Jonathan Djanogly is Member of Parliament for Huntingdon. Follow Jonathan on Twitter.
Without fanfare or boast, some parts of the UK are doing rather well. The East of England for instance is one of the few regions which is a net contributor to rather than taker from the national economy. In my constituency of Huntingdon, with an unemployment rate of around two percent, frankly, to be without a job is generally either a temporary state of affairs or a lifestyle decision.
Given that the employment pool is so sparse, my constituency’s employers would most likely think I had lost my marbles if I advocated the return of their Polish and Latvian workers. That is their efficient, willing and hardworking staff, who in some cases form over eighty percent of their workforce. Likewise, further north into the fens, farmers are concerned that their Romanian and Bulgarian crop pickers will disappear once those countries’ workers are given general access to our job markets in 2014. Of course the assumption is that their places will be filled by Ukrainians and other non accession nationals – it being given that British youth would rather pick up benefits than crops. Clearly, the short term imperative of business to fill positions, is at variance with the long term need to increase opportunities for young British people.
Many are now speculating why Labour allowed immigration to rise to 591,000 a year by 2010. Some believe that it was a political manoeuvre to bolster the cities’ suburbs with, what they hoped would be, Labour voting immigrants. However, I personally go for the economic view that, at a time of rapid growth, Labour were providing the work-force that their own policies were failing to deliver in the UK - moreover, a work-force that was cheap. It is interesting to note that this was the first time in the post-war period that growth did not go hand in hand with significant wage inflation for the low paid. Of course it should not have required an abundance of foresight to realise that the short term economic benefits of ramping immigration were in effect a bandage covering some very serious structural failings in our society and our economy.