Submitted by George Callaghan…
There are two polar opposite positions on immigration both of which are equally daft. One is that there should be no immigration whatsoever. The other is that there should be no limit whatsoever. Liberal left opinion in much closer to the former than right wing opinion is to the latter. In between the two diametrically opposed positions there is the golden mean. It is a moot point as to what precisely that golden mean is. All this ought to go without saying. But calling for any further limitation on immigration is the third rail of British politics. If you touch it and you can expect a nasty shock. All manner of abuse will be hurled your way. Such contumely is no substitute for rational argumentation. In fairness those who oppose huge scale immigration have not always been innocent of resorting to emotional spasm.
I am from the Republic of Ireland so arguably I am an immigrant myself. I do not consider myself to be one or an ethnic minority person. But if you wish to call me an immigrant and or an ethnic minority person that does not bother me one jot. Neither of these is a bad thing to be. My self-definition could be erroneous. I was a born British citizen as well as an Irish one. Ethnic minority status is advantageous in the UK. If anyone puts my nose out of joint I could accuse that person of racialism! If I am an immigrant then let me say what Irish people in Great Britain need to say: thank you very much indeed for letting us in!
It is worth reminding ourselves what immigration is. It is moving to another country with a view to making it one’s long term residence and possibly seeking to obtain citizenship. Being a guest worker is different but related. That means going to a foreign country to work for a limited period such as three months or even three years on a time limited work permit. Such work permits are usually renewable. There are situations where guest workers can obtain permanent residency and eventually citizenship.
Transmigration is not immigration. Moving from London to Northern Ireland, for instance, is not immigration or emigration since this is shifting one’s domicile within the United Kingdom.
Being a refugee or an asylum seeker is different again. This means being someone who faces a well-founded fear of persecution at home. He or she could be fearing death of heavy violence. Persecution does not have to amount to that. It could be simply official discrimination. To qualify as persecution the mistreatment must be serious. It cannot be the low-level discrimination that many people suffer in most countries. All too often asylum seeker status has been abused by those who are really economic migrants. Being an economic migrant is an entirely respectable thing to be. But I must be honest with myself. If I were living in a very underdeveloped country I might be tempted to move to an affluent one illegally and then claim asylum even if this claim were spurious. I could reason to myself that it was a victimless crime. Nonetheless the system is being misused and the rules ought to be enforced. Perhaps those who knowingly lodge bogus claims for asylum can put themselves in the shoes of a citizen of a prosperous country that has too much immigration and he would recognize that were he such a citizen then he would also want the rules to be upheld. Illegal immigrants are seldom wicked. I have met a few.
Migration Watch is an organization that puts a rationale case for scaling back immigration to a manageable level. This body critiques the liberal left delusion that enormous scale immigration is something totally positive. Migration Watch elucidates it case in a tranquil and restrained manner avoiding any hint of racial animus. Yet this most honourable body of people is regularly calumniated as racialist. The mass immigration caucus is a one trick pony. They will brand anyone who questions then as a racist and a xenophobe. This branding reproach scares often many people of moderate opinion who wonder whether a gigantic amount of immigration is desirable. The imputation of racialism is enough to silence the man in the street.
One often hears the pro mass immigration trop that the United Kingdom has always been a country of immigration. The UK has only existed as such since 1707. But perhaps that is a point of pedantry. The territory which is now the UK has long had immigration. These islands have been peopled for over 10 000 years. No one started out here. The human races originated in the Rift Valley. In that wise we are all African. But after people first settled the British Isles migration was remarkably slow and small scale for millennia. Nonetheless it is true that immigration is nothing new and the British Isles has had people of different colours for centuries.
In the first millennium BC there started to be more Celtic migration from the Continent. There is no recorded history until the Romans first invaded in the 1st century BC. Thereafter every few centuries there was an invasion. The invaders were often not huge numbers.
The Roman legionaries and administrators came from all corners of the Roman Empire. Some came from North Africa. This has led some people to say that black people settled in Britannia in the 1st century AD. This is debatable. How black is black? The people of the northern coast of Africa are regarded as black by some people. Racial distinctions do not matter to me in the least but matter very much to racists and to the race industry.
When the Normans came to England in 1066 they comprised perhaps 20 000 people. The population of England was a little over a million. This was still a fairly large population to absorb at once. This was invasion and not immigration. Moreover, the Anglo-Saxon people had no choice in the matter. Immigration today is very different!
After 1066 there was immigration from Normandy and other regions of France as well as Flanders in particular. There were German merchant from the Hanseatic League who settled in England. Scandinavians had long been settling in Scotland and Ireland. Italians merchants came and settled too.
A few black people came to live in medieval England and are recorded in the chronicles. There were Jewish people resident in England and Scotland in the early Middle Ages. They soon came to Ireland too.
