0

Amber Rudd’s’Name and shame’ proposal leaves a lot of unanswered questions and a rather irksome feeling.

Despite all claims to the contrary I’ve always tried to avoid the simplistic view that BREXIT was primarily about race and xenophobia. Whilst no one is denying that the ‘breaking point’ campaign and indeed a lot of the leave campaigns rhetoric was focused on immigration (despite EU immigration being limited to Europe these campaigns tried to focus on refugees, which is kind of ironic considering we still have a duty to them with or without our EU membership) there were other factors that would encourage someone to vote leave.

My article on Public Opinion and the Young People Who Voted Leave discusses several of these alternative reasons and shows that many people were influenced by the perceived anti-democratic way the EU was run, they wanted to leave what they saw as a global superpower that was trying to control 28 countries from a remote headquarters, and/or they wanted Britain to have more control over their destiny and economy. It would be very naive to assume that no one voted leave due to racist and/or xenophobic reasons, but the idea that these were the only reasons highlights the remain campaign’s failure to appeal to people in the first place.

Recent events have made me a little disturbed, however.This ‘name and shame’ policy that attempts to look at how many non-British born people work for a particular company does sound quite sinister because the aim appears to be quite clear. This policy seems to have been discontinued due to the backlash it recieved, but the fact that this was an option, the fact that this is what our government wanted to focus on is a little scary and perhaps shows what is to come. According to The Guardian Amber Rudd’s aims were as follows:

“Under her proposals, firms could be forced to disclose what percentage of their workforce is non-British as a way to encourage them to hire more locals. Ms Rudd said she wanted to “flush out” companies abusing existing rules and “nudge them into better behaviour”.

Source http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-37561035

Whether they publish their findings or not the goal seems to be to check how many migrants compared to how many British born people work for a particular company and if they are not satisfied that British people are getting first pick at the jobs they may take measures to encourage the company in question to focus on British applicants and give them first choice for employment. I am not sure if these policies will focus on people who weren’t born in the U.K themselves or people whose ancestors were immigrants, nor do I know whether it will focus on a particular group (i.e European immigrants or non-EU immigrants).

I also don’t know if ‘British born’ is going to be based on race or residential status and how that’s going to be qualified (will Amber Rudd count you as a British citizen if you weren’t born in Britain but have British citizenship? Will a recent immigrant with a better application be turned away in favour of someone who has no relevent experience but is a Britis citizen?) but either way this seems very contradictory to our apparent commitment to inclusion and the need to encourage a more representative, diverse workforce not only so our workforce reflects the country we actually live in but so we don’t end up with stale ideas and we don’t miss out on talent.

We already know that we have a problem with diversity in British industries, and even though we have schemes and quota systems in place to encourage a more diverse workforce they don’t always seem that effective. We know, for example, that around 8% of the Creative sector (i.e media, film and art-based jobs) are nonwhite, and when we consider that a lot of these jobs are based in London where the demographic is roughly around 40-60% this is quite shocking. (source here: http://www.gold.ac.uk/news/the-creative-industries-and-meritocracy/)

From a quick Google search on the subject I found the following statistics:

  • Black workers with degrees earn 23.1% less on average than white employees with the qualifications
  • Ethnic minority people were more likely to live in poverty than white people
  • Ethnic minorities are still “hugely under-represented” in positions of power – such as judges and police chiefs (info found here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-37114418)When they are talking about hiring more locals, what jobs do they mean? Do they mean the NHS where a significant portion of the workforce is made up of Non-British born staff? Do they mean the jobs many British people simply don’t want to do or don’t have the skills for? Do they mean the more competitive industries where diversity is still a real issue? And what do they mean by foreigners? Is this based on your race, where you were born, or is it simply how soon it was that you moved to the UK? If you were brought up here and lived most of your life here but you happened to be born in another country how do you fit in? How do you qualify a British person and how do you qualify a non-British person?

    It is hard to get a job in the U.K and a lot of this is because there is too much competition for certain jobs, not enough jobs to go around and a real preference for free labour under the guise of ‘internships’. How we could sort that out is a whole other issue, but the solution isn’t to close off all opportunities to people who ‘aren’t British enough’ if they have the skills that the particular job needs. Surely if companies are encouraged to hire as many ‘British’ workers as possible it will exasperate inequalities. Surely changing hiring policies so ‘the British come first’ would increase racial profiling? Surely ‘British Jobs for British workers’ is quite an open statement which doesn’t really mean anything,  because who is British and who isn’t? What are you basing that on?

