Sutherland says there is no place for negative views on migration in civilised society

Peter Sutherland, the non-executive chairman of Goldman Sachs, has launched a vehement attack on political parties who, as far as he's concerned, deliberately misrepresent the facts about migration.

Speaking at the World Economics Forum in Davos as part of the panel discussion "Immigration, welcome or not?", Sutherland accused migration naysayers of having perceptions that are "totally out of line with reality."

He said:

It is already evident that in the European elections there has been a significant rise for parties which I would consider to be advocating xenophobic responses rather than positive responses to migration.

I think that this is extremely unfortunate, and I think it is time for the debate to be carried directly to those who advocate these positions.

The evidence is overwhelming that migration plays a very positive role in the development of countries.

And that migrants generally play a positive, constructive role in economic activity.

Sutherland’s view isn’t shared by everybody, though.

Here in the UK, the government faces the problem that too many positive voices on immigration could undermine its crackdown on benefits tourism.

David Cameron's stringent Immigration Bill has been censured by the UN, which thinks it could create a climate of "ethnic profiling".

And back in December, Whitehall sources accused home secretary Theresa May of deliberately delaying a review that contributed to a bundle of documents evaluating the UK’s relationship with the EU, subordinating evidence for a political agenda.

The stalling was reportedly because she was dissatisfied with what the report said on European migration into Britain.

But Sutherland doesn’t see any room for pejorative and politicised stances. He added:

Right across Europe there is a negative view about migration which not merely contradicts some of the values which many of us associate particularly with the European Union but more generally with civilised society.

Yesterday at Davos, CP Gurnani, the boss of Tech Mahindra, told The Telegraph that, although his company had been embraced by the UK, mixed government messages are hindering advances in innovation.

Many thanks the The Guardian Business Blog for the quotations.