On New Year’s Eve 1600 Elizabeth I granted the East India Company its charter. The English had been trading with the Indians for only a few years prior to that. After 1600 a few Indians came to reside in Great Britain. The number was a tiny, tiny proportion out of a population of about 4 000 000 on the island. Those who came were almost always men. They intermarried with white British women. Their children were half white, their grandchildren were three quarters white and after that their descendants blended into the white community.
By the late 17th century another group of black people came to the British Isles. This time they were not coming voluntarily. Luckless people in West Africa were kidnapped and taken across the Atlantic in inhumane conditions. They were held in the cruelest kind of thralldom. Some of those who were enslaved were brought to the British Isles, particularly to London. 17th century oil painting sometimes depict these black people. Again, this unwilling immigrants were male almost without exception. The married white women and their progeny mostly disappeared into the major ethnic group. It is said by 1800 London’s population was 1% non-white. Lord Mansfield ruled in James Somersett’s case in the late 18th century and judged that if a man was taken to England and Wales as a slave then the moment he reached the shore he was free. However, the barbarity of slavery continued in the colonies for several decades.
In the 19th century there was immigration from many European countries. It was at a significant level from Italy, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland and Greece. Those who came from the Russian Empire were mostly Jewish. There was only serious pushback against the Jewish community. That opposition was mostly racist in character. There was immigration from India but the Indians in the UK were a microscopically small proportion of the populace.
People moving from Ireland to GB in the 19th century was not immigration. The whole of Ireland was within the UK at the time.
At the zenith of the British Empire there was free movement for British subjects. Andrew Bonar Law was born in Canada to a father from Ireland and a mother from Scotland. No one questioned his right to live in the UK and to become prime minister. He would still have that right.
In the 1920s immigration speeded up anew. There were Italians who arrived in search of a better standard of living. They faced some hostility particularly in Scotland. Much of this was sectarian animus.
In the 1930s German refugees arrived in the United Kingdom. Some were Jewish and some were not. It is to Britain’s lasting credit that these refugees were taken in. The UK flagellates itself for not doing more for these refugees. But the UK’s record is better than every single country in the world.
During the Second World War the UK played host to wartime refugees from Poland, France, Czechoslovakia, Belgium, the Netherlands and Norway. Most of them had no intention of remaining after the war. It was a case of any port in a storm.
People from the colonies volunteered for fight for the British Empire. They came to the UK from India, Jamaica, Canada, South Africa, Australia, Zimbabwe and so on. Many of these soldiers, sailors and airmen were not white. The non-white military personnel encountered racial prejudice.
After 1945 some of the Poles who had come to Britain during the war remained behind. They too experienced prejudice.
In the postbellum era the UK had a labour shortage. The decision was made to advertise jobs in the colonies. People in the West Indies in particular were asked to come to the UK to work. People in the British colonies in the Caribbean had been brought up on a cargo cult version of Britishness. Despite the appalling cruelty meted out to their ancestors many people in the Antilles had a positive image of the UK. Unfortunately they were about to have a rude awakening.
In 1948 the SS Empire Windrush docked at Tillbury. As the ship crossed the Atlantic there were cabinet level discussions about the arrival of several hundred people from the West Indies. The Labour government’s reaction bordered on panic. From today’s perspective it seems risible and despicable. Black people had been in the British Isles for centuries. These people had the legal right to settled in the UK. Moreover, they had been specifically invited! A third of those who landed in 1948 had formerly served in the RAF. It is scandalous that some people racially abused these men.
Tens of thousands of people from the South of Ireland came to the UK in 1948. Barely a word was said in protest about that. The major portion of Ireland had left the UK in 1921. There was a considerable measure of anglophobia in Irish nationalism. The Irish Government had chosen to stay neutral in the Second World War. Yet we Irish were far more welcome in GB than the black people of the Caribbean. Colour prejudice was the reason why many people were hostile to the immigrations from Jamaica and Trinidad.
At the same time as a few thousand people per year came to the UK from the British Caribbean and South Asia tens of thousands of white Britons were moving overseas. White Britishers were sailing to Canada, the United States, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Zimbabwe. More people were going out of the United Kingdom than were coming in. The British Government encouraged some people to settle abroad. It seems odd as there was a labour shortage.
Australia had a slogan called ‘populate or die’. Due to the white Australia policy it welcomed only one colour. British immigrants were highly favoured. The assisted passage scheme brought many ten pound poms to Oz.
In the 1950s the number of immigrants arriving in the UK each year topped ten thousand a year. It was a record for peacetime. Non-white Immigration was almost exclusively to the major cities: London, Glasgow, Birmingham, Newcastle, Manchester and Cardiff. There started to be serious opposition to non-white immigration. Britain’s Hitler wannabe was Sir Oswald Mosley. Mosley, ironically, was an immigration himself in the Republic of Ireland and later France. Mosley returned from Paris to lead a campaign against his fellow subjects of the Crown. Sir Oswald denounced the arrival of black people in London. A significant number of black people lived in the Notting Hill area of London. They were often exploited by the rack renter Peter Rachman. As though these much put upon people did not have enough problems Sir Oswald said that they were bad and ought to be booted out. He aggravated the Notting Hill Race Riots.
