Does it matter if immigrants have taken (or created) all the new jobs in the British private sector? I reveal this in my News of the World column today, as the key fact from a data request I made from the ONS. It’s a divisive topic, and even exploring it make ministers feel uncomfortable. But this ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ approach to immigration has not just given the BNP the political space needed for its electoral breakthrough three weeks ago, but left ministers ignorant about what’s going on in our labour market. Between Q1 of 1997 and Q1 of 2009, immigrants account for 106% of new jobs in the private sector – ie, there are more new workers (1.55m) than new jobs (1.47m).
I’ll update this post later with key graphs and put online the full response to my data request - this all deserves to be in the public domain. But it does strike me that the best way to fight the BNP is not to ban its MEPs from the House of Commons (as our MPs are now trying to do) but actually start learning about, and dealing with, the dynamics of migration. BNP support is the scream of the forgotten voter – and unless Westminster collectively starts to reach out to these people then the BNP’s success story may well have a good bit left to run.