Iâ€™m struggling to imagine what sort of conversation could have taken place between the Prime Minister and her advisors which led anyone to think that equating â€˜unskilled immigrationâ€™ with a salary of less than Â£50,000 a year was a brilliant election-winning strategy. Unless, of course, her advisors â€“ and perhaps May herself â€“ are all Corbynite sleepers. As a means of escaping from the interminable Tory internal wrangling, itâ€™s a theory which makes a certain amount of sense.
Quite apart from the obvious truth that salary is, in fact, absolutely useless as an indicator of skill (others have already produced lists of occupations which are thus classified as unskilled, such as this one in the New Statesman), and leaving aside her clearly nonsensical comment that we should â€˜trainâ€™ British workers to do the â€˜unskilledâ€™ jobs (who writes this stuff for her?), did no-one stop to think about the political repercussions of this? According to the governmentâ€™s own figures (available here), a total income of Â£50,000 per annum before tax in 2015-16 was marginally above the 88th percentile for income. Who on earth thought that it could ever be a good idea to tell 88% of the UK population that the government considers them to be so unskilled that, if they werenâ€™t here already, they would never be allowed into the country?