Tony Blair has told unemployed British workers “not to blame migrants for having taken your job” and instructed them to get a better education instead so they can “operate in the modern world”.
The former Labour party leader and British Prime Minister said that high immigration is fuelling “populism” and that complaining about it can be a sign of “prejudice”.
“The answer to someone who is unemployed in a country like mine or anywhere else in Europe, is not to blame migrants for having taken your job, is to get the education and the skills necessary in order to be able to operate in the modern world”, Mr. Blair told an educational conference in Dubai.
The millionaire then went on to say that he supported private education in some circumstance. It was also reported today that the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has slammed the UK’s state education system for providing only “superficial” teaching.
Mr. Blair said there is “real anxiety” about the world changing, but argued that attributing falling wages to migration is wrong and simplistic.
“If they think their incomes are stagnating and they aren’t really getting anywhere in life, then this [migration] becomes easy to gravitate to”, he said.
During his premiership, Mr. Blair decided not to impose transitional controls on migrants arriving from Bulgaria and Romania, loosened asylum policy and opened up family reunification rules, which led to unprecedented levels of migration.
However, for him, the problem is not uncontrolled mass migration but the right wing politics that seeks to address it.
“Whether in America or in Europe, that is the card that at least the right wing of populism will play. The truth is the answer is around this concept of education”, he said.
“It’s all very interesting. There is a populism of left and right, there’s a lot of anger about. Anger is all very well but it’s answers that deliver results. If I start going off about Donald Trump and Mr. Corbyn, that would be a bigger story that my talking about education”, he continued.
He then appeared to acknowledge how out of touch he is.
“When I look at politics today, I am not terribly sure that I quite understand it. If you want to push back on that populism — and we shouldn’t have that type of populism govern our politics — you’ve got to go out and make the argument”, he said.