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For many years now, I have expressed a very consistent view on immigration. I believe that immigration should be carefully controlled and managed: there’s room to tinker around the edges here and there to improve the processes for the benefit of our community, but the current managed system of work permits has the right foundations.

Unfortunately, the Isle of Man Government is repudiating that idea, and introducing a ‘free-for-all’ policy by substantially abolishing work permits. First publicly advocated by the Isle of Man Chamber of Commerce back in 2018, from that first public debate, Rob Callister and I stood athwart, saying “Stop”.

But here we are: the Government is moving full-steam-ahead with their plan to substantially abolish work permits and surge in unreasonably high migration numbers that no one asked for.

Of course, this was NOT a policy that the candidates in the 2021 general election revealed to the public when they were trying to harvest votes. I didn’t hear anyone saying that they wanted to slam in an extra 15,000 people to the Isle of Man. I didn’t hear any candidates speak in favour of rushing in a mass of people roughly equal to TWO additional towns the size of Ramsey.

But here we are: a sneaky proposal snuck in immediately after a general election. In a normal country with a decent governing class, such substantive policy changes demand the consent of the governed. Here in the Isle of Man, however, they are being rushed in with little democratic mandate.

Research shows harmful impact of mass migration on lowest-earning workers

Research has investigated the impact of mass migration on wages across the British community – while this applies to the United Kingdom, it is likely that the impact will be very similar given the demographic profiles of the Isle of Man. The results are clear: “the latest evidence on the labour market effects of mass immigration finds that while it’s had positive effects on the highest paid and typically graduate workers, it’s had negative effects on the lowest-paid and typically non-graduate workers, reducing their hourly wage while helping to prop up a broken economy that’s built around the new graduate elite.”[efn_note] Matthew Goodwin, Professor of Politics in the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent, The ticking time-bomb: What the latest immigration numbers really mean.[/efn_note]

Irish Trade Unions are Right

The Irish Council of Trade Unions were right when they said, “It is an iron law of economics that an abundant supply of labour pushes down its cost. It is insulting people’s intelligence to pretend otherwise.”[efn_note]Irish Times: Call for legal protection for wage levels[/efn_note]

A substantially de-regulated migration system as proposed by this Government will likely lead to lower wages on the Isle of Man, and put a further squeeze on the households least able to endure lower wages.

Some immigration can help some people

Under the right circumstances, immigration has the potential to benefit both the migrant themselves (they get the benefit of living in the Isle of Man!) and the Isle of Man (they get the benefit of that migrant contributing to society). But not every migrant would benefit from moving to the Isle of Man, and the Isle of Man would not benefit from every migrant coming here. That’s why I have long said that we need a fair and managed immigration system that is based around a few key

  • People should be judged on their capability to contribute to the nation.
  • People should be judged on the content of their character, and not the colour of their skin.
  • We should build a thriving community here on the Isle of Man so that our children aspire to return to the Isle of Man, especially after completing education elsewhere.

Stop trying to fill a leaky bucket

The Government’s ambitions to surge the population of the Isle of Man is not just misguided in its aims, but is misguided in its methods. Rather than importing a mass of new people, it would be better to improve the existing quality of life of the Isle of Man so that our children were not leaving at such a fast pace. We’ve got to fix the hole in the bottom of the bucket instead of trying to just pump more water into it.

Too often, discussion of the Manx migration system focuses purely on people who would be new-to-Mann. Instead, we have a ready made group of people who already have a seed of love for our island who we should be attracting to our island: The Manx diaspora of children who have moved away.

Too many of our children leave the island in search of dynamic and rewarding careers elsewhere, and forget about coming home. We should attract those people to return home to build safe, happy, healthy and well-rounded lives back here on the Isle of Man.

Since work and careers pull many people away on the Isle of Man, that’s got to be the first thing we focus on: allowing dynamic and exciting industries to thrive here on the Isle of Man. Hence, easing the squeeze on the cost of living and focusing on securing jobs must be the first priority of our community going forward.

Source Document

A version of this was submitted to the Isle of Man Government’s inquiry into substantially abolishing work permits.

Michael Josem is a long-term consumer advocate, most prominently as a global leader in combating fraud in the online gambling industry. He was in part the inspiration for the 20th Century Fox Movie, Runner Runner, starring Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake.

Josem has over a decade of experience as a senior business leader working across various high-tech and online industries, and takes action to build a better community. His primary volunteer roles include service for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and Graih, the homelessness charity.