03/08/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Globalization Is In Retreat: Adrian Hamilton

One by one the great and good of the land have stepped forward to pronounce on the wave of strikes over foreign workers and to condemn them. "Xenophobia" is the dread threat raised by Lord Mandelson. "Protectionism" and even the British National Party have been the spectres raised by his colleagues.

And quite right too. Protectionism would be the worst fate to befall the world at this time. There is no reason to fear the EU in this context. The figures show that British workers have largely benefited from it. The political class is wise to warn of what could happen if the cause of these strikes were hijacked by the nationalists, the europhobes and the little Englanders.

But listening to the spokesmen of the workers involved I don't get the feeling that the actions do arise from xenophobia or hatred of Europe (although there is precious little love of it in this country). Indeed the leaders seem to be at pains to distance themselves from such causes, partly because the thrust of this dispute appears to come not from the unskilled, who have been most affected by immigrant labour, but from the skilled workers such as pipefitters who know the benefit of an open market.

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