1

Donald Trump and the banning debate

A section of British MPs have debated whether the controversial republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has caused worldwide outrage for his comments regarding Muslims including the call for Muslims to be banned from the US, should be banned from visiting the UK. This is a result of an online partition calling for Trump to be banned from the UK which currently has 576, 447 signatures SNP MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh claimed that the ban could be justified on ground of ‘religious harmony’, but others have said that the ban could actually create more support for Trump because it may give him ‘martyr’ status, and even those who would usually abhor his claims would support his right to free speech.

I do not think Trump should be banned from the UK. This is not because I agree with Trump; frankly I still can’t quite believe the guy exists, let alone that anyone would consider letting him run a country. However, the worst thing you can do with a bigot like this is deny them their right to speak. If you do this it gives them ammunition. It gives someone whose views are normally ridiculous a genuinely valid argument, because we are denying them the free speech we often fight so hard to protect. And we would also be denying ourselves a golden opportunity to ridicule this man and show his ideas for what they are.
We should not ban him, rather we should try and set up a televised talk with a live audience and panel who would be given the opportunity to challenge Trump, to put him on the spot and to make him squirm. I remember years ago the UK wanted to stop Nick Griffin participated in a BBC debate. The debate went ahead anyway, and Nick Griffin was put on the spot and he showed himself for what he was, which gave him opponents even more ammunition to criticize and challenge his views.
This is precisely what we need to do with Trump. Rather then deny him free speech, we should use free speech against him. Clearly no matter what we do we won’t change his or his more hardcore supporters beliefs, but we can try to trip him up on his logic enough that maybe the more intelligent potential supporters will question him. This is not guaranteed, but it can’t hurt. We shouldn’t be scared of these people, we should show that rather then just try to hide from them and pretend they don’t exist we can and we should challenge them, not just from behind a keyboard but in real life. The call to ban him was a valid form of protest, and is good because it shows that a large number of UK citizens disagree venomously with his assertions, but we need to go beyond that. We can’t just say we disagree because we don’t like what he says, we need to take that and then show why  what he says is wrong. To simply disagree isn’t enough, we need to engage with these kind of views in so much that we can break them apart, ridicule them and prove them wrong. That is the only way we can even hope of defeating someone like that.

3

The transformation of MeadRiver and why immigration can be a very good thing

Home Secretary Theresa May’s October  speech on immigration has attracted a lot of attention, and whilst some people are openly appalled by her statements, a lot of other people are rallying behind her. Here is a quote from the speech, in which she states that immigration is not in our national interest, is bad for local communities and increases poverty: “When immigration is too high,” she said, “When the pace of change is too fast, it’s impossible to build a cohesive society. It’s difficult for schools and hospitals and core infrastructure like housing and transport to cope. And we know that for people in low-paid jobs, wages are forced down even further while some people are forced out of work altogether.” There is, she added, “no case, in the national interest, for immigration of the scale we have experienced over the last decade.”
Julia Hartley-Brewer, a reporter for the Telegraph, appeared to agree with May, and in an article published yesterday she claimed that:”  New arrivals don’t immerse themselves in the language and culture of their new home, they simply move to an area where there are many others from their motherland and set up separate communities. ” and then went on to say: “A study of the latest census by the Demos think-tank found that nearly half of ethnic minorities – four million people – now live in communities where whites are a minority. Is this what we really mean by a multiracial, multicultural society?”

