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Come One, Come All

There is no getting around the fact that this Labour government has presided over an era of massive and almost unfettered immigration – 2.3 million migrants have been added to the population since 2001, while Home Office statistics reveal that 270,000 work permits were granted to non-EU nationals between 2005 and 2008. In fact, 115,000 individuals have passed the government’s citizenship test in this year alone. And yet, despite the evident reality that immigration is a huge part of modern British life, it is an issue that is frequently sidelined at Westminster. As an issue considered too polarizing and controversial to be put to rational debate, immigration has been surrendered to radical parties as their exclusive political property. The problem is – as the rise of the British National Party demonstrates – that many Britons have legitimate concerns about immigration. And, because immigration is so rarely addressed by the establishment parties, these concerns not only go unnoticed, but can manifest themselves in perverse misconceptions and deeply-held mistruths. Impact’s Alex Friede examines the true character of immigration, and its real, practical impact, asking the oft-avoided question: is immigration benefiting Britain?

The popular answer would undoubtedly be ‘no.’ According to a recent study by the German Marshall Fund, 71% of Britons polled disapproved of Labour’s immigration policy, while 66% agreed that immigration is more of a ‘problem’ than an ‘opportunity.’ On the whole, Britons firmly disapprove of the supposedly ‘open-door’ character of British immigration – it has been, it is believed, far too easy for immigrants to settle in Britain. Indeed, it is difficult to credibly argue that Labour’s immigration record prior to 2008 was either managed or consistent. The statistics I have cited demonstrate the sheer scale of British immigration, but the state of illegal immigration is even more worrying – for example, the most recent study by the London School of Economics estimates that there are currently 725,000 illegal migrants operating in Britain. Worse still, there is no machinery in place that tells us whether visitors to Britain ever leave. The biggest failure of this government has been its absolute inability to strictly regulate our borders or to reassure its citizens that it has immigration under control.

Nonetheless, Brown’s current policy – the points-based system that has been in place since early 2008 – is a sensible, effective approach. While the severe recession has demolished Britain’s attractiveness to prospective migrants, there can be no doubt that the recent drop in immigration is due, in part, to our new discriminatory system. The real strength of this arrangement is that it takes an optimistic view of immigration – those who are skilled, talented and motivated should be encouraged to enter our country. In my view, this comes to the heart of the matter. Talented migrants can expand the talent pool, allowing for increased specialization and efficiency in a variety of key industries; similarly, enthusiastic migrants can invigorate the native-born population by forcing them to compete and keep up. It is the sort of Laffer-style free marketism that works so well in the commercial sector: competition can breed progress amongst individuals, as well as in trade. Indeed, this is why Tory plans for an annual limit on immigration fall short. Not only are they completely impractical – we are yet to be told, for example, explicitly who decides, and on what basis, this limit will be – but it entirely contradicts Cameron’s vision of ‘compassionate conservatism’ that stresses individualism and liberty. Rather than enforcing arbitrary limits on immigration, we should be enticing talented and able immigrants who can contribute and improve the economic and social make-up of Britain – regardless of the fact that they own different passports.

The economic impact of immigration is relatively obscure. Brown’s traditional line that it has boosted the economy – to the tune of £6 billion, no less – is seriously undermined by the conclusion of the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee in April 2008 that maintained immigration has done very little for per capita GDP. It seems that the economic benefits of immigration for Britain as a whole are largely dependent on the criteria examined, and on one’s own perception of progress and profit. As for the impact of immigration on the ‘ordinary’ Briton, the idea that immigrants have somehow prevented Britons from gaining employment is misleading and inaccurate. Rather, immigrants under Labour have occupied new jobs that would otherwise be vacant. For example, while migrant workers accounted for 740,000 jobs between 2002 and 2006, the number of British-born workers remained steady. In fact, almost all of the new jobs created under Brown’s chancellorship – 81% per the Office of National Statistics – have gone to immigrants. The reality is that our years of economic prosperity were wholly reliant on immigrant labour, and that Britain’s ‘indigenous’ workforce was simply not fit for purpose. Handicapped by a vastly unequal education system and hamstrung by a perverse benefits system that removed the incentive to work, British unemployment has become chronic and ingrained. Rather than exacerbating our counter-productive welfare system, immigration has masked it – removing immigrants will not change this uncomfortable truth.

Of course, the opposition to immigration does not hinge purely on its economic impact. Because immigration has disproportionately affected certain communities, the idea that it represents an all-out cultural assault has emerged. Given that – in reality – immigrants only account for roughly 10% of the population, this idea of a cultural siege is unconvincing, but Labour’s top-down style of government has intensified the anxieties that accompany immigration. For example, some schools and hospitals have experienced massive surges of immigrants, resulting in inevitable tensions. If immigration is to function in Britain, new citizens must be integrated and assimilated – they must do more than pay their taxes and obey the law. In fact, real social harmony depends on a common language and a consensually accepted set of ideals. In other words, immigrants must embrace – and be included in – an idea of ‘Britishness’ that is based less on appearance and genetics and more on the acceptance of certain values. We should treat all citizens as individuals, not as members of particular groups – be they ethnic, class-based or religious. We are all rational human beings, after all. Indeed, we need not be afraid of social or cultural change. Societies naturally evolve and adapt, and the most vibrant ones positively embrace new cultures. ‘Britishness’ is not dependent on any vague notion of appearance or heritage, but the approval of a set of ideals and an enduring commitment to liberty. Immigration should not be seen as an affront to this sentiment.

