" Some say mass immigration is the Left's revenge on the working class for the Thatcher years, but that implies a degree of planning and forethought so is unlikely. It's more a cultural thing, but it does neatly coincide with a need for cheap workers.
People like Johann Hari and some Guardian commenters are calling for an increase in the minimum wage as the answer to the "problem" - the problem being that the natives are restless. They've missed the point. Keeping wages low are what it's all about... inflation has been 'hidden' over the last 10 years via a combination of the Chinese miracle (goods) and mass immigration/offshoring (services)"
Fraser Nelson in the Speccie :
The key finding: there are fewer British-born workers in the first quarter of 2009 than Q1 of 1997. The trend of employers preferring immigrants, which we saw during the boom, has become more marked still during the bust.
"The figures show the extent to which Brown’s “boom” was a mirage built not just on debt, but foreign labour. Most seriously, we can see a deep dysfunctionality in the UK labour market. Our system keeps millions on benefits (never less than 5 million have been on some kind of benefits since 1997) while meeting the needs of expanding the economy with a limitless supply of industrious immigrant labour. This means that the direct link between a growing economy and combating poverty is broken."The latest release is here, but Nelson's got some more figures on Google docs.
"At no point in the boom did the number on out-of-work benefits fall below five million souls. Almost half have been on welfare for five years or more – and are, therefore, statistically more likely to die than to work again (I think he means more likely to die before retirement age - we're all going to die). As I say, were it not for immigration, we’d be forced to confront this problem or our economy would not grow. When I was a business journalist in the late 1990s, I remember writing stories about how bus companies were recruiting in homeless shelters because they couldn’t find the staff. The people in those shelters were being offered structure to their lives, from an employer forced by economic conditions to deal with the greater risk they pose. It was a sign of economic growth addressing social problems – as it should be.
But mass immigration has broken this link. It meant Gordon Brown could actually afford to keep so many million on benefits, as tax receipts were being generated by comparative newcomers. It was a lot easier than trying to reform welfare. Scandalously, that’s what Brown did. To my mind, it is the most contemptible failure of his time as Chancellor. He had the money, the economic boom, to sort out the welfare dependency that afflicts so many communities in Britain. But he took the easy, short term route. To use that analogy the Prime Minister is so fond of deploying, he walked on by on the other side. Why get your hands (and poll ratings) dirty with welfare reform when you can rely on immigrants to keep the economy growing and tax receipts flowing? And who wants to end up with disabled people chaining themselves to the railings of parliament, as happened when Blair tried welfare reform? Brown took the easy option. And his short-termism has condemned millions to worklessness and poverty who might otherwise have escaped it. "
To be fair, Blair is equally culpable. They bottled out on welfare reform because they could.
UPDATE - Telegraph :
The increase in immigrant workers coming to Britain has accounted for nearly every new job created by companies since Labour came to power, research suggests.
The number of British workers aged between 16 and 65 in the private sector has actually declined by nearly 90,000 since 1997, according to an analysis of official employment data.
These figures show that 1.1 million new jobs have been created in the public sector of which 28 per cent went to non British workers.
In the private sector there were 1.8 million new jobs, but 85 per cent went to non British workers.