Fund Your Utopia Without Me.™

25 June 2012

A Fair Warning To Those Promoting Open Borders, Amnesty, & Free Immigration

David and "Ed the Red" Miliband

I just want to warn people on the Left, who are thrilled about the Supreme Court's ruling on SB1070 and their own nonchalance concerning the enforcement of immigration laws. Several decades ago, Labour made the decision to take an "open borders" position and champion massive immigration. They did it for two reasons, which will be very familiar for everyone here:

1. They believed in multiculturalism and that nationalism was a bad thing. "Countries" and "patriotism" were bad things. Brits needed to become "citizens of the world."


2. They knew that they would be able to get the votes of the, mainly, third world and Eastern European immigrants.

But, something happened that they never foresaw:

They lost their entire base of blue-collar, union voters...even many of those "on the dole" turned on Labour. Why? 

Because they felt that Labour put immigrants and, especially, illegal immigrants ahead of native citizens. Imagine being a veteran of WWII or a child, whose father died fighting Hitler, and being told that an illegal, who managed to stay undetected in the country for 6 weeks, was entitled to all of the rights and benefits that they are afforded?

On top of that, if these people even mentioned immigration, they were labeled racists and bigots.  One of the defining moments of the 2010 election was when former Prime Minister Gordon Brown was caught on tape calling a life-long Labour voter -- an elderly woman concerned about the influx of immigrants from Eastern Europe --a "bigot."  She had legitimate concerns and his words about her were so elitist, arrogant and insulting that no amount of damage control and personal apologies could save either him or Labour.  More devastating for Labour was their failure to recognise that she wasn't some old, oddball crank -- a one-off aberration.  Sadly for the myopic idiots in Labour, she spoke for much of their "base."

Now, even Labour's leaders like "Ed the Red" Miliband (they call him that for a reason and it isn't because he has red hair) have admitted that their immigration and multicultural policies have been a disaster for the country and their party.   Oh, and guess what?  We've been given "permission" by Labour and the other Leftist elites like the BBC to actually discuss "immigration."  It is no longer "racist" to do so.  No word yet on whether the ridiculous British press will stop referring to all Muslims as "Asian immigrants."   In London, you'll hear some of the really "smart" people referring to a Muslim immigrant from, say, the Bahamas as an "Asian immigrant."  It is not unlike the idiocy of calling all blacks "African-Americans."  I can assure you that the blacks in the UK or South Africa do not consider themselves to be "African-Americans."

Back to the rift, drift, and schism between Leftist parties and their natural constituents... The thing is that this isn't just happening in the UK. It is occurring across the Continent. You see, even Marx and Engels understood and recognised that socialism would never work in heterogeneous populations. Leftists here point to Scandinavia and say, "Look, Socialism works and everyone gets along." Apart from the fact that Scandinavian countries began moving away from Socialism in the 1990s, this argument overlooks a very serious phenomenon that is occurring, which was wholly predictable. As the population of Sweden, etc., has become less homogenous, the support for welfare programmes has fallen dramatically and the racial strife has increased measurably.

I think Anders Behring Breivik is a monstrous piece of shit, but you must understand that his feelings about the demise of European culture are widespread. Germans like being Germans. Spaniards like being Spaniards. But, the unaccountable, unelected apparatchiks in Brussels believe that nationalism and patriotism MUST be crushed out of 500 million people. They believe that MORE multiculturalism must be imposed.

The evil EU (and I really don't say that hysterically) has taken more and more power unto itself. For example, the death penalty is illegal in all European countries; however, the EU reintroduced it in the Treaty of Lisbon in a footnote. Under the Treaty, the EU can impose the death sentence to "suppress insurgency or riot" without trials. It has become more and more totalitarian and dictatorial. All of which is only increasing the anger that gives rise to monsters like Brevik.

People like their countries. They like their laws. They like their democracies and expect that their elected officials will not only uphold the law, but will put their interests ahead of non-citizens or transnational organisations. When governments, politicians, elites, or organisations ignore the will of the people, they eventually will be struck bloody force, if necessary.

In the UK, 85% of the population wants a referendum on a "Brixit" from the EU. To date, Labour, the Tories, and the Lib Dems have played games with the public and denied this. How long do you think it will be before someone, who promises to do what the people want, wins? Does this mean he will be good for Britain on other issues? Not necessarily. Hitler rose to power on a popularist platform.