There were physical attacks on black people. One young black man was murdered. There was one problem with immigration to the UK in the 1950s. It was the racist reaction to it. Immigrations in the 1950s were hardly ever taking anyone’s job. But even if an immigrant did so then he or she was entitled to it. Fair play to him for doing it better.
Mosley was humiliated in the North Kensington by election. He finally left public life. He became an ardent Europhile!
The post-war era was a time of decolonization. India and Pakistan became independent in 1947. By the 1950s Malaya and some African countries were going the same way. The empire was being transformed into the Commonwealth. Commonwealth citizens still had the right to live and work anywhere in the Commonwealth.
In the 1960s the same story continued. The UK Government gave into pressure and restricted the right of Commonwealth citizens to live in the UK. Yet the rate of immigration did not go down. The economy was growing steadily and unemployment was low.
In 1968 the Conservative Party was looking for a way to tackle the Labour Government. Enoch Powell was in Ted Heath’s shadow cabinet. Powell thought he had just the ticket. That March he gave a speech in Birmingham which has gone down in history as ‘the Rivers of Blood’ speech. His inflammatory rhetoric was all about vilifying immigrants particularly if they were non-white.
Powell excoriated immigration as changing the culture of England. Noticeably he cared about England and not the UK. It was shocking for an MP for the Unionist Party. He ought to have cared about the whole United Kingdom. His argument was that non-white immigrants were wicked. He used anecdotes about bad behavior as if these stories could be assumed to be Gospel truth and typified non-white people. It was not that he claimed they were harmful to the economy. It was a patently racist speech. He did not target white immigrants. Fascinatingly he had no objection to interracial marriage. Interracial marriage was controversial at the time. He also said he did not oppose non-white immigration on principle but it had to be a very small number.
Enoch was rightly shunned. Heath sacked the man from the shadow cabinet. When he was Health Secretary he had recruited medical staff from non-white countries.
In the 1970s Commonwealth immigration was further restricted. Those with one grandparent born in the UK could come. They had the chance to obtain citizenship. The 70s was a time of rising unemployment. People blamed this on immigration although it was only a minor factor in causing joblessness.
It was not until the late 20th century that immigration started to be very rapid and large scale. More people arrived since 1997 than arrived in all the previous centuries. For the avoidance of any rhetorical slight of hand one must allow for the fact that in 1997 the UK population was of the order of 60 000 000. But even taking that into account the proportion of people arriving in a short space of time is unprecedented.
It was only in the 1990s that the UK received net immigration. It was about 30 000 per annum. From 1939 until that time more people had left the United Kingdom each year than arrived. In the 1990s the number of people began to rise rapidly. Under Tony Blair the Labour Government decided to increase immigration hugely. Years later a Labour advisor revealed the strategy was ‘to rub the right’s nose in diversity.’ There might also have been a consideration of electoral advantage. Ethnic minority people are much more likely to vote Labour than Tory. That was certainly the case in the 1990s. Commonwealth citizens who are legally resident in the UK are permitted to vote. It is a right that I support.
In 2004 ten new countries acceded to the European Union. Most pre-2004 EU states restricted the right of the new EU countries citizens to move West. The UK, Republic of Ireland and Sweden did not. People from these ten new member states could automatically come to the United Kingdom and settle. This was a boon to some sectors. Some splendid people have come over. The Labour administration grossly underestimated the number of people who would arrive. It was criminal stupidity. The economy was booming and unemployment was low.
Problems in the UK labour market are multifarious. The British underclass refuses to work. Benefits are seen as a career path. Farmers and hoteliers lamented that they could not get fruit pickers, chambermaids and the like for love nor money. In 2004 some eager workers arrived from Poland, Slovakia and other lands. Their work ethic often put Britishers to shame. Some people who came from the new EU states could not speak English but found work anyway. I take my hat off to them. The UK ought to reform its benefits system so that avoiding work is no longer an option. If more people left education at 14 and had to work then this would help.
In 2008 the credit crunch came. The economy contracted and unemployment shot up. Massive immigration no longer seemed to smart. Racism raised its ugly head.
The British Government responded to public anxiety about excessive immigration. It could not prevent people from EU countries coming to the UK.
The system of student visas is too byzantine and difficult. This is a headache for language schools and universities in the UK. Students have to fill out pages of forms months in advance. Students are rejected for misspellings. Education is a massive advantage for the UK economy. Streamlining the student visa system would help a lot.
