Saturday, 4 April 2015

What's wrong with UKIP?

What's wrong with UKIP is not that they want less immigration. A large majority of the populace has wanted lower immigration for a long time. This government promised and failed to reduce immigration, so at present immigration levels can fairly be called uncontrolled.

This is not even a question of the majority view versus good policy. The cost-benefit analysis of immigration looks like this:

B = E + X

where B is the total benefit or cost, E is the economic effects and X is the political and social effects. To my mind, Jonathan Portes and others have persuasively shown that E is positive. But nobody has even tried to measure X. One example of X is that there are now about 600,000 people resident in Britain who "have some sympathy" for the Charlie Hebdo murderers. So these are not airy-fairy intangibles.

What's wrong with UKIP is that they want to leave the EU, and this would cripple the EU in its hour of need. But the point of view is defensible. Nation-states are ultimately incompatible with the EU, because free migration ultimately breaks the link between state and nation, and reduces government to administrators of the local populace. So, there is an existential choice between Europe and the nation-state. I favour Europe, since I want to be able to stand up to other bigger nations. But I cannot blame people for a different point of view - especially when Europe seems on the point of imploding because of economic stupidity, and unable to protect itself against a clear and present military danger.

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