Green voices in the election campaign; the best way to slow immigration

At Last! Caroline Lucas on TV ‘Question Time’ on Thursday (BBC 1), and Natalie Bennett on ‘Any Questions’ on Radio 4 tonight (Friday). Both gave a reasonable account of Green policies. Of course readers of this blog will know that I have reservations about the recent drift of the Green Party. But I am not in the hot seat. Perhaps Natalie’s strategy is better than mine. She appears to be setting out her (our) stall to attract the kind of people who have swelled Green Party membership recently, namely those who were appalled at Blair’s thatcherisation of the Labour Party, from which it show no sign of recovering.
If the audience at Worksop (‘Any Questions’) is anything to go by, she is right, Natalie has taken on board one of my points: that the menace of fracking is not limited to the disturbance to homes and water supplies. It is potentially worse than coal as a greenhouse gas due to methane leakage. Natalie linked this with climate change, and the warnings offered by extreme weather events. This was clapped – by a single member of the audience. Then a straw poll after the fracking question had been answered revealed a majority in favour! The Green message which I think should be in the forefront of the political debate would apparently get us nowhere in this election campaign.
Even so, both Caroline and Natalie could have included something I have been asking them both to say, but the later stages of an election campaign is not the best time for the first ever mention of the Citizens’ Basic Income. Well over half of ‘Question time’ was taken up with the question focussing attention on the Simplistic Party “Do we have to leave Europe to prevent a flood of immigrants?” It is objectively true that immigration benefits Britain, but that is no comfort to anyone who feels that competition for scarce jobs is intense enough already. Worries about a “Southampton” of net immigration are exaggerated by those who gain by ramping up insecurities, but it cannot be just brushed aside. Telling people who feel insecure that they are wrong to worry only tells them that the speaker has nothing of value to say to them.
But the tragedy is that Caroline could have given a telling answer within the Green Party’s philosophy. Here is my dream script:
“The first thing to say is that in a Green world, inequalities will be reduced considerably as compared with the present. The Simplistic Party is offering a solution it cannot deliver. Governments have tried and failed in the past to curb immigration, but succeeded only in forcing immigrants to risk their lives in freezer vans. If you really want to reduce immigration, the sheer deprivation has to be addressed at source. This applies both between individuals within one country, and between countries. As it happens, a start has already been made in the form of a Europe-wide initiative for a Guaranteed Basic Income, in other words a Citizens’ Income, which is Green Party policy. If Bulgaria and Romania had even a small Citizens’ Basic Income, the intense pressure to emigrate from a poor country to a richer one would be reduced considerably. The Green Party urges caution on the wish to reduce immigration, but instead of attempts to “stop the flood”, as Aesop noticed 3,000 years ago, “Persuasion is better than force”.

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9 responses to “Green voices in the election campaign; the best way to slow immigration

  1. I have discussed with you already on another thread, but to take up these points again. ‘It is objectively true that immigration benefits Britain’ – sorry but it isn’t! How on earth can you claim that immigration benefits an island which already has an unsustainably high population density and whose infrastructure is creaking through the high demands placed upon it?

    Additionally, substitute Britain with Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, any other country you care to mention and would you advocate that their citizens welcome millions of immigrants, mainly poorer than they are? Of course not, no-one with a modicum of common sense would. That the Green Party is pro-immigration, at all, shows once more why it has lost the plot as an ecology party, which it used to be.

    In Addition, a Europe-wide ‘citizens income’ is a dreadful idea as it can only exist within the framework of a continental superstate, something that the Green Party used to be honourably opposed to. It can only be financed by increasing taxation on those in the ‘wealthy’ countries such as the UK and/or by ‘Quantitative Easing’, ie by printing money in real or more likely ‘virtual’ sense.

    Supporting *any* form of Europe-wide taxation, which is what this ‘citizens income’ would require, goes totally against the principal of localism in taxation and public spending which is what the Green Party used to believe in. I really despair at how you lot have been brainwashed by Euro-globalism; you have betrayed everything that you used to stand for.

    • Imigration creates demand. Demand creates work. Work creates jobs. Jobs create wages. Wages create tax revenue.

      Unconditional Citizens Income frees everyones entrepreneurial spirit and eradicates poverty.

