Immigration Numbers

Politicians and Journalists are essentially actors on the same media stage who need each other and share many of the same characteristics.

The Primacy of Numbers

One of these is an inability to appreciate how numbers determine virtually everything.  Britain is a highly verbal, but innumerate society, a distinction which has become very marked in the last 30 years as a result of the hundreds of thousands of graduates of the wordy subjects[1] pouring out of the universities while the graduates of numerate subjects[2] have remained at about 50,000 per annum, more or less just replacing those who have retired from the Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) based occupations, or left to pursue other careers.


Nowhere has the dominance of the verbal over the numerate been more baleful than in the matters of immigration.  This field exhibits to the full Yeats’s famous verse[3]:

“Turning and Turning in the widening gyre[4]
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold,
More anarchy is loosed on the world;
The best lack all conviction while
The worst are full of passionate intensity.”

On immigration, politicians, journalists, innumerate academics and corporate bosses vie with each other in the media to impugn the government’s policy of reducing net immigration to less than 100,000 per year, calling in aid the supposed loss to the economy of “some of its most dynamic, innovative, and imaginative workers in the economy” causing “huge (sic) costs”.  This homily is by Vince Cable – the LibDem Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) in the present UK Coalition government, at a grand City dinner on March 6th, but it is typical of many views being expressed currently by City grandees.

A stone’s throw away, the Home Office repeatedly points out to Mr Cable and assorted business panjandrums that in 2012, there were only just over 12,000 applicants for 19,000 tier one business visas of exactly the type that business is supposedly so anxious to employ.

Foreign Students in UK Higher Education

The above numbers should be compared with 425,265[5] non-UK students out of 2.3 million students on degree courses in the UK, of which 1.7 million are full-time.  On top of these there are reported to be 598,925 students of UK High Education in overseas countries[5].

Not all of this colossal number of over a million will be in the STEM subjects that business will mainly want to recruit.  The overall proportion of these foreign students, from Asia particularly, who are the largest single category, study only STEM subjects.  So a conservative estimate of foreign students on UK STEM courses would be, say, 50% of the totals – 212,00 in the UK, 300,000 in their own countries[6].

So UK business, at home and abroad, has a colossal field of UK educated foreign students to recruit from, if it bestirred itself.  They don’t have to bring them or keep them in Britain apart from a tiny number, tens or twenties for working visits.  Vince Cable and Corporate bosses are evidently part of a group content to parrot fashionable nostrums about immigration without ever addressing themselves to the actual situation as shown by the 7,000 tier one unused work visas not even applied for in 2012/13[7].

In fact, as Macbeth declared theirs is “a tale full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”[8].

Immigration Realities

Meanwhile, the good people of England[9] cope with the reality of immigration as best they can, with well over two million foreigners entering their country to work and settle in the period 2002-11, taking in the process at least a million of the net new jobs created, while unemployment rose by one million[10].

Boston, previously a quiet Lincolnshire town of 50,000 people, has been overwhelmed in the last ten years or so by the arrival of 15,000 East European immigrants, mainly of child-bearing age – so that some schools have double the enrolments of ten years ago.  Mary Beard, Professor of Classics at Cambridge University, on BBC1’s Question Time on 17th January 2014, offered the thoughtful insight that Bolton was “coping”, without answering the obvious question as to why Bolton or any other English town should have to “cope” with a problem not of their making.

A contribution to coping would be if Mr Cable tried directing his favoured immigrant entrepreneurs to help the people of Boston, Peterborough, Slough, etc., etc. build new schools, health centres and maternity wards, giving real jobs to local people, not the City-based IT jobs which are what most foreign entrepreneurs seem to focus on.

The Basic Issue

At bottom the issue of immigration is a simple one.  As English people, born and bred in England, whose forebears built our land over 1400 years, defended it, and passed it on to us, do we wish to hand it to foreigners, however nice they may be individually?

Where do Poles, Latvians, etc. get their sense of entitlement to our country from?

The Role of Tony Blair and his government

Certainly they have had every encouragement from the government of Tony Blair (1997-2007) and the man himself.  When the eight East European States (A8) were admitted to the EU in 2004, the Blair government put no limits on A8 citizens’ freedom to move to Britain, as they were entitled to do for seven years under the accession agreement, whereas the other big countries, Germany, France and Italy and most of the other EU countries actually did impose limits.

As a direct and predictable consequence, the A8 citizens, freed of their communist economic shackles, headed for Britain in huge numbers, well over 1.5 millions[11].  So much have the Poles appreciated this particular manifestation of British foreign aid, that as shown on a recent Daily Telegraph video, Blair has received an award for allowing so many Poles to come to Britain.  In his pre-recorded acceptance speech, delivered to an audience at Warsaw’s National Opera House, Blair said, “As you know, Poland is a country I admire greatly”.

Many people reading this will think why didn’t Blair encourage all these “bright and energetic” young Poles to stay in the Poland he so admired and build it up.  Poles have plenty of space: 38 million people on 125,000 square miles of mainly plains, compared with England’s 53 million people on 50,000 square miles.  Why take space in a country which is now the most densely populated in the first World, exceeding both Japan and the Netherlands?


[1]  Including Media Studies, Psychology, Social Studies.

[2]  Including Engineering, Physical Sciences, Mathematics, Computer Science.

[3]  W B Yeats, “The Second Coming”.

[4]  Gyration.

[5]  According to HESA – Higher Education Statistics Agency.

[6]  Given that some UK Masters courses in STEM subjects are 100% Asian and Middle Eastern, 50% overall is very conservative.

[7]  Johnson Mathey, the international catalyst maker, for instance complained (2012) that it couldn’t bring “bright” Asian scientists to work at its laboratories near Cambridge and Reading.

[8] Act V, Scene 5, line 17.

[9]  England is where 95%+ of all immigrants go to.

[10]  National Statistical Office, 2002: Employed 27.9 million; unemployed 1.5 million.  In 2011: Employed 29.1 million; unemployed 2.5 million.

[11]  No precise numbers are known of course.  The immigration minister at the time “thought” that 13,000 would come!  If it had actually been 13,000, no-one would have minded.

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