Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Immigration: Positive or Negative?

No matter where you are in Europe, 'immigration' is somewhere on the political and media agenda. Both tend to play on the negative aspects, such as the ghetto building and benefit claiming, fraud and crime, but is the reality? The most recent example of the media-political bias on this subject surfaced with the recent integration of Romania and Bulgaria into the EU. The Daily Fail trumpeted imminent the arrival of 25 million benefit scroungers 'just waiting to invade' Britain. We had similar headlines in some sections of the German Press, and naturally we now have Ministers all proclaiming their 'determination' to restrict access to 'benefits' for immigrants. What all the newspapers and other media have failed (and so have the politicians) to mention is that the "25 million" number represents just about the entire populations of Romania and Bulgaria, the vast majority of whom have absolutely NO intention of moving countries.

In fact, the Home Office has now revealed in answer to a Freedom of Information request that the number of Romanians who have taken up residence in the UK since the beginning of the month is less than 24, and all of them have jobs. And before anyone squeals 'stealing our jobs' they have been recruited to jobs that couldn't be filled 'locally' for reasons best known to the employers and the local jobless. There are a number of independent reports pointing to the fact that the vast majority of immigrants from the EU arrive in the UK (and elsewhere) to take up employment local people either didn't want, or didn't have the skills for. Yes, 'benefit tourism' (in Germany it is called Sozialtourismus) does exist, and there will always be those who take advantage of a system, but they are a small minority.

Those who know me, also know that I immigrated to the UK in 1988. Yes, I am an immigrant. I didn't come cap in hand looking for a slice of the benefit system, I came to take up an offer of employment, and the first ten years in the UK were anything but fun, and anything but easy. I earned too much to qualify for assistance in anything, and too little to have any spare cash for luxuries for me, my family or anyone else. I supported my retired mother whose pension fund was non-existent until her death in 1999, I paid maintenance to my ex-wife until I retired in 2006, and I paid into both a pension fund and the UK tax system for all of that time. In fact I still do, though I am now retired on the very small pension I did manage to build. I am not untypical. The vast majority of those like myself, who migrated seeking a better life for their families, or a different political culture, better opportunities or simply a better life often find they have to make huge sacrifices in order to realise their goals. It isn't easy even if you are moving to the 'land of your fathers' and speak the same language, think you share the same culture and so on. As you quickly discover, you will always be an 'outsider', a stranger betrayed by the little nuances, the little differences in understanding or approach to dealing with life.

The current hysteria in the UK over 'immigration' betrays a deep seated insularity in a section of the British mindset, and what is most interesting is that it is often those who burble on about the benefits of 'multi-culturalism' who foster these fears. As an immigrant I made the conscious decision to leave behind anything and everything I was used to. I did everything I possibly could to integrate myself and my family into the society we moved to. We joined the local church, the children went to the local school (with hindsight, the choice of their first school was a disaster), we deliberately did not start every conversation with 'when we were in ...' and made light of answering questions prefaced 'when you were in ...'

I know very few people who have immigrated who haven't made the same effort and for very similar reasons. We wanted to be a productive part of our new country, and we didn't want to bring all the baggage of the old one with us. Sure, there are some little family things that you keep, but on the whole, you put the old aside and try to fit into the new. Everyone I have met with a similar background, whether from my former home, or from anywhere else in the EU or the world, came to a pre-arranged job, is in employment, pays tax and contributes to society, the economy and the life of their community. So why are ALL immigrants now regarded as freeloading spongers by the media, politicians and Whitehall?

I do believe that a large part of this is down to resentment in some sections of the population. They see some immigrants choosing to set up closed communities in enclaves in our cities, bringing with them a different culture and perpetuating it instead of adopting the hosts. They hear rumours, or there are well reported cases of fraud involving someone labelled an immigrant by the media, and fall for the assumption that this is 'representative' of all immigrants. It is not helped by attempts by the Multi-Culturalist brigade to stifle any debate on the grounds of 'racism' or any other '-ism'. Somewhere in all of this some other aspects get lost as well. Often immigrants take on jobs in parts of their host countries that the 'native' workers refuse to move to in order to take the employment. Or taking the job would cost them their benefit provisions. There are many reasons underlying the problem of pools of unemployment and immigrants 'taking jobs' the locals won't.

