The U.K. Needs Immigrants To Work In Its Health Service. The Chancellor Just Gave Them A Reason Not To Come.

Self-defeating move, it would appear:

Immigrants to the U.K. will have to pay more into the National Health Service, whether or not they use its services. By making it more expensive for migrants to come and work, this surcharge may in fact disincentivize the very workers the health service needs at a time of intense labor shortages.

Conservative Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the increase while presenting his first budget to the U.K. House of Commons. Immigrants coming to the U.K. with a visa to work or join family for more than six months will now have to pay, alongside other fees, a surcharge of £624 for every year of their visa, an increase of more than 50% from where it was at £400, which was itself an increase from £200 in late 2018 (under the new system children will be charged a little less than adults, £470 per year). The funds from the surcharge go into the country’s National Health Service, or NHS.

The stated aim of the surcharge is to prevent migrants from burdening the NHS, as the Chancellor made clear in his speech to the commons: “Migrants benefit from our NHS. And we all want them to do so, but it’s right that what people get out, they also put in. There is a surcharge already, but it doesn’t properly reflect the benefits people receive.”

The specific amount of £624 appears linked to previous claims made by the Conservative party that migrants incur costs to the NHS of around £625 per year. The Guardian fact-checked this claim in 2019, and absent any source for the number, declared it unverifiable.

Nonetheless, the perception that migrants burden the NHS is a common one in post-Brexit Britain, with plenty of anecdotal stories of over-full waiting rooms and months-long waiting times. But research into the economic contributions of immigrants to the U.K., particularly those from the European Union (who will soon be subject to the NHS surcharge), suggests they are not the burden people think they are. A comprehensive review of EU immigrants’ contribution to the country’s public finances commissioned by the government in 2018 found that on average those migrants paid more into, and took less out of, the public purse than native Britons.

In any case, framing the issue as how much immigrants take out and put into the NHS is deceptive. Immigrants who work in the U.K. already contribute to the public finances by paying tax and contributing to national insurance, the country’s social security scheme. As the above-mentioned Guardian piece pointed out, immigrants already “pay for the NHS all year round”.

In this light, the NHS surcharge can be seen as double taxation, and it’s worth noting it will soon be extended to EU citizens, who make up a large proportion of the migrants coming to the U.K. Professor Jonathan Portes, senior fellow of the UK in a Changing Europe, said: “The overall impact of immigration on the NHS is positive, as the Government’s own Migration Advisory Committee concluded. Given that, it’s very hard to justify extending the double-charging that already applies to non-EU migrants to those from the EU.”

The surcharge may also work against the Chancellor’s stated intention of bolstering the NHS. By making it more expensive for workers to come, it could put off some of the people the NHS needs most.

For example, a qualified nurse wanting to come to the country under the Tier 2 skilled visa scheme could expect to pay £464 for the visa fee, and £1872 for three years’ worth of NHS surcharge. If they are coming with dependents, that’s an additional £1410 per child and £1872 for a spouse. According to the Royal College of Nursing, the average starting salary a qualified nurse coming to the country could expect to get is around £25,000, well below the national average salary for full-time work.

The issue is that nursing is one of the many NHS jobs that are currently on the U.K. government’s shortage occupation list. That is to say, it’s one of those jobs the U.K. desperately needs people for to prop up its health service. By increasing the price of entry for those nurses, the surcharge gives them less incentive to come to the country.

The Royal College of Nursing released some analysis last year, before this latest increase, showing that, if a nurse from a non-EU country came with two children to take a job at Band 5 (the average starting band for NHS nurses), “they would have to work from the start of the year until 22nd January, or for 116 hours, just to pay the £1,200 they will be billed under the current charge.” That was back when the surcharge was still £400. It is now 50% higher.

“Hard-working nurses from overseas who give their all for patients in the UK must not be penalised in this way any longer,” says Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing. “The Government must abolish this cruel and heartless charge for nursing staff”.

It’s not just nurses. There are many NHS role the country badly needs people to fill, not to mention other sectors. Shara Pledger, associate at the specialist immigration law firm Latitude Law, said the combination of the surcharge and regular contributions into the NHS via taxation is an unpalatable one.

“The announcement today of a further increase to £624 is unwelcome. Brexit, the end of free movement, and negative immigration rhetoric already serve to undermine the government message that Britain is ‘open for business’. Increases to the cost of relocation do not encourage migration. This is particularly problematic when a large cohort of workers the U.K. is trying to attract are future NHS staff; they face effective double taxation to pay themselves.”

Source: The U.K. Needs Immigrants To Work In Its Health Service. The Chancellor Just Gave Them A Reason Not To Come.

Trevor Phillips suspended from Labour over Islamophobia allegations

Never been a fan of some of the statements of Phillips, including the examples cited in the article. But expulsion only draws further attention to some of the weaknesses of Labour:

The former UK equality watchdog chief, Trevor Phillips, has been suspended from the Labour Party over allegations of Islamophobia.

The Times newspaper reported the anti-racism campaigner is being investigated over past comments dating back years.

Mr Phillips, ex-chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said Labour was in danger of collapsing into a “brutish, authoritarian cult”.

Labour said it takes complaints about Islamophobia “extremely seriously”.

A spokeswoman added: “[The complaints] are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures, and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken.”

Mr Phillips was among 24 public figures who wrote to the Guardian last year declaring their refusal to vote for Labour because of its association with anti-Semitism.

He could be expelled from the party for alleged prejudice against Muslims.

Mr Phillips has been suspended pending investigation over remarks, including expressing concerns about Pakistani Muslim men sexually abusing children in northern British towns, according to the Times.

It says the complaint also covers his comments about the failure of some Muslims to wear poppies for Remembrance Sunday and the sympathy shown by some in an opinion poll towards the “motives” of the Charlie Hebdo attackers.

The paper said many of his statements are years-old but that Labour’s general secretary Jennie Formby suspended him as a matter of urgency to “protect the party’s reputation”.

‘A kind of racism’

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Phillips stood by his previous assertions that Muslims were “different”, adding: “Well, actually, that’s true. The point is Muslims are different and in many ways I think that is admirable.”

But he criticised the party for taking offence, saying: “I am kind of surprised that what is and always has been an open and democratic party decides that its members cannot have healthy debate about how we address differences of values and outlooks.”

Mr Phillips went on to describe the decision by Labour to adopt the definition of Islamophobia agreed by an all-party parliamentary group on British Muslims as “nonsense”, as Muslims were “not a race”.

He added: “My objection is very simple. That definition said…that Islamophobia is rooted in a kind of racism – expressions of hostility towards Muslimness.

“First of all, Muslims are not a race. My personal hero was Muhammad Ali, before that Malcolm X.

“They became Muslims largely because it is a pan-racial faith. This is not a racial grouping, so describing hostility to them as racial is nonsense.”

Mr Phillips was the founding chair of the EHRC, which is currently investigating anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, when it launched in 2006.

He has previously made documentaries about race and multiculturalism, and now chairs Index on Censorship – a group that campaigns for freedom of expression.

Asked if he would change his language as a result of the suspension, Mr Phillips pointed to this new role, adding: “Frankly, it would be a bit odd if I suddenly decided because I had been kicked out of the club, I couldn’t express my beliefs.”