People from wealthy countries do not need tourist visas for the UK. If you are from the United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and so on you do not need one. However, many tourists do need a visa. This takes time and money. It puts people off. What is the logic of allowing people from affluent countries to visit the UK as tourists visa free? It is that they are very unlikely to overstay. Whereas people from countries with severe economic problems such as Zimbabwe may be tempted to come to the UK and stay illegally. Therefore a Zimbabwean has to prove that he or she really intends to be tourist and has funds to support himself or herself.
If the UK was firm and efficient about removing illegal immigrants then it could abolish the need for visas altogether.
The government has been moronic in counting students in immigration statistics. Most lands do not do this. It has made the immigration system seem worse than it actually is. There is no need to exaggerate.
Blair’s Government abolished exit controls. The UK did not know who has left the country! Just look at a manifest of passengers on trains and ferries! Only in 2018 were exit controls reintroduced.
Marrying a non-EU spouse is a nightmare. The new rules are part of the government’s wrongheaded response to excessive immigration. The non-EU spouse must be over 21. The legal age of marriage is 16. This is an unwarrantable abridgement of rights. The British spouse must have an income of over £30 000. This is unfair. The poor have the right to love too. What if the British spouse is too poor to support the non-EU spouse? The foreign spouse can work so why worry about the British spouse’s income? What if the foreigner is bringing millions in?
It takes six months and several thousand pounds to get the spouse in. It is outrageous.
In the old days you could bring a spouse in no questions asked. So long as the marriage is genuine this ought to be permitted. Here I am more liberal than Labour or the Tories.
Immigration has often been a contentious topic. It is intriguing to notice how the same issues arise in relation to immigration in each generation. What are the memes of those who wish to stem the flow of immigrants? You will often hear these slogans; there are too many of them; they are taking over; they are not like us; they are too poor; they are too rich; they are taking our jobs; they are diseased; they are dangerous; they are criminals; they do not speak our language; I do not like the smell of their cooking; they wear strange clothes; they should integrate; they should be allowed in but they should stick to their own areas. Not all those who oppose large scale immigration say all of these things. Some of the above statements flat out contradict each other. Some are reasoned criticisms of certain members of immigration communities. Some are straightforward racism.
It is fascinating that even in the 1950s some people in the United Kingdom said there were too many people entering the country. This was a time of net emigration. Just because that argument was specious then does not make it specious now. The situation has changed remarkably.
There are pros and cons to immigration. People evangelise long and loud for immigration. There is a case to be made for large scale immigration. It is right that it is put. Yet it is also seemly for people to present the flipside of these arguments. It is only logical and fair to discuss the contra aspect to massive immigration. Some bien pensant people will not allow that there is a contra side at all. Large scale immigration leads to wage compression for the low paid. Those who are stridently for no controls on immigration tend to be the very rich.
I do not propose to rehash the argument for large scale immigration here. There are plenty of other articles where people will wax lyrical about the boundless blessings conferred on the United Kingdom by allowing hundreds of thousands of people to settle in the UK each year. Yes, some immigrants are magnificent and most are decent. Very few of them are evil. It is true that some immigrants are a boon to the economy. On balance immigrants pay in more than they take ought. Separating the sheep from the goats in this issue is crucial. A blanket condemnation of any group is wrongheaded and unjust. Equally to declare an entire group is entirely desirable is also foolish. The claim that immigration is a fillip to the economy and exchequer is taken as a QED by the pro uncontrolled immigration lobby. They will not allow for any exceptions to be considered. Further, they seem to cherish nothing but hard cash. As Oscar Wilde said it is knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing. Is there nothing to be said for social cohesion or quality of life? Immigration can raise quality of life and it can lower it. This is not a matter of ethnicity. It is a matter of numbers.
There is much wrong with the anti-mass immigration lobby. Some of them are extremists and want to immigration at all. Some of them are racists and tend to overlap with the other category. There are those who would permit some races in and not others. Alarmism and the inflation of statistics is also grist to the mill of people who are not anti-mass immigration but anti-immigration per se. Some of the reasonable people who wish to limit immigration have a tin ear for public opinion and no idea how to handle the media.
There is a lot of scare mongering about immigration. Immigrants are often scapegoated. No one should demonise immigrants. I shall say it again. Most immigrants are good people. There are a few bad immigrants. If they come from the EU the UK is not allowed to screen them out. Most immigrants are admirable.
The United Kingdom has plenty of homegrown problems. Many born British citizens are felons, benefits scroungers and people with transmissible diseases. This fact is often raised by the pro mass immigration caucus. None of this means that the UK ought to compound its problems by allowing huge scale immigration.
There are good reasons as well as bad reasons to wish to restrict immigration more than it is restricted at present. Racism, the dislike of anything foreign and myth making are unsound reasons. What are the sound reasons for wishing to reduce the level of immigration? Too much immigration can be bad for the economy just as too little immigration can be bad for it. A few bad people are let in. This is not demonizing the majority of immigrants.
