Friday, May 26, 2023

As long-term figures hits 1 million, Tories show they can't - or won't - control immigration

The Conservative Party fought three general elections promising to slash immigration to the tens of thousands. Today’s net migration statistics show that after thirteen years in government the Conservatives have failed utterly to achieve this.


The Office for National Statistics confirmed this morning that net migration for 2022 is at a new all-time record high of 606,000. This is more than twice its peak of about 270,000 in 2007 under Labour and nearly seven times what the Tories pledged when entering Downing Street in 2010.


This news leaves the government’s credibility in tatters. The ONS data shows that long-term immigration to the UK reached a high of 1.2 million in 2022. Almost 80% of this was from non-EU nationals. These are citizens whose work, family and study visas have always been under the full control of the government long before David Cameron announced there would be a referendum on the UK’s EU membership.


While the government claimed it got Brexit done and that this ensured full control of the borders, it has not brought numbers down as was repeatedly promised. The key reason for this is the Conservatives have not made good on what they said. It is not a matter of lacking powers to act, as four in five long-term arrivals are non-EU national anyway.


Nearly thirty percent of long-term immigration is from work visas, mainly in areas like highly skilled visas for occupation shortages like in health and social care. At yesterday’s Prime Minister’s Questions, Labour leader Keir Starmer was bang to rights to say that the current work visa system set up by the Conservatives has undercut wages and a failure to properly invest in education and skills here today so we can fill the skills gaps exposed on the shortage occupancy list in the medium to longer term. Instead, the government has allowed the UK to become dependent on overseas workers coming here. This dependence has meant the government has never enacted a cap on work visas as it needs more and more to come support the flagging economy.


The largest migrant group are overseas students. They play a clear role in providing significant economic benefit to the wider economy, as well as the institutions where they are enrolled. As student fees have remained frozen, there has been an increasing dependence as well on overseas students and the extra funding support they bring with them. (I know. I was an international student.)


The government has claimed that they will take action by enacting a new policy of preventing overseas students from bringing dependents, but the effect will not be significant and won’t make an impact for some time. It does not affect postgraduate research students and not in place until January 2024. This is after most students will have started their studies. There will likely be little impact until the end of 2025 – and long after a general election. Moreover, the Home Secretary’s ability to do this did not require Brexit nor any of the laws passed by the Tories since 2010. Like in the Wizard of Oz, Suella Braverman had the powers all along. She simply didn’t know or want to use them.


Today’s figures leave the Conservative Party’s reputation for any competence on immigration in complete disarray. For over a decade, the public has heard increasingly tough talk from Go Home vans as part of a hostile environment to removal flights to Rwanda as part of a plan to stop small boats. These gimmicks have made headlines, but no more. The evidence is none of this nonsense on stilts was ever required to deliver the big net migration cuts promised. After years of new laws, regulations and speeches, the Conservatives could act but chose not to.


The problem is primarily with their promises. These have been made and accepted by the public in good faith. Today, this is exposed for the shambles it is and, in my view, represents an existential threat to the government. It has lost control over immigration and soon control altogether.


Trust matters in public life. Labour has a once in a generation opportunity to fill this gaping void – and elsewhere I have offered a vision for how Keir Starmer might achieve this. The public deserves better. It’s time we had a government that had the competence and compassion to deliver what it promises.

Friday, April 28, 2023

Like a Bad Pub Quiz: The Life in the UK citizenship test

 I've posted a new report on SSRN: 

Like a Bad Pub Quiz: The "Life in the UK" Citizenship Test and New Concerns with Errors, Monitoring and Test Centre Inspections

The Life in the United Kingdom test is an essential part of British immigration and nationality law and policy. No major party proposes curtailing or ending its use for future naturalisation applications. It is a serious concern that the test remains unfit for purpose “like a bad pub quiz” with problems old and new with its design, implementation and monitoring. The test is urgently in need of significant reform. This Report reveals new factual errors, concerns with monitoring and test centre inspections. The Report makes 11 key recommendations for how the test can be improved and monitored more effectively.

