Tuesday, 10 January 2012


There's a 'debate' going on today over immigration and the effect on jobs for young people in Britain. I use the inverted commas because one side of the debate is being led by Migration Watch, a right wing group which is viscerally opposed to any immigration.

On the other side is a proper report based on, er, research, from the National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR) which demonstrates that the rise in the number of immigrants from eastern European - measured by NI Number registrations in local areas - did not correlate with levels of youth unemployment at all. In fact, the report demonstrates, youth unemployment has risen massively since 2008, while at the same time the number of eastern European migrants has fallen.

Immigration is is a huge issue which I have come across rather too often on the doorsteps in recent years and it is reassuring to see that my response to such queries from residents was broadly on the money, namely that immigration benefits our country and does not disadvantage young people here.

The issue of youth unemployment is far bigger than a few Estonians arriving at Heathrow. It reflects disaffectation, education issues and the wider recession. I am reassured that the changes to education the Lib Dems are powering through the coalition, such as the pupil premium and wider choices at 16, are moving us in the right direction.

After all, isn't the answer to provide people with a decent start in life and choices when they need it, especially at 16 and 18? It's so blindingly simple you wonder why no one has thought of it before...

[Note for anti-fees readers. Yep, so am I but if you had a Tory-only government now you would probably have unlimited fees and a real two-tier system in higher education. With the Lib Dems in government we now have a graduate tax in all but name, the fairest possible option and one which does not rely on the low paid and pensioners to pay for Degrees. We still want a free education but Labour opened Pandora's Box with the introduction of fees and we've done our best to make it fair. If a Labour government had been re-elected in 2010, do you seriously believe they would not have raised fees? Think again.]

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