Lastly, let me just say that I am a naturalised American.  I came here legally.  I complied with Federal law, which included carrying my "papers" on me at all times.  I also accept the fact that, as a naturalised American, I will always be somewhat of a "second class citizen."

How so, you ask?  Unlike those of you, who are demanding open borders and who were born here, I can never serve as President of the United States of America.  (Don't worry.  I would never want the job.)  Do I feel discriminated against by the government or you natural born citizens?  No.  I understand why the Constitution requires a President be born on American soil.  In fact, I wholeheartedly approve of it.  I don't believe that someone like me, who becomes a citizen as an adult, should be able to serve as President.  I was in my early 20s, but I could have been in my 50s and from North Korea.  Call me old-fashioned or out-of-the-Soros-stream.  Whatever.  There is something to be said about blood and soil as they concern loyalty.

Once again, be careful what you wish for, Progs.  Many on the Left in Britain and in Europe, as a whole, rue the day that they adopted the immigrants-over-natives stance.  Also, I leave you with a truism once elucidated by Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman:

You can have a welfare state or open borders, but you cannot have both.

Europe is proving he was 100% correct.

Ed Miliband:

"There has been a collision of a large amount of immigration from eastern Europe and a UK labour market that is frankly too often nasty, brutish and short-term.

It became clear that the estimates that we had relied on were vastly wrong. We expected 15,000 migrants and 15,000 came to Southampton. The country was put under strain as a result.  There was an impact on wages and public services that people were concerned about.

There are issues around the pace of change in communities, pressures on public resources and making sure entitlements work fairly.

There are clearly issues that people have been raising over a number of years. We have to look at where the rules are right and, if they are wrong, what we can do about it. You have to have the right entitlements in place."

We have got to talk about this issue because the public are talking about it. I am for politics that is relevant to people's lives. We cannot have a debate going on in every kitchen, street and every neighbourhood and the Labour party not talk about it.

Labour has to change its approach to immigration but you cannot answer people's concerns on immigration unless you change the way your economy works.

Overall, immigration has benefits, but the thing we did not talk about was its relevance to class, and the issue of where the benefits and burdens lie. If you need a builder, it is good that there are more coming into the country and lowering the price of construction, but if you are a British builder it is less beneficial.

In government we were not sufficiently alive to the burdens, so when people said they were concerned that their wages were being driven down by people from eastern Europe our response too often was to argue that these people are saying 'stop the world, I want to get off', or at worst 'this is prejudice'. I think we were too starry-eyed about globalisation's benefits.

In sectors where there is a problem, every medium and large employer that has more than 25% foreign workers – double the average share of migrants in the population – should have to notify Jobcentre Plus.

We need to make sure there is a level playing field … there has to be a fair chance for everybody."

David Miliband:

"My view is that after we have considered all the contingent factors, all the cultural differences, and after we have forsworn the option of accepting that we are wrong and there is nothing better in politics than the right can offer, there is a fundamental question to be answered.

Left parties are losing elections more comprehensively than ever before. They are losing from government and from opposition; they are losing in majoritarian systems and PR systems; just for good measure they are losing whatever position the party had on the Iraq war; and they are fragmenting at just the time the right is uniting.

I don’t believe this to be some accident or cosmic joke being played by destiny. There are real reasons that need to be understood if we are to move forward on any other basis than waiting for the right to run out of steam. And they are only properly visible if you look across the six countries and join the dots.

There is only one place to start. Where have the voters gone?

My answer is that if you look across the six countries there are three groups of voters we on the centre left are losing. All three groups have a class base and a set of values that they feel have been violated by the centre-left.

Centre left parties are losing working class voters to the far right and far left. Just look at the second place for the anti Islamic Party for Freedom in Holland. There are two related reasons, in which interests and culture are interwoven. These voters find immigration to be a very big issue on which the centre-left is suspect at best and guilty at worst; and they find that their jobs are the first to go in the new economy. So while the Front National started in France in the 1980s as a problem for the Right, they and their sister parties around Europe are a bigger problem today for the left.
And in some PR systems, like Germany, there is a double squeeze with some of these voters going to the far left.

This splintering of the left, and the coalition politics it invites – “plural left” in France, Red-Green-Left in Sweden – is an electoral problem in itself, and has a ripple effect on a second group of voters. Centre left parties are losing middle income, swing voters, often young parents, in part because of coalitions with the left and Greens. Just look at Sweden. Only one in five Stockholm residents voted for the social democrats; the figure for those in work was nearly one in ten (13 per cent); only half of trade unionists across Sweden voted for the social democrats; and a third of those voters who turned their backs on the social democrats say did so because of their alliance with the Left Party.

