Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Just selling newspapers?

The opinion poll finding reported by Roger Scully yesterday that the most important issue facing Britain and Wales is immigration should come as no surprise to anyone who’s ever spent time knocking doors during an election campaign.  And it’s nothing particularly new either – it was probably the one issue mentioned most often to me the last time that I was out canvassing around 6 years ago, as well as in a number of elections prior to that.
It’s an issue which has a different salience in different parts of Wales; whilst it was noticeable to me that many of those mentioning the issue in the southern parts of Pembrokeshire were themselves in-migrants (an irony which completely escaped them), it was by no means uniquely restricted to that demographic.  And looking at some of the constituencies of the South Wales Valleys, there can be no doubt that this is as much of a home-grown problem as it is an imported one.
The question, though, is why?  What are the factors which bring this issue to the top of the list for so many, especially in those areas of Wales where immigration is close to non-existent?  It would be interesting to see some follow-up research investigating that; in the absence of hard facts, we can only speculate. 
I don’t know how easy such research would be though. 
I suspect that people would argue that their reasons for opposing immigration are largely to do with economics or services – sentiments such as ‘taking our jobs’, ‘taking our houses’, ‘living off benefits’, or ‘putting stress on our services’.  But since all of these are, to a greater or lesser degree, at variance with the facts (and especially so in areas seeing little or no immigration), one would have to conclude that they are rationalisations rather than rational responses.  But rationalisations for what?
We’re back to speculation, but my own speculation would be that there is an innate underlying suspicion (or even fear) of ‘others’, and that sentiment has been drip fed by years – decades even – of lies and half-truths from the tabloid media which is the main source of ‘news’ and ‘facts’ for so many.  That, however, merely moves the root cause back a degree – I’m convinced that the tabloids know full well that much of what they say on this issue is exaggerated half-truth at best, so why do they do it?  Sensationalism sells newspapers of course, but that’s a depressing reflection on the state of politics.


Pete said...

It is a sad state of affairs but it seems that "News" has become entertainment. In that respect sensationalism and scandal are more important than information.
On the subject of immigration, I too find it odd that English immigrants would complain about immigration disturbing their way of life.
As for Wales itself, immigration is not really the problem. In fact I find it hard to imagine having sustained economic growth without immigration to fill the careers that that such growth would create. The problem for Wales is the immigration of those who are hostile to the concept of Wales. I don't mean an independent Wales or even a devolved nation. I refer to those who are hostile to the very concept of a Wales or Welsh identity. The occurrence of such people within our country is far more problematic than people from anywhere in the world who are prepared to adopt and support the concept of Wales.
I am. until November, living in America. One of the great things about America is that it does not ask you to give up your culture, rather it asks that you contribute your culture that the whole may become greater than the sum of its parts. That would be my hope for Wales.

Unknown said...

Maybe, just maybe, the people of places like Ebbw Vale travel to Newport and Cardiff and see first-hand the level of immigration in these cities, and then think "I don't want my town turned into a place where Welsh/British people are being gradually outnumbered."

Here in inner-city Riverside, Cardiff, most people aren't white Welsh or white British and it is certainly no multicultural paradise. Romanticising multi-culturalism is a peculiarity of the metropolitan elites and isn't done by the majority of people, including most of those from ethnic minorities.

Many Sikhs and Hindus hate Muslims; many Chinese despise Africans and Indians; Kurds hate Turks; Tamils hate Sinhilese. People are racist but so what? The world has survived with racism for millennia.

The UK's racist foreign policy of bombing weak, impoverished countries populated by non-whites is the racism we should be focusing on rather than the understandable concerns of native Welsh people who fear, justifiably, that their culture/communities may be swamped by immigrants.

Anonymous said...

When The Sun and Daily Mail are the mostly widely read newspapers in Wales and the BBC follows the same right wing agenda to curry favour with the Tory Government to ensure its continued funding, we shouldn’t be surprised that the divisive, hatred of foreigner’s agenda has become the dominant driving force in welsh politics. There are reasons no indigenous Welsh media and no party advocating alternatives are just two that gives UKIP’s agenda freedom to roam.

More depressing from the poll is Labour and UKIP are the parties of choice of voters in Wales to voice their concerns on immigration, health, education and economy and everything else, with the state Wales is currently in that’s beyond depressing.

And I’ve wanted regular polling in Wales for years, but I find the Wales Governance Centre’s output like welsh politics, bland and uninspiring, nothing substantial gets asked unless it can harm Wales, the Welsh Government, Assembly, welsh language or Plaid Cymru and it’s a shame because the talents of Roger Scully, Richard Wyn Jones and the team are wasted.

Anonymous said...

It is beyond impolite to refer to English people as immigrants.

You claim the British press in Wales attempts to whip up hatred and division. Maybe so. But given such hatred and division exists in the psyche of so many in this part of the UK perhaps the press is just reflecting an unpleasant reality.

The only difference between a Welsh person and an English person is education. Education in Wales is in terminal decline. The same cannot be said for England.

John Dixon said...


I think that you'll find that the term I used to refer to people from England was 'in-migrant'. Small difference, but factually correct - anyone who moves from area A to area B is an in-migrant, whether or not any formal lines on maps have been crossed.

I don't entirely disagree with your suggestion that the press is "just reflecting an unpleasant reality"; indeed, that's not far off what I said. But it's actually rather more than reflecting; 'inflaming' or 'encouraging' would be better descriptions.

Your assertion about education is as free of fact and as prejudice-based as the reaction of many people to immigration; however, it's also irrelevant to the post so I shall ignore it here.