Peterborough Migrant Worker Data Debate

The Office for National Statistics have released data specifying the percentage of Peterborough jobs currently held by foreign workers. Ed Murphy from the Peterborough Labour Party offers an alternative analysis to the current popular theory that English people are lazy scroungers. Broadcast at 08:23 on Friday 2nd July 2010 in the Peterborough Breakfast Show hosted by Paul Stainton on BBC Radio Peterborough.

STAINTON: Now did you know that foreign born residents take up one in five jobs in Peterborough. That’s over twenty per cent. The statistics are from the Office for National Statistics. Earlier the MP for Peterborough Stewart Jackson said his biggest concern was the amount English people on benefits get, not the amount of foreign workers in the city. (TAPE)
JACKSON: The thing that worries me is not that people want to come to Peterborough to do work, and that’s a good thing, whoever they are. And if they want to improve the lot of themselves and their families great, because we are obviously right at the centre of agriculture, food processing and packaging etcetera. But the worry is that at the same time we’ve got thousands of people who are on out of work benefit and welfare. And the big question is why have we failed to get those indigenous people into work, and why have we had to consequently import other people. I think that’s the big issue. (LIVE)
STAINTON: That’s MP for Peterborough Stewart Jackson. Ed Murphy who was Peterborough’s Labour candidate in the General Election joins me now. Morning Ed.
MURPHY: Good morning.
STAINTON: Peterborough jobs for Peterborough people. That was Mr Jackson’s message I think. Do you agree?
MURPHY: People living in Peterborough, yes. I had a look at the Office of National Statistics data yesterday, and I’m not too sure where Mr Jackson is getting his figures from. He’s just really having a bit of a racist pop. If you look at the last census ..
STAINTON: Well I don’t think we can accuse him of being a racist, can we?
MURPHY: Ten per cent of the population in Peterborough weren’t born here at the last census. I think there’s about a hundred and fifty thousand people living in Peterborough then. Say there’s a hundred and seventy thousand now. Ten per cent of the population, seventeen thousand people.
STAINTON: No let’s just backtrack a bit if we can Ed. We can’t accuse Stewart Jackson of being a racist, because there’s absolutely no proof for that, and debate is allowed.
MURPHY: He’s always having a pop at minority groups of people of a different colour than him.
STAINTON: Well it’s not just him.
MURPHY: Well the people in the media are as well, not certainly on your station, but you know, getting a bit fed up of it. We’re facing millions of people unemployed by this government, and all they’re doing is having a pop at the poor and the weak.
STAINTON: Various people have said this morning .. it’s alright having a pop at people for taking jobs from perhaps local people, but local people don’t .. there’s quite a lot of local people don’t actually want to go to work, don’t want the jobs.
MURPHY: Definitely we’ve got to deal with that. We need to make sure there are decent manufacturing jobs in Peterborough for people that are well paid. Peterborough’s had a history of poor jobs. We’ve had a history of people coming here to work, whether it’s on sugar beet or on the land, immigrants over many many many years. What we need is to be invested in people. One thing that really worries me is the amount of young people at the moment who have not got jobs, who are looking for jobs. Over a million young people under twenty four will be unemployed by the end of this summer.
STAINTON: Yes. Eleven thousand people are on benefit in Peterborough, some sort of benefit.
MURPHY: And how many of them are foreign?
STAINTON: Well who knows? Who knows?
MURPHY: Very very few.
STAINTON: And how do you determine what foreign is really?
MURPHY: Yes indeed. Yes.
STAINTON: It’s a sad indictment really of the last Labour government, isn’t it, that’s built a dependent society?
MURPHY: What the last Labour government did was make sure that there were jobs for people. We would have had so many more people unemployed if the Labour government hadn’t taken measures to get the economy going. I’m really really worried that with the massive cuts, with the planning that’s going on by this government, which is far far more vicious than what Thatcher ever did, we could have millions of people unemployed by Christmas.
STAINTON: But going back to what I was saying earlier, the workers from the EU who take these jobs .. it’s twenty two per cent according to these statistics .. there are people in Peterborough who don’t want to take these jobs. Let me read you a couple of texts that came in this morning. This just in from Anne. She says “I agree about people being encouraged to stay on benefits. I recently returned to the UK. I spent eleven months looking for work. When I finally found a menial job the JobCentre told me not to take it, as I’ll get less working than I would on benefits. I told them knickers and took the job, because I want to hold my head up high.” But that is not an attitude that’s replicated across Peterborough, is it?
MURPHY: I heard what Anne was saying earlier on when you reported it. What’s Job Seekers Allowance now? Fifty seven pounds a week, and much less if you’re under twenty four. I don’t think fifty seven pounds a week is generous. There are a lot of people getting benefits, and getting too much perhaps in benefit in this country …
STAINTON: Should we make them work for their benefit?
MURPHY: .. some are people who are unemployed and looking for work.
STAINTON: Should we make people work for their benefit, if people have to do something for their benefit and clock in at six in the morning to do a job they didn’t want to do?
MURPHY: You know the question about telling people they’ve got to work for their benefit? I wonder who’s going to tell Prince Charles he should do that?
STAINTON: Well .. he’s cutting back. Let’s be ..
MURPHY: (SNORTS) He’s cutting the wages of the people who work for him. Need to get this in reality. We need to create decent jobs for people. We need to have a fair society. We don’t need to be making it cheaper and cheaper for the capitalists who exploit people and make more money.
STAINTON: Ed Murphy was Peterborough’s Labour candidate at the General Election. That’s his view on a couple of things really. People who perhaps don’t want jobs in Peterborough, and are being taken on by Eastern Europeans or people from outside the UK. Twenty two per cent of jobs in Peterborough are not taken up by people indigenous to this city according to these statistics. . Eleven thousand people in the city on some sort of benefit.