The latest ideas coming from reformists on migration are worth discussing.
On the one hand you have a recent Institute for Public Policy Research report which argues that we have to accept freedom of movement of labour within the EU and it distances itself from UKIP and the Tories. That’s fine. But it also talks about being tough on the misuse of these rights.
So, on the other hand, it is missing the point about the ideology and politics of the right. If we are all citizens of the world then we have to be in favour of freedom of movement for all people around the world, and especially in Europe.
The logic here shouldn’t be about whether or not migrants contribute to GDP. Or that we don’t mind migrants if they are rich, or highly trained IT wizards, single and healthy, but “save us from your poor”. If we defend migrants on that basis we are on dangerous ground.
If you are a poor Roma family from Romania just been “rehoused” on the site of a disused chemical factory, should you be ineligible to come to Britain? Or from eastern Slovakia, where the council has just erected another wall between you and the rest of the town?
These are the things not being said by the reformists.
After a report on the government’s new restrictions on Job Seeker’s Allowance to migrants on 18 December the BBC leading journalist Nick Robinson said that he had been told by “senior sources in government” that the government’s real concern (on Bulgarian and Romanians being free to come to Britain) was an influx of Roma migrants, suggesting that there’s a “problem now with Roma in Central London...”.
He really let the cat out of the bag there.
• Andy Shallice is a social activist in Sheffield.