Green Party on immigration; Caroline Lucas post growth

Immigration should not be the top issue in the coming elections. The letters IPCC should be uppermost, closely followed by TTIP, but immigration is what the media have decided sells on this occasion. It always was a difficult area for the Green Party. It cannot be completely separated from population. Prior to the ongoing takeover of the Green Party by the anti-capitalists, (remember, I am not pro-capitalist, I just have a different strategy from the Pirates taking over the ship), the Green Party saw the Earth as a little ball in space. Its population is large and increasing, and will be stabilised by natural, not necessarily pleasant methods if humankind does not make better arrangements. To cut that long story short, I am of the school of thought within the Green Party that thinks that whilst population is indeed fundamental, there is ample evidence in the developed world that it will stabilise without specific measures if women can be confident that their first two children will reach maturity, and can have control over their fertility, and the education to go with it. In other words, the Party’s social justice policies should be given the chance to show that other measures are not necessary.
Until ‘Limits to Growth’ opened up the new perspective to which the Green Party was a response, anyone who raised either population or immigration in a political debate could be assumed to be right wing, and probably racist. But the whole point of the Green Party is to achieve a sustainable world economy which is inclusive. The GP has grappled with this problem over the years. At one point literature included the expression ‘One in, one out’, which may look ‘right wing’ to anyone used to an Old Labour approach, but it was merely an attempt to address the fact that Britain’s ecological footprint is already greater than its carrying capacity.
The policy being projected by the Party in this election campaign is that Britain should welcome all immigrants, and that there is evidence showing that immigration benefits Britain. Caroline Lucas has pointed out that immigrants cannot both take jobs from British workers and take benefits paid for by the taxpayer. One point which needs stressing is that the Green Party has always been strongly opposed to racism. Immigrants are only doing what anyone would want to do put in the same position. This government’s scapegoating of immigrants is inexcusable
It has always seemed obvious to me that the drivers of emigration from impoverished parts of the world should be addressed as part of Green Party policy. During my 40-year advocacy of the Citizens’ Basic Income I have pointed out that the principle should be applied as between nations, as well as between individuals within a nation. Just as the Citizens BI would almost certainly mean higher taxation on the better off, but leave them with most of their previous wealth, so the same principle applied between nations would take more than the 0.7% of GDP currently seen as adequate, but it would still be quite a small dent in the developed world’s prosperity. All this flows naturally from the principle underlying the Citizens BI: every individual (or nation) receives sufficient for basic needs unconditionally. Or to be more precise, the only condition is that they behave ecologically.
Unfortunately those projecting Green Party policy have never really grasped the basic CBI principle. I have never understood why others do not understand the concept of means testing being a vicious tax on the poor, especially since Iain Duncan Smith handed it to us on a plate entitled ‘Dynamic Benefits: towards Welfare that works’, with several graphs showing this taxation as it affects different family groups. (Click ‘Publications’ Sept 2009) One of these graphs is at the top of this page. Thank you, IDS
But the international application is the huge opportunity currently being missed. When the European Initiative for a Guaranteed Basic Income becomes a reality, the intense pressure to leave Bulgaria or Romania will be relieved, even if poorer countries pay lower Basic Incomes. The Green Party’s stance on immigration can be defended in principle, with caveats. I regret that the original acknowledgement of eco-footprints has gone, but my most serious objection is to the true fact that immigrants contribute more than they take. Due to the terrible economic conditions in Bulgaria, Britain is taking doctors and nurses, trained there, leaving their hospitals seriously under-staffed.
But all this is beside the point. A simplistic party is playing successfully on the fears of reasonable people who understandably take seriously the possibility that competition for scarce jobs will become more intense. That Britain benefits from immigration cuts no ice with them. Telling people who feel insecure to stop worrying whether reasonably or not, does not stop them worrying, it just tells them that nothing else you have to say is worth listening to. On ecological and pragmatic grounds, and for Bulgaria’s sake, humanitarian grounds, the pressures causing immigration must be relieved. A Europe-wide Citizens’ Basic Income will be topical, within the Green ethos, and it would give the European Basic Income initiative a tremendous boost. If this does not happen, then the Green Party is at risk of going quietly down to a wipe-out by the Simplistic Party, which denies climate change. Also, if we leave Europe, we would have no say in halting the anti-democratic Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. The Green party has something positive to offer which would rivet the attention of the media.
But the other way in which the Green Party or at least its spokespersons, has never grasped the principle of the Citizens’ Basic Income, is that it fulfils the need for whole populations, as individuals, to view what will be called a recession, i.e. the absence of growth, with equanimity. Next Wednesday Caroline Lucas will attend a ‘People’s Parliament’ event in the House of Commons, organized by The Green House Think Tank, on the topic of a post-growth economy. I shall be there, and look forward to hearing what she says. But just as I did for Natalie Bennett, I offer Caroline some ideas (Natalie didn’t use them).
What none of us have yet fathomed is how to make manufacturing less stuff instead of more an attractive idea to manufacturers. My (surprisingly popular) blog post on 28th March offers some incomplete ideas. But a start can be made by linking Caroline’s courageous action in protesting against fracking with questioning the whole concept of economic growth as a good idea. If a drunk wakes up to find he is in a gutter, in urine and vomit soaked clothes, he will hopefully begin to reflect on his drink dependency. But why is this not happening with whole societies over the appalling reality of fracking, due to a dependency on growth? On 24th April the Financial Times carried a report on the tremendous commercial opportunities for exploitation of the Bowland – Hodder shale gas basin across the north of England. The trouble is, the commercial logic for fracking is just as unassailable as the ecological logic against. At present, the former is winning hands down, Caroline’s arrest and acquittal notwithstanding. Just one final clue, Caroline. There is an idea in this blog which might help make the absence of growth thinkable.