The primary reason is tax and spending issues. These voters have a good lifestyle and don’t want to lose it. They certainly don’t want to trade part of it in for more generous welfare systems.

In Britain, median wages stagnated after the dot com crash, in other words well before the financial crisis. This is the squeezed middle whose position Ed Miliband has effectively highlighted.

Centre left parties are in addition losing a further group of voters – often middle class voters, but also young voters – who feel turned off the compromises of power, have no truck with the right, but want a different alternative to the established parties. The Green and Lib Dem votes in Britain are some indication of that. In Germany the Greens are doing very well in national polls, though the Social Democrats did well in the recent Hamburg state elections.

If this is the electoral arithmetic, the second question is ‘why have they gone?’.

In the 1990s the optimistic image of reformist social democracy spoke to the times. 13 of 15 EU governments came from the centre left in 1999.

Across Europe, reformed centre left parties built a narrative of fair but flexible labour markets, social investment in education, renewal of welfare and strong internationalism.

The parties were not all the same. Britain’s experience in the rebound from Thatcherism was different from Sweden. But even in France, where social democracy was such a weak brand that when I once asked Jacques Delors why he didn’t run for the Presidency his answer was that there were only three social democrats in France...even there, Lionel Jospin made the centrepiece of his politics the commitment to a ‘market economy but not a market society’.

Social change – women’s rights, gay rights – proceeded apace.

Social investment was increased.

Welfare to work programmes seemed to work, poverty was attacked.

And Europe as a political project provided a binding economic glue on the Continent.

Revisionist social democratic politics dominated the post cold war era. It dominated the centre ground; it led to significant social reform.

What has changed? We need to look at economics, politics and ideas.

After the fall of the Soviet Union and its associated red scares, and before the rise of China, India and Brazil had really taken off, growth in Europe seemed secure. Some governments even talked about the end of boom and bust. Tony Crosland’s dream, that in a time of full employment we could focus on equal opportunity, seemed to be coming into focus.

But the policies and politics that worked in the NICE decade of the 1990s aren’t up to the job in the GRIM decade that we are now living through.

Mervyn King coined the idea of the NICE decade. Non Inflationary Continuous Expansion.
Instead of a NICE decade we face a GRIM decade. Growth Restricted and Inflationary Misery.

It is true that out of the 1930s came the New Deal and the Keynesian welfare state. But Professor Andrew Gamble has explained that recessions rarely bring short term political benefit the centre left. Just look at the 1930s, the 1970s and the current period.

It is ironic but deeply indicative that it takes a man with the economic credibility of IMF Managing Director to give the French left its best chance of winning its first Presidential election in four.

Politics across Europe is not determined by economics, but it is shaped by it. And in the face of severe global competition, the crunch on growth and the distribution of its rewards has consequences. Politics has taken on a harsher hue – on welfare and wages, on tax and spending, on immigration - to the benefit of the right. And the increased budget deficits, the symptom of the expansionary budget antidote to slump, has provided a new and simple rationale for the centre right.

Yet it would be foolish not to recognise a second and decisive factor in the recent losses of the centre-left: the electoral detoxification of the Right. After its successive beatings from Clinton, Blair, Persson, Kok, Prodi, Schroeder, the Right re-grouped.

George Bush II showed how to win – well, kind of win – in 2000. He ran as a compassionate conservative. He ran against the Republican East Coast establishment, championed education and even progressive immigration reform.

In Europe, parties of the right realised that they had been pushed off the centre ground, and they responded.

Where once right of centre parties seemed anti deluvian on social issues, they embraced a new world of equal gay and women’s rights.

Where they seemed in hoc to the rich, they upped the rhetoric against the unacceptable faces of capitalism. It wasn’t President Hu of China who told the Davos meeting this year that “Globalisation...gave rise to a world in which everything was given to financial capital and almost nothing to which those who lived on unearned income left the workers far behind.” It was President Sarkozy.

Where they seemed out of touch with the modern world, as in the UK, the right went green.

And where they seemed plain antipathetic to the national character, as in Sweden, they accommodated to the centre ground. Swedish Conservatives went from 15 per cent of the vote in 2002 to becoming a twice election-winning Alliance of the Centre-Right in 2006 and 2010.

In other words, they triangulated back against the reformed left. Their slogan is not Old Right or New Left but New Right.

And the left has been unsure of whether to take the right’s shift as a compliment, or as proof that it went wrong in the 1990s.

