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In the 1970s one of the indicators of our country’s decline under Socialism was the “brain drain” – the large number of people emigrating.

Addressing the Conservative Party Conference in 1975, the Leader of the Opposition, Margaret Thatcher said:

No wonder so many of our people–some of the best and brightest–are depressed and talk of emigrating.

Even so, I think they are wrong at giving up too soon. Many of the things we hold dear are threatened as never before, but none has yet been lost.

So stay here. Stay and help us defeat Socialism, so that the Britain you have known may be the Britain your children will know.

Since David Cameron became Prime Minister the number of British citizens choosing to emigrate has fallen. It was 138,000 to the year ending September 2013. Under the Labour Government the figure was often around 200,000 a year. Yet rather than being able to celebrate this the greater confidence in remaining here makes it harder for Mr Cameron to hit his target of keeping down “net migration.”

Another measure of success is if talented wealth creators from France abandon socialism to live in London – thus paying tax to the British Government instead of the French one. Again this comes up as a failure in the net migration figures.

The Home Secretary Theresa May writing in the Mail on Sunday  says:

It remains our objective to bring the level of net migration down to the tens of thousands per year – but this rise in EU migration makes our task more difficult. At the moment, we are bound by the treaties that successive governments have signed. These mean we cannot impose formal immigration controls on EU migrants – but there are several things we can do, and are doing.

She outlined some welcome measures to combat welfare tourism. They have helped to improve the quality of immigration.

However a more sophisticated measure would be welcome.

Liam Fox writing in the Sunday Telegraph says:

There needs to be a clearer narrative on immigration, stressing not only the need to restrict numbers, but also to determine which individuals, with what skills, enter our country. While Conservative policy has concentrated on getting down the net migration numbers, it is actual numbers that affect school places, housing and health. The Conservatives must ditch this statistical nonsense.

Likewise, even if numbers came down and all were economic refugees from Somalia, what has been gained? We need to control how many and who comes into Britain. That will help to ensure that we get the right kind of migration for our needs. On the economy and on welfare reform, there is a strong Conservative case to make.

I can understand the political attraction of the net migration measure. Simply saying “Britain is full we can cope with more people” is a way taking some of the tension out the debate by disregarding such controversies as the race or religion of those coming here. But there needs to be a shift to what each individual has to offer. We need the right sort of immigration – fewer welfare tourists, more entrepreneurs.

127 comments for: Net migration is the wrong measure

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