by Sir Andrew Green do the same, funnily enough.
Anyway - back to the Mail piece. 'What would all this achieve?' asks Green. 'Would it solve the problem of immigrant workers being exploited? The answer is an emphatic no.'
Unfortunately for Sir Andrew, he goes on to explain how there will always be illegal immigrants by shooting much of what MigrationWatch says about immigration in the foot. Apparently, 'there will always be people from the third world and the poorer parts of Europe who will stay on illegally and replace those granted amnesty.' He goes on to explain:
It is essential that we streamline the process [of deporting illegal immigrants] so that we can remove significant numbers of illegals at a reasonable cost. However, it is hardly feasible to march half a million or more people on to an aircraft and fly them home - they would, in any case, simply be replaced by others.So, here he is admitting that deporting plane after plane of illegal immigrants would be throwing good money after bad, but since he's arguing against the main alternative - granting an amnesty for a significant number - it's hard to see what he's arguing for if it isn't the status quo. The current illegal immigrants being left with their illegal status and not deported.
In other words, uncontrolled immigration.
Unless of course, having some immigrants classed as illegal would mean that immigration is controlled. In which case MigrationWatch's moaning about how immigration is uncontrolled is rubbish.
He carries on:
On almost every occasion [of amnesties being granted in other countries] there have been more applications than the previous time. There could not be clearer evidence that amnesties simply attract more and more illegal immigrants, as common sense suggests.Hey, don't mock. I bet there are loads of people willing to put themselves through ten years of working for pittance wages and living in penury so that they can go on to live in penury thanks to the state.
The conclusion is suitably all over the place. The answer is to heavily punish the unscrupulous employers we heard about earlier. You know what? That's something I'd like to see, too. Another answer is to make it harder for illegal immigrants to access National Health and education services. Here's Sir Andrew saying that illegal immigrants already use the health service and state education services. The're 'wide open to people who have no right whatever to even be in this country', apparently. Presumably that means we can wipe the £1780 million and £1590 million in extra costs of an amnesty to health and education services from the MigrationWatch report he's plugging, since the illegal immigrants access these services anyway. There go the two highest costs in one swipe! Poof!
Naturally, he doesn't mention how much it will cost to streamline the deportation process or what the alternative should be to marching them to the airport and putting them on the plane. He doesn't mention how much it will cost to police NHS and education service users to find out what their immigration status is. He doesn't mention what the effects would be of preventing the children of people he already admits are exploited from getting an education. He lambasts Nick Clegg for not knowing how many illegal immigrants there are, or how they'll prove they've been here for ten years without explaining himself how he would uncover illegal immigrants, and how much such policing would cost. The MigrationWatch report goes into great detail of how much an amnesty would cost in terms of benefits (including services he declares are used widely anyway, so no extra cost would be incurred by an amnesty) but says nothing about any alternatives, or what they would cost. Funny that.
The rest offers no answers. It just says people are scared about immigration so politicians need to be firm.
I wonder if part of the reason people are scared about immigration is that anti-immigration lobby groups get their opinion pieces printed in national newspapers.
I wonder if this wasn't put on the website because it would be too easy for bloggers to destroy.
I wonder if Sir Andrew or MigrationWatch got paid for this.
For an alternative view of Clegg's proposals, see the loony lefty commie pinko Economist.