The number of jobs is limited. It stands to reason that the more people are admitted the more unemployment there will be. If the economy grows and the number of job vacancies increases then allowing commensurately more immigration would surely be wise. To say ‘they are taking our jobs’ is sometimes true. It reflects no discredit on an immigrant if he or she does this. It actually proves that such a person is a great worker.
The UK is not huge in area. The population is not spread evenly throughout the whole 240 000 km squared. If immigrants mostly settled in Ulster it would be different. But immigrants overwhelmingly move to the most crowded regions such as London, Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham. This exacerbates crowding. There are more traffic jams and more people on the train. There are other reasons. The UK needs to upgrade its transport system. But do we want to build roads over more of the green belt? Do we want to build more railways and ruin more countryside? The existing rail lines cannot take more trains nor can the stations.
Look at housing. The cost of accommodation in London is astronomical. The more people want housing the more the price will rise. It is the laws of supply and demand. There are other factors to the housing crisis such as selling off council housing and not building many homes. But do we really want to concrete over the green belt? Curiously those who zealously oppose any tightening of immigration regulations or even enforcing extant regulations tend to be the self-same people who profess themselves to be more concerned with the environment. Do these so-called environmentalists not recognize that affordable housing for an ever more rapidly burgeoning population shall necessitate building on green fields sites? How can they refute this?
The pressure on the NHS is severe. Immigrants are entitled to healthcare like anyone else. Nigel Farage said they ought to pay for private insurance for a few years but that is too harsh.
Schools have to cope with large scale immigration. Immigrant children are entitled to free education. No decent person would begrudge them that. But the more children we have the more teachers we need. There is already a recruitment crisis in teaching. In some schools many children cannot speak English which makes teaching much more trying.
None of the problems in the UK is entirely caused by immigration. But too much immigration contributes to many problems. The immigrants are not morally culpable. If they have come legally then they have only exercised their rights. It is the government’s fault for pursuing a mutton headed policy.
Immigrants help the UK in some ways. They work in the NHS. The teach in schools. They build houses and roads. So, yes, immigrants can be part of the solution. If the UK only admitted immigrants who worked in certain sectors with a paucity of workers that would be a different matter.
People sometimes raise concern about the health of certain immigrants. If someone has a contagious disease should he or she be allowed to move to the UK? There are those who say no. This is no fear mongering and suggesting that most immigrants are diseased. Having a disease does not make someone immoral. We all have diseases at some time or other and we mostly die of them. Take HIV. It is better not to have this illness. If someone with that disease comes to the UK he or she could spread it even unwittingly. It is true that that disease is not the death sentence it used to be. Anti retrovirals can keep people well even if they are HIV positive. But it is clearly preferable not to contract that disease in the first instance. Putting people on the medicines necessary to treat the illness costs the NHS a huge amount of money. What if a very rich person had that disease and paid for the medication herself? Perhaps we should let her in. But there is still a chance that she could pass it on. I know doctors who say that HIV positive people should be allowed to immigrate to the UK. If you want to avoid the risk of catching this disease then use a condom they say. I am minded to say that those with serious communicable diseases ought not to be allowed to settle in the UK. I would allow such people in as tourists or on business trips. It would be an overreaction to bar them for coming in for a week or so. Moreover, it would be unduly onerous, time consuming and costly to demand blood tests for people who wish to come as a tourist. This would have to be applied to those who have visa free entry to the United Kingdom at present. These countries might then impose similar tests on Britishers wishing to visit their countries. Therefore, I do not advocate such a policy.
If somebody wishes to come to live in the UK should this person not be subjected to a medical examination and blood tests? Many countries do this. Should we care about public health or not? Those who are ill deserve sympathy and should be treated free of charge in all countries. It does not matter how anyone caught any disease. All deserve compassion. But the UK does not have the resources to treat everyone. How do we try to prevent contagious diseases spreading? We used to use quarantine. To quarantine a whole country is too much and unworkable. But surely some steps to limit the spread of a contagious disease are sensible.
These are sensitive issues and need to be handled delicately. A demagogue can exploit such issues to stoke fear and direct animosity and ethnic minority groups.
The great majority of immigrants are law abiding. Only a few are criminals. People have committed crimes as grave as murder in other EU countries and been allowed in without any questions asked.
There ought to be forgiveness for petty criminals. Someone who committed a misdemeanor in his or her home country should be allowed in especially if that was several years ago. An immigrant caught shoplifting once should not be removed. Felons should be booted out forthwith or those who commit small crimes persistently. At the moment it is very hard to expel an EU citizen from the UK.
Language is one of the least problematic aspects of immigration. English is the world language. Most people arrive speaking it. Most others learn it in a few years.
