Reports of the death of Blue Labour have been greatly exaggerated – its spirit lives on in Labour’s new approach to EU migration. With the transitional controls on those from Bulgaria and Romania ending in December 2013 – which was already the maximum timeframe under EU rules – Yvette Cooper has said Labour supports extending the ban. Why? It’s a handy way of ‘reconnecting’ with your core constituency ahead of the European Elections. Think Gillian Duffy.
Hysteria is already rife in the British press regarding an impending influx. Hilariously, The Daily Mail shrieked ‘30m Bulgarians and Romanians are set to gain unrestricted access to UK as EU regulations are lifted’, a remarkable figure when one considers that the total population of those two countries is actually less than that. Likewise, The Sun helpfully provided a Dad’s Army style map to inform its readers of another continental invasion.
Too often, migrants are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. If they are in work, they distort the labour market and steal ‘British’ jobs. If they aren’t in work, they leech off the state. So when debating such matters, it is time we searched for facts rather than populism. As a recent Open Europe report concluded,
“…the evidence overwhelmingly suggests that the UK’s new migrants from Eastern European countries have come to the UK in search of work rather than to take advantage of the UK’s welfare system.”
Freedom of movement is at the cornerstone of the EU. Last year, Maurice Glasman, the intellectual guru of Blue Labour, made his feelings known about Eastern European workers coming to the UK,
“I think we should have a treaty change to stop it. Renegotiating treaties. Going back to the roots of the EU protection of workers and land.”
However, to quote the aforementioned Open Europe report,
“In truth, trying to opt out of free movement is essentially the same as trying to leave the EU.”
Labour have to decide whether they support our continuing membership of the EU or allow Blue Labour Euroscepticism on migration to seize the day. They can’t have both.Tags: Blue Labour, Maurice Glasman, Yvette Cooper