Calais and the Viable Economy

I am trying to read the newspaper.  The sense of horror and helplessness which has been pre-occupying me over the last few days and weeks has driven me to write this blog.  No doubt many readers have similar feelings as we hear about the mounting numbers of desperate people in Calais trying to get to the UK and the response.

Is the situation in Calais among the many other awful things going on near and far, a signal of ever increasing chaos as our global economic system fails to serve the needs of the ‘common good’ in favour of so called ‘economic growth’, and all that goes with it including ever growing inequalities​?

I am sure I am not alone amongst readers believing that this situation requires an immediate humanitarian response. yet I fear and know that this will not happen for many of the migrants. In the longer term, we know no visas, borders, walls, detention centres, immigration laws and benefit reductions will stem the flow. If the causes of migration are not effectively addressed the numbers will probably increase.

We​, in Steady State Manchester, have done some thinking about migration and what solidarity with places outside Manchester might look like.  We think it timely to open up a conversation about a viable economic approach to migration.

We believe Manchester is and should continue to be a place which values people from outside and celebrates the richness of a diverse and hospitable region. At the same time we should recognise that most people would prefer to stay in their home country if they can see a way to sustain their lives there and live in freedom, without conflict and persecution.

Current policies focus on controlling the numbers and types of people coming into the country rather than addressing the reasons why people want to move in the first place. A viable economy would work on reducing the determinants of migration. Policies should be based on an understanding that the interests of our region are interdependent with the interests of those outside. Solidarity is key to ensuring a viable population and migration patterns.  This needs to be international, national as well as local.

We believe that if economic equity is increased, migration will fall whether it is from the North East of the UK to Manchester, Manchester to London or Africa to the UK.  Similarly if the impact of climate change is kept to the minimum more people will manage to sustain their lives where they are and this will reduce migration.  There will be fewer wars in a world where more people can provide for their basic needs, live with greater equity within their societies and between societies and where economies such as ours produces and sells socially useful goods rather than armaments.  Well functioning societies here and elsewhere are likely to be more accepting of political, racial, religious and sexual diversity.

I do not feel I have enough conversations amongst people who are concerned about the welfare of migrants about longer term strategies, let alone with people more concerned about immigration controls. I find the polarisation of views on migrants / migration very painful.  I don’t find it easy to have conversations with people with very different views to mine, however I want to find ways to understand people’s fears and learn from them. I wonder if by addressing the bigger picture in a viable way it might be possible to come up with strategies that show compassion for the situation of migrants and people in the places they are coming from AND for people who fear them coming here

Steady State Manchester suggest some ideas to reduce the determinants of migration. We believe policies need to foster equity between our region and others, good environmental measures which will ensure minimum climate change and do not fuel reasons for migration such as economic injustice, eg TTIP and war e.g. arms exports. Given the role of war and civil conflict as causes of migration, we advocate work with the Campaign Against the Arms Trade to encourage transformation of jobs in the arms trade in our region to socially useful production such as renewable energy technology. This list is far from exhaustive – we would like to hear your views on these issues and what can be done especially things that have some chance of success in the months ahead.

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7 Responses to Calais and the Viable Economy

  1. Governments of the Global North, especially the UK, have tried to impose thir will, on other countries. Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Syria are prime examples. Whilst propping up countries like Israel, Bahrain, UAE, Sudan and Saudi Arabia. Also, multi-national corporations are being allowed to displace indigenous peoples from their land. The World Bank, Internation Monetary Fund and ongoing trade negotations, all work against indigenous people. You might like to read this letter from Civil Society: http://www.ourworldisnotforsale.org/en/signon/letter-civil-society-regarding-future-agenda-wto-negotiations

  2. judith515 says:

    Thanks for your comments Patrick which do draw attention to some important contextual issues to the current situation and crisis. Also for drawing our attention to the letter which encompasses a lot of important points in relation to trade negotiations which are one critical way of ensuring life is sustainable in countries of the South . Judith

  3. Ben Dover says:

    Wars will continue to be manufactured ad infinitum due to the fact that the economy and the wealth of a lot of rich people and companies depend on it. Depressing but true.

    You are right in what you say about immigration/migration. I’m sick to death with the right wing views of people in this country – and that’s from those who are supposed to be left leaning. Controls are inherently racist. There can never be any justice in controls – just ask anybody subject to them.

    • judith515 says:

      Ben, thanks for your reply. I really value conversations about these things. It is great to hear that we feel similarly that immigration controls are not the answer. I can understand you feel angry, I do too. I find it painful to hear your despair, that you think things will never be different; there will always be wars. I think it will be pretty desperate for everyone if vast parts of the majority world become unviable to live in and everyone wants to come here and that we really need to try and get more understanding that the reasons why people need to migrate need to be and can be addressed better than they are now in the interests of us all. Do you think that is important?

  4. mike reardon says:

    Interestingly this goes to the heart of what ‘steady state’ means..I tend to think that many people are of the view that there is not enough steadiness and far too much turmoil and flux in the world. Pointing to the root causes (and the role of western interventions ) in conversation with protagonists – as progressives usually do -is a bit like holding the residents of lower Broughton to account for their carbon footprint (which incidentally is half the UK average). Our often misplaced internationalism leaves us without a story that resonates. So much as we talk to people in lower Broughton about fuel poverty, energy costs , good food and the use of local resources rather than cutting their carbon, can we find another way into the debate on migration/immigration ?

    • judith515 says:

      I really like your point about steadiness Mike and your request for new ways to have conversations and thinking about how we can talk in new ways about migration. I would find it really useful to identify issues we might explore for the migration/ immigration debate which might have resonance with a wider group of people. Might they include austerity and how people are having to move in the UK eg from North to South or even the area of Manchester where you grew up?

  5. penny vine says:

    Thank you Judith for writing and sharing this. There are a number of sentences which I think are key and offer an understanding of what is happening WITHOUT demonising political groups WHILST at the same time offering me real clarity. Thank you…e.g. “If the causes of migration are not effectively addressed the numbers will probably increase” “We believe that if economic equity is increased, migration will fall whether it is from the North East of the UK to Manchester, Manchester to London or Africa to the UK” “I don’t find it easy to have conversations with people with very different views to mine, however I want to find ways to understand people’s fears and learn from them. I wonder if by addressing the bigger picture in a viable way it might be possible to come up with strategies that show compassion for the situation of migrants and people in the places they are coming from AND for people who fear them coming here”

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