Thursday, 27 August 2015

We don't have problem immigration. We have problem government.

Immigration is once again at the top of the agenda. This means my supposed allies in the fight to leave the EU are doing nothing but bang on about immigration. I don't know how many times it has to be said but leaving the EU on balance has very little impact on immigration. Freedom of movement is not going to come to halt in any eventuality and even if it did, it would have no impact on the global migration crisis.

What we often hear is that we want to reduce "problem immigration". In those terms we have to ask what those problems are. In most respects what we're looking at is not problem immigration but maladministration and local government incompetence.

We've seen blitzes on housing overcrowding and dodgy employers, but this is largely window dressing. This flurry of activity may yield some convincing headlines, but the bottom line is such activities ought to be part of local authority routine - and with local government services operating effectively, including spot checks by environmental health officers, police and social services, they ought to be well aware of the situation on the ground long before it becomes a problem that necessitates a blitz operation.

So we have to ask why this is not happening. Nobody was really surprised by the Rotherham revelations and few are ever surprised by total police ineptitude. It's easy to see what's happening too. We see experienced practitioners moving off their patch and promoted to management so we only ever see junior practitioners actually doing the jobs at the street level, often far too dependent on checklist methodology, spread around entire district rather than focussing on a single patch.

This is what happens when you centralise services and amalgamate local services. It is often said that centralisation is done for the purposes of efficiency. From a pure operation accountancy perspective, I suppose it is efficient - but the externalities of not dealing with the problems is something we all pay for - and local authorities reacting is often more expensive than prevention.

Consequently local authority activity becomes less about maintaining and more about reacting to each crisis as it emerges, concentrating resources on putting out brush fires. This often means budgets from one parish are diverted from basic infrastructure, to social problems in the next. Over time we see a background level of degradation in the things that truly matter.

Parks become shabby, street furniture decays, potholes go unrepaired, and basic maintenance goes out the window. Sooner or later people start treating a place badly, drop litter that goes uncollected, and fly tipping mounts up.

Quite soon you see communities that were once tolerable turn into festering hovels which are incidentally full of foreigners. Who then gets the blame? Foreigners obviously.

But don't let anyone tell you it;s the cuts or austerity. This decay set in long before the financial crisis. The basics were abandoned long ago as more resources were funnelled into welfare than local authorities doing what they are genuinely supposed to do. Meanwhile council headcounts increased while field practitioners reduced. Local offices were closed while giant new headquarters were built. You local police station is now either flats or boarded up awaiting development.

And is it the fault of immigrants that some people can't get a GP's appointment? No. Is that evil Tory cuts again? I don't think so. They can afford £7k a shift for a temp nurse and they can afford £400k pay-offs for health executives. Meanwhile British doctors are massively overpaid and would never get a deal like they have if we had any kind of functioning health market.

And how did it get like this? Would you have consented to this had you been consulted? No. Were you consulted? No. Do we have anything even approaching local democracy? No. My local council offices aren't even in the same town. And that's a two hour walk away.

The truth is we don't have "problem immigration". We just have problems and authorities unfit for purpose. Meanwhile we abdicated trade policy to the EU and our politicians talk about the content of children's lunchboxes and segregated railways carriages. They're not in charge and neither are we. We're run by accountants and government services are run for their convenience, not ours.

Much of this would be easier to swallow had we seen any kind of proportionate cut to council tax for our reduced services, but we're paying more for less all the time. It's our councils letting us down. How about we blame them instead of foreigners? Just yesterday a Kipper said we should gas the migrants. Frankly, if we are setting ourselves on a course to genocide, can we start with the council executives first? I'll be the first in line.

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