Source: Trevor Phillips suspended from Labour over Islamophobia allegations

It’s not a competition: Scotland’s skills and the post-Brexit immigration system

More on UK government’s immigration plans and the worries about the impact on caregivers:

In her policy statement to the House of Commons in February, the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, described the UK’s new immigration system as one that “prioritises those who come to our country based on the skills they have to offer, not on the country they come from”.The new points-based approach will be “fair” but “firm”, she said, and give top priority to highly skilled workers – “the brightest and the best” – to come here and drive innovation, grow the economy and, where necessary, support our public services.

Through this new system, Patel said, the UK will develop “a true meritocracy where anyone with the skills who wants to come here will have the ability to do so”.

The question for businesses in Scotland, though, is, which skills?

Representatives of the social care and hospitality sectors were quick to express their significant concerns about the impact that a restriction of so-called ‘low-skilled’ EU migrants could have on their businesses and the wider Scottish economy.

The Federation of Small Businesses Scotland, for example, has warned that around one in five small businesses could close or be forced to radically change their business models in order to survive.

But beyond economics, the immigration debate has also sparked a more fundamental discussion on the nature of skills and their relationship with pay and qualifications: who gets labelled ‘high’ or ‘low’ skilled and what type of skills does Scotland really need right now?

“The whole sector was extremely dismayed at the continued equation of low skill being of low value and of the equating of low skill with social care activity,” Dr Donald Macaskill, the CEO of Scottish Care, told Holyrood.

“My concern is that both some of our politicians but also the wider public think of the job of caring as something which anybody could do,” he said.

“That is simply not the case.”

Scotland’s care sector has particular reason to be concerned about the changes being proposed by the Home Office because it’s a sector that is already facing a skills and employment crisis.

Independent care providers are reporting significant vacancy rates. Skills Development Scotland (SDS) estimates there were 12,346 vacancies across the sector in 2018 and a ‘density of skills shortages’ of 28 per cent.

Shortages in rural areas, where the effects of an ageing population are most pronounced, have put care provisions under “unprecedented” strain. The Western Isles Health and Social Care Partnership is reporting that one in six frontline adult social care positions is vacant.

While this is already the case, the new immigration policy could stand to exacerbate these problems. Between six and eight per cent of frontline care home workers are from outside of Scotland. Up to 16.5 per cent of agency nurses, who often work in care homes, come from EU countries.

And whether by pay or by skill, many of these workers stand to fall short of the new system that aims to reduce the number of “cut-price EU workers”.

Prospective migrants would have to negotiate on a set of criteria including a salary threshold, language abilities, academic qualifications and, crucially, the points value attached to their particular set of skills.

The general salary threshold will be set at £25,600, which is down from the initial £30,000 suggested by the Conservatives a few months ago, after the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) warned that such a high bar would make it difficult to recruit new teachers and NHS workers from abroad.

Such a salary threshold represents far too high a bar for many of the most critically required jobs in adult social care, where the average salary of a frontline worker is £17,500.

But with the right skills, the threshold could drop – as long as the skillset or industry qualify for a “tradeable points” mechanism in the system.

“For example,” Patel said, “a PhD in a relevant subject will earn extra points, with double the number of points for specialists in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”

The emphasis on STEM disciplines reflects the government’s desire to sell the UK as a nation that is at the “cutting edge of life-changing innovation and technology”, somewhere the “finest international minds” would be attracted to live.

There will be concessions made to the system to reflect the need for workers in certain areas, such as a special visa tier for NHS workers. A separate scheme for seasonal agricultural workers will also be introduced.

And shortages for very specific roles included on the MAC Shortage Occupation List, like nuclear scientists and Gaelic-medium teachers, will continue to get easier access.

But care workers are set to fall short of all of these standards, for pay and, seemingly, for skill level.

This is the thing that Macaskill takes most exception to.

“In order to be a frontline social carer, you have to be registered with the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC),” he says.

“You have to be qualified and that qualification has to be at SVQ level and over a period of time, you have to demonstrate that you are continuing in your professional development.

“And you have to have the necessary core skills. What are those core skills?

“They are the ‘softer skills’ and I suppose some of my critiques of the political statements and the immigration proposals is that they are very much based on what are called ‘hard, cognitive and technical skills’. They’re related to the earnings level that some of those skills attract.”

Care workers in Scotland are paid at least the Scottish Living Wage, unlike other parts of the UK, but the industry is still considered low paid. Still, the contribution of the care sector to the wider Scottish economy is hard to underestimate: the SSSC estimates the sector to be worth £3.4bn to the economy, and that’s before taking into account how adult social care alleviates the care burden and allows people to continue working in other sectors.

This is not a competition, it’s about validating skills and abilities which are of paramount significance to the wellbeing of a nation

The Scottish Government’s proposals for a Scottish visa to allow a tailored migration approach that would “[welcome] people with the range of skills we need to work” was rejected out of hand by the UK Government hours after it was published.

The First Minister has since offered to lead a delegation, made up of business and care sector representatives, to Westminster, to put the case for greater flexibility to the Prime Minister personally, but there has so far been no response. The Scottish Conservative party is continuing to meet with stakeholders before announcing a position on immigration that is likely to clash with the UK Government’s as well.

In the meantime, the discussion around the definition of low and high skills continues.

“What I’ve been calling for is a reorientation for what we mean by skills,” Macaskill said.

“And skills of compassion, empathy, communication, the ability to relate and the ability to deal with the various challenges, the ability to enable and encourage – all those that we have traditionally thought of as softer skills are, I think, as valuable to any society as technical skills and higher academic skills.

“This is not a competition, it’s about validating skills and abilities which are of paramount significance to the wellbeing of a nation,” he said.

The Future Skills Action Plan was launched in September 2019 following a commitment announced by the First Minister in the 2018-19 programme for government (PfG) to recognise “the importance of skills to improving Scotland’s productivity and economic growth”.

In the ministerial foreword to the plan Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills, described Scotland’s need for a skills system that is “characterised by agility and flexibility”. The core vision of the plan is for a future where “Scotland’s highly skilled workforce ensures we are an ambitious, productive and competitive nation”.

The plan discusses the need to respond to the challenges associated with Brexit as well as climate change, including the need to develop a specific Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan to turn the existing skills across industries in Scotland toward creating an environmentally sustainable economy.

SDS and the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) are currently working on this plan. Both bodies have received a funding boost in the 2020-21 Scottish budget, with a 4.7 per cent raise for SDS to a total £224.8m and a £40m increase for SFC to £1.88bn.

Further measures to this end include £10m of additional funding for those already in work, through doubling the Flexible Workforce Development Fund and a £2m fund for innovation and skills in the transition to offshore wind power.

The limit to the potential of Scotland’s tech economy continues to be a digital skills shortage that runs all the way through from education to the present workforce.

“We need about 12,500 people every year and we produce about 5,000 from the usual sources,” Polly Purvis, the former head of ScotlandIS warned last year. Her successor, Jane Morrison-Ross, has said there are currently 13,000 vacancies across the sector.

In high schools, there has been a long-term decline in both the number of pupils taking computing as a subject and in the number of computing teachers – both still well below the levels of a decade ago.

For the current workforce, the Scottish Government launched the £1m Digital Start Fund to reskill workers, particularly those returning to work or who join from disadvantaged backgrounds, with skills like software development and cyber security much in demand.

Launching the scheme, then minister for digital economy Kate Forbes said: “Technology is forecast to be the fastest growing sector in Scotland by 2024, but success is dependent on skills. This is a big opportunity not only for tech businesses, but also to future employees.”

The Scottish Government also sees upskilling as a means for tackling issues such as child poverty. The 2019-20 PfG announced a £500,000 Family Learning Scotland Programme to help parents gain new skills and take up learning and training. The programme is designed to be integrated with the expansion of early learning and childcare to “allow parents to build on their skills and gain better work”.

And for young people, the apprenticeship route into careers is expanding. The Scottish Government says that over 37,000 apprenticeships were in training in 2018-19 with an expected 30,000 new starts projected for 2020-21.

With Scottish Apprenticeship Week running last week, from 2-6 March, SDS was encouraging councils, schools and employers to take part in raising awareness of apprenticeships as a more practical alternative to further education, leading to a wide range of careers, from technology to care.

SDS Director of National Training Programmes Katie Hutton said: “Scottish apprenticeships are increasingly becoming a vital means for industry to shape its workforce.

“More and more individuals are recognising the benefits of work-based learning, with opportunities to gain skills in careers for the future.

“Scottish Apprenticeship Week shines a light on the major contribution apprenticeships make across all business sectors and the difference they make to the lives of thousands of people across the country.

Source: It’s not a competition: Scotland’s skills and the post-Brexit immigration system

India: UK expresses concerns over potential impact of Citizenship Act and it’s effects

Contrast with Trump administration:

The UK government has reiterated its concern over the potential impact of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and said it is continuing to follow the events in India closely.

In response to an urgent question on ‘Recent Violence in India’ tabled by Pakistani-origin Opposition Labour Party MP Khalid Mahmood in the House of Commons on Tuesday, UK’s Minister of State in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Nigel Adams said the UK engages with India at all levels, including on human rights, and also referred to the country’s “proud history” of inclusive government and religious tolerance.

“The UK government also have concerns about the potential impact of the legislation (CAA),” said Adams, the Minister for Asia who was standing in for UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is on a visit to Turkey.

“It is because of our close relationship with the government of India that we are able to discuss difficult issues with them and make clear our concerns where we have them, including on the rights of minorities.

“We will continue to follow events closely and to raise our concerns when we have with them,” said the minister.

While Mahmood, who had tabled the urgent question for an FCO statement, described the government response as “facile”, another Pakistani-origin MP Nusrat Ghani called on the government to relay the UK Parliament’s concerns to the Indian authorities.

British Sikh Labour MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi said the violence had brought back “painful personal memories” from the 1984 Sikh riots while he was studying in India and fellow Sikh MP Preet Kaur Gill also referenced 1984 in her intervention.

Other MPs sought to highlight the steps taken by the Indian authorities to restore “peace and tranquillity” in Delhi.

“He will be aware that it is not just Muslims who have been killed; Hindus have also been killed as part of the riots,” said Conservative Party MP Bob Blackman.

Scottish National Party (SNP) MP Alyn Smith sought the UK government’s intervention to share best practice around countering the online disinformation campaign being used in India to “inflame tensions”.

“We are in constant contact on these issues, and we know how important this is to Members of Parliament and their constituents, who may have family in the area,” said Adams, in his response.

Source: UK expresses concerns over potential impact of Citizenship Act and it’s effects

‘Religious operations’: How British propagandists used Islam to wage cultural Cold War

And one wonders why conspiracy theories take hold:

British government propaganda unit ran covert campaigns across the Middle East for several years at the height of the Cold War, distributing Islamic messages in a bid to counter the appeal of communism.

Recently declassified official papers show that the Information Research Department (IRD), a then-secret division of the UK Foreign Office, commissioned a series of sermons that were reproduced and distributed throughout the Arabic-speaking world.

The papers show that the unit also arranged for articles to be inserted in magazines published by Al-Azhar University in Cairo, “to ensure that every student leaves the University a resolute opponent of Communism”.

In an attempt to reach as wide an audience as possible, the IRD also published and distributed across the region a series of Arabic-language romantic and detective novels, within which anti-communist messages were embedded.

These stressed that Soviet communism was essentially atheistic in philosophy and practice, and claimed that Moscow aimed to sow political disorder and economic chaos in the Middle East.

Information Research Department

The papers also shed new light on the way in which the British government covertly controlled or influenced many of the radio stations and news agencies in the Middle East from the 1940s to the late 1960s. Some details of these operations became public after the IRD was shut down in 1977.

However, the latest tranche of declassified papers appear to show the IRD to have been particularly sensitive about what its officials termed “religious operations”, in which they attempted to utilise Islam as a bulwark against communism.

Marked Secret or Top Secret, many of the papers are being declassified after 50 or 60 years; nevertheless, some passages were blacked out by government censors before they were made public at the UK National Archives.


Subterfuge, bribery and sermons

The IRD was set up in 1948 in order to continue the work of a wartime body called the Political Warfare Executive. For the next 29 years it ran a number of newspapers, magazines, news agencies, radio stations and publishing houses, in order to spread unattributed anti-communist propaganda across much of the world.

Its favoured method, however, was to place stories in established newspapers and to covertly brief opinion formers. This was achieved on occasion by subterfuge or bribery, although early on, a senior IRD official, John Peck, warned that bribery might not always work.

“I have serious doubts about the value of bribery as a means of getting anti-communist articles in the press,” he wrote.

“I am told that except in Jordan and possibly in Syria the circulation of those Middle East newspapers which are open to bribery is small and their individual influence negligible.”

In the same memorandum, he summed up the reason for IRD material being distributed without attribution: “However valid our arguments may be, the fact that they are our arguments makes them suspect to the Arabs. We can only overcome this difficulty by presenting the same arguments through an Arab intermediary.”

Despite Peck’s wariness, bribery continued to be used as a means of distributing propaganda material across the region.

Although financed through the same unpublished budget as Britain’s intelligence services, the newly-released papers show that the IRD also received funding from the oil industry.

“It is true that in the last year we have been receiving clandestine financial assistance from oil companies,” a memo to IRD director Ralph Murray, marked Top Secret, noted in 1954.

But the Middle East was seeing “the emergence of a state of total ideological warfare”, the author claimed. “And while such help is appreciated, the amount is completely inadequate to our vital needs.”

Information Research Department

The newly declassified papers contain a number of references to “religious operations”. Frequently these references are concerned with the financing of such propaganda campaigns, rather than the means of delivery. “You will note that we are including new budgetary provision for £1,000 to cover ‘Religious Operations’” is one typical entry.

Some details of the campaigns do emerge, however. In February 1950, for example, two years after the IRD was set up, its representative at the British embassy in Cairo informed London: “The Friday sermon has always been recognised as one of the most important way [sic] of spreading propaganda in the Moslem world.

“We have now devised a scheme for ensuring that anti-Communist themes are adequately dealt with. A series of sermons has been written here.”

This was still happening 10 years later, as a top-secret memo from Beirut from August 1960 makes clear: “We hope to produce two short pamphlets or sermons a month on religious subjects. They will be written by Sheikh Saad al Din Trabulsi, formerly of the Beirut Moslem Tribunal (sharia) and now of Zahle Moslem Tribunal, who is well-known as a pious Moslem.

“Two thousand copies of each would be distributed unattributably … throughout the Arabic-speaking world (less Iraq). Recipients will be Sheikhs, other leading Moslem personalities, Mosques and Muslim education establishments.”

The intermediary between the IRD and Trabulsi is named in the files as a man called Rivera, although this is possibly a codename.

Another intermediary between the IRD and individuals described as “religious operators” is named in the files as Talaat Dajani, a Palestinian refugee living in Beirut. Dajani later moved to London, where he received a medal of honour from the Queen in 1979, and died in 1992.

The whole Trabulsi operation, the IRD representative explained to London, would cost around 8,800 Lebanese pounds, or around £1,000 sterling, a year.

Information Research Department

Although Iraq was excluded from that campaign, the country was on occasion the subject of IRD religious operations. In 1953, for example, IRD headquarters wrote to its man in Baghdad, saying: “We would like to know more about your ‘pilot’ scheme for the covert dissemination of propaganda in the Shia holy places since it may suggest ideas which could be used outside Iraq.

“Is the scheme connected with the working party’s proposal to make Friday sermons prepared in Beirut available to certain Shia divines?”

IRD officials saw another chance to make use of “religious operations” in Iraq following the attempted assassination of the country’s prime minister, Abd al-Karim Qasim, as he was being driven through Baghdad in October 1959.

There had been a “remarkable religious revival” following the attempt, the unit noted. “Workmen engaged in demolition work near the site of the attempted assassination had discovered the tomb of a Moslem holy man; this story had been widely publicized and had given substance to the popular belief that the Premier had been miraculously preserved. It was agreed that there would be an advantage in giving wider circulation to the story.

“Religious stickers have been appearing in Baghdad and the possibility of augmenting them is to be considered.”


Disruption and influence operations

The following April, a conference of Middle East-based IRD officers was held in Beirut. The minutes of what was described as a “restricted session on covert propaganda” show that Ralph Murray “listed the targets at which we should aim to disrupt or influence”.

Those to be disrupted included communist parties and hostile propaganda agencies. This was at a time when printing presses inside Soviet embassies were thought to be producing 10,000 copies of a newspaper entitled Akhbar every day.

Those to be influenced, on the other hand, included young people, women, trades unions, teachers’ organisations, the armed forces and religious leaders.

The representative from the British embassy in Baghdad explained that Iraq “was now an important target for religious material”, at which point, the minutes say, IRD officers based in Amman and Khartoum “also pressed strongly for supplies of sermons and religious articles, which they said they could easily place”.

The files make clear that several governments in the region connived with the IRD and would assist in the distribution of sermons and the placement of newspaper and magazine articles.

The IRD’s man in Baghdad also “emphasised that the Iraqi army was an important target” and suggested that arrangements might be made for selected officers to visit the UK, with the trip appearing to be arranged by bodies with no clear connection to the British government.

He also noted that in Basra, the same press was being used to print both communist and non-communist newspapers, and said that “the judicious use of some financial inducement would probably make it possible to put the Communist paper out of business if that were thought to be desirable”.

Information Research Department

Delegates were briefed on the propaganda efforts of other members of the Baghdad Pact: the Cold War alliance of Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Pakistan and the UK that was dissolved in 1979. The IRD enjoyed extensive contacts with Baghdad Pact governments, offering both propaganda materials and technical support.

“In practice,” the delegates were told, “only the Turks are really active, having achieved the publication in the Turkish press of 25-30 articles a month prepared by a writers’ panel.”

Finally, the secret conference was informed that HMG [Her Majesty’s Government] was running two newspapers published in Bahrain: al Khalij and its English-language sister paper, the Gulf Times.

One paragraph in the minutes of the session notes that delegates were told that these newspapers were “exceptional”, in that IRD “preferred to work through staff of established newspapers”.

These minutes are among the papers that have been declassified and handed to the UK National Archives. But, 60 years after the conference, the subsequent paragraph remains blacked out.


Nasser and the Suez crisis

From the end of the Second World War to the late 1960s, successive British governments appear to have used intelligence and propaganda in an attempt to preserve strategic and economic interests in the Middle East at a time when they were struggling to retain influence.

Earlier disclosures about the IRD’s activities have shown that while some senior British diplomats in the region were highly enthusiastic, others were sceptical, fearing that exposure would exacerbate anti-British sentiment.

This is exactly what did happen, at a time and place where the British were about to take their last fling of the imperial dice: in 1956, in Egypt.

The IRD had been highly active in Egypt from the organisation’s inception. As an IRD paper written in Cairo in 1950 noted: “Conditions in Egypt are such as to make it eminently suitable breeding ground for Communism.”

The author went on to highlight “acute maldistribution between rich and poor” and the concentration of land in the hands of a small proportion of the population.

Information Research Department

Nevertheless, he wrote: “This paper deals with the use of British-inspired propaganda. It does not deal with the more important problem of positive action to remedy the social and economic conditions likely to assist the spread of Communism.”

Instead, the author explained, the IRD was targeting the students at Al-Azhar University on the grounds that “from among them come the Imams who preach the Friday sermon in every Egyptian Mosque; the teachers of Arabic in the secondary schools and all teachers in the village schools; and the lawyers specializing in Moslem law”.

The organisation was also arranging for “the production in drafts in English of short love or detective novels, or thrillers, embodying anti-Communist propaganda but following their local counterparts as closely as possible in presentation etc.

“The Information Department, Cairo, would arrange for the drafts to be rewritten in Arabic by local hacks, and for them to be published locally.”

The unit would also “investigate the feasibility of producing short love or thriller magazine stories (of about 2,000 words) with an anti-Communist twist”.

The jewel in the IRD’s crown in Cairo was the Arab News Agency (ANA), one of several media organisations that British intelligence had set up during the Second World War.

Like other news agencies and radio stations that had been established in Beirut, Tripoli, Sharjah, Bahrain and Aden, ANA came under the control of the IRD after that organisation was founded in 1948.

To those on the outside, ANA appeared to be part of Hulton Press, a large company owned by Edward Hulton, a Fleet Street media baron. In fact, Hulton had allowed his company to give cover to the IRD and Britain’s overseas intelligence agency, MI6.

As well as distributing genuine news stories, gathered by Egyptian and British journalists, the agency disseminated propaganda produced by IRD, and became a base for MI6 officers masquerading as journalists.

In March 1956, with relations between the UK and Egypt deteriorating sharply, the UK Foreign Office instructed the IRD to switch its focus away from communism and towards the government led by Gamal Abdel Nasser – who had been engaged in propaganda operations against the British for some years.

The following July, after Nasser nationalised the Suez Canal Company – taking control of the waterway that the British considered to be the jugular vein of their empire – the UK’s propaganda and espionage efforts under the cover of ANA rapidly picked up pace.

Anthony Eden, the British prime minister, had long been convinced that Nasser was under the influence of the Kremlin – although the British ambassador in Cairo, Humphrey Trevelyan, disagreed – and MI6 began considering whether the Egyptian president could be assassinated.

Poison gas was one favoured option; an exploding electric razor was another.

Instead, as the Suez Crisis began to unfold, Eden vetoed the murder plot and the British decided to engage in several months of psychological warfare in Cairo, followed by military intervention.

A powerful new radio transmitter was erected in Iraq, broadcasting programmes from Arabic stations around the region that were covertly under British control, an operation that was for a while given the codename Transmission X.

As the British, French and Israelis plotted to invade Egypt and occupy the area around the canal, a steady stream of IRD and MI6 propaganda specialists began to appear at the ANA’s offices in Cairo.

This had not gone unnoticed by the Egyptian government, however, and in August, just weeks before the invasions, all of the agency’s operations – news reporting, spreading propaganda and gathering intelligence – were brought to an abrupt halt.

Egyptian secret police raided its offices and the homes of several of its staff. Eleven Egyptians were accused of being spies working for MI6 officers based at the agency; one, Sayed Amin Mahmoud, a teacher, was executed, and his son, a naval officer, was jailed for life.

Two MI6 agents who helped to manage the agency were subjected to lengthy interrogation and jailed. Others were tried in their absence, and two British diplomats and four journalists were expelled.

However, the British head of the agency – who was also a correspondent for the Economist and the London-based Times newspapers, escaped arrest: it appears that the Egyptian government may have been feeding him disinformation, and wished to continue.

Information Research Department

In the event, IRD simply set up a new Arab News Agency, from offices in Beirut, with staff in London, Cairo, Amman and Damascus.

By 1960, according to one of the recently-declassified files, few people working at the agency’s Beirut headquarters were aware that it was controlled by the British government; IRD staff were warned “therefore to be cautious in their dealings” with them.

In March that year the senior IRD officer at the British embassy in Beirut wrote to London to say: “Of our secret information operations, I … attach the greatest importance to the Arab News Agency. There is no doubt they are doing the most useful work throughout the area and they run a good office here.”


Reuters and the BBC

The recently declassified documents also shed new light on the way in which in the 1960s the British government persuaded Reuters, the international news agency, to take over the operations run by two IRD fronts, Regional News Service (Middle East) and Regional News Service (Latin America). The relationship between Reuters and the IRD was first exposed in the 1980s.

The government funded these Reuters operations through the BBC. It began paying the BBC enhanced fees for its World Service operations, and the BBC in turn paid Reuters extra sums for receiving its news feed.

While the IRD accepted that it could not exercise editorial control over Reuters, the declassified papers show it did believe that it would gain “a measure of political influence”.

Some of the IRD’s Cold War activities in the Middle East and North Africa remain secret, however, with many of its old files remaining classified on national security grounds.

Not all of the papers on Reuters and the Arab News Agency have been transferred to the UK National Archive, for example. One dating from 1960, with the catalogue description “renegotiation of contract between Reuters and the Arab News Agency”, is among the IRD files that remain classified.

Another that has been withheld by the UK Foreign Office is known to contain papers from 1960 and is entitled “Information Research Department: Jordanian television”.

Other withheld files concern efforts to distribute IRD material through the Maghreb Arab Press news agency after it was set up in 1959, or have titles like “Information Research Department: Arab trade unions”.

Many of the titles of the classified IRD files are themselves classified: the UK National Archives catalogue simply lists them as “Title withheld”.


Reputational damage?

The United States was also an enthusiastic purveyor of propaganda in the Middle East throughout the Cold War. Material created and distributed by the US Information Service tended to promote the idea of common western and Islamic values rather than attack Communism.

The recently declassified files are all concerned with British campaigns, however.

With the IRD being shut down in 1977 – in part, because too many people had become aware of its existence and activities – two questions remain.

The first is: did their campaigns have an impact on people’s attitudes and behaviour?

Throughout the Cold War, many British diplomats in the Middle East were sceptical about the IRD’s efforts. Some argued repeatedly that communism had only limited appeal in the region, and that Arab nationalism posed a greater threat to the UK’s interests than Moscow.

‘In our experience, it is barely possible to interest the politically conscious Iraqi in the Communist system at all’

– British diplomat, Baghdad, 1955

Even in Iraq – which the IRD appears to have believed to be more susceptible to communist influence than Egypt – some of Britain’s envoys had their doubts.

One diplomat wrote from Baghdad to the IRD in 1955 to explain: “The Arabs have no means of checking the accuracy of our allegations about the iniquities of the Communist system … but they have the means, as they believe, of checking Russian propaganda about French and British wickedness in the Persian Gulf and North Africa.

“In our experience, it is barely possible to interest the politically conscious Iraqi in the Communist system at all.”

Looking back, a number of historians remain equally sceptical.

Vyvyan Kinross, author of Information Warriors, a forthcoming book about the battles for hearts and minds in the Middle East, believes that Eden’s attempts to demonise Nasser in 1956 left him looking hopelessly out of touch, and propelled Britain into disastrous military action.

The failed propaganda war contributed to “a general collapse of Britain’s reputation for honesty and fair dealing in the region”, Kinross says.

James Vaughan, lecturer in international history at Aberystwyth University in Wales, who has extensively studied western Cold War propaganda in the Middle East, concludes: “The history of British propaganda in Egypt demonstrates how the decline of British influence was a well-advanced phenomenon, several years before Nasser’s decision to nationalise the Suez Canal Company.”

The second question is: what happened after the IRD was closed in 1977?

An intriguing answer to this question was provided by Adnan Abu-Odeh, who served as information minister in the government of King Hussein of Jordan.

Abu-Odeh would have been on MI6’s radar at the time. He was Palestinian who had risen through the ranks of the Jordanian secret police and been handpicked for the job by the king.

At the time the kingdom was going through a major crisis, which became known as Black September, when the Jordanian Armed Forces attacked and expelled the PLO under the leadership of Yasser Arafat from the refugee camps in Jordan.

The crisis was resolved when Palestinian fighters known as the fedayeen were escorted to Syria.

In an interview with Middle East Eye in 2018, Abu-Odeh explained how he was sent to England in the early 1970s, to be trained by the IRD.

‘The king was preparing me to become minister of information, on the advice of MI6. The IRD taught me their tactics and methods’

– Adnan Abu-Odeh

While working as an intelligence officer, Abu-Odeh said, he was approached by the country’s newly-appointed director of intelligence. “He said to me: ‘His Majesty wants you to go on a course in London at the IRD.’

“I said to him: ‘What is the IRD? I didn’t know.”

Later, he was sent back to England to study psychological warfare at a military academy.

“The king was preparing me to become minister of information, on the advice of MI6. The IRD taught me their tactics and methods.

“When I became minister of information, I trained one or two people how to do it.”

Although there is no confirmation in the recently declassified IRD files, it seems entirely possible that before it was disbanded, the organisation trained other government officials across the region.

Source: ‘Religious operations’: How British propagandists used Islam to wage cultural Cold War

The Global Competition for Scientific Minds Is Heating Up

Of note. Canada continues to compare well in relation to other countries:

U.K. prime minister Boris Johnson recently announced that his government will be overhauling the country’s high-skill visa system to create a new pathway, called the Global Talent visa, for foreign-born scientists and technical practitioners to come and work in the United Kingdom. This is an exciting move for the prospects of U.K. innovation, but also part of a growing trend in the global competition for attracting the best and brightest minds from around the world. The United States already has some compelling advantages in this race, but our current immigration policies are effectively making us run with our feet tied together. We should take a cue from Boris and cut the red tape that binds us.

We can start with the simple premise that while talent is distributed roughly equally across the globe, opportunity is not. And although the United States has some homegrown talent helping lead innovations on the technical frontier in fields like self-driving cars, genetic editing, quantum computing, clean energy, and many other areas, the simple fact is that our progress would be much slower without immigrant founders and scientists. More than half of our billion-dollar startups werefounded by immigrants, and 80 percent featured immigrants in a core product design or management role. Though immigrants make up only 18 percent of our workforce, they produce 28 percent of our high-quality patents, comprise 31 percent of our Ph.D. population, and have won 39 percent of our Nobel Prizes in science. This is not because immigrants are inherently smarter than the average native-born worker, but because of strong selection effects wherein the smartest or most entrepreneurial people from every country are the individuals most likely to emigrate in search of new opportunities.

It’s precisely this population of high-skill immigrant founders and scientists that the Global Talent visa is meant to attract to the United Kingdom. By creating a faster, uncapped immigration queuefor talented scientists from around the world, the United Kingdom is broadcasting a very explicit signal to this group — that the country wants to become a hub for global talent and will actively break down barriers for their integration. And domestically, the primary rejoinder has been to question whether this reform goes far enough!

The United Kingdom is not the only country competing for this pool of innovators. Canada has been putting up bulletin boards in Silicon Valley as far back as 2013 advertising its comparatively lax immigration system, especially for high-skill workers and scientists. As a result, Toronto is rapidly developing into a tech hub, with smart, foreign-born students deterred by U.S. immigration restrictions taking their skills up north instead. Israel, in a recent move acknowledging the huge supply shortfall of scientists working in artificial intelligence, is going so far as to pay companiesover half-a-million dollars a year to help train new experts. China has arguably been the most active in this sphere, as it aggressively attempts to recruit talented students and scientists currently attending or working at U.S. universities to return to China through the country’s Thousand Talents Plan.

The fact is, progress on the cutting edge of emerging technologies is always limited by the number of talented individuals a country has working on hard problems in a conducive research environment. And as the geopolitical and strategic implications of leading in emerging technology development only continue to increase, it makes sense that countries will seek an advantage in this perpetual race by attracting the best and brightest from around the world.

What doesn’t make sense is the tangled web of U.S. immigration policies that creates unnecessary barriers for the world’s most talented minds trying to work here. The United States currently hasmuch longer wait times, higher visa processing fees, more paperwork and bureaucracy, and a smaller number of high-skill visas as a percentage of its population than do other industrialized countries — including the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia — with whom we are competing.

Despite these deterrents, the United States already has some significant advantages in the global competition for talent. Most prominently, we already have a long, storied tradition as the prime destination for hungry entrepreneurs and top scientific minds. William Kerr’s book The Gift of Global Talent makes this point by observing that from 2000 to 2010, more immigrant inventors migrated to the United States than to all other countries combined.

Through an amalgamation of our regional innovation clusters like Silicon Valley, our strong research and university system, our friendly business environment, and a healthy dose of inertia, we’ve maintained our status as the de facto promised land for science and innovation over the past few decades — in spite of our immigration failings. But now, the combination of even stricterimmigration barriers and an increasing number of opportunities to launch a tech startup or contribute to cutting-edge scientific research available overseas means we can no longer take our status for granted.

To really start playing to our natural advantage, we should start with two reforms. First, we should follow Boris’s lead and reform our pathways for high-skill technical and scientific talent. If Congress is willing to act, we could completely revitalize a program like the H-1B visa, which is a poor structural fit for the needs and timelines of today’s knowledge economy but nonetheless remains our primary pathway for high-skill workers.

Alternatively, a willing executive branch could better utilize programs like the O-1 visa, which is intended for immigrants of extraordinary ability. Today, it is being used primarily by actors, fashion models, and athletes. The O-1 visa is particularly interesting as it most closely mirrors the U.K. Global Talent visa — it is both uncapped and ostensibly aimed at attracting the highest echelons of global talent. But the discretionary and ambiguous standards surrounding what ‘extraordinary’ entails and how it can be demonstrated has led to a messy application process that can frequently require a 400-page legal petition and only works for a small number of technical workers each year.

The combination of these two pathways — one for high-skill technical and scientific talent and a second for entrepreneurs or startup founders — would do a great deal to boost the prospects of domestic innovation and ensure that the United States maintains its leadership in emerging technology development.

In the past, we’ve largely been able to win the race for global talent without breaking a sweat. But now, as the United Kingdom and many other countries are beginning to realize the value of this incredible resource, we might actually have to start trying.

Source: The Global Competition for Scientific Minds Is Heating Up

Tech reaction to UK’s upcoming immigration rules

Reactions of interest:
The aim of the system is to allow skilled talent from outside the UK access to the UK job market, while also ending free movement of labour and giving the UK more control over its boarders.
Home secretary Priti Patel said: “We’re ending free movement, taking back control of our borders and delivering on the people’s priorities by introducing a new UK points-based immigration system, which will bring overall migration numbers down. We will attract the brightest and the best from around the globe, boosting the economy and our communities, and unleash this country’s full potential.”

So, after Brexit presented itself as a huge concern for IT skills and recruitment, what will the new system mean for technology skills and recruitment in the UK?

Points-based system

The new points-based immigration system will award points to applicants based on certain criteria, such as skills, qualifications, salaries, professions and the ability to speak English. It will apply to both EU and non-EU citizens seeking to work in the UK.

The government’s policy statement outlining the new systemsaid it is geared towards giving priority to talented, skilled individuals, such as “scientists, engineers, academics and other highly skilled workers” to enter the UK.

In an analysis of the announcement, trade body TechUK said: “At the heart of the policy statement is science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) talent with explicit mention made of the need to attract those with specific STEM skills. For the tech sector, there are many elements in the policy paper that we can welcome. For example, removing the arbitrary cap on talent and the decision to cease use of the Resident Labour Market Test, both of which will allow the sector to continue to thrive.”

But TechUK also said salary is not necessarily an indicator of skill, and criticised the lack of clarity about how an applicant’s English language skill will be assessed.

For a general work visa, all applicants will be required to have a job offer to enter the UK, with a minimum salary threshold of £25,600.

In some cases, points will be tradeable, and so some exceptions will be made when it comes to the salary threshold, for example if the applicant is a researcher in a STEM subject with a relevant STEM-based PhD degree, or is on the shortage occupations list which will be reviewed by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), the minimum salary threshold will be reduced to £20,480.

Applicants will need 70 points to be granted a visa.

The current Global Talent route for highly skilled workers, which until recently was known as the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent route, will also be expanded in January 2021 to cover EU citizens as well as those outside the European Economic Areas (EEA), allowing very talented people to enter the UK without a job offer if they reach the requirements for a visa and are endorsed by a relevant competent body. Rules around this type of application were recently adapted to make it easier for people with a STEM background to apply.

Tech Nation, the body responsible for endorsing and processing applications through this route for the digital technology sector, said the changes to the Global Talent route will help the UK’s digital sector continue to attract digital talent from around the world.

Pointing out that demand for tech jobs has grown in recent years, Tech Nation said the Tech Nation Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa had seen a 44% rise in applications in 2019, and had endorsed more than 1,200 applications since it was launched in 2014.

Gerard Grech, chief executive of Tech Nation, said:Last year saw the UK attract 33% of all European tech investment and a 44% rise in visa applications for digital technology expertise from over 50 countries. Today’s announcement of expanding the route to include deep science and research expertise and abolishing the cap will help ensure the best and brightest talent can continue to contribute to the UK’s thriving digital tech sector.”

Since the UK voted to leave the EU, emphasis has been put on ensuring the country develops its own technology talent pipeline to prevent the UK falling off a “tech talent cliff edge”.

Russ Shaw, founder and CEO of Tech London Advocates and Global Tech Advocates, said the new rules raise more questions than answers.

“A Brexit transition leaves us at a crossroads and the points-based immigration system outlined by the Home Office is potentially leading us down the wrong path,” he said. “The latest proposal sends the wrong message to the international tech community, dissuading overseas workers from setting up in the UK.

“While it is encouraging to see the introduction of a lower salary cap for the Tier 2 visa – an issue the tech community has been consistently arguing for – many problems remain unsolved.

“How are we ensuring that companies are fully equipped and supported to adapt to this new system? Where are the new, more affordable and revised routes for Tier 1 applicants and sponsors? What are we doing to retain international talent, particularly students who have come to the UK to study and want to transfer from Tier 4 student visas to Tier 2 visas?”

Tier 2 visas are the current route for skilled workers who already have a job offer to apply to come to the UK.

Shaw said the Brexit decision in 2016 had further exacerbated an existing talent gap, “showing a tangible impact in a drop in the number of Tier 2 visa applications”.

The Brexit vote also led to a record number of EU workers choosing not to stay in the UK.

Shaw added: “Although we are early in the transition period, the new system unfortunately provides more questions than answers by jeopardising the status of London, and the UK more broadly, as a premier global tech hub.

“Talent is the lifeblood of any thriving innovation centre. For the UK to lead on the world stage, attract investment and grow the best companies, the government must revise its plans and send a more positive message to international tech talent that the UK is open to them.” 

Automate and digitise

Whereas the previous immigration system for people wanting to work in the UK required applicants to have a degree-level qualification, applicants now only need to be qualified up to A-level or equivalent. The hope is that this will give the UK labour market access to a larger pool of skilled workers.

There will also be a points-based system to ensure people from around the world, both inside and outside the EU, can attend UK universities as long as they have an offer from an approved educational institution, can support themselves financially, and speak English.

But the government has also announced there will be no visa route for low-skilled workers who want to enter the country for low-skilled, low-paid jobs.

It claimed that 70% of the current EU workforce would not meet the requirements for the new points-based route, and said there should be a reduction in the number of immigrants in the future.

The government report said: “We will not introduce a general low-skilled or temporary work route. We need to shift the focus of our economy away from a reliance on cheap labour from Europe and instead concentrate on investment in technology and automation. Employers will need to adjust.”

TechUK’s analysis said this encouragement to “automate and digitise processes” in a bid to reduce reliance on low-skilled labour could save time and money, but warned that the 10 months the UK has to prepare for the new immigration laws is not long enough.

“The UK absolutely does need to make greater use of digital technologies in the workplace – they save time, money and will increase productivity and growth,” said TechUK. “But the implementation of these new technologies takes time and requires a change in culture at the leadership level and an acceptance from the workforce. Ten months doesn’t seem all that long.”

Looking at the tech sector from a hardware manufacturing perspective, Bev White, chief executive at the Harvey Nash Group, said: “This system could have an impact on the tech sector in other parts of the value chain. For instance, UK manufacturers producing tech products, and their associated components, will find it more difficult in the future to resource the workers that assemble these products.”

Cost for startups

Highlighting some of the costs currently associated with applying for a non EEA visa, TechUK said many smaller businesses currently cannot afford overseas talent, or find visa application processes complex.

Dom Hallas, executive director at not-for-profit Coadec, said the new rules “will restrict the ability of startups to hire talent from outside the UK”, and although dropping the cap on skilled labour and removing the resident labour market test are steps in the right direction, he said there is a “long way to go”.

“There is currently a lack of information on what this policy means in practice,” said Hallas. “Coadec has always been clear that the visa process needs speeding up if startups aren’t able to hire EU citizens with ease. The government has today pledged to reduce the time it takes for work visas to be granted to eight weeks. That’s better, but not good enough – we need to make it faster.

“The lack of clarity, the costs of the system and the continued crippling bureaucracy can only damage startups. There is still so much to do to protect our ecosystem – if you want to help do it, let us know.”

While conceding that the new rules may allow skilled tech talent access to the UK job market, Daumantas Dvilinskas, CEO of fintech startup TransferGo, said the “principles underpinning the policy” could cast the UK in a bad light.

“While technically the new immigration rules might allow technology talent through, we have to think through the wider implications of this,” he said. “We are asking the world’s best and brightest to prove their worth by arbitrary standards of value set by the British government, based on language skills, academic performance and income. In doing so, we are implicitly saying that people who don’t meet those criteria don’t have value to Britain.

“As a company, this isn’t how we think. We were founded by immigrants, for immigrants. We are built on diversity. We believe in constant learning and growth and helping people get skilled through experience, not just expecting them to arrive with perfect skills.”

Many tech experts still feel there are unanswered questions about the new immigration rules, although the government has said the system may have to be adjusted over time.

Harvey Nash’s White said that although there will be “winners and losers” when the new system is put in place next January, the overall message is a good one.

“This system sends a positive message that Tech UK’s doors are wide open, and that tech companies can continue to access highly skilled talent from all over the world, and at the same time the UK will need to continue to work hard at developing its ‘brand Britain’ reputation as an international destination for the world’s top talent,” she said.

“Overall, we expect the tech sector to come out fairly unscathed from this new system. There may even be upside in the fact that we can more easily reach talent in new markets. We’ve been very lucky that our country has been traditionally seen as a highly desirable place to develop tech skills. It’s so important that we continue to be seen in that light.”

Source: Tech reaction to UK’s upcoming immigration rules

Immigrants built Britain. Now their Conservative children are disowning them

Not unique to UK (e.g. Betraying their heritage: Trump’s immigration functionaries fail to understand the lessons of the Italian-Amer). In one sense, can be seen as integration:

There are few people who have done more work for recent Conservative immigration policy while not actually being in government than Sajid Javid’s father. In fact, he’s doing two jobs at once. The first is to advertise that the Tories are now the party of social mobility: Javid senior was a bus driver. The second is to be invoked constantly as a defence against charges of Conservative racism and Islamophobia – as a Muslim man, born in Pakistan, who migrated to the UK in the 1960s.

Once this brownwashing is complete, Javid senior plays one final role, with a biblical twist – he is to then be denied by his own son. The route that brought him here – paving the way to his son’s spectacular rise through the City and the government – has been blocked. Under new migration policies, Javid senior would not have been allowed in.

The new policies effectively close Britain’s borders to all those classed as unskilled workers and those who cannot speak English at a certain level. When Javid was asked, in 2018, if he was sad about supporting laws that would have barred his own father, he replied that he was “very optimistic about our future because … we will remain the global-outlook nation that welcomes people from across the world.” Just not people like his father. Last week Priti Patel was a little more blunt when she conceded that her parents, Indians from east Africa, would no longer be welcome. “This is the point,” she said. “We are changing our immigration policy to one that’s fit for purpose for our economy, based on skills.”

Source: Immigrants built Britain. Now their Conservative children are disowning them

Home Office’s immigration boss quit ‘after run-ins with Priti Patel’

More chaos at the UK Home Office?

Bullying allegations engulfing the home secretary, Priti Patel, have intensified as it emerged that “major run-ins” had forced the resignation of one of her department’s most senior civil servants on immigration.

Union sources have revealed that “uncomfortable” demands by Patel had prompted Mark Thomson, the director general of UK Visas and Immigration and HM Passport Office, to announce his departure just weeks after her appointment.

Mick Jones of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), the largest trade union for Home Office staff, said that Patel’s approach to various immigration issues had led to Thomson’s resignation.

“He’s indicated to our reps that it was mainly because they had had major run-ins. It was clear that [Patel] had come in and was trying to do things that they [Home Office officials] just weren’t comfortable with and [Thomson] sort of said ‘I’m off then’.”

Source: Home Office’s immigration boss quit ‘after run-ins with Priti Patel’

UK’s expensive visa fees ‘could deter NHS staff and scientists’

Supply and demand theory would suggest the higher costs will have an impact on the numbers and attractiveness of the UK as an immigration destination:

The UK’s “sky-high” visa fees could deter vital NHS staff and the “brightest and best” scientists that Boris Johnson wants to attract with his new immigration policy, experts have warned.

Nurses, lab technicians, engineers and tech experts who currently flock to the UK from the EU may not be able to afford to do so if the prime minister’s proposed immigration overhaul becomes law.

At £1,220 per person, or £900 for those on the shortage occupation list, the fees are among the highest in the world – and this is before charges for using the NHS and costs for sponsoring employers are taken into account.

Comparisons with fee structures in other countries, published by the Institute for Government (IfG) thinktank, show that a family of five with a five-year work visa for one individual would have to pay £21,299 before they could enter in the country.

This includes the annual £400 health surcharge that must also be paid upfront per person. This is double the fee charged by Australia and about 30 times the amount charged by Canada, where it costs just over £10,000 for a family for five years. Germany charges £756 for entry for a family of that size.

The fee comparisons are equally stark for individuals. A single person who wants to come to the country will be charged up to £3,220 for five years. If they want to move to the UK with a spouse, the cost would rise to £6,500 for a five-year work stint.

UK visa fees compared with other countries
UK visa fees compared with other countries Photograph: Institute for Government

This compares with Canada, which charges £220 for an individual visa for three years; Germany, which charges £147; and France, which charges £2,075, according to the data supplied to the IfG. Luxembourg charges €50 (£42) for a visa and€80 for a residents permit.

Source: UK’s expensive visa fees ‘could deter NHS staff and scientists’

And on the gender impacts:

The British government’s plan for a post-Brexit immigration overhaul was designed to wean the economy off its reliance on cheap foreign labor. But in the process, women’s groups warned on Thursday, women will suffer disproportionately.

The new points-based system will give precedence to occupations in which women are underrepresented, favor male migrants over female and deepen gender inequality, according to the Women’s Budget Group, an independent network that promotes gender equality.

“The new immigration system roundly fails to understand the lived experience of women, many of whom are prevented from accessing paid work by the weight of unpaid work — caring for children, older people and those with disabilities — that successive governments rely upon them to do,” said Sophie Walker, the chief executive of the Young Women’s Trust, a British feminist organization.

Under the new rules, which will be implemented next January, applicants will be required to receive a job offer with a salary of at least 25,600 pounds, about $33,300. The salary threshold will be lower in special cases where there might be a shortage in skills, such as in nursing.

By and large, however, that requirement will work against women, who are more likely to work in sectors like home and senior care that are relatively poorly compensated, even though the skill levels of such women are relatively high, women’s advocates say.

“Care workers’ average annual salaries stand at just £17,000, not because care work is ‘low-skilled,’ but because the work force is 80 percent female and therefore undervalued and underpaid,” says Mandu Reid, the leader of the Women’s Equality Party.

Imposing the salary requirement would mean “shutting out care workers, piling pressure on women to take on yet more unpaid care, and widening the existing social care gap between need and provision,” she said.

Women are also four times more likely than men to leave paid work to shoulder unpaid caring responsibilities for children and older relatives. This is one cause of the gender pay gap and gender inequality, the Women’s Budget Group found.

As a result of these inequities, major industries like food production, hospitality, health and social care that rely on female migrant workers are likely to see staff shortages after the new measures are put into place.

In the points-based system, the government gives top priority to scientists, engineers, academics and graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, once again to the detriment of women because of the gender disparities in those professions.

“There is a great emphasis on wanting to attract scientists to the U.K. under the new system, but it is another well-known fact that women are underrepresented in the sciences,” said Adrienne Yong, a lecturer in law at the City Law School in London.

“That the U.K. will give a Ph.D. in STEM subjects 10 more points than Ph.D.s in other subjects already puts women on a back foot,” she said, “as there is already a problem with female students doing STEM subjects, much less continuing further education to a doctoral level with that specialism.”

On Wednesday, the cabinet minister responsible for migration policy, Priti Patel, suggested that around eight million “economically inactive” people in Britain could be trained to fill such shortages, but experts say that many of those people are women who are already providing full-time care for children and families.

“It feels like they just want us to fill the badly paid jobs while the men and foreigners will get the higher-paying jobs,” said Amy Pears, a mother of three who left her job as a professional caregiver and went on benefits in 2015 because she could not afford child care. “My mother is disabled, so between her and the three children I have my hands full.”

The Women’s Equality Party says that without substantial government investment in child and elder care, women are put into a position where they simply cannot work.

“These shortsighted plans are in fact more likely to exacerbate the shortages in formal care, leaving it to women to pick up unpaid and increase the number of ‘economically inactive’ full-time carers,” Ms. Reid said.

Women’s groups warned that shutting out foreign workers would put more pressure on women who are already in Britain, particularly caregivers.

“Without extra colleagues from abroad, U.K. carers are going to have even less time to do the job they’re employed to do and offer people the dignity they deserve,” Ms. Walker said. “This policy makes it an inevitability that this exhausted system will come under further strain, while female family members will increasingly be expected to pick up the pieces as the system continues to erode.”

Ms. Pears said that many of her European friends and former colleagues, who played important caregiving roles, would be locked out of the new system because they did not qualify for the salary threshold or education qualifications.

“These people are carrying a huge burden for our country, and the truth of the matter is we need them,” she said. “Without them we are putting our services at risk.”

Source: Women Will Be Hit Hard by U.K.’s New Immigration Rules, Experts WarnWith its minimum salary requirements, the new system would particularly affect female migrants, who tend to cluster in lower-paid occupations.By Ceylan Yeginsu