This plays out in the battle of ideas. Since the 1920s, there have been three constants in every successful social democratic programme: greater protection from the dangers of life, more power over your own life, and stronger communities in which to live your life. All three promises have come under strain in the last decade under the pressure of economic and social change.

First, the argument about how to protect people from risks associated with a global economy. The reformist left argument of the 1990s was, in Lionel Jospin’s phrase, to manage globalisation not fight it. Central to that was an active welfare state. The old welfare state offered a residual safety net; the new welfare state of education and training would offer a trampoline.

But the downward escalator that makes people fear for their children’s economic future has been stronger than the measures to promote social mobility. In fact welfare is seen as not tough enough by those who see idleness in benefit recipients, and not empowering enough for those on the receiving end.

One consequence is that the fairness argument has been turned to the right. This has been exacerbated by the shift in the tax base highlighted by Peter Kellner.

Two thirds of the British electorate in the 1950s and 1960s paid little or no income tax. That is no longer the case. The employment structure has changed. And spending has massively increased, with important positive effects, on health, education and welfare. For these voters social democracy in the form of health, education and welfare, has gone, in his phrase, from being an “unambiguous blessing to a contingent one” – contingent on the quality of what is offered against a right determined to contest this terrain.

The second argument is about how to give people more control over their own lives.

Historically, it was the market which treated people as commodities to be bought and sold, and which left people feeling defenceless and stranded. The role of the state was to empower people, first of all through the vote, then through rights, then through services.

But the argument has now been turned. The very success of social democrats in arguing for an extended role for government means that the understanding people had of the market – that it was a “good servant but a bad master” – is now applied to government. That is the explanation I have for how a market failure like the banking crisis becomes a government failure of regulation.

The association of the left with the state has become a stick with which it is beaten; and the very expansion of the role of government to meet popular demand has made it more vulnerable to the charge that it is a powerful ogre not a flimsy line of defence.

The tragedy in a country like Britain is that it takes a Tory government to remind people of why it was worth having a Labour government. But the electoral consequence thus far in the 21st century is that the investment argument has been turned against the left.

There is, thirdly, the argument about how to foster a modern sense of belonging. This is not only about immigration, or only about poorer voters. But it is significantly about both.

Jonathan Rutherford has written about a story of “ the shadow of the bright lights of consumer culture and the glamour of celebrity and money”. The cosmopolitanism of diversity and individual rights is perceived as threatening and alien. He cites the English Defence League – a self styled street militia ready to fight the ‘civilisational threat’ of Islam – as a symptom of cultural dislocations and economic crises.

The right have few answers on immigration, as the current UK government are showing with promises that cannot be met except through perverse decisions on questions like visas for foreign students. But the left is torn between commitment to individual human rights for all people whatever their nationality and a recognition that communities depend on deep roots and long standing.

The consequence is that we are on the back foot when it comes to community. The Searchlight research published last week should be required reading for anyone who wants to understand politics in Britain; it explains the danger of assuming a natural centre-left majority when values issues cut across political divides in a fundamental way.

So if we know who we have lost, and have some idea of why we have lost them, what next?

One conclusion is that only by reversing out of the Third Way cul de sac can the centre left find avenues for advance.

It is certainly true that the centre-left governments of the 1990s were good at helping the poorest benefit from economic expansion, not good enough at figuring out how to spur that expansion. They were good at preaching responsibility for those on welfare, not good enough at demanding responsibility from those at the top of society. They were good at the analysis of an enabling state, but not good enough at bringing it about; good at the rhetoric of public sector reform, not good enough at delineating how both planning and markets are necessary for an effective public sector. And they were good at building electoral machines, not good enough at building movements of social change.

But my strategic view is essentially the opposite. The revisionism that was entailed in the renewal of the left parties in the 1990s was essential for them to become viable. It is not the new doctrines of the 1990s that made these parties unviable; it is that these doctrines staved off unviability, for parties that had become practised at losing elections in the 1970s and 1980s. The good things about progressive politics in the 1990s – a radicalism when it came to doctrine, new thinking about national and international reform, a finely tuned eye and ear for social and technological change, decisive engagement with people’s needs on difficult issues like crime and security, a readiness to pursue social justice in new ways, a strong sense of international responsibility, and a record that did leave the countries they governed fairer but also better prepared for the modern world - are the basis of winning again.

In other words, only a post New Labour brand of European social democracy, building on success, not a pre New Labour stance, can address the weaknesses that were left and exist today.

