British industry

The head of the Confederation of British Industry calls on the government to be honest with the public about the vast labour shortages the country faces, noting that immigration would help solve the problem.

Good luck with that one. Today, the Facebook algorithm thought I might be interested in a group which was basically the Enoch Powell Appreciation Society. Before dismissing the recommendation, I had a good gander to see what is exercising the chattering classes this afternoon.

Yep, immigration. “We should take a leaf out of Australia’s book,” griped one moaner. I started to compose a response, pointing out that Australia has been a nation of immigrants ever since the first European migrants arrived in 1788. But since I knew I was engaging with white supremacists, I decided to leave them to it.

Brits don’t like to be reminded that 5.5 million of us live overseas — about 3 million more than the UK’s entire Muslim population. We don’t like to hear that there are 1.3 million Brits in Australia. The number of Brits in each of USA, Canada and Spain is heading towards a million. There are hundreds of thousands of Brits living abroad throughout Asia and Europe.

My neighbour’s son emigrated to Australia. A whole branch of my family emigrated to Canada generations ago. It’s the way of the world. Well, it’s the way of the world for everyone except proud patriots with their daft ethnocentric hierarchies. Actually the number of Brits living abroad is similar to the number of non-Brits living in the UK.

But these aren’t popular truths, so Britain will just have to ride out this storm of diminished productivity, labour shortages and rising prices. The right-wing demagogues are quite keen on this phase anyway, for in their playbook, apocalypse is the harbinger of their own special utopia. They need a crash to remake society in their image.

British industry hopes for a more intelligent solution to the problems of our time, however. But alas, that is one that demands serious engagement with reality. That may be a task too great for any government fighting for its survival.

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