Letters: The other side of the immigration debate

These letters appear in the November 5 edition of The Independent

Independent Voices
Wednesday 05 November 2014 20:05 GMT

Your lead on the benefits of EU migration (“EU migrants add £20bn to British economy”, 5 November) is a small part of the picture. Many other major factors appear to have been ignored.

While the report deals with the revenue effect of immigrants, what about the huge capital costs for providing the infrastructure for them? For example, as a result of letting four million people into the country during the first decade of this century, one million additional secondary school places are required by the end of this decade at a capital cost of £15bn.

The unlimited supply of EU migrants prepared to work for current UK wage rates has depressed wage inflation for this country, which is the root cause of the cost-of-living crisis.

Migrants remit huge sums of money to their home nations, so they take the jobs that UK nationals could do and a significant part of their spending power is lost to the UK economy. I have met Polish waitresses with four apartments in Warsaw funded from their UK income.

Roger Kendrick
Farnham Common, Buckinghamshire

It took a study by researchers at University College London to tell us the bleedin’ obvious – that immigrants contribute more to the economy than they receive in benefits, as if that were a special attribute that only immigrants have.

In general, anyone who works contributes more to the economy than he or she takes out, and there are two million unemployed workers in the UK who will jump at the opportunity of being able to contribute to the economy more than they get out.

But their chance of doing so is greatly diminished because the pool of available labour is vastly enlarged by unrestricted immigration from the EU, a fact those who champion free movement of labour turn a blind eye to.

Fawzi Ibrahim
London NW2

I am surprised to find neo-liberal ideas being promoted uncritically in The Independent. The UK should accept unlimited EU migration simply because it is profitable for UK plc. What about the wider social and environmental impact of millions of additional people living in a relatively small country?

Dr Vincent Barnett
Harrow, Middlesex

Life was hard in our day too, Grace

I was disappointed by Grace Dent’s cheap shot at a group she defines as “the over-sixties” (4 November).

Easy mortgages? In 1978, we needed a bigger house to accommodate a growing family. We went from one building society to another with no success despite me being a qualified accountant. We eventually obtained an endowment-based mortgage, which cost a lot more than a repayment mortgage would have. In the following recession years, both inflation and the mortgage interest rate peaked at over 20 per cent, meaning we had no “spare cash to squirrel away” and relied on our parents to give our children something resembling birthdays and Christmas.

We do now have a comfortable, though not opulent, life. This is not because of the increase in value of our home but rather what we did with it. We put it, and everything else, on the line to buy into a business venture and I then grafted for between 50 and 60 hours a week for 15 years to make sure that investment paid off.

It is a little shallow of Ms Dent to assume that “over-sixties” swanned serenely through life, gobbling state handouts and relaxing as their burgeoning house values solved every financial problem for them.

Richard Stewart-Jones
Whittington, Staffordshire

At 64 years of age I have recently retired from public service and am very proud to have worked tirelessly to improve the life chances of young people. Unlike Grace Dent, I am not interested in causing a divide between generations when we should all be working together to reverse the injustices being imposed by this current Government.

Eleanor Jarvis
Enfield, Middlesex

Let’s follow Cuba’s lead in crisis relief

Ian Birrell (3 November) clarifies the shortcomings and sectional interests in the work of the Department for International Development (DfID) and of some charities in bringing aid to those in need. I hope that in his next article he will suggest ways forward.

He hints at them. Médecins sans Frontières seems an effective and blameless organisation. Could not the generosity of taxpayers and citizens be channelled towards the formation of an emergency medical intervention force so that volunteer doctors and nurses, trained in advance, could be deployed with minimal delay?

Cuba has given us a model of this. This small, poor country sent 165 medics to Sierra Leone early last month (63 doctors and 102 nurses). Many Cubans are in Liberia; the West Africa contingent from the country will total 461 when fully deployed.

There is little coverage in the West of Cuban-style interventions. This is a shame: the work sidesteps corruption, is of a scale and quality to have impact and is very prompt. Couldn’t we do something similar?

Graham Smith

Where’s the evidence that Jail works?

Chris Blackhurst is keen for more people to go to prison because he seems to think it has a deterrent effect and reduces crime (4 November). If only.

The UK has more than doubled the number of prisoners since Margaret Thatcher was in power. Did this massive increase in prisoners stop the fraudulent bankers, Libor-fixers, Vat cheats, home insurance premium fraudsters, tax-dodgers and the many others who have swindled people out of money for personal profit? Chris only has to look at his own excellent reporting on the City over the years to know his argument is not backed by evidence.

In addition, he does not explain who will pay for all the many thousands of fraudsters he wants to send to prison. Other more intelligent countries have cut crime without dumping everyone with a conviction into prison.

Denis MacShane
London SW1

I’m not offended by ‘battling’ metaphors

I suffer from cancer but despite what linguistics expert Elena Semino might claim (“Calling cancer a ‘battle’ can make sufferers feel like failures”, 4 November), I have never been made to feel “guilty” or a “failure” by people using war metaphors. Nor has anybody else I have ever spoken to.

However, I am deeply offended by silly people like Professor Semino, who, for some bizarre politically correct reasons, feel compelled to mangle our English language and then tell us how we should speak.

