Usually I have a lot of time for the Joseph Rowntree reports, although I am a little nervous about drawing the sweeping conclusions that they have made in today's report about immigration. Although advertised as a survey of 600 individuals, in fact the attrition rate took the continuing survey down to only just over 100 individuals, and I think that the sample size is too small to really judge too much about whether Eastern European immigrants actually intend to stay long term or not. I am not too worried should it be the case that about a quarter do see a longer term future- these are those who are integrating and providing substantial skills. Meanwhile, it is interesting to see that British strawberry farmers are now very nervous that they will not get enough Central and Eastern Europeans to come for the harvest this year.
I am sure that the usual suspects will come out with tirades about immigration- not differentiating those who come to the UK under the free movement of labour guaranteed by our membership of the EU and those who come from elsewhere illegally. Immigration is controlled in this country, but Europe has a big number of people. Nevertheless the emigration from Britain to Spain alone is nearly twice as large as the immigration from CEE to the UK.
The news from Spain over the weekend is that in the local elections in Valencia parties set up by British ex-pats managed to out-poll the two largest national Spanish parties- the Popular Party and the Socialists. I wonder what the British response would be if the same thing happened here?
We hear a lot from Migration watch about immigration- not too much about emigration, and it would be good to place things into a genuine context.