Now, some of you lovely readers probably already know that I am in favor of immigration. You may have seen from some of my recent posts that I believe we can and should allow far more people affected by the refugee crisis into the UK, but it goes beyond that. I like immigration. I want to have the opportunity to move to different countries, both in and outside of the EU. I want live and work in these countries, and I believe other people should be able to live and work in other countries as well. I understand that we cannot have completely open borders, but I also disagree very strongly with the far too popular idea that immigrants are coming here to scrounge off benefits and steal jobs. This has never been proved,  and studies show that a very, very small amount of non UK Nationals claim benefits, whereas the percentage of UK Nationals do claim them is much higher.  (also see http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/the-facts-behind-theresa-mays-speech-about-immigration-a6685791.html)
Whilst some employers can and do employ immigrants illegally or pay them less than they would a UK national, it is also true that many people born in the UK are not willing to do some of the jobs migrants, for various reasons, will accept. Also, if the employer is actually paying an immigrant less than a UK national, this is surely taking advantage and not giving the equal rights that a UK citizen may find it easier to demand, and would only really work for cash in hand or illegal employment. Whilst I don’t deny this does happen, I do have to question if it is nearly as widespread or common as is often assumed, or that when it does happen it is for a long period of time, as often someone may start out in an low paying job and the progress or seek new employment.Today I read a comment in the Metro newspaper by a couple who run a retail company, and they claimed that the majority of applications they receive are from migrants who work very hard, as many UK nationals are not interested in this kind of work. As recent Tory measures now mean that immigrants will have to wait four years to claim benefits, surely if they cannot claim benefits, they cannot be benefit scroungers. Whilst it can be hard for UK born adults to gain employment, especially as there is a catch 22 situation where you cannot gain employment before you have experience and cannot gain experience without employment, it is also true that a lot of people are not willing to accept bad pay or a bad work environment (which they shouldn’t have to) and a lot of places (like the office I work in) have quite a high turn over. If someone, for whatever reason is used to poor wages or urgently needs money, this may be why they are willing to accept conditions others are not, which may be the reason why some people who have newly immigrated to the UK may take lower paid jobs.
It is also wrong to assume migrants only take low paid, illegal jobs. Without immigrants, the NHS would collapse. Our economy would suffer. The government would have to raise taxes because we would lose out on all the money these people contribute to our economy each year. Whilst a small number may come here because they hear we are a generous society, it appears that far more come here to work, to provide for their countries, or because they think the UK looks like quite a nice place to live and work, and I have never found any of these anti immigration arguments convincing because they all seem to stem down to unfounded fears and prejudices that don’t actually seem to apply to real life.
I strongly disagree with the idea that immigration is a bad thing for communities or that it encourages poverty. People seem to assume immigration has to have a negative impact on a town, that it will change it for the worst and the town will end up worse off then it was before. Based on a due to my personal experiences in the town I have lived in for 17 years, I would argue that yes, it will change the town, but it does not have to be a bad change, and it may well change the area for the better.  In light of my experiences, I am going to tell you a story about my home town and how immigration, whilst it cannot be seen as the only or perhaps even the most important factor, has a definite positive correlation with the transformation of this town from a crime ridden, BNP centric, isolated ghost town into a comparatively affluent, well connected and, for the area, reasonably safe and pleasant place to live. This is a true story, but in the interests of privacy I am going to call this town MeadRiver.

I moved to MeadRiver with my parents in 1997 when I was five years old. We moved into a housing association rented flat with two bedrooms and a communal garden. The flat we moved into had previously been occupied by a crack dealer who fled in the middle of the night and burned down part of the flat in the process, and for the first few months we were there people would bang on the door and demand money and/or drugs. Our flat was in the ‘nicer’ part of MeadRiver, meaning it was not in a massive grey tower block and didn’t have as many nearby gangs, but it was not by a long shot a good place to live. The town did not have good transport links, there was no nearby tube station (only a train station about fifteen minutes away), it did not have many shops (I only remember a Safeways, most of the businesses are fairly new), as it was filled with massive 1960s style concrete tower blocks it had been used as the set for various Dystopian films that called for a disturbing landscape, and there was a lot of violence, gangs, racism, segregation of the ethnic minorities that lived here, and MeadRiver was a classic BNP ridden impoverished area.
Now, I’m not going to say the transformation of MeadRiver was solely because of immigration, or even that immigration was the most important change that has happened in the last 17 years. The most important change was better transport links, first in the form of a new tube station built about ten miles away (accessible via bus) and later another tube line opening in a nearby town. These transport links made the town more appealing to commuters, and therefore people who earned more money started to move there. This had a knock on effect of more businesses opening to satisfy the needs of the newly fairly well off commuters, and therefore the layout of MeadRiver started to change. New houses also started being built, which tended to be more up market and designed for key workers, rather then being built for social housing. These changes all contributed to slowly change MeadRiver into a safer, richer, more accessible and more active neighborhood.
However, immigration does also appear to have played a part as well. When MeadRiver was first built in the 1960s, it was one of the most homogeneous estates in London, and even though it did experience immigration before we moved, from what I (and my parents) recall, in the first few years it was still a largely white working class area.  Then in the 1990s, there was an influx of immigration from non EU countries (largely from Nigeria and Ghana) which has transformed the ethnic makeup of MeadRiver. Starting out as a homogeneous, BNP centric town, MeadRiver is now one of the most multi cultural places in London and, although it is by a very small percentage, there are slightly more people of African origin living here than UK nationals (White British 33.3%, Black African 35.6%). Therefore, MeadRiver is one of the areas Teresa May and Julia Brewer must be referring to. And yet, far from the influx of immigration changing MeadRiver for the worst, with increased poverty and lack of social cohesion, my experience suggests quite the opposite.

