19 January, 2011


The Dispossessed

No, not the Ursula LeGuin political novel, but the Een Stannat's campaign to relieve deprivation in London, the latest episode of which introduces us to the "bin men of Southall". These men are not collecting Southall's rubbish, they are sleeping among it, specifically in the bin rooms of the Havelock.

The description of these blokes sliding down the rubbish chute into their hidey-hole comes across as a bit on the melodramatic side. I find myself wondering, did intrepid Standard hack David Cohen wait for the caretaker to let him out the following morning or did he clamber back up the chute in order to move on to his next visit, the underbridge sleepers of Heston Bridge.

Well, OK, I'm not going to argue the toss about that; let's accept the basic story as true enough. And I wish these men no personal ill will. I have occasionally found myself dossing down in some well dodgy impromptu gaffs in my younger days, but I'm glad to say I never quite reached the stage of sleeping on the streets and certainly not such salubrious accommodations as described here; I certainly don't envy them their plight. And it is commendable that the local gurdwara is feeding these men and is able to provide some daytime support.

But let's have a look at who these people are and how they got into their situation. By and large they have been staying and working here illegally as visa cheats or overstayers. As such they will mostly have been working in the informal illegal-immigrant economy, which not only means they will have contributed nothing in the way of tax and national insurance, but also that they will have been royally screwed by their employers, paid well below the statutory minimum and without benefit of health and safety or other protections. What little surplus they have managed to accumulate will mostly have been returned to the Subcontinent in the form of remittances. They have contributed nothing to the country, other perhaps than to the profits of those businessmen in the legitimately-settled Indian-heritage community of Southall who have exploited them. And now they are surplus to requirements, their exploiters have cast them out.

Angry reader Jayke, in the comments, as well as chiding us with a fatuously irrelevant "nation of immigrants" trope, offers a gratuitous and rather offensive allusion to Swift's Modest Proposal. Well I have a modest proposal. The less scrupulous Indian businessmen of Southall, having willingly and cynically benefited from these people's desperation as well as cheating society at large, and indeed those not directly involved who have nevertheless given tacit approval to these practices, should now a) fund immediate humanitarian aid for these people, and b) fund their return to India as soon as practicable. Perhaps these men can fulfill a useful purpose on their return by making it clear to their compatriots that the streets of London are not in reality paved with gold.

Rant ends.

According to a report in the 'Mail' today, two-thirds of legitimate, above-board jobs are similarly filled by EU nationals that we cannot stop from coming in.

So it's no wonder we have an unemployment problem, isn't it?

I don't understand how two thirds of new jobs can be going to immigrants.

The population of this country is 61 million approx. New jobs must be being created all over the country, including areas where there are few East Europeans.

Are they getting all the new admin jobs or other positions that require good english or skills they do not have?

I am not an economist but these stats are fishy.



Interesting point, RB.

It depends what the ONS is measuring, which is not made clear. Perhaps jobs advertised through the Job Centre system? Or input submitted to HMRC relating to PAYE/NI changes. It presumably excludes internal job moves such as promotions. Some of the latter do, in my experience, include East Europeans, who are doing very well.

Might be worth digging out the ONS source.

We are also looking at a 3-month period. Over a whole year you can project (crudely) 400,000 Brits and 800,000 foreigners getting jobs. That number looks more convincing.

Still, even if we are looking at entry level posts, it's still a worrying disparity.

The Standard article admits, sheepishly, that these men are essentially all illegal immigrants. However it also seems that the Standard's version of the 'Big Society' is one that includes illegals,even when they are no longer doing 'the jobs the natives refuse'.

This rather brazen take by the ES on 'open borders' is perhaps a relection of London's demography- there are so many 'illegals' in our midst that the ES sees mileage in always portraying them sympathetically. It is also worth pointing out that these illegals, as Indian citizens, may well have been on the electoral register at the addresses they lived at when they were working. Their former landlords, should they avail themselves of their rights to postal voting, could therefore be sitting on a small pile of potential votes in the next election.

@ RB

The population of this country is 61 million approx

Officially. I'd say the real figure is past 65 mil.

@Anon 12:36
New jobs must be being created all over the country, including areas where there are few East Europeans.

Where are these mythical places ?

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