Pretending that the labour market is as simple as "supply and demand" panders to emotional far-right narrativesby Alison McGovern / October 3, 2017 / Leave a comment
When does feeling matter in politics? It depends whose side it’s on.
My colleague Stephen Kinnock MP recently wrote a twitter thread on immigration and the labour market which concluded with this remark: “For too long c-left has brushed this debate under carpet & accused anyone making the case for reform of being anti-immigrant, or worse. This opened door to UKIP, the FN, the AfD, and Wilders etc. We need less anger & emotion.”
Given that this thread was his latest sortie in an online debate he and I engaged in over freedom of movement, I think I am within reason to believe that the ‘emotion’ point was directed at me.
What to make of this? As a rationalist, and a believer in evidence-based policy, at first glance I wanted to agree with this call. But I am fed up of those of us making the case for free movement, especially the women, being accused of excess “emotion.”
Because my argument on immigration is precisely that the rational economic view of problems in the British labour market cannot be solved by limiting free movement. Furthermore, I think that those in politics who argue that these problems can be solved with an end to free movement are doing so because they are responding to an emotional argument made by nativists and anti-immigration forces on the hard right and far right of British politics.
What the evidence says
In fact, my debate with Stephen was based on the fact that I believe he is asserting something—that immigration has held down wages—for which there is no conclusive evidence.
And while I am sad that a fellow Labour Member…