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A Marshall Plan to Stop the Boats.

To understand today’s migration problems, you have to go right back to uncover why post-war European elites decided immigration was a good idea.

The “Immigration is Good” theory came about because of two specific events.

Understanding those events can tell us how to fix our entire system.

The first event was the migration of elite European Jews to America. This was not just a consequence of Nazism. Jews had been fleeing persecution in Europe throughout the first half of the 20th century. However, it was mainly the elites who could afford to make the expensive crossing and to re-settle in the US.  Those elites included some of the finest minds in history, such as Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, and John von Neumann. This wave of emigration is believed to be the reason America gained a global scientific and technological lead that it still enjoys today.

The lesson here is that immigration systems should always be open to world-leading people. By definition those numbers are very small: tens of thousands at most. This is the political justification for our current mass migration, but it is exactly what the system is NOT doing. Of the 1.4m arriving, only about a quarter are coming for work. The rest are a mix of students, dependents and various types of asylum seeker. Worse still, most of the workers are low wage workers who depress wages and pay little in tax. Indeed, of the 1.4m arrivals, just 2,768 (that’s 1 in 500!) came under the Global Talent Visa Scheme - the high end visa scheme for the likes of tech entrepreneurs and consultant surgeons. In other words, while those arriving annually could fill a city the size of Glasgow, those who are ready to make a meaningful economic contribution would barely fill a street. To fix our system, we need to encourage tens of thousands of elite migrants and leave out the other million.

The second big event was the post-war reconstruction of Europe. The two World Wars left Europe incredibly short of manual labour but in dire need of reconstruction. To fill the gap, workers were recruited from countries like Turkey, Algeria, India and Pakistan to rebuild the UK and Europe, funded by the Marshall Plan. They had to work extremely hard and received no access to things like healthcare or benefits. In thanks for their hard labour, many were allowed to stay. In effects these immigrants were foreign aid workers; rebuilding Europe with aid money from the US.

And it is the success of the post-war reconstruction effort that shows us how to revolutionise our entire asylum system. We can repeat the Marshall Plan across the third world with Western economies providing the funds and asylum seekers providing the productive labour.

The first stage is to withdraw or derogate from all international treaties governing asylum and illegal immigration, including the ECHR. Instead we will guarantee only the most basic rights to arrivals: three square meals, drinking water, a bed, basic sanitation and freedom from the source of persecution that they have fled. 

Then, instead of settling asylum seekers in our over-crowded and broken country, we immediately send them abroad as trainee workers on UK-funded aid projects. From now on, any country that wants access our multi-billion pound British aid budget will have to take in a set number of asylum seekers. After a few years of working hard on aid projects, the host nation will have a duty to settle those asylum seekers in their new home country.

This sort of aid work would give asylum seekers a new lease of life and a valuable place in the world. After all, this is incredibly rewarding work; and something thousands of Britons volunteer to do every year. The argument that aid work is not good enough for asylum seekers does not stack up given that our own government funds thousands of British citizens to do exactly that. Modern British Aid work covers things like, medicine, midwifery, maternity care, teaching, family planning, environmental conservation and building housing, sewerage or irrigation systems.

This seems commonsense. Why pay hundreds of millions for able-bodied young men to lounge around in Rwanda, when they could be doing valuable and life-saving work in the same sort of places; and ultimately become valued citizens of those host nations?

Our government and charities are funding these schemes anyway, so why not provide some staff to execute them as part of the package? Moreover Instead of cutting the aid budget, we could dramatically increase it with some of the billions we currently waste on our broken asylum system.

Another advantage is that such a scheme completely disincentivises bogus and opportunistic asylum seekers, while giving genuine asylum seekers the chance to give back. Under such a scheme there is no economic benefit to claiming asylum; only an altruistic one.

And the optics are fantastic. Aid work is the perfect counter to the inevitable whinging from the bleeding heart liberal brigade. Yes, we may be pulling out of daft and undemocratic treaties, but instead we’re creating a new army of aid workers with the training and funds to help millions of the world’s poorest. It is very hard to argue this is not a far more compassionate use of resources and a more compassionate deal for genuine asylum claimants. Just ask yourself which of the following sounds better:

Abdul, Asif and Ahmed arrived three years ago. They are now living in a freezing Glasgow tenement claiming benefits.


Abdul, Asif and Ahmed arrived three years ago. Abdul now rides a motorbike round the Congo dishing out vaccines to remote villages, Asif is teaching Maths in Djibouti, and Ahmed is delivering babies in Chad.

This gets to the very heart of the asylum catastrophe. Asylum seekers are several times more likely to commit crimes, be unemployed and live off benefits than natives or legal migrants. This is the still case decades on and even applies to second generation asylum seekers. Is it any wonder most fail to integrate even generations later, when they have zero stake in society? Imagine being in a place in which you have no economic, social, historic or emotional connection to. It is as tragic for the asylum seekers as it is for the host nation.

Yet, by turning asylum seers into aid workers, we can transform them into valued members of a society in which they do belong. If you’ve delivered the babies, taught the kids to read and even built the toilets, you truly can say, “I belong here. This is my home.” This was the experience of the Turkish labourers who toiled for years to rebuild historic cities like Potsdam and Cologne. After all that work, they really could call Germany their home.

Every Western country is now desperately looking for an answer to the explosion of uncontrolled migration. If the UK has the political courage to lead, a New Marshall Plan for Refugees could emerge as a global force. Western aid and asylum budgets could be combined, with every genuine asylum seeker trained and resettled as an aid worker.

In doing so, we could instantly fix the current shambles that actively incentivises traffickers, criminals, despots and bogus claimants. And of course, with genuine asylum seekers working hard to make the third world a better world, we can reduce the very push factors behind mass migration.


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