Leeds, Hull

A hectic mixture of speaking engagements today.

First a hustings debate with candidates from other parties (Conservative, Lib Dem, Greens, and a no-show from UKIP) at Leeds Trinity University with their journalism students. They cast votes in a ballot box after the debate, and I was delighted to see the result: LAB 25, CON 6, LD 6, GR 9, UKIP 1. They’re obviously an intelligent and perceptive group! 🙂

Then to the University of Hull, recalling fond memories from when I did my PhD there, to speak to their politics students, who were already very knowledgeable about EU matters. We discussed not only the elections but other current developments in the EU. Hull has a long tradition of studying and analysing the EU, now taken forward inter alia by Dr Elizabeth Monaghan.

Finally to Hull West & Hessle CLP in the Octagon Centre, with Alan Johnson MP and their GC Chair and members, for a good discussion on campaign issues and organisation.

One of the issues mentioned was migration. Most migrants to Britain are from outside the EU, regulated by our national rules and not the EU’s. Within the EU there’s a balance, with as many Brits living in other European countries as there are people from other countries here. And whereas Brits abroad include a good number of pensioners making frequent use of the health service of other countries, most of the migrants to Britain are young adults, recently educated and trained at the expense of their own country’s taxpayers, coming here to work and to contribute to our economy.

In short, EU migrants in Britain pay far more in tax than they cost in benefits and services, while Brits abroad benefit hugely from their right to settle anywhere in the EU. So it’s clear that Britain gets a better economic deal out of EU migration. Where there are problems, they are largely in our own hands to solve: for instance, requiring vacancies to be advertised locally, or cracking down on unscrupulous employers who take advantage of migrants to pay them less than the minimum wage, force them into tied housing arrangements, and ignore safety regulations — which not only exploits the migrants, but also undermines British workers through unfair competition. Some European legislation could be revised too — as is currently underway with the Posting of Workers Directive.

For further reading, South West region TUC has produced an excellent piece on migration myths.

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