I was saddened to read comments today by the Indian-born entrepreneur Sir Gulam Noon.
According to the Daily Mail, the “controversial Labour donor” has called for a ten year ban on immigration to the United Kingdom so as to give time for the current immigrant population to settle in and integrate and to make sure that there are enough jobs to go around.
In his modestly titled autobiography, Noon, with a View: Courage and Integrity, the so called ‘Curry King’ writes “Bluntly, I think we are self-sufficient now. We should wait for five or ten years, until all the newcomers have been properly integrated and assimilated into the country. Until then we should just shut the door.”
This is a shame, as Noon is a perfect example the benefits of immigration to the UK economy and society. Arriving in 1966 with just £50 in his pocket, he has since made a fortune of £65m, employed thousands of people and satisfied many thousand more customers. He has contributed hugely to the economy and (through taxation) to the funding of public services. A few more Noons (Labour donations notwithstanding) would be welcome.
However, it a sad example of double-standards, he would now seek to deny that opportunity to other would-be immigrants and entrepreneurs.
His thinking is clearly flawed, resting on common errors such as the idea that the UK is ‘full’ (we in fact have far lower population density that the Netherlands, Belgium or Taiwan and approximately the same as Germany) or that there are only so many jobs to go round.
He also cites the rise of the British National(ist) Party as an example of the dangers of “disturb[ing] the balance and upset[ing] the … host community”, as though those fascist thugs represented mainstream opinion. Sadly, his comments are more likely to play into their hands – I can already imagine them reproducing his words on their literature.
The truth is that the quantity of work available in an economy adjusts with demand, so that the more people one admits the more work is needed. Of course it would be harmful to the economy if immigrants did not work, but the suggestion that immigrants arrive to take advantage of our welfare state and live I life of idleness is simply not born out by evidence. Many immigrants pay several thousands of pounds to reach the UK, which they would hardly do just for the privilege of living off £60 a week.
There is a regrettable tendency among some immigrants to wish to close the door after them, stemming the competition from the next wave of immigration. It seems that Sir Gulam has decided to throw his lot in with those who oppose immigration even though he is himself a prime example of how it benefits the UK . It is both ignorant and hypocritical.