Once again immigration is the topic of conversation for the UK, and as usual it hasn’t taken long for the UK press to revel in the delight of ‘scaremongering’ and ‘scapegoat’ rhetoric.
If the news is to be read literally though, it would be enough to frighten the pants off any level headed individual just going about their business; an influx of foreign workers stealing jobs and benefits, who plan to eventually take over the country for their own ends! Sounds sinister!
All of the talk, press and otherwise, does raise important questions though. Is this truth or merely scare tactics? Also, just how fair, equitable, free and humane does it all sound? It is immigration, but we are talking about people right and not merely cattle?
Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007, but now that the UK has had to lift its restrictions to their job market, fears have escalated, by what seems like over-night, to a boiling point. Should the UK nation be afraid, is there about to be a turf war?
I was nosing around the net, wondering if all the hullabaloo was in fact worth the media frenzy. What I wanted to know was whether the people of the UK really gave a damn about who from the EU might or might not take up UK residency. It didn’t take too long to stumble upon something curious.
The below text has been copied from an actual on-line petition set out on the HM Government website. Its creator, a member of the UK public, along with 153,811 signatories, seemed to obviously feel that there indeed would be a mass of Romanian, and Bulgarian immigrants desperately making their way to the shores of the UK.
“In 2014 EU restrictions are set be removed, allowing nationals of Bulgaria and Romania ‘free movement’ to the UK. The move is similar to the one that granted access to around 600,000 Polish immigrants to enter Britain over recent years.
Despite Bulgaria and Romania joining the EU in 2005 (Savvy Senorita edit – it was 2007), restrictions were put on the number who could move to Britain. However, those restrictions will be abolished in 2014 (Savvy Senorita edit – I.E now).
Once the restrictions are lifted all new comers will entitled to claim benefits, housing, child, job seekers etc. There is currently an estimated 1.5 million people seeking work within the two countries
The impact will also put pressure on housing, infrastructure, schools, and heath care. All at a time the government are cutting pensions, jobs, public services and the armed forces.
I request the government suspends the easing on these restrictions”
I then took a look at the newspapers. There were ample comments left upon The Daily Mail and Guardian’s websites; replies to the articles telling the world about how our MPs feel or fear about immigration. In one such article, (posted in the Guardian: link below), it was claimed that David Cameron believes that the immigration levels for Romanians and Bulgarians is now reasonable enough; the responses to this article however provided a somewhat different perspective;
“We need mass immigration as a pro business policy Cameron is completely wrong.
Think about the benefits, house prises rise make home owners wealthier and Britain can remain competitive by getting cheaper labour.
We live in an increasing globalised world and we in the EU have China to compete with. He couldn’t be more wrong.
In addition without immigration we would have to spend an exorbitant amount training our own feckless and work-shy, and the price of house keeping would rocket.
The EU must not allow him or his party to get away with such inflammatory comments”.
These quotes demonstrate two very different ideas about immigration, both of which are actual opinions held by people living in the UK.
OK, so I know there maybe those out there who feel that any level of immigration is too high, and others who think that the doors of a country ought be flung wide open (each to their own); but isn’t there a happy medium?
What I mean is, can’t we talk immigration without becoming so emotive? Can’t we leave all the scapegoating, racism and the overly P.C comments behind, and focus on what could be the real issues of immigration for the UK?
I want to ask the powers that be, and the people;
Can any country allow mass immigration? Does any country have the capacity to offer that? Is it economically viable? Could they offer employment, housing, services and support (et al) to everyone that comes to, and resides in the country?
Is immigration a one way street – the people from the poorest nations moving to the richer ones? Is immigration about making money for a country or spending money? Do we all really have freedom of movement? How many people would up-sticks and re-locate to another country? Is that even possible with the economy and the lack of job opportunities? Also, EU countries differ from the UK; different languages, educational requirements, alien benefit and health care systems which not every resident will have access to.
Why is the UK immigration fears/policies subject to mass interjection from other countries? Why has it become such a contentious subject? Every country has its own ideas regarding immigration, yet, I don’t see every country being asked to explain themselves. Is UK immigration a national or international issue? Whose country is it to govern, and make those decisions about immigration? Have the UK Government merely become some middle man in all of this, without the real power to decide what happens in their own country? More importantly, does anyone care what the public think and want?
Is the UK a ‘soft touch’ for the world? Is the UK being racist in its cautious approach to immigration?
Is the UK Government trying to appease everyone, and pleasing no-one at the same time? Is immigration a way of making amends for a shady past history as ‘colonial conquerors’, do they feel guilty?
Has the UK given up on its people – do they invest enough in what resources and talent they already have? Why would the country require an extra work-force from abroad, when the UK already has those who are in need of training/re-training, educating, employment, self-employment, good wages and steady/secure jobs? In fact, can the UK Government deal with the issues/changes and problems the country already has? Are they actually taking on too much responsibility by accepting more people they won’t be able to ‘do right by’?
Will there be a mass exodus from one country to another? Will the Romanians and Bulgarians swamp the UK, and take over the country? Why do people live in fear of immigrants stripping the country bare? Immigration is nothing new for the UK; it has always been multi-cultural and accepted people from far and wide, why then is the country now so angst ridden?
Is immigration a good business and economic policy? Is it investment and profit? Is it more people claiming benefits and abusing the system, sending money back to their families in Romania or Bulgaria? Is it escalation of crime? Is is merely public cynicism and distrust? Is it greed and shady dealings? Is it appeasement or enlightenment?
I personally feel the UK cannot close the doors to immigration, but there are certain discrepancies with how the UK handles the subject. I don’t doubt that UK immigration and policies per se are being vetoed or strangled by the EU. I question though, who benefits from all the upper echelons (in the UK and EU), wrangling amongst themselves because of their own agendas? Well, it isn’t the people they are supposed to represent and that is for certain.
I believe immigration has become a convenient red herring in many ways, an issue placed before the public to distract from the real issues on the table, the real failure of those in charge.
With or without immigration, the UK still has serious issues; how is the Government going to convince the UK public that they can do what they say they will? When all the scapegoating and smoke screens have gone, what is left? A Government who doesn’t really know what they really stand for, and which way to turn in any crisis without squabbling like children.
I wonder, when there is nothing to fight over, what remains to fight for?
I will leave you with a quote (another reply) to that article in The Guardian (I mentioned earlier in this post: link below);
“The UK is not concentrating on “job building” it is penny wise and pound foolish, driving wages down to a minimum base and sitting complacently on a million unemployed and millions under-employed. We have so many things that need replacing and repairing, upgrading and restoring here, but the governments we have seem happy to suck up to businesses who cream profits off-shore and let the citizens scrabble around in the mire for part-time low paid work.
We have work that needs doing, but lack the courage to invest in our people to improve the quality of life for everyone”.
Check out the article at: http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/jan/27/cameron-romania-bulgaria-immigration-reasonable