Frank Field and Nicholas Soames - in a sort of unfunny political version of Laurel and Hardy - have told us that the way to end unemployment is to stop immigration. Or rather, as is often the case with these observations, they've left the ordinary bloke to draw that conclusion from what they say:
“[An] area that needs to be considered is whether EU members should have powers, during periods of high unemployment, to restrict the free movement of labour, at present guaranteed in EU law,” the MPs say.
Note the essential conceit here. We joined a union - a common market - that allowed for free movement. It means British workers can ply their trade in Rome and Berlin and that we can retire to the warmth and comfort of a Costa del Sol apartment. It also means that Italians and Spaniards, Slovaks and Romanians can come here. That's the deal.
And it's a deal that we benefit from - as Ms Raccoon reminds us:
They clean the toilets at Stanstead airport. They queue for mini-buses in the grim early morning British weather for the chance to pull carrots out of the East Anglian soil. They stand for hours gutting bloody chickens in Herefordshire warehouses. They collect together in windswept sidings in Swindon, anxious to be one of the chosen few given the chance to throw the occasional bucket of water at a British Rail train. Some of them stand at traffic lights, keen to earn a few bob by scraping the dead flies off your windscreen. They swab the floor after the Billingsgate fishmarket has finished for the day.
The Work and Pensions Secretary said that, unlike other European nations, the “reality is that this country is not cutting welfare”. He added that “all those on benefits will still see cash increases in every year of this Parliament”.