Bravo Mr Osborne…
Conservative chancellor appoints a foreigner to lead the Bank of England…times are a changing or are they?
Many people in Asia will have woken up to the news that Mark Carney, currently Canada’s central banker will become the next Governor of the Bank of England.Yesterday, Conservative Party Chancellor George Osborne surprised the City and the financial markets by announcing a foreigner to lead the bank for the first time in its 318-year history.Mr Osborne lauded Mr Carney’s credentials, declaring him to be the “outstanding banker of his generation” and just about the best banker there is on the global stage.
Mr Carney is not without British links, his wife is British and he has lived in Britain and his family hold dual citizenship.However, what strikes many seasoned political observers here in the UK, is that a foreigner has been selected to lead one of the country’s most hallowed and iconic institutions.Its role is set to increase as it assumes tougher regulatory powers in the wake of the still reverberating bank crisis of 2008.What happened to beating the drum for Britain and Brits. Conservative politicians have been fond of this line of political invective for a long time. Why do we need Johnny Foreigners here, when they are talented and able Brits…?
Well, Mr Osborne and the government are now saying not always – Mr Carney’s appointment is recognition that there are capable and brilliant people and they don’t always live in Britain or hold a British passport.Bravo, Mr Osborne, Cameron and the Conservative administration. Of course, Mr Carney won’t be facing any immigration problems – for one, he is white and two Canadian, and three, here at the behest of the country’s most esteemed employer, the British government.What grates is the double standard often employed by this government when it comes to the issue of immigration. This appointment appears to fulfil the mantra – often cited when critics of UK immigration policy surface – [quote align=”center” color=”#b64736″]that Britain is open to the best, irrespective of colour, creed, or whatever – talent must out.[/quote]
But as we know, in practice, it’s hard, and getting harder to recruit talented and able people from overseas. There are a number of very stringent criteria and now the system is further complicated by a quota system.Few people would favour an open door policy, and no sensible country can afford that, but in recent times, the UK government has swung in almost the complete opposite direction.The subliminal and not so subtle UK mission statement on immigration is, come here if you dare (well understood abroad now).And yet, when it comes to its own appointments and affairs, it actually practises what it preaches.
For companies looking to recruit the best and individuals trying to maximise their opportunities globally, Britain wants to shut the door and make it very hard for people to come through the gaps. It’s not so much a welcome, as a door creaking ajar with just enough space to get through.Ok, Chancellor, we hear your line on global talent and Britain open to business (certainly if you are wealthy enough, then you can stay for as long as you goddamn well like) but why impose artificial restrictions in a game of numbers?It is really like the government trying to square a circle – please the mass electorate on the one hand which, by and large, doesn’t want anyone new here and British companies, which understand and desire overseas talent in the global economic race.The British economy needs talent from overseas and while this will send a positive message globally, at least in the short term, the long term signals remain bleak. Britain’s loss will be another country’s gain. Shame on you, Mr Osborne.
by Sailesh Ram