Maurice Glasman recently called for a moratorium on all migration to the UK, as part of his Blue Labour project. Sir Andrew of Migration Watch UK called this “over the top.” Yeah, they of “as seen in the Mail and Express” fame, oft also seen spurting bile against migrants. They think he is being “over the top.”
It would be like Cromwell turning up at an Orange March and saying “steady on boys, I think you’re taking this all a bit seriously.”  My eyes are on stalks on this one. I thought Glasman was a wag, but I thought he had some level of realism in his prescription. He is a man behind London Citizens, a group which avidly supports and actively lobbies for an amnesty for the illegal migrants already here. Yet…he proposes this.
I think he is either an idiot or a troll. Now I have read his academic work on Karl Polanyi, I’ve used some of it in fact, and he isn’t an idiot. But I don’t get what he’d get from trolling, he isn’t Rod Liddle. I genuinely can’t get my head round what this guy is up to, because he seems to not quite get Polanyi.
Polanyi, Glasman’s inspiration, is a thinker often associated with an anti-market mentality, but that is too simple. Polanyi thought the market was very destructive, particularly when money, land or labour were treated as commodities to be bought and sold. He was also concerned with society’s resilience to extreme changes; he was especially concerned with moderating the rate of change of grand societal changes.
This wasn’t because Polanyi thought all change was bad, but because he thought that the coping mechanisms which societies develop to deal with the winners and losers take time to appear. So moderating the rate of change was essential to ensure that people survived the process. That isn’t what Glasman is proposing.
Glasman appears to think migration has rendered such unmanageable desolation on society that it needs time to heal. That just isn’t tenable. Many, many markets are impacting the life of working people in Britain and cutting migration to a stand still just isn’t the best way to spend political capital in protecting them. Migration would decrease, a bit, but illegal migration would increase, perhaps swamping any perceived benefits.
In addition to that, Glasman’s call to end migration completely goes against Polanyi’s idea that extreme change needs to be moderated. Dozens of Universities would shut down overnight if international students were prevented from studying, as Glasman proposes. My own University, LSE, has half its student body from overseas. There are no coping mechanisms in place to moderate the changes Glasman would impose.
In short, he seems a troll, bent on causing mischief. He proposes policies with no chance of adoption which are wildly impractical and he appears deaf to the words and lessons of his own political inspiration.
On this, for once, Migration Watch UK and I are in complete agreement, Maurice Glasman is certainly being at least a little “over the top.”