From Patriotic Alternative.
The money printed to pay for shutting down the economy for eighteen months, ensuring households didn’t starve and businesses didn’t keel over, has caused the worst inflation for a generation. And then, as if our circumstances were a comedy sketch, the government printed even more money to pay our unaffordable energy bills, for the simple reason they decided to back Ukraine in a war against Russia. Printing money to solve inflation is rather absurd of course, with both situations caused by intervening in things we shouldn’t have thought twice about.
One positive of all this though is that Britain has been exposed as the economic basket case that it really is. The greatest example of this is Lord Wolfson’s recent comments regarding mass immigration. As the Chief Executive of Next, and a prominent Brexiteer, he claims that foreign cheap labour is needed to help with alleged shortages. Yet the truth, as even a little digging reveals, is that people like him have not been paying their workers a fair wage for 25 years. Despite receiving a 28% increase in his pay packet last year, his company was recently advertising for warehouse workers on minimum wage (£9.50 an hour), which is below the estimated living wage rate (£10.90 an hour). He has repeatedly criticised the idea of a living wage, which is one of the few Labour Party ideas that actually makes any sense.
Lord Wolfson is a good case study in how business leaders in Britain think. They want low taxes, cheap labour and record profits, and if British workers don’t like it then they are replaced with foreigners. Another good example is Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, who has ‘generously’ decided to give away his billions to climate change causes, whilst his own workers aren’t even allowed to go to the toilet during their shift. As long as the door remains open to mass foreign labour, there is no job security for British people in their own country. And what’s more, the government’s refusal to implement a living wage means that taxpayers have to foot the bill for in-work benefits like tax credits, which top up wages to get people over the red line.
Analysing the figures
The assertion that there are labour shortages is sort of true but also taken out of context. For example, as the graph above shows, there are 5.3 million people of working age currently unemployed on benefits. This claim is used by immigration advocates to push for more foreign workers, because they think British workers are not interested in doing the available jobs. Yet even a casual glance at the graph shows that around 1.8 million – around a third – of those out of work are on Incapacity Benefit. In other words, a third of those of working age who aren’t working can’t work because they’re disabled. The inclusion of Jobseekers Allowance in the data is also misleading, because only those seeking work can qualify for that benefit, so the idea these people are sitting at home refusing to stack shelves or whatever is false. And then finally, you’ll notice that the uptake in Universal Credit occurs at the exact time when the economy was shutdown because of lockdown – which was the government’s fault.
And so now the popular assertion of ‘5 million lazy Brits’ that won’t do the jobs immigrants do doesn’t sound so true – in fact its completely false. Obviously with the economy shaken by three consecutive lockdowns and people’s lives turned upside down, it will take time for people to get back into a normal routine, especially that we are now in recession. The narrative of lazy Brits and heroic, innovative immigrants is wrong and deliberately misleading. Maybe if British workers didn’t have to compete with foreign labour, were guaranteed a living wage, and were not demonised by the prevailing culture then perhaps they would be more enthusiastic about getting back to work quicker.
It’s also important to remember that 41% of Muslims in Britain are economically inactive, compared to just 21% of White Brits. The assertion, especially pushed by David Cameron’s ‘Broken Britain’ narrative in the 2000s, was that many working class people just sat at home on benefits whilst their aspirational immigrant neighbours got up early for work. Apart from an extreme minority, this was misleading as the majority of working class people of working age were employed. Indeed, British workers actually work longer hours than those in the rest of Europe, and their wages have been going down in real terms as well. (As a result despite working record hours, NHS Nurses have seen a 32% drop in their income in 10 years, with the government recently offering a 1% pay rise).
Wages are being depressed by foreign labour, the government then foots the bill for this by paying in-work benefits to get people over the red line, which in turn causes the government to borrow even more money and sinks us further into debt. This of course forces politicians to raise taxes again which makes people even poorer. It’s a ridiculous spiral of stupidity and one that is entirely preventable, a situation of course which has been exasperated by Covid bailouts and fuel allowances caused by the war in Ukraine. The simple solution is to force employers to pay a living wage which would negate the need for most in-work benefits. Why not push some of those record profits into employees’ pay packets rather than bonuses for the Executives? There is no objective reason not to. However the libertarian ideology in the halls of power will never allow this, because all politicians bend the knee to big business and their religion – cheap foreign labour.
Originally published at Patriotic Alternative on November 30, 2022.