The government's foreign labour statistics gaffe does not justify the apocalyptic tones of the current debate about migration, which is about people and development, not numbers and panic, says the religion and society think-tank Eklesia.
Analysts point out that the revised government figures indicate that foreign labour amounts to 7 or 8 per cent of the 29 million total labour force, and that a good proportion of those concerned are married to British citizens, or from countries like the USA, Australia, New Zealand and other parts of the Commonwealth.
"Politicians will go to endless lengths to deny it, but the agitation about migration, which in terms of labour has generated some £6 billion for the UK, is about black and Eastern European people coming into Britain. They say it is 'sensitive' because they know it is about racism and prejudice, as well as global economic trends exacerbated by policies endorsed by the main Western governments," commented Simon Barrow, co-director of Ekklesia.
"Migration has been increasing worldwide due to globalization, the impact of vast inequalities, war and conflict, human rights abuses, people's search for a stable and prosperous life, a huge expansion of cross-border trade and investment, EU labour shortages, falling costs of transportation and communication, environmental degradation, and other international and regional factors", noted Barrow.
"A sane debate would be about these issues, not knee-jerk discriminatory policies on marriage, the government's decision to close the door against Bulgarians and Romanians, or the opposition's projecting net migration ten years ahead without proper regard for flux," he added.
Ekklesia points to the poineering work of places like the Development Research Centre on Migration, Globalisation and Poverty (DRC) at the University of Sussex, which aims "to promote new policy approaches that will help to maximize the potential benefits of migration for poor people, whilst minimizing its risks and costs".