MeadRivers higher affluence coincides with higher immigration levels, and this may well be because a large number of those of African origin who moved to MeadRiver got themselves jobs, seemingly fairly well paid jobs. The part of town I live in, which is still one of the nicer parts of MeadRiver, has a large African population, and from what I have seen more than half of the people who have the nice cars, live in fairly nice accommodation, and share my daily commute to central London are non white (and as MeadRivers used to be fairly homogeneous, I have to assume that most of them immigrated in the last two decades).  This is obviously not true of everyone who lives here, and the greater transport links and  more upmarket housing has simply made the town more attractive to more people regardless of their race, but the fact still stands that the influx of immigration has not, in any way, made MeadRiver a worse place to live, and has a positive correlation with the positive changes that have occurred in this area during the last 17 years. Those who immigrated here also appear more likely to have a decent job, live in a nice house and presumably pay taxes. Whilst I am not suggesting that the majority of white british born adults in MeadRiver don’t work, live off benefits and belong on Jeremy Kyle, to assume the opposite is just plain wrong.
Crime, whilst still a problem on the estates, also appears to have decreased and you feel fairly safe walking around this town at night, indeed safer then you do in the nearby, bigger towns. There are several African supermarkets around the area, and some churches which tend to be fairly dominated by black people have sprung up around the area, but I don’t see this as a bad thing. Call me crazy, but I would take a few churches over crack dens any day. And whilst white BNP supporters do still exist, they tend to stick to this one pub in the town center and not really bother anyone. I never hear about high levels of violence anymore, and as far as I am aware muggings and theft are quite uncommon in my area. As far as cohesion is concerned, it doesn’t appear to be an issue. There is a strong black community, but I don’t see why that should threaten me, or why I should have a problem with it.
I have been to our local NHS services and they are as fast as you would expect from an NHS doctor, I have managed to get tests and check ups quickly after booking and have never had to wait that long for an appointment. As far as housing is concerned, the influx of people seems to have encouraged more and better housing being built, as MeadRiver is still quite far out of London (although the Crossrail may change this somewhat) prices still tend to be cheap for a London borough, and whilst it has expanded out to accommodate its growing population, I am not aware of any substantial housing shortage in the area as compared to other areas with less immigration. There are quite a few primary and secondary schools in the area, and I am not aware of overcrowding being an issue. As more people moved to MeadRiver, more local businesses opened up in the area because there was a need for them, and these businesses employ local people.
As far as I, as an almost life long resident of this town am concerned, all the changes that have occurred have been for the better, and the influx of largely non EU immigration has helped contribute to this town in a positive way. I see no signs that immigration has had a negative effect on MeadRiver. I appreciate this may not be the experience of all towns effected by high immigration, particularly those out of London area, but as my personal experience and observation is concerned, immigration is at worse a neutral influence, and at best a positive contributor to raising levels of affluence, safety and transport. Everyone always seems to assume immigration can only have a negative impact, and I would like to hear about other peoples experiences because I really do not see why immigration is always painted as such a bad thing.

Articles on Theresa May’s immigration speech

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/conservative/11915376/Theresa-May-saying-what-everybody-thinks.html

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/oct/06/reality-check-is-theresa-may-right-about-immigration

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/immigration/11916438/Theresa-May-is-right-Britain-does-not-need-more-immigrants.html

http://anotherangryvoice.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/12-things-theresa-may-immigration.html

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/oct/06/reality-check-is-theresa-may-right-about-immigration

9

Why the UK can and should take more than 20,000 refugees:

The refugee crisis, in which thousands upon thousands of desperate people are fleeing countries such as Syria in an attempt to reach EU countries, has been in the public eye for quite a while now. The response from the general public in the UK has been quite disturbing; despite humanitarian concerns (recently perpetuated by distressing images of a dead child, even though we had known about the death toll for months prior to these images) and many UK citizens, organizations and charities pressuring our government to take in their share of refugees, many other people (including, until recently, our own prime minister David Cameron) have been opposed to offering asylum to these people, arguing that it will encourage more and more people to come and that Britain cannot take the extra numbers. A poll by the Telegraph has shown that 54% of people who answered didn’t think the UK should take more refugees.
The distinction between refugees and migrants, the latter who allegedly want to come to the UK  to benefit from our health and welfare systems, has been being blurred and sometimes used interchangeably in a very unhelpful way, and the arguments used against them seem fairly generic and largely incorrect. I’ve been looking into it, and from what I have found most, if not all, of these arguments against letting refugees into the UK are incorrect, exaggerated and disturbingly similar to arguments used by newspapers like the Daily Mail against the UK accepting  refugees trying to escape Germany in the 1930s during the build up to the second world war.

The UK has pledged to accept 20,000 migrants into the UK by 2020, but as the crisis is happening  now, as Germany and France are accepting a far larger number than this (Germany has said they will take 500000 refugees a year), and because I believe we can and should at least double and probably triple the amount of asylum seekers we let into the UK, I’m going to look at several potential arguments against letting these people in and show why they are wrong.

