Mehdi's Morning Memo: Migrants! This Country Needs You!

Undated file photo of passports being checked at Passport Control at Gatwick Airport in West Sussex. Official migration statistics are "not fit for purpose" and leave assessments of the Government's progress in reducing net migration as "little better than a best guess", according to a scathing report.
Undated file photo of passports being checked at Passport Control at Gatwick Airport in West Sussex. Official migration statistics are "not fit for purpose" and leave assessments of the Government's progress in reducing net migration as "little better than a best guess", according to a scathing report.

The five things you need to know on Tuesday 5 November 2013...


Yet another hard-hitting academic study suggests migrants are good for the British economy and debunks right-wing claims about 'burdens', 'pressures', 'benefit tourists' and the rest. My colleague Asa Bennett reports:

"Recent immigrants to Britain are better educated, pay more taxes and draw less state benefits than native Britons.

"The findings, taken from official government data, came in a heavyweight report into the fiscal consequences of immigration to the UK, published... by the Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM) at University College London.

"The authors of the report concluded that fears that 'benefit tourists' were coming to the UK with no intention of working were 'disconnected from reality'... According to the report, immigrants who arrived after 1999 in Britain, and made up a third of the overall immigrant population in the UK in 2011, were 45% less likely to receive state benefits than native Brits. They were also 3% less likely to live in social housing. They were also better educated than native Britons."

The study suggests the net fiscal contribution from migrants, between 2001 and 2011, was around £22bn - equivalent to a 5p cut in the basic rate of income.

The FT reports on the UCL study:

"Migrants from non-EEA countries made a more modest but still positive contribution, putting in roughly 2 per cent more than they took out. But over the same period, native Britons paid much less into the system than they took out in benefits, contributing only 89 per cent of what they cost... Separately, the Niesr study looked at the effects of immigration on worker productivity - the value of output each worker makes - and concluded that industries with higher shares of migrant workers had higher labour productivity."

Migration Watch and Ukip - over to you...


A year on, 'Plebgate' rumbles on. And on. And on. From the Times:

"Two police officers embroiled in the "Plebgate" affair have been urged to apologise for their roles in the resignation of a minister. Sergeant Chris Jones and Detective Sergeant Stuart Hinton, who met Andrew Mitchell after his altercation in Downing Street, will appear before the Home Affairs Select Committee today. Keith Vaz, its chairman, urged them to 'set the record straight'."


First gas prices, now water prices. From the FT:

"Politicians will intensify their war of words over living costs today as ministers promise a 'fair deal' on water bills and Ed Miliband forces a Commons vote on energy prices.

"Owen Paterson, the environment secretary, will 'fire a shot across the bows' of the water companies by writing to them asking for restraint when putting up prices.

"... He will promise to increase customer representation on water companies' boards. The coalition will also set up an independent redress body. Meanwhile, Mr Miliband will make a speech at Battersea Power Station in south London promising a Commons vote tomorrow on his plan for an energy price freeze in 2015.

"'If they line up against it, the British people will know the truth: this government is on the side of the big energy companies not hard-pressed families,' he will say. 'There is no such thing as a successful economy which doesn't carry Britain's families with it.'"

Meanwhile, the Telegraph reports:

"Energy companies sitting on billions of pounds of customers' money should either give it back or start paying interest on the cash, a minister will say today.

"Greg Barker, the energy minister, will challenge the Big Six companies over the money they hold from customers who pay a fixed sum by direct debit."

And the Times reveals:

"The boss of British Gas said that he would forgo his bonuses of up to £3.5 million this year in a move that will put pressure on other utility bosses to make similar sacrifices.

"Sam Laidlaw, head of Centrica, the parent company of British Gas, said that he was giving up part of his remuneration and donating it to charity because so many of his company’s 16 million customers were struggling to make ends meet."

That'll buy him some time...


Watch this video of Benedict Cumberbatch impersonating Chewbacca (!) in front of Harrison Ford/Han Solo. You know you want to.


Having had to withdraw her 'Go Home' immigration van, scrap her proposed 'security bond' for migrants and, now, lost track a terror suspect under official restrictions, is Home Secretary Theresa May's star starting to fade? Only a few months ago, she was being talked of as a Tory leader-in-waiting, having seen off Abu Qatada and presided over a fall in net migration.

