22/06/2012 Newsnight


Stories behind the headlines. Labour want to lower the number of foreigners a company employs. Practical policy or just noise? Plus, there is another Euro summit. With Gavin Esler.

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The Labour Government got it wrong on immigration. The party's leader


Ed Miliband admits they did not recognise the cost to society. His


solution? Companies to report if more than a quarter of their


workers are from overseas. We return to Crewe to find out how


that has gone down. They knew a long time ago they were wrong. That


was before the Conservatives came into power. We debate whether any


party is being straight with voters about immigration.


In Warsaw the German Chancellor reacts to Greece leaving the euro,


Surrey leaving Euro 2012. In Rome that there is another big


sounding promise of action. Just how long can this game go on? We


ask if we can keep on waiting for another solution just around the


corner. Good evening. For politicians of


the main parties the immigration debate has rarely been a


comfortable one. When voters raise something they still passionately


about, as happened to Gordon Brown, they can be dismissed as bigoted.


When political leaders promise a brake on immigration, employers'


organisations start fuming about the loss of reliable, foreign


workers. His Ed Miliband's confession of past Labour mistakes


the beginning of a new policy or an attempt to defuse the issue? Tim


Whewell reports from Key Crewe, where in 2006 he fell hunt for


Newsnight on the social tensions. Where he made a film for Newsnight.


He is a place that sums up how recent migration has changed the


face of Britain, a place most people speed through, but where,


eight years ago, thousands of Polish people suddenly and totally


unexpectedly got off. The demography of a medium-sized


town that had seen little previous immigration was transformed.


According to the local council, at least 3000 Polish people have a


right in this one town alone, immediately making up over 6% of


the population. Families like the Roberts were not hostile to the


incomers, but they were remarkably prescient. It feels like a foreign


country sometimes. If this continues, the bubble will burst


and jobs will become scarcer. What happens then? What happens to where


you have got British lads working alongside immigrant labour? Who


gets the sack? The arrival of the migrants, following the Eastern


expansion of the European Union, came as a complete surprise to the


then Labour Government. It predicted net immigration from the


new EU states would be between 50131000 a year. Some mistake. In


fact, 576,000 arrived over the following seven years, peaking at


112,000 in 2007 alone. Today, the present Labour leader, Ed Miliband,


kind dog apologised. We too easily assumed that those who were


worrying about immigration were stacked in the past, and realistic


about how things could be different, even prejudiced. But Britain was


experiencing the largest peacetime migration in history. People's


concerns were genuine. For much of the last decade there was something


missing between what people were talking about and what politicians


were prepared to talk about at Westminster. The impact of European


migration was not acknowledged and many felt that showed the elitism


of the political class. They were not concerned about the problem


because it did not affect them. But schools and other services came


under unexpected strain and inevitably, as very few politicians


noticed at the time, wages were driven down. Now that process is


continuing as early migrants become more settled and new ones arrive


from further afield. Brian Roberts has worked in the building industry


for 45 years. I just spoke about an instance today with a colleague of


mine who said a gang of Romanians weather gang master paid exactly


half of what he was getting paid. That wage which they were taking


home was well below the basic minimum wage. It was recruitment


agencies that fuelled migration to Crewe. For a while this one had a


branch in Poland and was single- handedly responsible for attracting


many of the new workers. Our name was being published in the


equivalent of almost the Daily Times in Poland, not to our


knowledge. Suddenly, we were getting 400 e-mails a week.


firm, which has since changed hands, has always paid the minimum wage or


above. Labour now wants a new regulation to ensure recruitment


agencies do not exclude British workers. But they say they never


did, they just do not get enough local applications. The reason


Labour did not talk much about European migration is not just


because of blindness or political correctness, it is because there


are no easy solutions. Most EU citizens have a right to work here


and as recruitment agencies will tell you they are often more polite


and more punctual than local job- seekers and more willing to do jobs


that locals often will not take on. Filling the local skills gap in the


electrical trade is one way to create a more level playing field


in employment. More apprentices like this are being trained, but


they still face competition from incomers. They are willing to work


for a lot less, people from other countries. Do you see that? You see


it from time to time on site. like many similar places up and


down Britain, is now more mixed ethnically than ever before. Most


locals accept that, but they wish they had had more warning.


He is this really a complete change of heart from Labour? I have been


speaking to Labour's Shadow Communities Secretary Hilary Benn.


To be clear, this is the Labour Party saying there are too many


immigrants in this country? No, it is not that. What Ed Miliband said


is that in relation to the accession States we got it wrong in


not putting in place transitional controls. Looking back on it, we


should have done and had we done so, fewer people would have come from


those countries. So there are not too many immigrants in this


country? You got it wrong about the numbers, but there are not too


many? This is all about innuendo? could not disagree with you more.


