Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott has refused to back Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer’s call for the Labour Party to be “open to supporting controls on EU freedom of movement laws as part of Brexit”.
In response to Starmer’s suggestion, Abbott said, “you cannot pluck figures out of thin air”.
What I find quite fascinating about arguments in favour of free movement put forward by Abbott and other mainly London-based Labour MPs is how similar their arguments sound to libertarian arguments in favour of open borders.
The American Libertarian Party supports free movement and states the following on its official website: “Economic freedom demands the unrestricted movement of human as well as financial capital across national borders. However, we support control over the entry into our country of foreign nationals who pose a credible threat to security, health or property.”
The Libertarian Party’s policy on free movement basically mirrors the Labour Party and the EU’s policy.
Not all libertarians support open borders. A great example is leading US economist and thinker Thomas Sowell who says: “Unity and patriotism are not luxuries. What are dangerous luxuries are the open borders that erode national solidarity”.
Sowell also warns of the dangers of Balkanisation, which can be an unintended consequence of unfettered mass immigration and open borders. He states “a nation is more than a collection of whatever population happens to reside within its borders. Something has to unite those people if the country is not to degenerate into the kind of unending internal strife brought on by Balkanisation in many countries around the world, not just in the Balkans”.
There are many Conservatives who support free markets in areas like trade and services, but oppose attempts to implement total free market philosophies on immigration policies. You cannot treat humans like commodities, and throughout the ages and in every continent on the planet you will find people who have an attachment to place, community, tradition, and culture.
Diane Abbott is right to warn about the potential consequences of ending free movement on NHS staffing levels. The Government must ensure that when devising its immigration policies post-Brexit, the issue of NHS staffing levels is a top priority.
We should also, of course, ensure that we are training British nurses and doctors and creating the type of NHS that British-trained staff would like to stay working in post qualification, as at present a large number simply depart to Commonwealth countries like Australia and New Zealand and cite poor working conditions and bad management as a leading factor for leaving.
Open borders actually make it far more difficult effectively to unionise staff and improve working conditions and standards, and pay for low wage earners in particular. You would expect Labour politicians to understand this.
Social conservatism was very much at the heart of the early Labour movement and this truth is what the Blue Labour movement understands, hence its emphasis on community and its respect for patriotism.
Abbott has talked of a migrant impact fund to help communities affected by mass immigration. However, If we have no idea how many people are entering the country, then how can we feasibly allocate the correct funds and resources – we cannot just pluck a figure out of thin air!
Excessive government central planning and bureaucracy and policies that are too illiberal are always counterproductive.
Devising a suitable immigration policy post-Brexit will be challenging. However, a nation that is not in control of its borders is not a nation state, and as the country voted for Brexit, it is imperative that the Government takes steps to control immigration.
Socialists often call libertarians selfish, and describe unregulated free markets as being immoral.
The irony is that on immigration, Diane Abbott is essentially in favour of an unregulated free market. She is very much a libertarian on immigration or indeed a neoliberal.
(Image: Garry Knight)