According to a study by Oxford University’s Migration Observatory, around 75% of Britain believes that immigration is becoming out of control, with 56% wanting large changes to migration. Not only that, various polls show that immigration is the number one concern for British people, preceding over issues like the economy, austerity, education and housing. Immigration is clearly rather unwelcome in Britain, and are often held responsible for Britain’s growing problems.
The wrong people are being blamed, however.
This article is intended to address this perception. One thing I won’t be doing is condemning anyone for criticizing immigration, or spouting the word racist – for one, I don’t believe that being anti-immigration inherently makes someone racist.
What I will be doing, however, is expressing that the immigration debate has quite frankly been poisoned; and any issues caused by immigration have been blown out of proportion. Perceiving it as the prime source of problems in society distracts people from more crippling problems – including tax evasion and debilitating cuts to vital public services: such as healthcare and public transport, and rising house prices and a shortage of jobs.
Sure, you could make a case for controlling immigration, and setting limits. You could argue that completely unregulated borders is unpractical and unfeasible anyway. For example, you could say the population could increase by 10 million in Britain, but obviously it would be unrealistic to suddenly absorb this amount of people at once; you would need to stem the flow, and make it gradual, over the space of a few decades.
However, even if immigration was cut drastically, or mass migration never happened, the problems blamed on immigration would still most likely be present anyway. Look back to the Industrial Revolution, or the conditions for the working class prior to World War Two; there was a housing crisis then, lack of substantial healthcare, and poor wages. There was even much fear of overpopulation during the late 19th Century. Ironically, even in the early 20th century, many people complained that there were too many foreigners i.e. Jews and Black people cluttering up the streets of London and other large cities. Yet mass immigration wasn’t even a concept then.
So far, it’s clear that mass migration isn’t the route cause of problems in Britain.
The real cause of problems, and how they can be fixed:
- Go into a store, and chances are you’ll see that there is a lack of staff – many people working in a supermarket or any medium/large retail outlet would tell you the same. In fact, this could be said for many businesses, and public organisations. If immigrants were simply taking all the jobs, businesses wouldn’t be so understaffed; they’d be full. Therefore, efforts should be made to increase job creation. Initially, it may be a slow process to provide adequate jobs, especially for smaller businesses – but most large companies could realistically afford to invest in more staff. If staff increased, and wages were distributed more, the money would almost always be re-invested into the country anyway – so the economy would flourish further as a result.
- The National Health Service is under-performing. Lack of doctors and nurses means longer waiting times, less effective treatment, and more difficulty in getting an appointment. But again, austerity and cutbacks are the root cause of the problem here – not “healthcare tourists” or migrants taking all the appointments. The Conservatives are going in the opposite direction to solving this, having already carried out numerous privatization deals on the NHS, including the largest deal in history earlier this year in March, selling a significant part of it for £780 million, to overseas contractors. To improve the healthcare service, divestment and cutbacks into the NHS should be reversed; and the currently impractical policy to enable a seven-day NHS could be put on hold. Incidentally, 11% of all NHS staff and 26% of doctors were actually born abroad, according to the Health and Social Information Centre. Therefore, If immigration were cut, the expertise in our healthcare service would suffer as a result.
- Economic problems down to migration? It was the global banking crisis in 2007/2008, which led to the near-collapse of many countries around the world, which is arguably the real cause of Britain’s economic woes. The at-the-time Prime Minister Gordon Brown had to bail out the banks, using £500 billion of taxpayers money – think how much better off the country would be if we didn’t have to part from this moey. Is it a coincidence that the anti-immigration British National Party gained a rise in support after this? Suggesting that immigrants were being conveniently scapegoated. They shouldn’t be, as immigration has actually had economic benefits, adding a net contribution of £20 billion into the UK from 2001-2011, according to UCL Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM).
Below is a short video discussing this research:
- Migrants have been associated with crime in the past; yet much of this is blown out of proportion. Of course, the media could be partly responsible for fuelling the hate here. But again, this is where the debate of a controlled immigration system is vital. Stronger background checks could be put into operation for potential migrants. There are criminals from all backgrounds/cultures – so like with any British citizen, a criminal should be appropriately prosecuted, foreign or not. Back to cutbacks on the public services; if there wasn’t such heavy slashing of funding towards the police service, then there would be more officers to clamp down on crime more effectively.
- One other big issue blamed on immigrants is housing. Most of the housing being built today is way out of the price-range for much of the public. With council housing being sold off in chunks, and lack of capital controls being put on private home owners (to prevent sky-rocketing house prices), it is becoming increasingly hard for people to look to move out. This is why it’s harder for people to find a home. To feasibly provide adequate housing in cities, where it is needed the most, the government could build upwards i.e. skyscraper-like apartment buildings. Japan has a similar idea, to manage its highly populated cities. This particular method could provide more affordable housing, and create many jobs in the construction industry, and would decrease the need for cities to expand into the green-belt.
People say this is could lead to over-crowding. High population might not necessarily be detrimental. London might be densely populated, but this is to be expected from one of the most prosperous cities in the world. If it wasn’t as populated, it wouldn’t be as prosperous, and there’d be less people to do the jobs – so there’d be less economic growth. Simple as that.
Even if population density in London and the South-East became more of a problem, keeping a balance and monitoring the flow could curtail this. Efforts could be made to encourage the flow to shift to other cities in the UK; examples being Hull, Bristol, York, Peterborough, and other less densely populated cities.
Yet to say that migration is the problem for most of the social issues in Great Britain, when nearly all of these issues existed even before the flow of mass immigration, diverts attention away from the real causes of problems; in this case, those responsible for cutbacks, and the irresponsibility of the bankers. As others, not just immigrants, get blamed, those who are really responsible get let off the hook. As world-renowned intellectual Noam Chomsky once said – “The more you can increase fear of drugs and crime, welfare mothers, immigrants and aliens, the more you control all the people.”
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