1: Britain is full, i.e the UK is a small, already over populated Island that cannot house all these new refugees, let alone their children and grand children
Britain is not full, and the housing crisis is not the fault of immigrants or even a rising population. According to http://www.emptyhomes.com/, there are (or were at the time of writing) 610,000 empty homes in England, which is far more than is needed to house these 20,000 migrants, in fact you could house every refugee that Germany has said they can take per year (500,000) and still have houses to spare. There are also empty and/or abandoned pubs, restaurants, hotels, office buildings, and other vacant commercial properties that could be turned into housing more easily and quickly then it would take to build new houses.
There is also a lot of space to build new houses. If you have ever been on a long distance train or coach in the UK, you will see for yourself just how much land there is that is largely devoid of houses (or will have a couple of isolated, lonely houses surrounded by countryside), and yes I appreciate that a lot of land is used for farming and crops, but I have been to several of these places up and down the country and I am here to tell you that it there is a lot of land that could be used to build new houses.
Apart from London, most UK cities are not actually that large, and their suburbs are often on the brink of the types of land I have just described. There is room to enlarge these residential areas and build more homes. Of course we shouldn’t do away with all our country side, I personally love visiting it (although I could never live there) and it is important for our environment that we  maintain our forests and do not unnecessarily start cutting down trees, but a lot of this land is not forests, and does not have a lot of trees (trees don’t have to be cut down, trees can live alongside houses) and is often not doing very much. I recently read an article on the BBC website that claimed that “The urban landscape accounts for 10.6% of England, 1.9% of Scotland, 3.6% of Northern Ireland and 4.1% of Wales.“, and claimed  that “In England, “78.6% of urban areas is designated as natural rather than built”. Since urban only covers a tenth of the country, this means that the proportion of England’s landscape which is built on is… 2.27%. Yes. According to the most detailed analysis ever conducted, almost 98% of England is, in their word, natural.” (see full article at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18623096) This was written a few years back, and I can’t comment on its exact accuracy, but it is in line what I have observed on my many trips up and down the country that country side and underpopulated areas vastly exceed compact city and residential spaces, and when people say “Britain is full” it seems quite ridiculous to me, because if anything Britain is actually quite empty. I see no reason why we cannot build a lot of new houses and still maintain a lot of the British country side.
Population growth may be a problem decades down the line, as people will have children who will have grand children etc, but this does gloss over the fact that a: humans don’t currently live forever and although people do live longer then they used to, the population won’t just keep rising and rising without limit because people will die,  b:  people can and do emigrate to other countries and quite a few UK nationals will not spend their entire lives (or their children’s lives) in the UK, and c: on average people are having less children then they did a few decades ago, and in about twenty years if less and less people do continue to have children we may actually need immigration to boost our youthful population. If it was a million new people who would be moved here tomorrow, I might have some slight misgivings, but I strongly believe we have the capacity to at least double the amount of refugees the UK has said they will take.

2: We do not have enough resources for us and all these new people

Supermarkets waste food every day, and we have a lot of excess that is thrown away. According to a blog on the LSE website, “Britons dispose of 7 million tons of food and drink from their homes every year – the majority of which is still edible“, and the UK, The US and Europe have nearly twice as much food as is actually needed by their populations. We have heard the stories of people who go through supermarket bins and feed large numbers of people on the food these supermarkets throw away, and just from going to a supermarket we can see the vast quantities of food they stock and I find it very hard to believe that an extra 40,000 or so people would make a huge difference on these resources, especially considering the amount of supermarkets we have in this country. These extra people are not going to double the population any time soon, and they would need to literally double it in order to make any noticeable difference as far as food is concerned if these figures are correct.
There are concerns about a water shortage, and this is something I’ll admit I don’t know very much about, but I haven’t seen any warnings or felt any repercussions from that so as far as I am aware this is not a massive concern. Of course there are environmental issues about more people using more un-green energy sources and slowly killing our planet, but 1: this is a worldwide thing, not limited to the UK, and 2: we need to look into how we can make energy more efficient and utilize things that can contribute to it (a big one being rubbish- rather than landfill it can be sent to facilities that can burn it to create energy) rather than using it as an excuse not to allow people into the country. There may be pressure on schools, but some of these migrants may be teachers and more people may encourage more schools to be opened, which in turn would create jobs and allow more choice. There may be pressure on the NHS in some areas, but some of these migrants may be trained in the medical profession and may be able to positively benefit the NHS in a variety of roles. I’d say we have  a lot more to fear from an aging population than immigration in this department as older people typically require more medical care; does this mean we should kick out old people? I am assuming the refugees would not all be sent to one location and would be spread out around the country, and so I do not believe there would be nearly as great a strain on public services as one may think, and especially in certain areas the benefits may greatly outweigh the costs.

