24 may 2014, the tide rises, the tide falls

This is not america. Yet, political streams there often flow into europe a decade later. So an economist article claiming the political heat is ebbing from the immigration issue is interesting. The tea party's founding idea was shrinking the state (see no deleveraging at home, 24 october 2011), but amongst the fellow traveller issues it co-opted, immigration probably loomed largest; strange in a country built on bringing in the world's tired and poor huddled masses. As recession and hardship swept europe's own masses, so, as you would expect, the political fortunes of the radical and anti-establishment have risen (see of populism, 9 november 2013), as clearly seen in this weekend's european elections, with those parties recording spectacular new high-water marks. Yet, there is reason, and hope, to think that high water-marks these may be. Along with disenchantment with the eu, migration brought about by its open borders has been a central driver, at least in northern places like britain and holland, of this discontent. Yet, the numbers are significantly lower than a decade ago. The difference now is a dismal economy, particularly for those at the bottom, made worse through the lens of rising inequality, a wave ridden by piktetty (though his thesis is flawed). It is not inequality, but the condition of those at the bottom that matters, and there are solid economic omens that although a rise may be slow, that economic stock will at least now stop falling. The sting though will only be gone when the nastiness of the immigration debate is drawn, and that will come from a rising economy too, which actually needs workers to migrate according to labour demand, and where experience shows they are, if not welcomed, at least tolerated. This is far from pre-ordained: the economy needs prolongued growth, and politicians need to turn the debate to real cause and effect, standing up when needed to easily scapegoating migration for a multitude of ills. Whether or not the uk remains in the eu probably rests on whether this sting can be drawn in time. Eventually though it will, and 2014 will hopefully look like an odd moment we need to work harder in the next downturn to avoid.