This is a great piece of number crunching by the BBC (find the full story here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-25398612 ) and is all about the imminent opening of EU borders to Romania and Bulgaria. The image shows just how multicultural the UK really is – but with the rise in the right and the anti-immigration attitude, are the battle lines drawn and the negative rhetoric already part and parcel of who we are in the UK?
It’s easy to deride the actions of the BNP and UKIP because the majority realise that the issues are more complex than they report them to be – the same goes for the media with the Mail, Telegraph and Express also raising laughs rather than fears with their moronic headlines about “johnny foreigner”. But to ignore the issue altogether is to ignore a large group in society who have genuine concerns about many of the issues surrounding immigration policy. The other issue is that we need to stop using the phrase “asylum Seekers” as a negative term because we should never turn our backs on those who are genuinely in need.
There is an issue in the UK in that we are losing an average of four hundred people a day to emigration. 1.3 million Brits who have been educated here to university level now live abroad. And statistically all immigrants who have entered this country have paid into the system more than they have taken out. The issue is the facts – they get in the way of a good argument. We can all sit around and point out the flaws but look at the positives, many areas of the health service, engineering, the IT industry and those willing to pick up mops, dust pans, brooms and be chambermaids add to this country. In the same way we have travelled the world as a nation the world is also travelling to us – so we need some kind of agreement to balance things.
I’m not going to pretend that there aren’t issues, because there are: a housing shortage in the UK; an NHS system which is about to struggle – not because of immigrants but because of an ageing UK population; a change in populations from remote areas to the big cities – look at the growth of London over the last couple of decades and the decrease of Scotland’s population. There is such a diverse set of circumstances that the political posturing and bullsh!t is doing an intelligent public a huge disservice.
If you look at the points system they have in Australia and other countries they allow in what the infrastructure can support and employs people into the jobs needed. Do we need to adopt that sort of thing here? Do we need to learn to be more tolerant as a nation – after all we marched around the world and turned it pink on maps for years by sticking a flag in it and claiming it as our own, perhaps it’s time we accepted the change we forced on others. But to bicker, argue and play policy off each other doesn’t help the issue – in fact quite the opposite. Too much of this vile rhetoric actually stirs up hatred in those who are easily led and causes more problems than it solves. Ask those affected by the growing gang cultures in the bigger UK cities.
Solutions? We need to sit down and be realistic both here at home in the UK and with the EU. It shouldn’t be about being “tough” or “mean” but at the same time we also shouldn’t be the “soft touch” that some of our closer neighbours consider us to be. Honest and open discussion is required – but with it being politicians doing the talking I doubt any of them will have the bravery to speak in that way as it could damage them more with their own parties and public.
I am all for multiculturalism, understanding those from different backgrounds, beliefs and cultures. they have made this country hugely interesting and diverse. We need to encourage others to come here and keep up that positive influence. At the same time we need to ensure people don’t view us as an easy option for benefits and the amazing NHS – but at the same time if they really need it we shouldn’t turn them away from the hope it offers.
There isn’t a sound bite answer – and that’s a good, no great thing. We need to be more honest and transparent and not allow those with other nastier agendas to dominate this debate. It should always be about the humanity and what is best for all involved – otherwise we risk what does make this country great.