This is about recognising the benefits and the consequences and


understanding when people see communities that changing very fast,


they feel uncomfortable. It does not mean they are bigots. It is


also about looking at the way in which the economy works. There is


also evidence this immigration has had an impact on wage rates. Some


recruitment agencies say they only recruit people from certain Eastern


European countries and that cannot be right. It is also looking about


the skills that people in this country have so they also can


participate in the labour market. You are accepting there is a


cultural issue. A parent can say in leaves, my local school, more than


half the children do not speak English as a first language and I


am worried about that. To say that is not bigoted? I do not sign


constituents saying that. They talk about housing and jobs. In some


parts of the country they talk about the pace at which their


community has changed. It is right we should be debating it and


looking at practical solutions, for example whether people are from the


UK or if they come from abroad they get at minimum wage. Looking at the


work of the gang masters' Licensing Authority which we set up in the


way of that tragedy in Morecambe. If your proposals go through, if a


work force contains more than one in four emigrants, the Jobcentres


should get involved. That would apply to a lot of hospital wards,


wouldn't it? Let's be clear, the country has gained a lot from


immigration. In Leeds many people have come from all over the world.


Can you say is there any upper limit to the number of immigrants


who should be allowed into this country because of the social


strains and consequences you have talked about? We have said we will


look at the question of caps, but you have got to be straight about


Eastern European migration because there is no control over that. That


is why we said clearly, we should have put those controls in place.


The problem with the Government's cap is it only applies to a very


small proportion of migration. We did put in place the points based


system which allows people to coming weather is a skills shortage


and that is sensible and the Government has carried on with it.


What about non EU immigration which some people feel is culturally more


difficult to assimilate and that is not a matter that you have


discussed? With respect the points based system applies to non e


migration and that is something we thought it was right we should be


looking at what the skill needs are and if there is a shortage and if


it is important for the economy, you can allow people in, but you


should be able to control immigration at immigration control.


The Government has continued with that because it was the right thing


to do. Deborah Mattinson runs the Opinion Research Company Britain


Thinks and Ian Birrell was a speechwriter for David Cameron in


the 2010 campaign, but thinks they are getting it wrong on immigration.


First of all, do you see this announcement by Ed Miliband as him


saying, actually, we have got a political problem and it is a vote


user for Labour? I think he is, yes. Basically, the situation Labour


finds itself in his we have seen a lot of disillusionment with the


Government, but people not yet rushing towards Labour. They are


not yet ready. Labour does not have the licence to be heard yet and it


will not have that until it really accepts responsibility for some of


the things people think it got wrong the last time and immigration


is one of them. When you did focus groups through the last Government,


does it come up a lot? Yes, and we saw a real change as well. In 1999,


fewer than 5% said immigration was one of the top problems facing the


country. It is now a number two only to the economy. People are


really, really worried about it. you think there is actually among


the main parties a bit of a political consensus about this?


They head like his immigration spiralling out of control and


something must be done and there is a fundamental agreement? All the


parties have accepted this is an issue that needs to be addressed.


But I thought the speech day was disingenuous drivel. All the


parties are coming out with the same rhetoric and promises, but it


is down to economics and there is very little they can do. What Ed


Miliband should have done is apologise because they are not


telling the truth about immigration. Immigration benefits our public


services because immigrants are more likely to pay taxes, it helps


our pension crisis, and it is good for the British economy. That is


not what they are saying and that is why the public is in such a mess


on theirs. Politicians have not stood up and said, immigration is


beneficial for us, we need it and there is not much we can do about


it. People think politicians have not been straight because they have


not allowed a debate. It is not that they are not making the right


noises, they are not talking about it at all. The discussion has


closed down. If you raise it, you are regarded as a bigot. This it


that or is it that there is no easy solution as you suggest?


endlessly here there is no debate. We hear is when people are debating


it. We had Margaret Hodge talk about the pressure on social


housing which led the BNP to power in her local area. We have had


Gordon Brown and David Blunkett raised it. There is nothing we can


do about it because it is economics and it is good for the country.


That is a message a lot of people are not prepared to listen to.


People see it as a problem. have to start with where people are.


There are a lot of good points to make about immigration, economic,


but if you do not start where people are, they are not going to


listen or be persuaded. What Ed Miliband has done today, quite


successfully, is to say, I understand how you feel. I


understand the problems. He has also talked about the benefits in


It's rubbish. We will have this early warning system when we get


recruitment company which gets up to 20%. When I saw Hilary Benn


being asked what he would do about it, he had no answer. It's figure


leaf solutions. They should say out loud and proud that immigration is


very good for the country. That we need. It it helps our public


services. One of the things that he said, let's be honest, let's not


overpromise. If leading politicians made that argument, what would


happen? People would close down. They wouldn't listen to it. What


they are saying, at the moment, people feel that it causes more


problems than it offers solutions. Unless you start were they are, at


the problem end of things, you are not going to be able to persuade


people of the solutions. We never hear anything... All we hear from


politicians are the problems, never the solutions. That is not true.