What about assimilation? I do not insist that immigrants wear British clothes or follow most British mores. No reasonable person would object to a British Pakistani wearing a shalwar kameez. There is nothing amiss about a British India wearing a sari. Who would take exception to a Frenchman wearing a beret or a Romanian playing manele music. It would be unconservative to ask immigrants to forget their heritage or deny their identity. I do not want anyone to be deracinated. A person can be bicultural. Immigration can vivify and enrich culture. Cultures are not hermetically sealed. One cannot have hard and fast rules about what belongs to which culture. Cultures overlap and blur into each other. There is of course a wide degree of diversity within a culture. Let a thousand flowers bloom! Cultures cross fertilise. We receive memes as we transmit them. There are certain fundamentals that ought to be observed such as gender equality.
Assimilation has been more difficult with some groups than others. The Hindu community has not made any demands. The Sikh community has made very few demands as is the richest community per capita behind the Jewish community. The Muslim community has asked for books to be banned and for menus to be changed. Not all Muslims agree with such unreasonable demands.
The black Caribbean community is perhaps the most assimilated to mainstream British culture of all ethnic minority groups. The African-Caribbean people arrived already speaking English. Their religion was Christian or occasionally Rastafari. They knew about the structures of British society as it had been imposed upon their ancestors in the West Indies. The black Caribbean community are more likely that other immigrants to play football and go to the pub. It is little wonder that inter marriage between this community and white Britons is so high.
Some people might not wish to integrate. To some extent this is reasonable. When it comes to cuisines, raiment, music, dance and so forth there is no reason why a person should follow the herd. If people wish to stick to a foreign culture in these regards then that is a respectable choice.
Not all aspects of every culture are admirable. There are aspects of white British culture which one should deprecate. Binge drinking is an example. Most white Britons do not do this but there is no denying that it is part of the lifestyle of a significant minority of white Britishers. The same holds true of other cultures in the UK.
There are of course plenty of good British Muslims. They often suffer spite and insults from the less admirable members of their community. Unfortunately, there have been members of the British Muslim community who have engaged in acts of terrorism. This is not the fault of the generality of this community. Let us be honest with ourselves. There are rebarbative attitudes that are more common in the British Muslim community than in any other ethnic or religious group in the UK. Plenty of surveys have evidenced this. Anti-gay attitudes, gender inequality, censoriousness and support for terrorism are more prevalent in this group than in other. Hats off to members of the UK Muslim community gallant enough to denounce the bigots in their midst. The British Muslim community suffers from prejudice. This also needs to be tackled.
Good British Muslims are often the victims of antediluvian attitudes held by some in their community. The victims of honour killings, forced marriages and female genital mutilation are Muslims themselves.
The United Kingdom needs to be careful about admitting people who might be committed to undermining liberty. The government should question people before admitting them. Those who want blasphemy legislation, who defend female genital mutilation or want homosexuality outlawed should not be allowed in. Unfortunately, the UK has done a lot to undermined liberty by passing oppressive legislation. The government seeks to silence attitudes it calls ‘extremist’ and has criminalized insulting words or behaviour. This is an indefensible intrusion on our freedom of expression. Such usurpations of freedom are deeply troubling
We often hear that diversity is good in itself. It is sometimes good. Immigration has increased the gaiety of the nation. The UK is more colourful now than it was in every sense. From cuisine to music the country is more alluring.
Some executives are moved from banks and corporations around the world. They get UK work visas no problem. Few people object to this. This is the one area of the immigration system that works well.
There ought to be a smooth immigration system that works well for Britain. The UK needs immigration. It also needs a limit on it.
There should be no racial or religious aspect to this. At the moment the United Kingdom’s immigration policy allows EU citizens into the country no questions asked. 90% of EU citizens are white. Around the world about 10% of the population is white. By allowing equal opportunities in immigration the UK would no longer be pursuing a policy which is indirectly racially discriminatory.
Unlimited immigration became a shibboleth of the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats, the Scottish National Party and Sinn Fein. This is despite uncontrolled immigration impacting most heavily on the very working class communities whom the Labour Party professes to care for so deeply. Some of the people entering the UK have attitudes so illiberal that they would make your average Lib Dem vomit. As for the SNP and Sinn Fein – how does it make Scotland independent to allow in so many people who are not Scottish or not Irish? The SNP and Sinn Fein have one attitude. Be against the English. Do and say anything to try to make the English seem bad and call anyone racist who questions you.
David Blunkett was the Labour Home Secretary in the noughties. He said he could perceive no upper limit to immigration. With immigration running at 300 000 a year he thought that there would be nothing wrong with it rising to 400 000 or 500 000 or why not 1 000 000? I am often told this is scaremongering. Is it? In that late 1940s people raised their concerns about immigration. That was at a time of net emigration! No one would have believed that Britain would ever have reached a situation where there was net immigration of the order of a third of a million a year. In previous decades there were doom laden prognostications of enormous levels of immigration. They seemed far fetched even to me. But these have all be outstripped by events. The estimates of bygone years have transpired to be gross underestimates. Yesteryear we were told that talk of millions of immigrants arriving each year were preposterous. Such talk is not preposterous. It probably will not come to pass. But it might. If even a quarter of it comes true it will stretch public services to breaking point.