3. Refugees are here to benefit from our health, jobs, houses and welfare 

This doesn’t make any sense to me. I do not believe anyone would travel thousands of miles in a perilous and potentially deadly journey and end up waiting for months in a camp hoping for asylum unless they actually had to. Are we that conceited that we think people would go through all that just because they want to come to the UK? Really? We know where a lot of these people are coming from, as far as I am aware over half of the refugees are from Syria and Britain appears to have said they will take exclusively Syrian refugees. Syria as we know is in the middle of a war and the population is being terrorized. These people did not come here for an easy life, they made a very hard and dangerous journey because they did not have any choice, and we have no right to dismiss these peoples experience based on some misjudged and incorrect prejudices.
There also seems to be a pretty weird assumption that immigrants do not have any skills, that they seemingly just existed un-productively in their own country until they tried to come here. But that’s just not true, many of these people are going to be skilled in a range of professions that they would have practiced prior to current events that they can use to benefit our society and economy. The people attempting to enter the EU who have been interviewed by UK journalists have come from a range of professions, such as law, journalism, and teaching, and many are students. There is no evidence that these people are not planning to work once they come here, and I see no reason to assume that. Helping these people find houses and professions will take time and money, but this will not be a long term thing and in the long run our economy is likely to benefit in many areas.
People often freak out about immigration because they fear they will ‘take our jobs’ and drive down wages. But according to the Telegraph last year said, and I quote, “on average there were 683,000 vacancies in the UK job market in the third quarter of 2014”. That’s definitely more than enough jobs to go around, and a lot of the problems are down to people not having the right skills for certain jobs, not having enough experience,  people not advertising properly or high turn overs, but it is simply untrue  to simply say that there are not enough jobs to go around and go on to blame immigrants for stealing them. According to these statistics you could double, and even triple, the amount of refugees the UK has agreed to take and still have more than enough jobs for everyone. We need to invest in training and help people in the UK make choices that will make them more employable, not blame refugees for an imaginary job shortage.

I have yet to find one convincing argument for why we should not accept more refugees than we have agreed to take, and how doubling or (hopefully) tripling that number to be more in line with the rest of the EU would have a negative impact on the UK .Humanitarianism aside for the moment (if thousands of desperate people wasn’t enough to sway you) I cannot see any logical reason why we cannot take more than 20,000 refugees. Yes, we should  monitor it and not just open the doors for millions of people, but we can easily accommodate more than 20,000 and if we can, we should. The history books will judge us for this, and decades from now history students will study this exact subject and wonder what the hell was wrong with us, just like we do now about Nazi Germany and Britains refusal to save more people fleeing the Nazi regime (largely due to prevalent anti antisemitism, a shared belief in eugenics and these decade old arguments of Britain not having the space). Fears of over population have been around for decades, and they have never reached the numbers people feared and have never had as much of an impact as people said they would, and I see no reason why now is any different. We need to remember our role in the what is going on in Syria, our role in the Iraq war and the power vacuum that has led to the rise of IS, and before complaining about taking in these people actually think about why they need to come here, because we are not blameless and we need to take our share of responsibility.
If you have any arguments I have not mentioned, or you want to dispute anything I’ve said please leave a comment. Thanks for reading.

Reading:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2015/sep/08/refugee-crisis-clashes-in-lesbos-live-updates

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/jobs/11278720/How-empty-desks-cost-the-UK-economy-18bn-a-year.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/immigration/11839283/David-Cameron-Britain-should-not-take-more-refugees.html

http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2010/04/britain-population-immigration

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/britain-is-not-at-all-full-up-insists-senior-civil-servant-9916478.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/is-britain-really-full-up-we-put-the-most-common-assumptions-about-immigration-to-an-expert-10427400.html

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Britain_is_full

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2011692/A-green-pleasant-land-Map-reveals-half-Britain-countryside.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe-struggles-to-handle-accelerating-flow-of-refugees/2015/09/07/e2bbc509-414b-4890-bedf-c76b37ae109a_story.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-34193762

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18623096

http://www.emptyhomes.com/

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/04/syrian-refugee-crisis-why-has-it-become-so-bad

http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/sustainability/2015/07/15/uk_food_waste/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34183150