Monday, April 17, 2023

Thom Brooks on British Idealism: A Bibliography

 I literally stumbled into British Idealism. I took the only political theory MA course on offer that term while a graduate student at Arizona State University called liberalism old and new. It started with Hegel, then T H Green and L T Hobhouse before ending with John Dewey. While I found the readings challenging, I found the material highly interesting as it was very different from the standard fare. 

I have always had an interest in exploring key works in the history of political thought, but what interests me most about British Idealism work is how it seeks to be relevant in communicating to us today. I've seen large parts of my work as a new wave of British Idealist thinking (with a strong interest in institutions and realism). 

Recently, I was asked to compile a list of my work that is about or touches on British Idealism. Here it is:

Brooks, Thom. "T. H. Green's Theory of Punishment," History of Political Thought 24(4) (2003): 685-701.
Brooks, Thom. "Was Green a Utilitarian in Practice?" Collingwood and British Idealism Studies 14(1) (2008): 5-15.
Brooks, Thom. "Muirhead, Hetherington and Mackenzie" in W. Sweet (ed.), The Moral, Social and Political Philosophy of the British Idealists. Exeter: Imprint Academic, 2009, pp. 209-232.
Brooks, Thom. "Punishment and British Idealism" in Jesper Ryberg and J. Angelo Corlett (ed.), Punishment and Ethics: New Perspectives. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010, pp. 16-32.
Brooks, Thom. "Is Bradley a Retributivist?" History of Political Thought 32(1) (2011): 83-95.
Brooks, Thom. "What Did the British Idealists Ever Do for Us?" in T. Brooks (ed.), New Waves in Ethics. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011, pp. 28-47.
Brooks, Thom. "Punishment: Political, Not Moral," New Criminal Law Review 14(3) (2011): 427-438.
Brooks, Thom. "British Idealism" in D. Pritchard (ed.), Oxford Bibliographies in Philosophy. New York: Oxford University Press.
Brooks, Thom. "Punishment" in D. Pritchard (ed.), Oxford Bibliographies in Philosophy. New York: Oxford University Press.
Brooks, Thom. Punishment. London: Routledge, 2012.
Brooks, Thom. "Hegel and the Unified Theory of Punishment" in T. Brooks (ed.), Hegel's Philosophy of Right. Oxford: Blackwell, 2012, pp. 103-123.
Brooks, Thom. "James Seth on Natural Law and Legal Theory," Collingwood and British Idealism Studies 12(2) (2012): 115-132.
Brooks, Thom. "In Defence of Political Theory: Impact and Opportunities," Political Studies Review 11(2) (2013): 209-215.
Brooks, Thom. "The Right to Be Punished," Legal Theory in China 3 (2013): 21-31.
Brooks, Thom, ed. Ethical Citizenship: British Idealism and the Politics of Recognition. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.
Brooks, Thom. "Ethical Citizenship and the Stakeholder Society" in T. Brooks (ed.), Ethical Citizenship: British Idealism and the Politics of Recognition. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014, pp. 125-138.
Brooks, Thom. "On F. H. Bradley's 'Some Remarks on Punishment'," Ethics 125(1) (2014): 223-225.
Brooks, Thom. "The Stakeholder Society and the Politics of Hope," Renewal 23 (1/2) (2015): 44-54.
Brooks, Thom. "Why Political Theory Matters" in G. Peters, J. Pierre and G. Stoker (ed.), The Relevance of Political Science. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015, pp. 136-147.
Brooks, Thom. "Defending Punishment," Philosophy and Public Issues 5 (2015): 73-94.
Brooks, Thom. "Justice as Stakeholding" in K. Watene and J. Drydyk (eds), Theorizing Justice. New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2016, pp. 111-127.
Brooks, Thom. "In Defence of Punishment and the Unified Theory of Punishment," Criminal Law and Philosophy 10(3) (2016): 629-638.
Brooks, Thom. "Unlocking Morality from Criminal Law," Journal of Moral Philosophy 14(3) (2017): 339-352.
Brooks, Thom. "Hegel's Philosophy of Law" in D. Moyar (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Hegel. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017, pp. 453-474.
Brooks, Thom. "Hegel on Crime and Punishment" in T. Brooks and S. Stein (eds), Hegel's Political Philosophy: On the Normative Significance of Method and System. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017, pp. 202-221.
Brooks, Thom. "Taking the System Seriously: Nicholson's Overturning Orthodoxy about Hegel and Punishment," Collingwood and British Idealism Studies 25(2) (2019): 315-334.
Brooks, Thom. "More Than Recognition: Why Stakeholding Matters for Reconciliation in Hegel's Philosophy of Right," Owl of Minerva 51 (2020): 59-86.
Brooks, Thom. Punishment: A Critical Introduction, 2nd edition. London: Routledge, 2021.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Global Justice: An Introduction appearing this summer

Delighted my next book Global Justice: An Introduction is completed and in production for release in a few months. Expect to find more details here soon...