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5 responses to “Green Party on immigration; Caroline Lucas post growth

  1. See the following review of a newish book called Denial which gives a good summary:

    http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/679335667?book_show_action=true&page=1

    Addicts, including alcoholics, have a disease the _primary symptom of which is denial that they have the disease/addiction. This is well known in treatment circles. Addicts who are addicted to constant economic growth suffer from denial as well. All the conservative arguments against global warming, for instance, are _classic symptoms of denial. I am afraid this is the way we are built (the hypothesis of the quoted book–which I have not read, by the way) and I fear, as you know, there is no hope for us.

    Sharon in the Arizona desert.

  2. A genuine environmentalist party would be totally opposed to immigration on ecological grounds, if for no other reason. The increased demand for housing inevitably results in the loss of agricultural land due to the resultant ‘white flight’ urban overspill, which in turn increases our dependence on food imports. Even if we all went vegan we still wouldn’t have enough arable land for a country with such a high population density.

    There are also very sound left-wing economic reasons for opposing immigration, it has been used as a tool to put upward pressure on rents and downward pressure on wages, leaving millions of indigenous Britons economically worse off, but benefitting the greedy the corporate interests who want an unlimited supply of migrant labour and the greedy buy-to-let brigade in keeping the private rental sector buoyant; not to mention allowing the wealthy to hire domestic servants (nannies) on the cheap.

    Immigration has resulted in increased congestion and put increased strain on Britain’s welfare system. It has resulted in numerous cultural problems among immigrants who refuse to integrate; Halal and Kosher slaughter, forced marriages and female genital mutilation being among them. It has resulted in English becoming a minority language in many urban areas of England, including Coventry, where the embryonic Green Party was founded. That the Green Party supports immigration shows that it has lost the plot and why I can no longer vote for it. I have had enough, I want my country back.

    • All your facts are absolutely valid, but your view is limited. I plead with you to come back into the Green Party, try to understand why the unreconstructed majority have still not lost their ‘Old Labour’ world view and help those of us who have juggled for 40 years with combining sustainability with social justice – world wide, to re-educate them. As you have read my blog, you will see that I have a further objection to Green Party immigration policy – the fact that it does benefit Britain economically (if you ignore the problems you draw attention to) is at the expense of for example the Bulgarian health service.
      I could repeat my blog – your comment does read rather as though you have not taken in my suggestions on how we should approach immigration. Just one tip – persuasion may just be effective. Force just drives them into freezer vans.

  3. Thanks for replying. I still have an ‘Old Labour’ view of the world and disturbingly, though I have never voted for them, I find that the BNP is the only party which now supports ‘Old Labour’ policies, including nationalisation of utilities and the ‘Old Labour’ anti-EEC (now anti-EU) view. I am wary of UKIP, because although Farage is a great orator and makes some very valid points about the European Project, ultimately his opposition to the EU is to avoid regulation of ‘The City’.

    The only way to reduce immigration to a sustainable level is to reduce or eliminate the economic incentives; it that sounds harsh, then tough. Introduce a minimum qualification period of several years for state benefits, access to the NHS and council housing. Introduce a points system as other countries have. Once the message gets back down the people trafficking chain it will reduce accordingly. Ditto with immigration from within the EU. We have to be realistic, the UK, England in particular, has exceeded its sustainable population level; it is too late for a ‘one in, one out’ policy.

    Caroline Lucas is wrong to say that immigrants taking jobs means that they don’t take benefits and vice versa. The UK is a low-wage economy for the majority, with immigration helping to drive down wages; and earnings for self-employed tradespeople (plumbers etc). People on low wages, shop workers etc, now need state benefits to top them up. Hence immigrants, like natives, are claiming benefits whilst being employed; which again puts strain on the Exchequer and adds to the huge level of debt bequeathed by Gordon Brown.

    Similarly we must confront (as feminists have failed to do) religious / cultural ideologies which subordinate women. The political left, including the Green Party, are frightened to do this, lest they be accused of ‘racism’. I am talking mainly but not exclusively about Islam However Sikhs and Hindus also practise arranged, in some cases forced, marriages, eg some years ago a Sikh woman in Coventry was murdered by two of her male cousins in any ‘honour’ killing for refusing such a marriage.

    It must also be recognised that the indigenous majority have cultural rights, mostly the right to live in a secular liberal democracy, a country where English is the majority language (shared with the other indigenous languages: Welsh, Scots, Gaelic, as appropriate); where we do not have the apartheid ideology of multiculturalism, a New Labour invention which the Green Party should reject. A country in which the indigenous majority are not made to feel like they are the foreigners, because that is how it has come to feel living in England over the past decade. I am not the disaffected former Old Labour then Green voter who has come to feel this way.

  4. The last sentence should read I am not the ONLY disaffected former Old Labour then Green voter who has come to feel this way.

    Oh and I didn’t vote in the EU ‘elections’ because the EU has no democratic mandate over this country; the ‘elections’ are a sham which should be boycotted.

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