Justitia, Old Bridge of Heidelberg

Justitia, Old Bridge of Heidelberg
Justitia, Old Bridge of Heidelberg © Gernot Keller, 2007
Blinkered Justice articles also appear on CrimeTalk and Government In The Lab

Monday, 28 May 2012

Murdoch and NewsCorp support an uncapped immigration policy for the UK

Rupert Murdoch (c) World Economic Forum
.as long as it suits them of course. But still.

Researching emails between Fred Michel and Jeremy Hunt's office for my earlier post, I came across the following correspondence entitled 'Immigration cap - meeting' between Michel and Giles Wilkes, special adviser to business secretary, Vince Cable. On 10th October 2010, Michel wrote to Wilkes:

...”I am writing to see if we could meet up to discuss the reform plans on the immigration cap. As you can imagine, it is a policy area which will have a major impact on News Corporation”.

Wilkes responded sympathetically to this request, given the “major impact this might have on News International”. He added that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) were trying to get views on this matter from businesses across the board, so that they could feed them into government policy.

On 12th October, Wilkes told Michel that he could not meet him later that week, but that he was interested in finding out News Internationals thoughts on an immigration cap. Michel responds:

...”I will send you our first thoughts and hope we can be helpful on this debate. We are looking at it from a mobility viewpoint but also ability to hire talents for a global company etc. We also have some relevant expertise in-house on this”.

Correspondence between the pair is rejoined on 21st October, when Michel gave Wilkes a heads-up of the speech that Rupert Murdoch was giving on global mobility at the inaugaral Margaret Thatcher lecture later that night. And then it all went a little off piste, after Wilkes asked Michel, “Out of interest, are his editors in the audience as a rule”? “Cheeky!”, retorted Michel.

Cheeky (c) Johan Larsson
Wilkes apologised, stating that he had no intention of being cheeky, and explained:

But as I am sure you are aware, there is a strong anti-immigration feeling in the UK, and this is seen in some quarters as coming from the popular press. It would be interesting if the same sentiments that RM is expressing in the speech were to be amplified in your highly respected newspapers”.

Fair point, Mr Wilkes. In his speech, Murdoch states:

In short, Britain needs companies robust enough to compete in this global market – whether in finance or pharmaceuticals, transport or telecommunications, retail or entertainment. And we need to attract the brightest talent, regardless of background and ethnicity.

In other words, Britain should be a magnet for the best students and best workers from around the world”.

Was it reported in Murdoch's media? Nothing appears online, so it would appear that Murdoch and NewsCorp preferred to keep this quiet in the UK. Strange. Or is it?

Over the last couple of years, the Murdochs have expanded their operations in India. NewsCorp operate through Star India Pvt Ltd, and they own stakes in a number of other industries in India, including the Tata Group and Harper Collins. For the Murdochs, India represents the future, and the future looks promising.

Coincidentally, Indian citizens need visas to work and study in the UK. Will NewsCorp be sponsoring student applications from their commercial partners to oil the wheels of commerce? Are NewsCorp already thinking ahead in terms of their future workforce – will they insource their future employees? Pure speculation on my part, but NewsCorp is a business that plans ahead strategically when it comes to expansion.

The government is already struggling to curb abuse of student visas. It would seem quite disingenuous then for the UK government to consider what might be best for the likes of NewsCorp.

But there again, who really holds the power when it comes to shaping public opinion and policy? It will be interesting to see what steps the government takes towards meeting their commitment of reducing net immigration.

One last thing. Feel free to circulate this piece more widely so that NewsCorp subscribers (including readers of The Sun, Times etc.) and shareholders are aware of NewsCorp's liberal immigration stance. 

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