Monday, 13 September 2010

What is going on with Boris Johnson?

Boris Johnson seems to have become the voice of reason in the Tory Party. I can’t really believe I have just written those words but I keep seeing him coming out against the Tory Government saying things that I actually agree with!

A couple of weeks ago we welcomed Boris to the There is a Better Way campaign when he came out against Tory plans to curb the deficit by cutting deeply into public spending and instead held up Ed Ball’s approach as the more sensible way forward.

Boris even came out against bankers bonuses calling it a ‘combustible contrast’ if public sector workers lose their jobs while witnessing ‘the spectacle of the banks doling out hundreds of millions of pounds in Christmas bonuses to the very people who, collectively if not individually, were responsible for the financial crisis.’ Wise words indeed from an unlikely ally.

And last week Boris came out again against his own party this time in relation to the cap on immigration. Boris correctly states that this cap is ‘likely to have a significant negative and disproportionate impact on London and put the economic recovery at risk by creating skills gaps and placing London at a competitive disadvantage in the global competition for talent and inward investment.’

Again we find ourselves in agreement but we believe the negative consequences of this policy are not just limited to London.

Scotland depends on highly skilled migrant workers coming from outside the EU and needs people to move and settle here, bringing skills and expertise that adds to that of the domestic labour force.

The cap on migration causes issues for businesses operating in sectors where there are skills shortages, and places pressure on our public services, particularly the NHS where migrant workers are playing a particularly valuable role. It also places enormous strain on our universities which will not be able to maintain the current number of lecturers coming from outside the EU, never mind access visas for the new talent they wish to attract.

A cap on migration will affect our competitiveness at a global level and puts at risk inward investment from companies wanting to relocate to the UK. It may also increase the likelihood that some businesses will leave the UK, which is certainly to the detriment of British workers.

Boris Johnson recognises these things which is why he has come out against his party’s policy.

The Government, however, don’t want to see the risk they are taking. Instead they are blinded by ideology and a rhetoric that says immigration is a bad thing and refuses to see the contribution that migrant workers make to this country.

The cap on migration is just another example of how the Tory Government will hold firm to a policy regardless of whether it works and even when there is a united opposition against it.

But all we can do is try to make them see sense, even if it means agreeing with Boris.

Helen Martin – STUC

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