Theresa May’s key-note speech on immigration has left me rather bewildered. Britain’s immigration policy has continued to be rather confusing and sometimes quite contradictory. The growing public hostility towards immigration is a cause of concern, and somehow it seems that with every new development on the political stage the country moves further and further away from agreement.
Personally, I felt that May’s speech to the Policy Exchange think-tank had very peculiar undertones. She stated that “uncontrolled, mass immigration displaces British workers, forces people onto benefits, and suppresses wages for the low-paid” – simple theory of supply and demand explains why, as more workers are competing for the same amount of jobs. And strangely, the migrants take the brunt of the blame. The sad truth is that many of them did not grow up dreaming of cleaning toilets in an office block, and some hold doctorates (that are not ‘recognised’ by the UK).
What Mrs May failed to highlight, however, is the elephant in the room that is also forcing people onto benefits and suppressing wages: the austerity measures. Though looking at the bright side, tough economic conditions provide an opportunity for the British workers and the government. This opportunity should be used to motivate us as a nation, to improve the education system and provide more support to SMEs and entrepreneurs. The key is diversification, not feeble attempts to preserve the status quo.
The house pricing statistics are less shocking when you take into account the fact that the figure (10%) is spread over twenty years, a 0.5% increase year on year. The phrasing bothers me. If I was a lawyer and this was a court case I would be springing out of my seat, gesticulating wildly and ejaculating “Objection, your honour! Relevance?”. House prices could also be x% lower if there was, say, a new influenza strain that killed half of the population or Nick Clegg became Prime Minister.
There is no denying that immigration brings a host of consequences. The ‘language barrier’ critique is a cliché. As is the ‘community integration problem’. Both are tired sneers. For almost half of London’s primary school children English is their second language, but somehow this seems to equate to “unable to communicate” and that is ludicrous. I’m sorry to break this to you, but there is a huge number of those for whom English is not their mother-tongue and they get by just fine (until someone unearths this hidden gem and all of a sudden “they can tell”).
The idea of community integration is ironic, and it may just be my favourite joke this year, for I am not at all confident that such a thing as community still exists. I am sure some of you are on excellent terms with your neighbours, especially after such a year of Britishness. There may have been street parties, or several, and some quaint exchanges in recent memory. Ask a regular Joe, however, and they will likely pause before they can recall the names of the chap that lives next door or the old lady across the road. And that has nothing to do with the immigrants.