Now, her Labour shadow Yvette Cooper - long deemed to be Labour's leader-in-waiting - smells blood - the Mirror reports:

"Bungling Theresa May has made it easier for terror suspects to vanish without trace by scrapping strict control orders, Labour's Yvette Cooper warned yesterday.

"The Home Secretary replaced them with weaker TPIMs which leave ministers unable to banish potential militants to towns or cities away from their main base.

"Since the measures were introduced, two suspects have fled, Somalian radical Ibrahim Magag, 29, and Ahmed Mohamed."

Personally, I'm opposed to both control orders and 'TPIMs'. I don't think we should be detaining people without charge in a modern, liberal democracy; if we suspect people are involved in terrorism, we should arrest them, charge them and prosecute them in court, using intercept evidence if need be. It's not rocket science.


Last night I interviewed Russell Brand for a HuffPost 'Conversation Starter' event in front of an audience of 200 people in London. The comedian, actor, author and, now, activist, was on fine form. My colleague Ned Simons reports:

"Russell Brand has defended his call for a revolution against the political system, insisting that he is, unsurprisingly, not in favour of death camps.

"Brand's demand for change, outlined in an article for the New Statesman and in an interview with Newsnight's Jeremy Paxman, divided opinion, with fellow comedian Robert Webb rebuking Brand, saying that revolutions inevitably lead to 'death camps' and 'repression'.

"Speaking at an event hosted by The Huffington Post UK on Monday evening in London, Brand said: 'I'm not saying lets go smash people up and certainly not kill people. Just for the record, I'm not in on the old death camps… I'm double, double against genocide. I am talking about a revolution of consciousness.'

"Brand added: 'Definitely no killing. I'm against that; I'm a vegetarian, I think we're all equal. I'm not saying smash people's stuff up, and definitely no killing.'"

Video clips from the event will be up on the HuffPost UK website later today. Brand also conceded he might have a sexism problem:

"'I don’t think I’m sexist,' he told the audience. 'But I remember my grandmother, the loveliest person I‘ve ever known, but she was racist, but I don’t think she knew.

"'I don’t know if I have some cultural hangover, I know that I have a great love of proletariat linguistics, like 'darling' and 'bird', so if women think I’m sexist they’re in a better position to judge than I am, so I’ll work on that.'"

Meanwhile, on its front page, the Guardian reports on Jeremy Paxman's confession in the Radio Times:

"But despite his criticism of Brand for never voting, Paxman confessed he too had once failed to vote in an election. 'I think part of Russell Brand's diagnosis is right. There is a huge sense of disillusion out there,' he said.

"'Russell Brand has never voted, because he finds the process irrelevant. I can understand that: the whole green-bench pantomime in Westminster looks a remote and self-important echo chamber. But it is all we have. In one recent election, I decided not to vote, because I thought the choice so unappetising.'"



"Focus on new ideas. It's not going to come from them. They don't want you talk about fracking they want you to talk about twerking. Let's not focus our energy on people faffing around in the old system." - Russell Brand speaking to me last night in London.


From the latest Sun/YouGov poll:

Labour 40

Conservatives 33

Ukip 12

Lib Dems 9

That would give Labour a majority of 86.


@LabourLordsUK Shirley Williams couldn't even rebel on #EnergyBill vote when 43 fellow LibDems did. Voting with Tories a habit too difficult to kick?

@DanHannanMEP If you boast on Twitter that someone blocks you, you're telling me something about yourself, but maybe not what you intend.

@TomHarrisMP I think it's fair to say that among Nats, I am not a popular nominee for E-Politician of the Year. #iwilltrytostrugglethrough


Michael Gove, writing in the Guardian, says: "In Michael Gove's world Jane Austen, Orwell and Dickens will die out."

Rachel Sylvester, writing in the Times, says: "Using marketing techniques, Tory HQ hopes to make emotional connections with targeted groups of voters."

Steve Richards, writing in the Guardian, says: "What should Ed do? Stand firm on Europe? Or let the people decide?"

Got something you want to share? Please send any stories/tips/quotes/pix/plugs/gossip to Mehdi Hasan (mehdi.hasan@huffingtonpost.com) or Ned Simons (ned.simons@huffingtonpost.com). You can also follow us on Twitter: @mehdirhasan, @nedsimons and @huffpostukpol