Just a quickie.
I’m catching up with my ‘Spectator’ reading after the holidays. I finally took out a subscription and they were waiting for me when I got back. In the edition dated 23rd August is an interesting article by Dennis Sewell about immigration. We’re talking about the UK of course.
He’s basically saying two things; firstly that talking about immigration has been taboo for far too long, primarily because it gets all tangled up in racism, and that this has now changed albeit facilitated by sweeping the taboo subjects to one side and regarding immigrants purely in terms of net gain/loss to the country. Secondly that when talking about immigrants it is very misleading to lump together the French investment banker, the Polish plumber, the Pakistani bridgegroom and the persecuted Kurd. The thrust of the article, as the title suggests, is that immigrants from Eastern Europe are the least of Britain’s problems despite their making the headlines more than others.
Where this discussion has turned dishonest – and this has largely been the media’s fault – has been the use of East Europeans as illustrative fall guys. Supposed strains on police resources are considered with reference to knife-wielding Lithuanian drunk-drivers in East Anglia; Polish construction workers are undercutting their British colleagues and so forth.
The article continues – According to MigrationWatch UK, of the net inflow of 2.8 million immigrants between 1991 and 2006, only 8% came from the 2004 accession states of the EU. Those who did tended to be singles in their twenties and much less likely than other immigrants to enroll children in school. Despite this fact, Trevor Phillips recently included in a speech – “For every professional woman who is able to go out to work because she has an Eastern European nanny, there is probably a young mother who watches her child struggle in a classroom where a harassed teacher faces too many children with too many languages between them.”
To tackle the immigration issue properly the government needs to disaggregate the immigrant population and find out which groups are profit centres and which are cost centres, then decide what to do about each one. Research prepared by the IPPR late last year shows that only 1% of Polish immigrants claim income support as opposed to 21% of Turkish and 11% of Pakistanis. Only 8% of Poles live in social housing, compared with 80% of Somalis and 41% of Bangladeshis.
Of course, stirring up resentment amongst Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Somalis and Turks is not a politically great idea. Hence the focus on Eastern Europeans.