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34183150

25

The Calais Migrant Crisis

There has been a lot of stuff in the papers recently about the Calais Migrant crisis, where thousands of refugees are trying to gain entry into EU countries.  In this post I’m mostly talking about migrants from the Middle East in countries such as Syria, although I am generally favorable to all immigration unless those in question seek to deliberately harm this country (i.e terrorism). A lot of these points will also apply to other immigrants, such as those coming from African countries, but I want to focus on those from Syria and the Middle East as the attitude towards them is what I find especially shocking at the moment.
What strikes me about this is the anger and indignation that many British people seem to feel about these migrants trying to come to our country, the claims that they are ‘stealing our jobs’ and driving down wages for the working class, that they are perpetuating a already bad housing crisis, that they just want to come here and live on our taxes. Our government is trying to send the message that Britain is full, Britain is not friendly to asylum seekers and, if rejected, you will face hardships and be deported back to your own country. That it is illegal to house or employ illegal immigrants, that they must be reported. Some people are trying to take a moral high ground, saying that taking in these immigrants will cause a ‘brain drain’ in the countries in question, that we will contribute the long term worsening of conditions in these countries. When people say this they may be thinking more of African countries than places like Syria (although this is in itself a debatable issue) but  where certain Middle Eastern countries are concerned this argument seems fairly ridiculous. Syria is currently a very dangerous place. There is war, there is extremism and there is extreme intolerance. Many of the educated people in that country, particularly journalists, writers or anyone who has anything to do with free speech will thus be in danger. They can’t stay to contribute towards their countries economy because their skills are not allowed under the current regime, and I feel that journalists who have been in these countries and who have seen these regimes first hand would be invaluable to our own press.

Now, the UK is a small country but I strongly question the idea the it is ‘full’. If you have ever been on a coach or a train going through the country side you will see vast amounts of un-populated land, and yes a lot do have crops and animals and we do need to preserve some of our wildlife and avoid cutting down trees, but really, there is space for new houses. There are large areas of abandoned land, and land that is owned by someone or other that doesn’t have much use for it and may be tempted to sell it if the occasion arose. There are also a lot of abandoned buildings all over the country (which, although un-used, are getting harder to squat in) that could easily be converted into flats and housing. There are new building projects that can and should be done, and it is possible. Britain is small, but it is not full and from what I can see is not in danger of being full for quite some time.

There also seems to be this assumption that all migrants are low skilled and will drive down wages, and/or they want to come here for unemployment benefits. Now these two ideas are quite at odds with each other. If someone is willing to do a poorly paid and often un-pleasant job in order to get any money that they can, surely they didn’t come here to ‘scrounge on benefits’. Under Cameron’s new regulations they will not be able to claim benefits for quite a while anyway, and if they are illegal presumably they wouldn’t be able to claim them at all. The NHS is free at the point of entry and if the asylum was accepted a refugee would be able to use it, but if they are working at all surely they are somewhat entitled to it? The fact is that those migrants who do take low paid jobs are often doing jobs British nationals may be unwilling to do, and the fact they are not granted asylum is what allows employers to pay them less to begin with. If they were granted citizenship, they would both be in the same competition as UK nationals and be contributing to our economy in taxes, and regulations would prevent them being paid less. Even if they are currently being paid less, these would often be wages many in the UK would reject. It is not that migrants lessen wages, but that they are more desperate and therefore easier to exploit then UK citizens, and all the problems we may currently have around some employers favoring illegal immigrants is because they are illegal, not because they are immigrants.

It is also very wrong to assume all migrants are lowly skilled. Many are teachers, doctors, lawyers, journalists etc who could contribute to our society in a real way. Please keep in mind that these people have to pay for their passage to  Calais, and it isn’t cheap. Many of these people do have the capacity to earn a decent wage for themselves, and it is our regulations that stop them rather than their own faults. Many people want to come here because they believe (whether its true or not is a different issue) that they will be able to work in the UK and create a better life for themselves, that they will then be able to support their families, and there are many people who are born and raised in the UK who do not work and do live on benefits, who would refuse the kind of work that a desperate migrant would gladly take. Many migrants are hardworking, skilled people who are just trying to create a better life for themselves out of a bad situation, who are coming here not out of greed or even ambition but out of necessity, and even if for practical reasons you do not want them to move here surely you can appreciate that most have legitimate reasons for wanting to come.  In some areas, such as parts of Wales, there is a serious shortage of trained UK Nationals who can work in public sectors like the NHS, and the leader of Plaid Cymru has said on national television that Wales not only wants more immigrants for that sector, but they need them.

