Thursday, 6 October 2016

Inequality drives migration

There are lots of things that politicians say and do with which I disagree.  Sometimes, I find statements simply laughable; sometimes alarming.  Very rarely have I found a statement positively frightening.  Yesterday was one such day, when the Home Secretary announced that companies would be forced to list all the foreign workers they employ.  Where does this sort of proposal stop?  Will they have to list all the Muslims next, or all the Jews?
The anti-foreigner rhetoric coming from the tabloids over a lengthy period has been appalling, but it seems as if politicians are now queueing up to pander to it, ‘because the people have spoken’.  I find myself wondering exactly what sort of country it is where the response to people being attacked on the street for being foreign isn’t so much about dealing with the attackers; it’s more about reducing the number of foreigners.  Isn’t that at least a little like blaming women who get raped for being there in the first place?
The extremists are winning, and they’re winning because the counter argument isn’t being put.  It’s bad enough seeing the Tories pandering to this sort of nonsense, but Labour have been no better.  Instead of explaining why the Tories are wrong, they merely criticise the Tories (as this from their press office demonstrates) for not doing enough to reduce immigration, thereby reinforcing the basic message.
Whilst for many of us it might seem that the economy isn’t working terribly well at present, it’s doing better than a lot of others.  The UK Government are keen to remind us of that on a regular basis.  But here’s the thing; the more successful any economy is, the more it will draw people in – indeed, the more it will probably need to draw people in.  And a truly successful economy needs to plan adequate services and facilities for the people it employs.  What sort of country is it that draws people in to meet its needs, makes no plans to provide services for those people, and then blames them for the failures and inadequacies of those services?
The people who run the country and the economy are scapegoating immigrants and foreigners for their own failures.  And they’re getting away with it, at least partly because those who understand where the blame really lies are becoming increasingly fearful of the political consequences of breaking the anti-immigration consensus and speaking out.  And that frightens me too – drawing up lists of foreigners is one small step; creating a fear of opposing such ideas is another.    
Europe has seen this sort of thing before – things happen in small steps and people accept them as a result.  It never turns out well.  I’m not the first to worry about that parallel (this video has already been widely shared); although I accept that there’s a danger of exaggeration, and falling foul of Godwin’s Law.  However, if history teaches us anything, it is that exaggerating the danger is better than downplaying it until it’s too late.
I don’t consider freedom of movement as some vague liberal notion, nor as a ‘price we have to pay’ in exchange for selling our cars or sausages on the mainland.  I start from the standpoint of seeing it as a basic human right.  The role of governments shouldn’t be to stop people moving as they wish – it should be to distribute the earth’s resources and wealth more fairly, and to protect human rights and freedoms.  Only when people can see good prospects without having to move will they be able to make a reasoned and rational choice to build a future in their country of origin if that's what they want.  Only life-chance equality will make countries equally attractive as places where people can build the future they want.  Mass migration is a direct result of inequality, of a flow of wealth over generations to the rich and away from the poor.  But who, amongst our politicians, is making that point?


Anonymous said...

Well said, thanks goodness there are a still sane voices around.

The hateful rhetoric is bad enough, but the fact the Home Secretary is being so cynically opportunist in using it to chase UKIP votes, but not believing in it herself, really is disgraceful.

The right wing press have a to answer for, they rightly looked into anti-Semitism claims in the Labour Party, but happily cheer a Prime Minister whose conference speech could have been written by Nigel Farage and was applauded by Marine Le Pen, Leader of the French National Front.

There will be no freedom of movement, no hassle free travel to the continent or tariff free access to the single market and that’s what a majority in Wales voted for on 23rd June. I hope they’re happy with their choice because it’s a dystopian future I want no part of.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you that drawing up lists of foreigners working in firms is worrying, but the rose-tinted vision of mass-immigration you are portraying under the guise of "freedom of movement" and a "basic right" is equally worrying.

You state government's role should be to "protect human rights and freedoms". I agree. Our government should protect us from mass unwanted immigration that erodes our national character (especially in Wales) and our basic human right to raise our families in safe communities.

There is a concerted effort among the 'globalists' to erode national identity and a sense of belonging to place and history. Mass immigration is a powerful way to bring us closer and closer to that goal.

It's time we started to admit that multiculturalism has failed. When we import masses from problem countries with war, terror, intolerance and inequality, we are not 'fixing' them, we are just importing the problems. As a consequence our communities become less safe and tolerant places to live.

John Dixon said...


I'm not sure why you think that I've painted a rose-tinted vision of mass immigration, nor why you believe that I support mass migration. I'm not sure that you've understood the post at all. Nor do I believe that there's any sort of concerted effort by anyone to encourage mass migration, although I do accept that multi-national capital would prefer a homgeneity of culture and an erosion of national identity.

My point was twofold, in essence:

Firstly, that people should have the right to go where they wish. The starting point for Labour and Tory alike seems to be that 'we' should have that right, but that 'they' should not.

Secondly, that mass migration is a direct result of an unfair sharing of the earth's resources. My starting point is that we need to share resources more fairly - and yes, that means a cost to us - but mainstream politicians seem to be starting from the viewpoint that 'what we have we hold' and we should pull up the drawbridge to prevent anyone else accessing it.

Those are basic philosophical positions; they don't translate into support for, or encouragement of, mass migration; merely opposition to attempts to prevent it rather than address the causes.

By the way, it isn't migration per se that erodes anyone's national character, it's more about the approach to assimilation and acceptance. If I moved to France, for instance, I'd expect to have to speak French, not force the authorities to deal with me in English or Welsh. The same applies to moving to Spain, or Catalonia, or any other country - I'd expect to have to conform with at least part of the local culture. I actually don't think that there's anything wrong with an expectation that people who migrate to another country should adapt rather than expect others to adapt to them (although there is scope for significant debate about the extent and approach to doing that - too much for a comment on this thread).

And I agree with your statement that "When we import masses from problem countries with war, terror, intolerance and inequality, we are not 'fixing' them" - that is at the core of what I was saying about global inequality. But in the absence of any serious effort to fix that inequality, the fact that taking people doesn't fix the problem is not a good enough reason to refuse them access, even more so when the problems that they are fleeing are largely of our making in the first place.