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

New book coming soon!


Delighted my REVISED EDITION of THE GLOBAL JUSTICE READER is coming out in a few weeks!

The original edition was published in 2008. The newly revised edition has updated contents, new sections and new readings in this popular anthology.

I have also written a companion GLOBAL JUSTICE: AN INTRODUCTION that will be published shortly. The two books work together - and both are published by Wiley-Blackwell.

The book's blurb:

A unique compendium of foundational and contemporary writings in global justice, newly revised and expanded

The Global Justice Reader is the first resource of its kind to focus exclusively on this important topic in moral and political philosophy, providing an expertly curated selection of both classic and contemporary work in one comprehensive volume. Purpose-built for course work, this collection brings together the best in the field to help students appreciate the philosophical dimensions of critical global issues and chart the development of diverse concepts of justice and morality.

Newly revised and expanded, the Reader presents key writings of the most influential writers on global justice, including Thomas Hobbes, Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, Martha C. Nussbaum, and Peter Singer. Thirty-nine chapters across eleven thematically organized sections explore sovereignty, rights to self-determination, human rights, nationalism and patriotism, cosmopolitanism, global poverty, women and global justice, climate change, and more.

  • Features seminal works from the moral and political philosophers of the past as well as important writings from leading contemporary thinkers
  • Explores critical topics in current discourses surrounding immigration and citizenship, global poverty, just war, terrorism, and international environmental justice
  • Highlights the need for shared philosophical resources to help address global problems
  • Includes a brief introduction in each section setting out the issues of concern to global justice theorists
  • Contains complete references in each chapter and a fully up-to-date, extended bibliography to supplement further readings

The revised edition of The Global Justice Reader remains an ideal textbook for undergraduate and graduate courses in global justice and human rights, cosmopolitanism and nationalism, environmental justice, and social justice and citizenship, and an excellent supplement for general courses in political philosophy, political science, social science, and law.

Thursday, January 05, 2023

2022 was a productive year!

 And what a year 2022 was:

On 1 January, I published an edited book Political Emotions: Towards a Decent Public Sphere. This was a collection of essays from conferences in Durham and KCL with Martha C. Nussbaum - and includes a major reply to critics from Nussbaum. Published by Palgrave Macmillan.

On 13 April, I published my booklet New Arrivals: A Fair Immigration Plan for Labour. This was my vision for a points-based, post-Brexit immigration system from entry to exit for the Labour government spelling out over 60 policy proposals. It was published by the Fabian Society and won the Jenny Jeger Prize for outstanding Fabian publication of 2022. 

On 29 April, I published my book Reforming the UK's Citizenship Test: Building Bridges, Not Barriers. This is an updated expansion going much further than my 2013 report on the Life in the UK citizenship test revealing new problems with the test's past and in the current test with an analysis of lessons to be learned and recommendations for a new edition. This book played a role in launching a Parliamentary inquiry in 2022 concluded by the House of Lords' Justice and Home Affairs Committee. Published by Bristol University Press.

On the same day, I published my book Climate Change Ethics for an Endangered World. This monograph is a significant expansion on my target article "How Not to Save the Planet" showing a new climate change ethics more fitting for our circumstances. Published by Routledge.

On 5 May, I published my book The Trust Factor: Essays on the Current Political Crisis and Hope for the Future. This book brings together essays and op-eds published over nearly 20 years for newspapers and magazines with new contributions. Published by Methuen Press.

2023 looks set to be productive too with a new revised edition of my The Global Justice Reader and companion Global Justice: An Introduction plus Political Philosophy: The Fundamentals.