the Disillusioned kid: Indecent Proposals
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Monday, September 06, 2004

Indecent Proposals

A report in yesterday's Sunday Times claimed that the Conservatives would today unveil new proposals "to allow only a foreign elite of highly educated workers with an income of at least £25,000 to settle in this country." More accurately the proposals are drawn from the conclusions of "an independent inquiry chaired by Timothy Kirkhope, the former Tory immigration minister who is now an MEP" and commissioned by shadow Home Secretary David Davis. The Sunday Times noted,
The commission focuses on the need for Britain to attract more high-skilled professional migrants to jobs which pay above the average British salary of £25,000. It criticises David Blunkett, the home secretary, for abolishing the higher skills threshold for migrants when he took office.

The report also recommends that holders of work permits should be denied benefits such as income support, housing and council tax benefit and access to council housing.
And so on and so forth.

To their credit the Tories have distanced themselves from the proposals. Today's Scotsman reports, that a spokeswoman for Tory Central Office described the minimum income recommendation as "just one of a number of suggestions made by the inquiry. But it is not Conservative Party policy and it is not something we will be moving forward with." Nonetheless I think the inclusion of the idea in the report is instructive because it expresses with unusual honesty a little discussed aspect of the immigration "debate": classism. Racism is, obviously, an important factor in shaping people's opinions on the matter, but the controversy goes far beyond that.

The press don't makes a great fuss about the presence of people like Mohamed Al Fayed, Rupert Murdoch and the Hindujah brothers in the country. Why? Because they're rich. Rich people control the press and are unlikely to be very keen on attacks against people who look more like themselves than most of their readers. In the case of Murdoch (born in Australia, now an American citizen), they even own a large chunk of the press themselves. However when the poor come to the UK - often fleeing the consequences of policies with extensive UK involvement - that's a big deal. Scandalous even.

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