Iain Duncan Smith went on Newsnight to perpetuate a dangerous myth [VIDEO]

Sam Woolfe

Former Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Secretary Iain Duncan Smith (IDS) appeared on BBC Newsnight to discuss the Conservatives’ plans for immigration. In doing so, he perpetuated a myth about immigration. One that stirs up bigotry and antagonism.

He claimed that:

If you look at the figures, it shows that they [low-skilled immigrants] claimed more in benefit than they did actually offer up in terms of taxation.

‘Scroungers’

Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis pointed out that IDS was suggesting that all of these 170,000 immigrants were “scroungers”. IDS denied doing so, but then again repeated the claim, adding that these “low-value, low-skilled” immigrants were made up particularly of people from Eastern Europe. This further fuels the kind of fearmongering that UKIP has used to generate hostility towards Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants.

IDS should get his facts straight

According to Full Fact, the UK’s independent fact-checking charity:

There is no single ‘correct’ answer to the question of how much immigrants contribute to public finances.

But research generally shows that immigrants contribute more in tax than they claim in benefits. This is backed up by HMRC figures (which, strangely, IDS mentioned to support his argument).

A study published by two leading economists also highlights the overall positive contributions made by European immigrants. And the latest findings show that recent immigrants (mainly from Eastern Europe) contributed £1.12 for every £1 received. This is not as much as those from the rest of the EU (£1.64 for every £1). But Eastern European immigrants still contribute more than they take. So this doesn’t really fit in with IDS’s whole ‘Eastern European immigrants are scroungers’ narrative.

But it’s not only rhetoric and bigotry that lies at the heart of Tory policy on immigration. It’s unrealistic pledges as well. Theresa May has announced that her party will again promise to cut immigration to the “tens of thousands”. Despite the fact that this target has been repeatedly missed since 2010, when David Cameron made the pledge. Net migration is nowhere near the tens of thousands, with the most recent figure at 273,000.

May could enforce strict border controls to bring down migration to the tens of thousands. But as research shows, this would spell trouble for the economy, as well as our public services. And if the Conservative Party failed to meet its net migration target, this would once again show both how inept it is and how little interest it has in keeping its promises.

Get Involved!

Register to vote in the 8 June general election. If you don’t have a national insurance number, a 5 minute phone call on 0300 200 3500 will get it sent to you in ten days.

– Discuss the key policy issues with family members, colleagues and neighbours. And organise! Join (and participate in the activities of) a union, an activist group, and/or a political party.

Featured image via screengrab

We need your help ...

The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.

Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.

We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.

Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed