In the latest issue:

Short Cuts

Jonathan Parry

Real Men Go to Tehran

Adam Shatz

What Trump doesn’t know about Iran

Patrick Cockburn

Kaiser Karl V

Thomas Penn

The Hostile Environment

Catherine Hall

Social Mobilities

Adam Swift

Short Cuts: So much for England

Tariq Ali

What the jihadis left behind

Nelly Lahoud

Ray Strachey

Francesca Wade

C.J. Sansom

Malcolm Gaskill

At the British Museum: ‘Troy: Myth and Reality’

James Davidson

Poem: ‘The Lion Tree’

Jamie McKendrick

SurrogacyTM

Jenny Turner

Boys in Motion

Nicholas Penny

Jia Tolentino

Lauren Oyler

Diary: What really happened in Yancheng?

Long Ling

Tearing up the Race CardPaul Foot
Close

Terms and Conditions

These terms and conditions of use refer to the London Review of Books and the London Review Bookshop website (www.lrb.co.uk — hereafter ‘LRB Website’). These terms and conditions apply to all users of the LRB Website ("you"), including individual subscribers to the print edition of the LRB who wish to take advantage of our free 'subscriber only' access to archived material ("individual users") and users who are authorised to access the LRB Website by subscribing institutions ("institutional users").

Each time you use the LRB Website you signify your acceptance of these terms and conditions. If you do not agree, or are not comfortable with any part of this document, your only remedy is not to use the LRB Website.


  1. By registering for access to the LRB Website and/or entering the LRB Website by whatever route of access, you agree to be bound by the terms and conditions currently prevailing.
  2. The London Review of Books ("LRB") reserves the right to change these terms and conditions at any time and you should check for any alterations regularly. Continued usage of the LRB Website subsequent to a change in the terms and conditions constitutes acceptance of the current terms and conditions.
  3. The terms and conditions of any subscription agreements which educational and other institutions have entered into with the LRB apply in addition to these terms and conditions.
  4. You undertake to indemnify the LRB fully for all losses damages and costs incurred as a result of your breaching these terms and conditions.
  5. The information you supply on registration to the LRB Website shall be accurate and complete. You will notify the LRB promptly of any changes of relevant details by emailing the registrar. You will not assist a non-registered person to gain access to the LRB Website by supplying them with your password. In the event that the LRB considers that you have breached the requirements governing registration, that you are in breach of these terms and conditions or that your or your institution's subscription to the LRB lapses, your registration to the LRB Website will be terminated.
  6. Each individual subscriber to the LRB (whether a person or organisation) is entitled to the registration of one person to use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site. This user is an 'individual user'.
  7. The London Review of Books operates a ‘no questions asked’ cancellation policy in accordance with UK legislation. Please contact us to cancel your subscription and receive a full refund for the cost of all unposted issues.
  8. Use of the 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is strictly for the personal use of each individual user who may read the content on the screen, download, store or print single copies for their own personal private non-commercial use only, and is not to be made available to or used by any other person for any purpose.
  9. Each institution which subscribes to the LRB is entitled to grant access to persons to register on and use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site under the terms and conditions of its subscription agreement with the LRB. These users are 'institutional users'.
  10. Each institutional user of the LRB may access and search the LRB database and view its entire contents, and may also reproduce insubstantial extracts from individual articles or other works in the database to which their institution's subscription provides access, including in academic assignments and theses, online and/or in print. All quotations must be credited to the author and the LRB. Institutional users are not permitted to reproduce any entire article or other work, or to make any commercial use of any LRB material (including sale, licensing or publication) without the LRB's prior written permission. Institutions may notify institutional users of any additional or different conditions of use which they have agreed with the LRB.
  11. Users may use any one computer to access the LRB web site 'subscriber only' content at any time, so long as that connection does not allow any other computer, networked or otherwise connected, to access 'subscriber only' content.
  12. The LRB Website and its contents are protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. You acknowledge that all intellectual property rights including copyright in the LRB Website and its contents belong to or have been licensed to the LRB or are otherwise used by the LRB as permitted by applicable law.
  13. All intellectual property rights in articles, reviews and essays originally published in the print edition of the LRB and subsequently included on the LRB Website belong to or have been licensed to the LRB. This material is made available to you for use as set out in paragraph 8 (if you are an individual user) or paragraph 10 (if you are an institutional user) only. Save for such permitted use, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt such material in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department.
  14. All intellectual property rights in images on the LRB Website are owned by the LRB except where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited. Save for such material taken for permitted use set out above, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt LRB’s images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department. Where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, reproduce or translate such images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the copyright holder. The LRB will not undertake to supply contact details of any attributed or credited copyright holder.
  15. The LRB Website is provided on an 'as is' basis and the LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website will be accessible by any particular browser, operating system or device.
  16. The LRB makes no express or implied representation and gives no warranty of any kind in relation to any content available on the LRB Website including as to the accuracy or reliability of any information either in its articles, essays and reviews or in the letters printed in its letter page or material supplied by third parties. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) arising from the publication of any materials on the LRB Website or incurred as a consequence of using or relying on such materials.
  17. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) for any legal or other consequences (including infringement of third party rights) of any links made to the LRB Website.
  18. The LRB is not responsible for the content of any material you encounter after leaving the LRB Website site via a link in it or otherwise. The LRB gives no warranty as to the accuracy or reliability of any such material and to the fullest extent permitted by law excludes all liability that may arise in respect of or as a consequence of using or relying on such material.
  19. This site may be used only for lawful purposes and in a manner which does not infringe the rights of, or restrict the use and enjoyment of the site by, any third party. In the event of a chat room, message board, forum and/or news group being set up on the LRB Website, the LRB will not undertake to monitor any material supplied and will give no warranty as to its accuracy, reliability, originality or decency. By posting any material you agree that you are solely responsible for ensuring that it is accurate and not obscene, defamatory, plagiarised or in breach of copyright, confidentiality or any other right of any person, and you undertake to indemnify the LRB against all claims, losses, damages and costs incurred in consequence of your posting of such material. The LRB will reserve the right to remove any such material posted at any time and without notice or explanation. The LRB will reserve the right to disclose the provenance of such material, republish it in any form it deems fit or edit or censor it. The LRB will reserve the right to terminate the registration of any person it considers to abuse access to any chat room, message board, forum or news group provided by the LRB.
  20. Any e-mail services supplied via the LRB Website are subject to these terms and conditions.
  21. You will not knowingly transmit any virus, malware, trojan or other harmful matter to the LRB Website. The LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website is free from contaminating matter, viruses or other malicious software and to the fullest extent permitted by law disclaims all liability of any kind including liability for any damages, losses or costs resulting from damage to your computer or other property arising from access to the LRB Website, use of it or downloading material from it.
  22. The LRB does not warrant that the use of the LRB Website will be uninterrupted, and disclaims all liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred as a result of access to the LRB Website being interrupted, modified or discontinued.
  23. The LRB Website contains advertisements and promotional links to websites and other resources operated by third parties. While we would never knowingly link to a site which we believed to be trading in bad faith, the LRB makes no express or implied representations or warranties of any kind in respect of any third party websites or resources or their contents, and we take no responsibility for the content, privacy practices, goods or services offered by these websites and resources. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability for any damages or losses arising from access to such websites and resources. Any transaction effected with such a third party contacted via the LRB Website are subject to the terms and conditions imposed by the third party involved and the LRB accepts no responsibility or liability resulting from such transactions.
  24. The LRB disclaims liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred for unauthorised access or alterations of transmissions or data by third parties as consequence of visit to the LRB Website.
  25. While 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is currently provided free to subscribers to the print edition of the LRB, the LRB reserves the right to impose a charge for access to some or all areas of the LRB Website without notice.
  26. These terms and conditions are governed by and will be interpreted in accordance with English law and any disputes relating to these terms and conditions will be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.
  27. The various provisions of these terms and conditions are severable and if any provision is held to be invalid or unenforceable by any court of competent jurisdiction then such invalidity or unenforceability shall not affect the remaining provisions.
  28. If these terms and conditions are not accepted in full, use of the LRB Website must be terminated immediately.
Close
The New Untouchables: Immigration and the New World Worker 
by Nigel Harris.
Tauris, 256 pp., £25, October 1995, 1 85043 956 7
Show More
The Cambridge Survey of World Migration 
edited by Robin Cohen.
Cambridge, 570 pp., £75, November 1995, 0 521 44405 5
Show More
Show More

Every Tory attempt at ‘renewal’ – the staged leadership election last summer is a good example – pushes the Party closer to the abyss. Every poll indicates that they are losing more heavily than ever before. There is one possible remedy. Labour may be soft on immigration. The electorate may be scared away from its obvious intention, even at this late hour, by the prospect of hordes of foreigners being seduced into the country by Jack Straw. Several ministers, some for lack of any other strategy, some out of an instinctive xenophobia, press the Prime Minister to ‘play the race card’. The hawks on this subject are the two Michaels, Portillo and Howard, whose fathers were both immigrants, and Peter Lilley, whose holidays in his house in France enabled him to break into colloquial French in the course of a ludicrous comic turn about foreigners coming to this country to partake of the social services which he is assiduously dismantling. As always when a course of action is urged on him by his enemies in the cabinet, whom he describes as ‘bastards’, nice Mr Major rolls over on his back and pants happily in agreement. The Queen’s Speech makes it clear that immigration and political asylum will be an issue at the general election. Judging from the predictions of the very right-wing Hugh Colver, who has resigned in disgust after a few months as chief Tory press spokesman, there will be no holds barred. No doubt Tory chairman Brian Mawhinney will be in close touch with his colleague Peter Griffiths, the MP for Portsmouth North, who first won a seat in Parliament in Smethwick, in the general election of 1964, by concentrating heavily on the race issue. It was in that election, without the sanction of Mr Griffiths, that the slogan first appeared in stickers, leaflets and verbal sallies on the doorsteps: ‘If you want a nigger neighbour, vote Labour.’

Almost as grotesque as Mr Griffiths’s performance in that election was the response of his main adversary, the sitting Labour MP, Patrick Gordon-Walker. Gordon-Walker had led Labour’s Parliamentary opposition to the Commonwealth Immigrants Act, 1962, the first ever legislative restriction on the right of entry into Britain of some 600 million citizens of the Commonwealth. He and his leader Hugh Gaitskell opposed the new controls with some passion and considerable intellectual force. Yet having led their troops into the No lobby on the second reading, they persuaded them to abstain on the third. When Griffiths taunted his much more experienced opponent at Smethwick with favouring free immigration, Gordon Walker hotly denied it. When a heckler shouted ‘nigger lover’ at him, he retorted angrily that he was no such thing.

Harold Wilson, the new Labour Prime Minister, denounced the young MP from Smethwick as a ‘Parliamentary leper’, and before long Griffiths was drowned in the full Labour tide of 1966. But even before the 1966 election, the Labour Party had turned the retreat at Smethwick into a rout. Further controls on Commonwealth immigration were imposed in the summer of 1965; and in 1968 the notorious ‘East African Asians Act’ was passed with the specific purpose of denying access to Britain to refugees from the tyranny of the Abacha of his time, General Amin of Uganda. The new Labour controls were justified by the glorious argument that the only way to prevent racial tension in Britain was to pass overtly racist legislation to keep out foreigners who might want to come here. This is a traditional push me, pull you. Denounce the blacks when they are out of the country – but make friends with them once they arrive. The strategy was a predictable disaster. It opened the door, when the Tories won the election, to the yet more restrictive Nationality Act of 1971, and an increasingly rigid immigration policy, and hence yet more racism, all through the Seventies, including the Labour years of 1974 to 1979.

This is one of the many areas of modern politics where Old Labour meets New Labour. When the Tories play the race card they know for sure that they will not be opposed by Labour. There will of course be the usual platform squeals – ‘you’re playing the race card!’ – followed at once by panic-stricken attempts to trump it. Both parties will career through the campaign assuring the electorate that they remain implacably committed to the strictest possible immigration controls. Anyone interested in the basic case for and against immigration controls will have to travel far outside the normal political boundaries. They could start with Nigel Harris’s timely book.

In a panoramic survey of worldwide migration over the last fifty years, Harris asks the questions which always arise wherever the subject comes up. If there are no statutory controls, will a host country (‘we’, whoever ‘we’ are) be, in Mrs Thatcher’s tasteful word, ‘swamped’ by immigrants? ‘No’ is Harris’s firm answer. All the evidence shows that large-scale migration has a single cause, the movement of labour; and that ‘labour supply is increasingly sensitive to labour demand.’ People move wherever there is work to move to. If there isn’t any work, they don’t move. The book is packed with examples. When the oil price dropped in the early Eighties, 750,000 immigrant workers left the Gulf states. In a small recession in the late Fifties, when there were no restrictions at all, immigration to Britain from the Commonwealth was suddenly and spontaneously cut in half. In the Depression of the Thirties, immigration to the Americas almost dried up. Harris concludes: ‘The truth seems to be the reverse of the popular wisdom: people are not generally driven to work; they are attracted to it.’ The nightmare of the Western rich – that they will be ‘engulfed’ in a ‘flood tide’ of barbarian poor – is the exact opposite of what really happens. Abject poverty is not a spur to emigrate. The people who try to get into the growing economies of the ‘developed’ and half-developed world are almost without exception better educated, more dynamic, more enthusiastic, hard-working and ambitious than the people they join and the people they leave behind. Their impact on the absurdly-called ‘host countries’ is always beneficial. Compared with the people who are already there, they ‘take out’ less from the economies they visit than they put in: they staff more hospitals than they use; build more houses than they occupy; clean and teach in more schools than their children (if they have any) attend; drive and service more buses and trains than they can travel in; manufacture, process, provide, prepare and serve more food than they can ever eat. But surely, it is argued, by accepting worse wages and conditions they depress the standards of indigenous workers? Not at all. Harris quotes a monumental study which ‘cannot find a single shred of evidence that immigrants have a major adverse impact on the earnings and job opportunities of natives in the US’. In a typically chauvinist campaign to ‘free jobs for Americans’ in the early years of Reagan’s Administration, 6000 people were deported. Their jobs were advertised and some Americans applied for them. When they found out what the conditions were – $3.35 an hour for a 50-hour week – they walked away in disgust; and ‘illegals’ took the jobs.

