James Moore: For once the City's on the side of the angels
Wednesday 24 November 2010
Outlook The proposal for an immigration cap was always going to prove to be one of the Conservative Party's dafter ideas. It might be the sort of thing that gets them going in the shires, but, as has been proved, it is fundamentally a crude and over simplistic measure for tackling a complex issue.
There are any number of examples as to why this is the case. One I particularly liked was that there was going to be an exemption for athletes to allow Premiership football clubs to go out and hire Carlos Kickaballs, but not for scientists, thus potentially preventing our premiership universities from going out and hiring his cousin. Carlos Calculator.
Yesterday's partial climbdown suggests there isn't a total lack of common sense within the corridors of power and prevented a potentially damaging breach opening up between Cameron & Co and their mates in business, whose lobby groups dutifully issued lots of congratulatory press releases. CBI, tick, British Chambers of Commerce, tick, the City of London Corporation, tick.
The latter has for much of the last year or so occupied itself by defending the indefensible and issuing dark warnings about half of London's financial centre quitting for Geneva, Hong Kong, Singapore or New York, if anyone dared to suggest taking action to prevent a repeat of the financial crisis. In other words: be nice to us or we're off. But there's been a change at the top with the appointment of a new Lord Mayor of London in the form of Michael Bear, who offered yesterday's compromises – such as exempting intra-company transfers and certain (rich) individuals from the cap – qualified support, while noting that the devil would, as ever, be in the detail.
Mr Bear summed up his response thus: "London is a truly international city, home to talented individuals from all corners of the globe, and we must ensure it remains so for many generations to come." Quite so.
For once, it seems, the City is on the side of the angels. Who'd have believed that?
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