Polly Pot needs a holiday – urgently

How else can one account for an article in today’s Grauniad in which Polly Toynbee starts out by castigating the Tories:

First remember those toxic Tory posters. “It’s not racist to want to control immigration” was, in true BNP style, plastered across areas with large ethnic minorities. Recall the Tory manifesto pledge to withdraw from the 1951 UN refugee convention and cap the number of refugees allowed in regardless of their plight.

Before going to argue that:

But the new skills advisory body should at least forbid importation of semi-skilled workers unless employers have done everything imaginable to recruit and train locally; even then they should pay a fee towards training.

She can try all she likes to dress up her arguments in low-grade economics and faux socialism but her argument comes down to one thing – limit immigration because Johnny Foreigner is coming here and taking all our [low-paid] jobs.

Funny, where have I heard that one before?

Axiom #9: Wages are set by the supply and demand for labour, so immigration drives down wages by increasing supply.

Establishment economists have this odd quirk: they teach all day that the price of any given commodity is determined by its supply and demand, and then they conveniently forget this when it comes to labour. Why? Because obviously the establishment wants labour to be as cheap as possible. It is in the interest of the average British worker to minimise the supply and maximise the demand for his labour. The BNP will not allow immigration to Britain and will implement the orderly repatriation of past immigrants.

British National Party – General Election Manifesto 2005

And, of course…

7 We demand that the State shall above all undertake to ensure that every citizen shall have the possibility of living decently and earning a livelihood. If it should not be possible to feed the whole population, then aliens (non-citizens) must be expelled from the Reich.

8 Any further immigration of non-Germans must be prevented. We demand that all non-Germans who have entered Germany since August 2, 1914, shall be compelled to leave the Reich immediately.

Nazi Party Manifesto – 1932/3

Ein Volk. Ein Reich. Eh, Polly?

Hat Tip: Tim Worstall – who makes much the same point if a little less stridently.

Update: Chris at Stumbling and Mumbling takes up Tim’s invitation to comment and nails down the lid on Polly’s arguments with style.

All in all, not a bad morning’s work.

Update: It seems both Owen Barder and New Economist think my throwaway ‘Ein Volk. Ein Reich.’ comment a little over the top and a tad on the harsh side.

In response to both I should note a couple of things. First I don’t particular consider Toynbee a racist nor I am really suggesting that with my comments. Aside from her economic illiteracy, which everyone cited here has noted, she has a marked tendency not to think through their comments fully, her article here being a case in point as it finds here lambasting the Tories for the thinly veiled prejudice of their pre-election stance on immigration and noting its similarities with BNP policy before going on to argue a case on economic migration straight out the BNP’s own manifesto – the extract from the Nazi Manifesto was simply to illustrate Tim’s point about putting the ‘National’ in ‘National Socialist’.

The other thing to note here is that the one thing I’m certainly not is an economist – I can work my way quite happily through the basics and can spot a fair bit of obvious economic stupidity – but otherwise I tend to let folks like Tim and Chris, who do really know their stuff, to that kind of thing.

What I am, however, by education is a psychologist (not practicing and not a therapist, I might note, so if you have problems then take ’em elsewhere) and I certainly do understand pretty well the value that a sudden shock to the sensibilities can have if applied with sufficient force.

I dare say Polly, in holding forth on immigration, probably had no idea how closely her thoughts mirror current BNP policy nor the economic policies of pre-war Nazi Germany. Who knows, with a bit of luck this, now, five way exchange may have filtered back to her and, with a bit of luck, the realisation that there are nasty undercurrents to her comments may prove a mildly chastening experience. It’s almost certainly too much to hope she might actually read this and think to herself ‘oooooh shit!’ but we can live in hope.

Now if only the econmonist can get her take a few basic classes in that subject then things will really be on the up.

  • Katherine

    Erm, thought you might want to know that where immigration is for the purposes of filling a job (rather than seeking asylum), employers already have to prove that they have attempted to recruit locally (i.e. within the UK) and have been unable to do so. Them’s the rules for ‘skilled’ jobs anyway.

  • Unity

    I know, but ‘attempted to recruit locally’ and ‘done everything imaginable to recruit and train locally’ are rather different ideas.

    Polly has crossed the line this time around in putting forward arguments which serve to legitimise the BNP’s position on immigration.

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  • Polly is certainly not a racist. I think all Polly was saying was we should ask ourselves; why when we have the people to fill these skilled vacancies are we letting them rot on the dole rather than training them? Why is our education and training failing to equip these people to fill these skilled vacancies we need filling?

    If companies had a responsibility to train workers themselves rather than poaching them from countries that can ill afford it, maybe they would pay better wages as well. The money that is being saved by paying low wages is not benefiting the poor of this country. To cite the BNP/Nazis etc in response to Polly’s argument is in poor taste and completely wrong.