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Friday 2 March 2012

The Retelling Mode

The late Frank Carson would explain his success in making people laugh by saying “It’s the way I tell ‘em”. The way he told them made jokes even funnier, because he was, in life, a genuinely funny man. And, in its own way, the Fourth Estate has its own version of Carson’s Law: the way they tell the story makes it, well, more likely to do the job that editors and proprietors want it to.

Nowhere is this more readily apparent than in a curious item that has been picked up by the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre: “Secret EU deal forces Britain to take in 12,000 Indian workers despite soaring unemployment” thunders the headline of James Slack’s piece. It presses all the Dacre buttons: EU “diktats”, immigration, Indians, some Muslims, and maybe house prices.

Yet this is not quite the whole story: the drive to allow multi-national companies to bring in workers from outside the EU, working the rules to their advantage and paying less in wages and taxes, has not come from the EU, but from the Corporation of London and a body called International Financial Services London (IFSL), with the UK Government also on board.

We know this because the campaigning group 38 Degrees has picked up on what are known as “Mode 4 concessions”, which has to do with movement of workers across borders. This is part of a free trade agreement (FTA) being put together between the EU and India, which Trade Commission staff have admitted is “in effect 85% a UK deal”, with 85% of likely benefit coming to the UK.

But that benefit is what is likely to accrue to the UK based organisations that are allowed to bring in workers from India as part of the FTA. It does not mean there will be any benefit for the proverbial man or woman in the street – in fact, the opposite appears to be true, with the likely outcome being workers in sectors such as Information Technology (IT) being potentially displaced by migrant workers.

That is the inevitable effect of corporate input to the FTA: they have the best lobbyists, and an eye on improving their bottom line. Countries like India add value to their already well trained IT workforce. The EU gets a little more access to the vast and growing Indian market. Those without lobbyists, but with families and mortgages, end up getting screwed over.

That last is what the Mail it trying to tap into, but to identify the City as the main culprit would be unthinkable. So, as there is an EU dimension, the EU must be to blame. Moreover, Vince Cable can also be blamed by association, as can another favourite Mail bogeyman, Baron Mandelson of Indeterminate Guacamole. The money men and their lobbyists can therefore sleep easy.

As ever, it’s the way they tell ‘em. No change there, then.

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