Will quangocrats be the real winners of this election?

By: William Yarwood, media campaign manager


With the election well underway, politicians have come out swinging with bright and shiny new policies in an effort to win your vote.

The most recent addition to the policy pile is the Conservatives’ annual cap on immigration, an attempt to show voters that they are serious about bringing down immigration numbers (even though they’ve been at record highs).

The return of Nigel Farage as the head of Reform UK, and his declaration that this is the ‘immigration election’, has brought the issue to the top of the political agenda. As two in ten Britons argue that immigration is the biggest issue in the country, it’s not unfair to say that many Brits will be going to the polls with immigration at the front of their minds. 

The prime minister, Rishi Sunak, thinks that a ‘bold’ policy such as this will scupper the view that he and the current Conservative party are soft on immigration and put the brakes on the rise of Reform.

However, while elected politicians sitting in Parliament would get a vote on the cap, they would simply be voting on recommendations from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), which, in its own words, is ‘an independent, non-statutory, non-time limited, non-departmental public body that advises the government on migration issues’. In short, it's a quango.

Established in 2007, the MAC has consistently offered advice to the Home Office and the government more broadly on immigration policy. Suggestions have included keeping the graduate visa in its current form, lowering the minimum income requirements for family visas, and allowing industries to prioritise foreign workers over British workers. While I have only mentioned three, there is a clear thread throughout these suggestions: more immigration.

This should come as no surprise to anyone with knowledge of the MAC. Its committee board is stuffed full of academics whose research interests cover intersectionality, social justice and multiculturalism. Furthermore, a member of the committee runs a migration think tank which receives millions from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation which thinks borders are systemically racist, which itself has received taxpayer money.

Furthermore, their suggestions regarding graduate visas should shock nobody. As a result of policy choices over the last two decades, higher education is now one of the most immigration-dependent sectors in the country. So of course a group of academics who are reliant on migrant graduate visas for their paychecks would be in favour of the scheme and lax immigration rules, they’d likely be out of a job without them!

In reality, the MAC is simply another taxpayer-funded quango which advocates for policies the British public does not want, while taking responsibility for decisions politicians would rather avoid. And yet, the Conservatives wish to empower it even more by allowing it to set the cap on how much migration Britain should have each year.

However, it is extremely unlikely that a quango run by pro-immigration academics, which has advocated for looser immigration policies in the past, will provide the cap of migration that Sunak desperately wants. But more fundamentally, this issue should not be decided by the MAC in the first place.

British politicians are put in Parliament to enact the will of the people who voted for them, yet time and time again they have syphoned off more and more of their power to unelected and opaque quangos. When this is done a democratic deficit is opened up, with policies and decisions being taken by groups no one has ever heard of or voted for.

For years, the TaxPayers’ Alliance has been calling for a bonfire of quangos which are a waste of taxpayers' money, lack transparency and have a detrimental impact on our public policy. This extends to international quangos too, which received £85 billion from the UK government between 2009 to 2021, many of whom politicians have given up power to on key policy areas like energy and health.

No one voted for the MAC or for many of the other quangos to be brought into existence. Nor did anyone consent to have their wallets rummaged through to fund them. But most importantly no one was asked whether they should have control over political decision-making.

Politicians in Britain seem borderline allergic to governing, seeking to delegate decision-making to whatever opaque quango takes their fancy at the earliest opportunity. Often without regard to the cost to taxpayers or even the real motives of the quango in question.

Instead of empowering and adding to quangos, more should be placed on the bonfire where they belong. Politicians should take responsibility for their own policies and their implementation, and be unafraid of the democratic power vested in them by the British people. 


This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience.  More info. Okay