People don’t take life risking long journeys to a country which is probably going to reject them for the fun of it. We know the situation in Syria, we know that people are being murdered for any kind of dissent, and I’m sure we can all understand why someone may want to leave. Treating them like criminals because of the desperate situation they are in is ridiculous. These people aren’t coming here because they want to steal what we have, they are coming here because many of them will die where they are. Making it harder to survive the trip and sending them to jail won’t stop them coming, because if the choice is between oppression and death or the chance of escaping to a better life, many people are going to take the chance. I certainly would, wouldn’t you? I accept that at the moment the EU is probably an easier place to live then a lot of other places, and countries like ours do have to have some kind of regulation over who can move here until such a time where it would be possible to have open boundaries and free worldwide immigration. However, being angry at the desperate people who are risking their lives at the chance to have what we take for granted is ridiculous. Maybe we can’t save everyone, but we can and should do what we can.

1

Non EU NHS workers face deportation due to new conservative anti-immigration steps

It has been announced that nurses working in the NHS who fail to earn £35,000 or more annually after 6 years of being in the UK will be deported, which the Guardian has claimed cost £20.19m.  Keep in mind that  an average nurses salary is unlikely to exceed £30,000, and the top mark still tends to be below that. The Telegraph previously reported that the NHS was spending a ‘huge’ sum of money on recruiting foreign nurses from un-EU countries whilst rejecting 2/3rds of UK applicants. This may seem to back up the UKIP style argument that foreign workers are ‘stealing’ British nationals jobs. However, this is not the case. It is not the case. From what the news is saying, the last coalition cut funding to train those born in the UK whilst ‘poaching’ nurses from other countries. If the government chose to spent this much money on employing foreign workers, how does it make sense to deport them?

If they want to decrease immigration, surely they need to put more money into training people within the UK. But training does not happen overnight, and it still doesn’t make any sense to deport trained staff because they were not born here. I just cannot see what these new measures are going to help. Even if all the non UK born nurses who leave were to be replaced by training those born in the UK within a few years, by 2020 we would still not have trained nearly enough nurses to replace the ones we sent away, and this does not address the fact that as it cost a lot to bring non EU nurses to the UK this new policy is basically just throwing money away. It won’t even stop the recruitment of non British born NHS workers, in fact it may well increase the need for them because if they send a large number of experiences nurses away,they may well find that there is now a shortage of nurses and so they must recruit new foreign workers who again will be deported after six years. And then what? Repeat the process. Forever? Even if we could in the future train enough UK born nurses, that does not help us now. Some places within the UK (Wales is a good example) have a real shortage of NHS workers now. They need nurses now, not in a few years time.

Nurses who were not born in the UK haven’t done anything wrong, and it will not help health, people or the NHS to remove them. This is especially true in parts of Wales where there is a serious shortage of trained medical staff and who urgently need more doctors and nurses and cannot afford to lose any, in the leaders debates a few months ago, Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood defended immigration and used the example that the NHS in wales needs staff /now, and cannot wait for future UK born nurses to be trained.  If the government also wants to increase GP appointments to 7 days a week, how can they fire a massive chunk of their staff? It’s mad. Surely if immigration were a problem it should be aimed at people who don’t work and use the system without giving anything back. But people who work for the NHS not only pay into the system, they help provide one of its main services. I read somewhere that NHS nurses aren’t on a list of ‘exempt’ professions for this new measure, but ballet dancers are. Now I love ballet, I’ve done ballet since I was 7 and ballet is both beautiful and really hard, but can you really say they ‘deserve’ to be here more than NHS nurses who care for the sick? I don’t think anyone should ‘deserve’ to be here, the world is large and amazing and people should be able to see it and move around as long as they don’t want to harm the place they have moved to. However, even if you do believe that non EU immigrants should only be here based on how ‘deserving’ they are, how do NHS workers not fit the criteria? Even if we could train enough nurses in time for 2020 (When the deportations will start according to my sources) I still don’t understand why  we need to get rid of a load of the trained nurses we already have and spend more money on training new ones. In light of the Conservative cuts, I don’t believe they will increase spending on training nurses enough to accommodate the need that deporting current nurses will create. If you want to save money, don’t spend a load of it and then deport the people you spent it on. It just makes no sense at all.

We should invest more in training UK nurses, but that does not invalidate nurses who came here from overseas. They are here now, we have paid for them, and they are contributing to our society and economy in taxes and in working for the NHS and providing vital services all over the country. Keep the nurses we have and invest more in training for the future, but don’t cripple the NHS now for no reason. To boost the number of UK born nurses, you need to train them. Do not deport the nurses who are and will continue to be vital to the NHS.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/nhs/11689202/NHS-spends-huge-sums-on-foreign-nurses-yet-two-thirds-of-local-applicants-are-rejected.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/immigration/11690480/Nurses-will-be-deported-under-new-visa-rules.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-33201189

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/apr/04/nhs-recruits-one-in-four-nurses-from-abroad

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jun/22/new-immigration-rules-cost-nhs-millions-nursing