The annoying thing is that the media, politicians and civil servants completely ignore the fact that the majority of immigrants - even those whose family roots, heritage and culture is not rooted in Europe or the UK - are hardworking, extremely productive (if you've no alternative but to work hard, that's what you do) and nett contributors to the economy, society, the NHS and the benefit system. Most are also nett contributors (as I was) to pension funds. We've made our homes here, and we (most of us) come from societies which demanded that one stood on ones own two feet and didn't expect to be bailed out by the taxpayer, or provided for by the state.

As a senior adviser to the Treasury has told the Treasury Select Committee, immigrants are, overall, good for the economy. Perhaps it is time someone in the Media and in Whitehall acknowledged that and made more of it, instead of labelling us all as scroungers. Yes, I am retired. Yes, I am in receipt of a small pension, but I am still paying tax, and I am still doing odd paid work - and paying tax on the remuneration - to keep my end up. Nor am I alone in that. Overall, I am firmly of the opinion that I have made a positive contribution and I am very sure the same can be said of the majority of those, like myself, who have worked, are working, and will work extremely hard to the overall benefit of UK and European society. It would be nice to see that acknowledged occasionally!


  1. Slim Jim responds: Most of what you say is correct, but I feel that you have fallen into the trap of helping to polarise the debate. Immigrants may well be good for the economy, but only if you look at the economic factors. Yes, they tend to do the jobs that the 'indigenous' population don't seem to want to. However, we must bring other factors into consideration. The welfare system is partly responsible for the aforementioned 'job taking'. A minority of people are capable of working, but they choose to live off the state as a 'lifestyle choice'. It's their right, innit? You also mention the strain on essential services. Add in the proportion of foreign criminals in our gaols. Look at the effect of the over-importation of alien cultures, and as you rightly point out, the useful idiots promoting multiculturalism. FGM and extreme halal slaughter anyone (the animals CAN be stunned)? Just turn a blind eye...It's really all about NUMBERS. It's a fact that the UK has always had an active, mainly willing to integrate immigrant population, but the last government are guilty of treason with the policy they adopted for immigration. The British working class voted for a Conservative government 4 times in a row, so Blair and his criminals decided to import a new voting class who would be grateful for the opportunity to come here. Look at how NI numbers and citizenships were dished out like sweeties. Look at the pernicious effects of the corruption of Human Rights legislation viz. preventing the deportation of undesirable aliens. How many illegal immigrants are in the UK? No bloody idea is the answer, and does anyone care any more?

    Add in the free movement of people in the EU, and we see a big problem building up. We really aren't fully in control of our borders. Not so many Bulgarians and Romanians? It's only January O Monk - there's time yet!

    1. Slim Jim, I take your point as to the numbers who flooded in from Mr Blair's favoured nations and cultures in the last ten or so years, and regarding the criminals now living in our jails, but they are NOT representative of the majority, they do represent the failure of the policies and the Human Rights legislation that brought them here. The truth is that the majority from EU countries are not spongers and scroungers and I stand by my assertion that the numbers who will arrive from Romania and Bulgaria will be small.

      I do feel very strongly thast the entire 'British' culture and its rich heritage is being and has been seriously undermined and weakened by the last government, and I have no doubt that should that Party win the next election they will do even worse. But it is NOT the EU which is causing this problem. As you know I now reside in Germany, where similar debates regarding immigration are going on as I type. However, unlike Britain, the Germans aren't messing about. Immigrants wishing to live and work here have to integrate. They may keep theior religion and they may maintain their own culture at home - but at work, in school, in public they must speak German, write German and read German. Schweinfleisch is a German dish, if you're forbidden to handle and eat it, don't come here. The Germans drink alcohol, if you can't handle it at a till - don't ask to work at one and expect the employer to do what M&S have done. It won't happen, and don't try taking it to the ECHR either because the Consitutional Court (it seems the UK needs one) has already said this is legal and in line with the HR Charter. As usual in the UK it is a case of a small minority who push things to the extreme and no one is prepared to put a stop to it. Largely, I suspect, because there are too many lawyers writing legislation with half an eye on how much their chums will make from obfusticating it.