Immigration and the welfare state


With Home Secretary Jacqui Smith raising the bar on immigration, the left have reverted to type in the face of competition. Of course, little has been heard in protest from Conservatives or Liberal Democrats either, which really is not surprising given the sustained concern about immigration among a large number of people in this country.

It is quite understandable that many hard-working people are worried about immigration. Their concern is less often racist or nationalist, but practical and rational: they don’t want to support more unproductive people in this country. This is why in order for libertarians to win the debate on immigration the welfare state needs first to be deconstructed.

Certainly, this will not assuage all the tensions that the movement of people brings, but at least when people see new families from across the waves moving in down the street they will know that it won’t be them that has to pay for their support.

At present, politicians are instructing bureaucrats to try to pick out individuals who will benefit the UK through a laborious and costly vetting process. From seeing friends jumping through the hoops it is clear that the tests are profoundly arbitrary and openly discriminate against migrants from certain countries for no conceivable reason.

For Britain to compete, people (excepting criminals) need to be free to move with much more ease in and out of this country. The welfare state is the biggest impediment to a reasonable immigration system and until it is radically reformed people will always be looking over their shoulder, concerned that an increasing number of people are living off their hard work.