Friday, October 10, 2014

Thoughts on Immigration


UKIP say that you cannot control Immigration unless you leave the EU. Up to a point they are right. The free movement of labour within the EU is a cornerstone of its existence and with some minor exceptions EU citizens have the right to work anywhere within the Union. However these rules do not apply to immigration from non EU countries and they are not cast in stone. Indeed the members of the EU have a process underway looking at increasing individual member States' control over their borders.

Despite the issue of Immigration being high on the list of voter concerns it is little understood and often confused, sometimes deliberately, with the issue of multiculturalism. I have read or heard many people oppose immigration but what they are often actually against is the fact that British cities, or some of them, are now ethnically diverse. We are a multicultural society and that ethnic variety is concentrated in some city areas. So the transformation of, say parts of Bradford or Leicester, into British Asian enclaves offends some people who then blame "Immigration". The point, of course, is that past immigration has indeed caused these changes. But current immigration has little or no impact on them. And the free movement of EU citizens has little effect either. Whilst there is some clustering with some parts of London having quite large numbers of, say, Poles this hardly leads to a massively increased degree of multiculturalism!

Economic studies tend to show that immigration has been, and remains, net positive for Britain by some margin. British citizens do have a variety of cultures today and that can cause some stresses. Home grown Islamic extremism and criminal activities like the Pakistani heritage child abuse in Rotherham would not have happened without past immigration and it is wrong to deny this. But horrific though these things are they are not representative of 99% of British Asian behaviours. 

There needs to be more light and less heat on Immigration and more analysis and less prejudice. There needs to be better understanding of the benefits and where there are problems more thoughtful solutions. In truth it is usually the terminally prejudiced, the sort of people who object to hearing foreign languages spoken on the train or to having a Mosque on their High Street, who make the most noise. Most of us welcome Britain's mature cultural diversity. And make it work as best we can. 


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