There were sensible worries about out of control immigration. The government could have tackled the issues. Those who lodged false claims for asylum could have been given short shrift. What did the government do instead? It attacked the innocent. British citizens were deported. It was an injustice so foul that at first I did not believe it. British people are simply not kicked out of the UK. To my horror I discovered that this had happened. Britishers of black Caribbean origin were removed from the UK despite their absolute right to be in the United Kingdom. This only happened in a handful of cases. But it should never have happened to a single person.
There is talk of an amnesty for countries who are in the UK illegally. This will simply invite more people to come illegally or to come legally but overstay their visas. There was an amnesty in the 1990s and the problem because hugely worse.
WHAT IS TO BE DONE?
The UK on leaving the EU ought to allow in students from EU counties ideally under a reciprocal arrangement. Even if this is not reciprocal the United Kingdom should be generous and make it unilateral. EU students are vital for British universities and language schools. They should not be required to obtain a visa. These people can stay for the duration of their courses and for a month afterwards to tidy up their affairs before leaving. These students should be allowed to work a limited number of hours to support themselves in term time – say 20 hours per week.
Citizens of certain select affluent countries such as EU countries, the US, Japan and so forth should be allowed into the UK as tourists or people on business. They would not need a visa. They could come for 90 days at a time. They would be allowed to stay for no more than 180 days in any period of 365. More than 180 days in 365 is not being a tourist or being on a business trip. It is living in the UK. Ideally these would be reciprocal arrangements. The idea of limiting this to rich lands is that these people are unlikely to wish to stay illegally.
There should be short term work visas of 30 days at a time. If someone is coming for an artistic performance or to take part in a symposium then he or she should be let in after a simple visa procedure. One such visa should be attainable in a period of 365 days.
The United Kingdom should grant work permits for limited periods of perhaps three years to people to work in areas where there is a shortage of skilled personnel. For exampled anyone qualified as a doctor, nurse, dentists, vet or teacher in a country with a reputable educational system should be allowed in to work in these sectors but only in these sectors. If you come to work as a nurse you are not allowed to work as an actress. These people should face a quick and simple visa process. Are you who you say you are? Are your qualifications genuine? Are you in decent health? Are you free from any heinous criminal record? Spouses and dependent children of such persons ought to be allowed in too. After three years these people should be allowed a second such visa. If they wish to seek permanent residency and citizenship then this option should be available.
The current system whereby people working for multinationals who can be transferred to the United Kingdom works quite smoothly. It ought to be maintained. Lawyers, bankers, stockbrokers, insurance brokers and other highly people who wish to be posted to the UK should still be able to do so as under the present dispensation. They should be permitted to work in the UK for three years or so at a time with the possibility to extend this for a further three years. Again they should be offered the chance to obtain permanent residency and then citizenship.
Employers face swingeing fines if they employ someone who is in the United Kingdom illegally. It is not always easy for employers to know if a person is in the country legally or not. If a card were issued to those with a right to work in the UK. Another way this could be verified is by a job applicant showing his or her passport or ID card. This could then be checked against a publicly accessible database to see that the name, date of birth and photo match.
British citizenship is much sought after. At the moment it takes fives years residency, a test in the English language and UK culture for a person to obtain citizenship for the price of about £1 000. The United Kingdom could increase the residency requirement to 10 years and the fee to £10 000. British citizenship is very precious and people ought to be willing to pay a premium for it.
The situation for people born to British citizens overseas is problematic. To gain British citizenship for your child if you yourself were not born in the UK costs £970. This is unjust.
At the moment someone born to a British parent abroad has the right to British citizenship. But someone born outside the UK does not gain British citizenship if his or her parents were British citizens also born outside the UK. If only your grandparents were born in the United Kingdom then gaining British citizenship is more difficult. This is wrong. The Republic of Ireland has the right attitude. If you have a grandfather or a grandmother born in Ireland (including Northern Ireland) then you have the right to Irish citizenship. The UK ought to adopt the same policy. There needs to be some cut off. Saying that great-grandparents are too distant is about right.
We ought to recognize that immigration is a mixed blessing. At the moment is appears obligatory to ululate with joy about massive immigration. We are required to proclaim that unrestricted immigration is an unmitigated blessing. It is true that some immigrants are manna from heaven. Most of them are amiable enough. A few are wicked. To say that they are all splendiferous is ridiculous. It would be as daft as saying all British citizens are marvelous.