The politicians failed it give leadership on this issue what so


ever. That is why the public has myths and misconceptions because of


the appalling political leadership in all parties. Do you accept there,


is as I tried to explore with Hilary Benn, a cultural issue.


People see their communities changing it causes fear and concern.


It's legitimate? There are concerns and issues. It's wrong for


politicians to come out with this shallow rhetoric that we hear today.


Yes, there is a plus side to it. It is good for our schools. A study


came out if there is Polish kids in schools, schools do better. Not bad


for housing. 25% of the population think if you weren't born in this


country you shouldn't be educated by the state. That is were people's


views are at the moment. That is the way politicians have been


handling this. That is because of the lack of leadership. It make it


is far worse. What he said carefully today is, let's not over


promise. He was critical of what David Cameron has said because it's


not deliverable. We will leave it there. Here's another one of those


notorious BBC repeats. Everyone is terrified by the euro crisis. The


top leaders in Europe get together and decide something must be done


to save the euro. They announce something big, but a few days later


people decide it wasn't that big after all. Everyone returns to


being terrified. Today's big sounding announcement was another


�100 billion for investment in growth. Will it make any


difference? Here is Paul mason. Confidence in Europe is burning.


Time is running out. Men the -- when the IMF says you are facing a,


"Critical stage" you had better believe. Christine Lagarde laid


down a challenge to the way Europe and, above all, Germany has faced


the crisis. She called for immediate concrete steps to form a


banking union. For the ECB to begin printing money. An end to


austerity-driven bail outs and the direct bail out of the Spanish


banks from money from the ESM. In Rome today, at the pre-meeting of


the eurozone's four big economies they decided to do none of the


above. TRANSLATION: I think that in


European politics and culture a new awareness has grown up that growth


can be based only on budgetary discipline, but that budgetary


discipline is not sustainable economically and politically if


there are no possible conditions for growth and employment. Against


the rumble of protests across Europe today, the leaders are


proposing a stimulus package worth 130 billion euros. It sounds a lot.


It's worth 1% of the eurozone's GDP. The political pressure now is on


Angela Merkel, asked to release central bail out funds to help


Spain she said simply this. TRANSLATION: If I simply gave money


to a Spanish bank or other bank I can't say what that bank should


change because I'm not responsible, I'm the German Chancellor. I can


only say that to my banks. That is the problem I vfplt it's not that I


do not want to help, but we set up them under such conditions. That is


how we will condition. There is a German word for all that, it is


nien. Paul is with me now. How long have they got? Well, month Monti,


the Prime Minister of Italy said today, a week to save the euro. He


is not normally given to high peshly. That is probably right. We


started this week in Mexico at the G20. What happened? The Germans


gave a positive signal about two things that everybody knows we need


to do. Europe needs to get a decision on. One is banking union.


The idea of various steps, whether it is guaranteeing everybody's


deposits or pan-European regulation. They have said, they have flagged


up very strongly, there will be a deal on that at the end of next


week at the summit in Brussels. The thing the Germans have been


resisting on, that is using the bail out fund of Europe, to pump


money into Europe's banks direct. Merkel had up to now said, no, in


Mexico on Monday she said it was possible. The whole of the


broadsheet press of the world took that as a signal that, by now, by


Friday, in Rome, the scheduled pre- summit we might be hearing some


kind of maybe. Instead, as you saw in my package she said, no, we are


not going to do it. Now, you can only watch history unfold like a


car crash with four drivers, as we have done, and conclude there will


be an impact unless they steer away from the problem by next Friday.


Well, OK. We are joined now by the Financial Times' Gillian Tett,


Maria Margaronis of The Nation and Dr Imke Henkel of Germany's Focus


Magazine. Economics first. Does this pre-summit summit get us


anywhere at all? We are back to were we where before. Frustration


and disappointment in the markets and amongst other world leaders. As


Paul says, in Mexico last week there was a feeling there would be


a breakthrough. Certainly the Americans have been pushing very,


very hard. There were rumours about a five-part plan doing the rounds


growth pact, the hopes have been dashed. What we are seeing is that


Angela Merkel is caught between a rock and a hard place right now.


She is under intense pressure from the markets and international


leaders to do something. The political opposition inside Germany


itself to bailing out other parts of the eurozone is rising too.


that fair. If she is blinking, she is blinking in such a way that


people can't really notice it, she is not moving it at all?


description is very fair. It is interesting, it is not just the


opposition that we used to have that we don't want to pay for it.