The routemap to victory is not straightforward. It requires reconnection with disenchanted electorates through new ideas; through new mechanisms for organisation; and through renewed political strategies appropriate to each country.

My starting point is to go back to a text written by RH Tawney after the 1931 defeat. He said Labour needed “a common view of the life proper to human beings”. That is the place to make emotional contact with people, and the raw fears and ambitions that motivate them.

In other words start with an ethic not a policy. An ethic which informs the most basic questions that people want to see addressed – about work, family, opportunity, responsibility. And then apply that ethic to the great questions of the day.

How to build a moral economy. Our vision is not just about how much money is made; it is about how it is made. We are not apologists for globalisation. We are reformers. When left of centre parties are able to fight elections as private sector reformers, in the name of efficiency and not just fairness, they can win. When they do so, and make government an ally in wealth creation and a defence against corporate abuse of power, they turn the antipathy of the right to government on its head. For example, the privatised utilities in Britain, including rail, are a big part of the economy. We never satisfactorily addressed their functioning in government. We now have a responsibility to think about how they serve the British economy.

How to build a decent community. Our vision is not limited to state and market. When we fight elections as public sector innovators as well as private sector reformers, we live out our most basic insight – that we are socialists not statists. We do not create virtuous people by bureaucratic methods. We will not expose the flaws of the Big Society through bigger government, but through a better recipe for the Good Society.

How to make globalisation sustainable. The centre-left can’t afford to look like suckers; but we Europeans have pioneered a different view about how to share sovereignty in the modern world than the Americans or the Chinese. I call it Responsible Sovereignty. Yes the nation state is the foundation of legitimacy and identity. But the assertion of national sovereignty is not enough in an interdependent world, where any problem of health, crime, economy, security has an international as well as a national dimension.

The challenge is to develop a distinctive centre left vision for European policy. The choice is not just for or against Europe; it must be to think through how social democrats bring our politics to the European level. The perspectives and budgets of the EU on internal as well as foreign policy owe far too much to the 1960s and 1980s. The right’s recipe of fiscal retrenchment offers little. We must forge an opportunity to be internationalists of a hard headed and serious kind, or our policy solutions will have no traction at all.

I want to make a final point about how these ideas are developed. In the 1990s, the renewal came through think tanks. That is important. But it is not enough.

Eight decades ago Tawney identified the perils of government as a giant problem solver: “When it ought to have called people to a long and arduous struggle, it too often did the opposite. It courted them with the hope of cheaply won benefits...It demanded too little and offered too much.”

This is fundamental because we express our political soul in the way we do politics as much as our policies and programmes; and processes that are top down produce solutions that are top down. We need a different mindset.

I am spending some of my time on the Movement for Change – a leadership academy for community organisers. It is a new way of rebuilding the labour movement. It is starting small: just a few staff, but with a big idea – to train 10 000 people before the next election in the skills necessary to use power locally. These are going to be the people who think through how to make welfare work; how to build private sector capacity; now to make the public sector a real engine of partnership. Above all they will help build confidence in communities to be players and not just spectators in the dramas of life.

Because if you think about it, this should be a time when the reformist left comes into its own. The realities of an interdependent world speak to the deepest traditions of progressive politics.

The rationale of the centre left is not just that we are forced to share; it is that by sharing we create and not divide.

This is a world of shared risk – from wage to avian flu to terrorism.

It is a world of shared identity – a growing global consciousness of what it means to be human. How else is one to explain how the self immolation of a fruit seller in Tunisia sparks a crisis of legitimacy around the Arab world.

And it is increasingly a world with increasing resources for shared action, involving government but not restricted to government. And that is what we were founded to create.

Because “together we achieve more than we can alone”.

Now we need to do it in new ways. And that should inspire us not depress us.

Because although the right have occupied the terrain of economic competence, it is far from clear that they have any answers to the fundamental question of how Europe is to pay its way in the world.

Though they have colonised the politics of community, they are fatally fractured between liberals and libertarians, hug a hoodie and hang em and flog em.

They have neutralised the left through compassionate conservatism, but they are fatally broken over the relationship between social concern and austerity. The Big Society is an admission of weakness not a sign of strength.

So there is a lot to fight for. And a lot worth fighting for. Because losing elections is not just one of those things. It is damaging for the people we represent, the countries we inhabit, and I would argue too for the world we share.

Above all, it is not inevitable. That is the real lesson of the last decade."

-David Miliband, 8 March 2011

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