What any company does on recruitment is a needs assessment. What roles do we need filled? How do we source the right people? Go about attracting candidates? Assess their applications. Invite them to sign on the dotted line. Having done so. Monitor their performance. Once ought of a probationary period their position is secured. A broadly similar approach should be tried with immigration.
Theresa May as Home Secretary promised a hostile environment for illegal immigrants. When she was Prime Minister this policy really kicked in. People who arrived from the West Indies in the 1960s and 1970s were targeted. In 1972 the open door to the West Indies closed. Those people from the Commonwealth who had already arrived were granted the right to stay. In the last few years the government looked at people who had arrived in 1972. It decided that these people must prove they had been in the UK continuously. Anyone who could not produce two pieces of documentary evidence for every year in the UK was deemed not to have the right to remain and was subject to deportation. This was unfair and unduly onerous. The onus was on these individuals to produce the paperwork. Who on earth retained documentation like that? The government and other organisations had documents on people; tax records, NI receipts, bank statements, court records, school records, employment contracts, rental agreements, voting registers, TV licenses and the phone book. There should be a rebuttable presumption for Commonwealth citizens who came before 1972 that they can stay unless the government can show a good reason why these people should not be permitted to do so.
The Conservative Government pledge to reduce annual immigration to under 100 000 a year. It was a promise that the government knew it could not fulfill due to the EU. It was a flagrant lie told unblushingly.
If the United Kingdom leaves the EU – unlikely – then it can determine its own immigration policy including towards EU countries. I do not propose to deport any EU citizens unless then have committed very grave offences. The government could make good on that 100 000 campaign promise. I very much doubt that they shall even endeavor to do so.
Immigration is a question of quality and quantity. The 100 000 figure seemed about right. I do not know what the magic number. Not many people moaned about 30 000 a year in the early 1990s. 100 000 a year might even be too few. But 350 000 is too many. I have never heard anyone say it was not enough!
Huge immigration is bad for other countries. It represents a brain drain for other nations. It is said that there are more Malawian doctors in the UK than in Malawi. Poaching such people does a huge disservice to less affluent countries. This tendency disproportionately impacts the most economically underprivileged countries on earth. These nations are losing their intellectual aristos who have been educated at a ruinous price for countries where many people living in penury. Even European lands are emptying out. Over 10% of the Romanian population has left its homeland since 2007. 50% of people finishing their education in Romania go abroad. This has a devastating effect on the country. Not all of these emigrants are Britain-bound.
The United Kingdom should adopt a robust attitude to asylum. If you fear persecution then go to the nearest safe country. Do not pass through a dozen safe countries to come to the UK. Asylum seekers in France should seek asylum there and not in the UK. The UK has a border with the Republic of Ireland only. There is no superinhuman oppression in the Irish Republic. Anyone who comes from another country is clearly not coming to the UK for asylum. They are doing so because they want access to Britain’s prosperity and human rights. Those who are granted asylum ought to be worshipping Brtiain’s soil for saving their lives and not griping that nothing is ever good enough.
There are many extremist pro immigration agitators on the liberal left. They could donate to the asylum seekers. They could house and feed illegal immigrants. They very seldom do so. I have seen hard left demonstrations where they have banners reading ‘open the borders’.
People make bogus asylum claims and get to stay for a year before being booted out. It is a very lengthy and costly process to deport illegals. Evan Harris was a Liberal Democrat MP who said asylum seekers should not be detained while their claims are being processed. This was an asinine thing to say. It made him appear very nice and won him loud applause. The UK asylum system is struggling as it is. Were it not for detention centres they system would collapse altogether. Those who lodged specious claims could easily disappear and never be found and removed.
Some countries make it difficult to send back their citizens. For example Indians and Brazilians who are in the UK illegally ought to be returned to their country of origin. India and Brazil are often uncooperative over this. Illegals often destroy their ID documents once they reach the United Kingdom. The aim of this is to make it impossible to prove their citizenship and therefore to deport them. In fairness to these nations they want to be assured that their so-called nationals whom the UK wishes to remove really are citizens of India or Brazil and not citizens of third countries. In negotiating trade and visa agreements with India and Brazil the UK has to make concessions conditional on these countries swiftly accepting their nationals who have been deported from the United Kingdom.
We are often told that the UK is so racist. It is a foul slur. Why is it that people of all races come half way across the globe to settle in the United Kingdom? They do not risk life and limb or pay fortunes to suffer racism. They do so because Britain is so humane and free.
If we are to have any immigration policy at all that means rules. That requires limits. Some people will not be allowed in. Those who come illegally or overstay their visas need to be deported unless there is an overriding reason why the law should not take its course. Some people think they are very humane by saying that anyone should be allowed in. They do no appear to consider the repercussions of a totally unrestricted system. System would not even be the word. Every country has an immigration policy. It needs to be enforced or it is not a policy at all.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.