Which she should have started arguing against far earlier because


Germany profited hugely from the euro. She should have brought it in


a way to pay it back. There is another position growing this is


the fear that is what going to further and further integration


will be undemocratic beast. That is quite interesting. The German


Parliament will vote end of next week on the fiscal compact. They


will pass it. That won't ab problem. The President won't sign it because


they are now looming quite a few calls in the constitution court


that might bring it down or at least will change it. As the Greeks


watch this, also watch the football tonight, perhaps, with the same


kind of feeling, you must feel that the politics of this, never mind


the economics, is not going your way at all? No, I think the


question is people are asking, is how long will European policy be


held hostage by German domestic politics. It feels clear the


blockage is in Germany. Maybe for forever. Given that rock and the


hard place argument Mrs Merkel may not move at all? She may not. If


you look further down-the-line, we either have dissenter gracious of


the eurozone or greater political union, givenlet gap between the


northern and southern countries, which is worse than it was two


years ago, how is it going to happen Is the big solution is so


elusive, there is no big solution. It's politically impossible. These


are nation states remaining nation states and this rhetoric we need


more Europe is simply that. Fear is gluing them together. The political


elite know if the project falls apart it will be very nasty indeed


if Greece leaves the eurozone. You could say the European Union was


driven by fear of committing the sins of World War II. A project was


designed to heal those wounds. Tragically a project designed to


heal the wounds of World War II is re-opening them. Look at all the


rhetoric coming out of Germany and Greece right now. A project that is


glued together by fear, without any positive vision for the future,


it's debilitating. Nobody today in the eurozone doing what you hear


from a place like America saying, this is the American dream. What is


the European dream today? What is the positive image the voters can


cling to. Mrs Merkel will say, it's more Europe. What do Germans think


of that? For Germany it's connected to what was said 20 to 30 years ago,


more democracy. What Merkel is saying is more Europe is in fact


quite contrary. It will be less democracy. It will be... Or some


people... It's aiming towards an entity that will have augtisim to


rule over national budget that will take away sovereignty from national


budgets. It will, in the end, have far less democracy and far less


rights for the European citizens. The implications of that,


presumably if you are sitting in Greece and worried about where the


next pay cheque is coming from, is more German control. Where the


nationalism comes in More German control and much less democracy.


Gillan talks about the wounds of World War II opening up. We have


real ghosts for this party called Golden Dawn, beating migrants on


the streets and working hand in hand in Athens with the police and


is very frightening indeed. Do you think your country is a democracy?


No, I don't. Not at this point. The economic programme imposed on


Greece was not designed. They are not choosen. The last election was


fought on the grounds of fear. Two German newspapers published Greek


editorials in Greeks telling Greeks which way to vote as if they were


dropping leaflets on an occupied city. I'm sure that went down


really well. I wonder if they know what they are doing. We learnt


after Lehman Brothers collapsed that extraordinarily unexpected


things can happen in financial and economic terms. What we are


learning right now in Europe is that something extraordinarily


unexpected things can happen in political terms too. Who would have


imagined, think back a year or two years ago, just as we find it


impossible to imagine a big bank collapsing, who would imagine that


this think you are hearing about in Greece and Germany could have


happened. It's extraordinary. Just how much further can it go?


other terror in Germany, apart from not having a sound currency, it


produces political extremism in Germany itself? In Germany itself


as well. Political extremism isn't a big danger in Germany. We have


other parties who are more funny than extreme. I wonder, I say you


are quite right in asking that, does Merkel, do they know what is


going on in Greece? Do they really feel that they might be responsible


for the Greek right and -- right emerging and becoming more popular.


We watched the football tonight when we were trying to do work.


When you see Angela Merkel celebrating, as is her right, she


is a German Chancellor, supporting a German team. Do you think that


gets, that in itself strikes a serious raw nerve as well in


Greece? I don't think it's so much Angela Merkel celebrating. People


in Greece feel so ground down. So exClarence Housed at this point


that the football has a symbolic meaning. I was in Athens last week


when Greece beat Russia. There was this moment of, kind of, a day


before the election. Somebody sitting next to me in a cafe said,


"If we win the party will win tomorrow" of course they didn't. It


will be depressing for the Greeks. Paul, your sense of this. Listening


to what Mario Monti had to say and the politicians getting it in the


neck now. Is this when economic unrest is spreading into a wider


political discontent? What Maria Margaronis said there, I spent the


last two weeks in Spain and Greece, you are right there is a tangible


fear of being beaten up and the police standing back and doing


nothing. The Greeks voted for parties that were Europeanists.


Even the left party, Europeanists. If the Europeans abandon them, what


an example to Spain, which is next up. We will have to leave it there.


In a minute Kirstie will be presenting the Review Show from


Glasgow. What do we have? Tonight, it's move over Malcolm Tucker the


Veet is coming through. Julie Walters as a hippie trippy old in


Labour want to lower the number of foreigners a company can employ. Practical policy or just noise? And another day, another Euro summit. With Gavin Esler.

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