There has been a lot in the news recently about British Jobs for British people . It seems that there is a rising wave of so called nationalism and protectionism. It is easy politics and panders to the belief that somehow we need to look after our needs first. It is a seductive argument.
It is wrong however, for many reasons but here are five:
Firstly, it is pedantic I know, but when politicians refer to being British they mean being a citizen of the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland is in the United Kingdom but not part of Great Britain.
Secondly, when you go down to the shops, much of what you buy does not come from this country. Over fifty percent of the food we consume, for example, comes from abroad. It is not possible to create British jobs to grow and manufacture these products and so there will always be areas in which jobs must be outside the country’s borders.
Thirdly, if we are to insist on British jobs for British people then why should the French not insist on jobs for French people, or the Germans and Italians? Protectionism cannot work in isolation. The United Kingdom is a trading nation and will not be able to continue to be so if it skews the market in favour of its own workforce. Either we believe in a free market or a controlled market, it is not possible to have both.
Fourthly, the boundaries of countries are fluid and, in many ways fictitious. They have been arrived at by wars and treaties. In my own lifetime there have been new countries, such as South Sudan, countries splitting up, as in the Balkans, and countries coming back together again, as in East and West Germany. The flow of people and the nation state boundaries are not the same. We could have British jobs for British people only to find that the union breaks up. What then?
Fifthly, if this argument is taken to its logical conclusion then why stop at country borders? Why not North East jobs for North East people, Birmingham jobs for Birmingham people or even Morpeth jobs for Morpeth people?
Local jobs for local people is wrong. Don’t be seduced.