What about those ‘illegals’? Are they not, as everyone from Pat Buchanan in the US to Michael Howard in Britain keeps telling us, mere human refuse: a menace to civilised society? On the contrary, they do the dirty work which makes the civilised comfort of Buchanan and Howard possible. Society gets their contribution cheap. In the most extraordinary figure quoted in this very statistical book, Harris cites a Department of Labour survey which found in 1982 that 73 per cent of illegal immigrants had income tax deducted from their pay and 77 per cent paid social security taxes – but only a half of 1 per cent of them received any of the welfare benefits the taxes were meant to pay for. No wonder the Wall Street Journal mused: ‘Throughout the south-east of the United States the idea of life without illegal immigration is as alarming as the idea of life without the rays of the sun.’

Capitalism prides itself on its dependence on the free movement of goods and capital. If such a system has any logic, it should insist on the free movement of labour. Immigration control leads to intolerable disappointment, harassment, insults and deprivation for people whose chief crime is that they want to move from one country to another so that they can work. Harris inveighs against a system which treats its hard-working benefactors, its immigrants, with the sort of gratitude that is bestowed on a stray dog with rabies. He concludes with what he rightly calls a ‘brave and bold argument’ for the free movement of labour throughout the world. This argument is not extreme. The Cambridge Survey, a prodigious compendium of more than a hundred expert essays on aspects of migration all over the world, again and again, if rather apologetically, comes close to Harris’s conclusions. Robin Cohen’s article notes that ‘international migration’ has replaced Communism as a ‘key threat’ to Western security organisations such as Nato, and asks: ‘Are such organisations simply trying to stay in business? Does the world system of states only function through a kind of free-floating anxiety that fixes on different objects as old foes appear as increasingly unlikely hazards?’

Harris’s conclusion is admirable, but the arguments which get him there leave too many holes. In his schoolmasterly way, he airily dismisses the central capitalist paradox – free movement of capital in tandem with tightly restricted movement of labour – as if it were a silly mistake made by people who have not properly studied the matter. There is, however, an ugly logic in the apparent contradiction. Capitalism is not only an economic system which relies on capitalists’ freedom to make decisions and to make money from them. It is also an exploitative system which depends on arbitrary control over the people who do the work. Freedom for capitalists to do what they please must of necessity be combined with the strictest possible control over labour, whether that labour is combining to form trade unions or moving of its own accord from one country to the next. I remember interviewing Enoch Powell on this subject more than 27 years ago, just after he had made his monstrous (and, in hindsight, ridiculous) speech against immigration. What future would there be for his precious free market, I asked, after he had imposed the most rigid regulations on the workers in that market? He saw no difficulty at all in the argument. He was for a free market in capital – and an unfree market in labour. The asymmetry was not a problem.

Harris is again impatient with the nationalism and racism which inevitably emerge from the argument for immigration control, repeating without substantiating it the fashionable modern view of everyone from the City of London to the Shadow Cabinet: that the nation-state is an anachronism, and that ‘globalisation’ is the order of the day. This is, however, a trend, not an accomplished fact. Three-quarters of the assets of the US multinationals are still invested in the US and two-thirds of the wealth of Japanese multinationals is invested in Japan. These huge corporations still swear allegiance to their states. They need states to run administrations, police forces, armies. (In an extraordinary passage Harris seems to suggest that wars are not as likely nowadays as in the past – perhaps he should read the newspapers.) Above all, the nation-state survives as a focus for the loyalty of the people, an icon before which people can bow and scrape and feel proud of something with which they had nothing whatever to do: their birthplace, their birthright, their precious stone set in the silver sea. Nationalism and racism have not declined with the increasing globalisation of markets. Both are on the increase and are ushering in a new era of Fascist politics – as is grimly attested to in France, in Italy, in Russia, and by scores of strutting Fascists in the ‘proud new states’ of Asia and Europe.

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

letters@lrb.co.uk

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.