Charles Garth
Ampthill, Bedfordshire

Students support academic boycott

From today, academic staff at 69 UK higher education institutions are set to begin a marking boycott; the next step in ongoing industrial action by the University and College Union. The proposed changes to pensions that have led to this action will cost university staff thousands of pounds a year in lost benefits and create inequality between institutions.

Since 2009, average academic pay has fallen by 14.5 per cent, while vice-chancellor salaries increased by 5.1 per cent in the past year alone. The average gender pay gap in higher education is 17 per cent, and 53 per cent of universities employ staff on zero-hours contracts.

Students are angry that this boycott is happening. But our anger is aimed squarely at university managements and Universities UK, who oversee lucrative salary increases for vice-chancellors while leaving staff out in the cold.

Any draconian response from universities – such as the legally dubious threat of withdrawing the full salary for those partaking in a boycott – will be met with discontent from students and staff, who are united on this issue.

Piers Telemacque
Vice President Society and Citizenship, NUS UK

Gordon Maloney
President, NUS Scotland

Malia Bouattia
National Black Students' Officer, NUS UK

Shelly Asquith
President, SU Arts

Michael Segalov
Communications Officer, University of Sussex Students’ Union

Areeb Ullah
Vice President Education (Arts & Sciences) Kings College London Students’ Union

Susuana Antubam
National Women’s Officer, NUS UK

Fran Cowling
NUS LGBT National Officer

Harriet Pugh
Education Officer, University of Manchester Students’ Union

Bruce Galliver
President, Bath Spa Students’ Union

Lyndsay Burtonshaw
Activities Officer, University of Sussex Students’ Union

Yael Shafritz
President, University of Sheffield Students’ Union

Rosie Dammers
Wellbeing Officer, Manchester Students Union

Luke Jones
Group President, University of Wales Trinity Saint David Students’ Union

Joe O’Neill
Lancaster University Students’ Union, Vice President (Education)

Alice Phillips
Equality, Liberation & Access Officer, University of Bristol Students’ Union

Tom Phipps
Student Living Officer, University of Bristol Students’ Union

Alyx Murray-Jackman
Sport & Student Development Officer, University of Bristol Students’ Union

Holly Staynor
Welfare Officer, Union of UEA Students

Alex Bradbrook
Undergraduate Academic Experience Officer, University of Bristol Students’ Union

Sidonie Bertrand-Shelton
Co-President, Welfare & Diversity, Royal Holloway Students’ Union

Emma Peagam
President Education & Campaigns, Royal Holloway Students’ Union

Hannah Roberts
Education Officer, SUArts

Conor McGurran
Campaigns and Citizenship Officer, University of Manchester Students’ Union

Abraham Baldry
Presient, University of Sussex Students’ Union

Candic Armah
President, Brighton University Students’ Union

Howard Littler
President, Goldsmiths Students’ Union

Mostafa Rajaai
Culture and Diversity Officer, SUArts

Chris Jarvis
Union of UEA Students Campaigns and Democracy Officer

Rianna Gargiulo
Welfare Officer, University of Sussex Students’ Union

Bethan Hunt
Education Officer, University of Sussex Students’ Union

Dash Sekhar
Vice President Academic Affairs, Edinburgh University Students’ Association

Malaka Mohammed
Education Officer, University of Sheffield Students’ Union

Sebastian Bruhn
Community & Welfare Officer, LSE Students’ Union

Dario Celaschi
NUS London Trans* Officer & NUS NEC

Rianne Gordon
University of Westminster Students’ Union Vice President of Harrow

Sorana Vieru
Postgraduate Officer (Education & Welfare), University of Bristol Students’ Union

Emma Cook, President
Leeds College of Art Students’ Union

Dan Goss
Environment & Ethics Officer, University of Warwick Students’ Union

Alasdair Clark
Vice President Education and Representation, Fife College Students’ Association

Hannah Sketchley
Democracy & Communications Officer, UCL Students’ Union

Georgie Robertson
SOAS Students' Union Co-President Welfare & Campaigns

Sayed Alkadiri
NUS London Black Students Officer

Hajera Begum
Black and Minority Ethnic Students Officer, UCL Students’ Union

Omar Raii
External Affairs & Campaigns Officer, UCL Students’ Union

Saffron Rose
Vice President Education at Leeds Beckett University Students' Union

Rob Henthorn
President for Education, Aberdeen University Students' Association

Annie Tidbury
Women’s Officer, UCL Students’ Union

Marianna Ceccotti
Postgraduate Student’s Officer, UCL Students’ Union

David Suber
SOAS Students' Union Co-President, Democracy & Education

Rachel O'Brien
Community Action Officer, University of Birmingham Guild of Students

Christopher Jarrold
Ethical and Environmental Officer, University of Birmingham Guild of Students

Tom King
LGBTQ Officer, SOAS Students' Union

Dan Greenberg
Operations Officer, University of Sussex Students’ Union

Kabir Joshi
SOAS Students’ Union Co-President, Activities & Events

Let’s add fireworks to the banned list

Here’s another curmudgeonly member of John Rentoul’s anti-fireworks brigade (5 November). That fireworks are now as de rigueur as the birthday or wedding cake shows how hackneyed they have become. As well as the money-up-in-smoke aspect, organisers of displays, both great and small, show a major lack of imagination.

S Lawton
Kirtlington, Oxfordshire

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