Jennette Arnold
London assembly member for North East London — fighting your corner at City Hall
“You’re a nasty piece of work, aren’t you?”

“You’re a nasty piece of work, aren’t you?”

said the BBC interviewer to the Mayor of London…..

Not a good weekend for Boris and the Tories. First, the Mayor of London’s ‘car crash’ interview on the Andrew Marr programme on Sunday http://tinyurl.com/dy643za further questioning his competence, not only as Mayor but surely finishing off any hopes he has at becoming Party leader (and future aspiring Prime Minister).

Benefit Tourism! – I don’t think so!

And on Monday, we have Cameron’s speech on benefit tourism.

He wants to stop migrants abusing the benefits system. Fair enough; but how many people are we talking about? Around 5% of people coming to the UK from the EU receive benefits; so how many of them are receiving benefit inappropriately? We know he doesn’t do detail that well, but where has this come from? I haven’t seen any hard data yet.

He may be interested to know that where the situation has been analysed – such as by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research – the position on ‘benefit tourism’ seems very clear. EU migrants to the UK are typically young, are in work and make less use of the benefit system than the host population.

But, let’s not allow facts to get in the way of a new policy. As ever, though, it seems less of a policy initiative and more of a statement – in this case an opportunity for Cameron to position himself in the face of recent gains made by UKIP at the expense of core Tory votes.

Who wouldn’t what to cut down on benefit fraud? But, if this were real policy, then we would have some evidence before we took action; and we would use that evidence to focus our attention on the biggest return for our investment. Cameron is not offering us evidence based policy – he is just talking tough to keep UKIP off his back.