      Combined = Problem Solved

      • Wow! such a lot to answer. Vegan Yokel first. Your points are valid, but ther could be a long and inconclusive debate as to whether they out weigh the benefits which both the current Green Party leadership and CorruptBstard point out. My concern is even the benefits from qualified professionals are nothing to be proud of – they are obtained at the expense of poorer countries.
        Corrupt B Yes the Cits BI gives individuals choice. I have been pushing it for 40 years, but with a different focus from yours. You are like most supprters, concerned primarily about inequality and freedom of action fo rthe disadvantaged. Fine, absolutely, but for me the chief reason is that it will allow whole populations to view a recession without worry, so that a recession can be agovernment policy option instead of being a no-no.
        Why does the Green Party not use it? Too long a story. Lots of reasons I think are plain wrong. for example, one is that we only get short sound bites and it would take longer than we get, so that we could be made to look idiots. The cost is seen as a problem. Neither Caroline L nor Natalie B have deigned to take up my pleas that a complete answer is to be found in Iain Duncan Smith’s own literature – the first part of ‘Dynamic Benefits: Towards Welfare that Works’.
        But sadly, I have to part company with you. The Cits BI is two-edged – I want it to cushion the worst of a recession, whilst making a shallow recession thinkable, but it can be used as an engine for growth if not balanced by taxation, which is what you want. I would be appalled if your BIG party was in competition with the GP.

  2. I’m afraid that you haven’t addressed the issue that a European Citizen’s ‘Guaranteed Basic Income’ can only exist if there is a European Treasury as part of a European Superstate. It also implies that ‘Europe’, ie the EU, has a right to confer ‘citizenship’ over-riding that of the nation-states. A genuine ecology party would be totally opposed to any form of ‘Europeanisation’ that takes decision making away from the nation states, but then the Green Party is no longer a genuine ecology party, it is New Labour ‘Lite’.

    Similarly with immigration, even if we discount all the cultural problems (which are many), a genuine ecology party would support stringent immigration restrictions to our over-crowded, under-resourced island, irrespective of national, ethnic or religious background of the prospective immigrants. Opposition to immigration is rational, reasonable and justifiable and has nothing to do with ‘ramping up insecurities’. That the Green Party supports an open-door immigration policy is because it is no longer a genuine ecology party.

    • Better a late reply than never, I hope. There is a grain of truth in your ‘Labour Lite’ barb, but I don’t agree that the rest of your argument follows. ‘Superstate’ could just mean communal action by a wider community, though fair enough, the bigger the entity, the less likely that is in practice. It is possible for an EU wide agreement in principle for each state to introduce a Cits BI, but each state do decide the amount internally. I agree that opposition to immigration is rational, etc, and SHOULD have nothing to do with ramping up insecurities, but in the real world there will always be those who have something to gain by using immigration in this way. The Simplistic Party have just managed to do this more skilfully than others.

      • If by the ‘Simplistic Party’ you are referring to UKIP, its supposed opposition to immigration is a tactical attempt to pick-up working-class votes; to fill the hole left by the marginalisation of the BNP. UKIP is the arm of the City of London and as such, like the CBI, it wants an unlimited supply of cheap migrant labour. UKIPs’ tactic is that this labour could be sourced cheaper from outside of the EU than from within it.

        The EU itself is contrary to genuine Green ethics, which should promote democracy from the bottom up not the top down; and the Green Party itself used to be honourably opposed to it, but no more. Each country could in principle have a minimum income, but democracy means that that policy should be decided by the voters of that country, not by a ‘higher’ body.

        To answer the points from the other poster on this thread, immigration does indeed increase demand, demand for housing thus leading to urban overspill and ‘white flight’ from cities to market towns, villages and the countryside; demand for food, thus increasing the dependency on imports, whilst arable land gets built on to house the ‘white flight’ overspill. Supporting Immigration is an anti-Green policy.

        The bottom line is that the island of ‘Great’ Britain has exceeded its sustainable population level. Think back to the Second World War, when every spare acre was used to ‘Dig for Victory’, this ‘tight little island’ of ours had rationing imposed and was still dependent on the North Atlantic convoys from the USA and Canada. Yet the population then was far lower than it is now. We simply cannot carry on with an open-door immigration policy, it is the road to an ecological catastrophe.

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