Neither should it be seen as an affront to Britain. Politicians may find that rhetoric about ‘British jobs for British workers’ (Brown) and ‘substantially lower’ immigration rates (Cameron) strongly resonate with the British public, but they are missing the point. Immigration can benefit Britain – adding talent, aspiration and an enterprising zeal, regardless of one’s background, should be actively sought, rather than stifled. Indeed, the sort of intolerance that seeks to smother immigration based on entirely static and rigid notions of ‘Britishness’ strikes me as fundamentally illiberal – and, paradoxically, inherently un-British.

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11 Comments on this post.
  • David Jones
    12 January 2010 at 09:27
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    A good overview of the topic, apart from the idea that Britishness “…is not dependent on any vague notion of appearance or heritage, but the approval of a set of ideals and an enduring commitment to liberty”. Britishness would have a more fundamental standard of definition were it to be based on genetic ancestry, on facts instead of mythology. Genes are real, and race is also real and it matters. Darwinian evolution and natural selection have produced the three different, well defined racial groups – ie the white Caucasian, the African Negro and the Eastern Asian (Chinese etc). Most white people in the UK (and continental Europe) can trace their ancestry back 12,000 years to the first hunter gatherers who were here at the end of the last Ice Age. We are indigenous, we have no where else to go, we should be pre eminent (the “boss”) in the UK just as black African people are in charge of their tribal homelands. A political acceptance of this must be allowed to arise or “racism” and social dislocation will continue as we follow the same path in history as did the indigenous populations of the Americas and Australia – replacement and genocide.

  • Lucy Hayes
    12 January 2010 at 19:41
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    I hope you’re joking, but I fear you may be serious… Dear me. I admire your logic of leaping from “genes are real” to advocating white supremacy, though you are a touch out of date in referring to the ‘African tribal homelands’. The term was used by the apartheid government to refer to the often desolate areas to which they enforced the ‘relocation’ of millions of black South Africans, which were then ‘self-governed’ by puppet governments of the apartheid regime. You may have noticed apartheid was ended in the early 90s, but then again judging by your opinions, perhaps not.

    I seriously doubt the white population, still a majority of over 85%, is in any danger of “replacement and genocide”. Calm yourself down man.

  • David Jones
    13 January 2010 at 11:13
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    Lucy – I’m serious and have an academic interest in raciology. Where did I mention “white supremacy”? I did not, I did refer to the differences between population groups caused during evolution as each sub species or population group (or, for the courageous reader, each race) adapts ideally to its environment. For example, the native Australian aborigine has registered the lowest average human IQ yet he is certainly “supreme” in his environment, and can survive better in the Australian outback than would an unassisted Korean or a white caucasian with a higher IQ. The white indigenous population may well be 85% now, but with a government unable and unwilling to control immigration, plus the fact that 90% of the Third World’s population would like to come here, the slippery slope will ensure that one day we will be replaced. If that’s possible but even improbable, why should we take a chance with the future of our race? BTW, I detect a note of cynicism in your reply to mine, a sign that ad hominem attacks are not far away, surely something to be avoided on a web site connected with such a prestigious university? Race is real, it matters.

  • Alex Friede
    13 January 2010 at 17:02
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    ‘Race is real, it matters’

    Unfortunately this is where our perspectives depart. In my view, supposed racial differences are non-existent and, at most, illusory. It seems entirely more sensible to me to judge individuals on their personal, civic merits than on their ethnic characteristics – as I mentioned in the article, we are all human beings, after all.

    I must confess that I have little grounding in the science of raciology, but your argument relies on humans existing in a state of nature that no longer exists. To use your example, the Aborigine may have been better adapted to his environment than the Korean in a more primitive era of history, but technological improvements have rendered these ‘adaptions’ insignificant today. Mankind has progressed to the stage where ‘we’ – in the more developed world, at any rate – are equal before nature.

    It also strikes me that your idea of ‘indigenous’ peoples with ‘no where else to go’ is relatively unworkable – I wonder what you make of individuals from multi-cultural background. The reality is that – regardless of history or heritage – we are all rational individuals who, thanks to technological advancements, can survive almost anywhere in the world. In fact, as humans, we are better for these interactions – we can progress and advance through intermingling. Any attempt to stifle this process strikes me as thoroughly counter-productive.

  • Dave Jackson
    13 January 2010 at 19:09
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    I’m not sure I buy this idea that technology makes me equally able to live comfortably in a particular area as the indigenous population. The idea that we’ve somehow ‘moved on’ from that kind of thinking intuitively feels like it has had a light sprinkling of hubris. While I don’t back what David Jones is talking about, Alex, I think you’re polarising it too much in the opposite direction – there is nothing to be gained by claiming equality before nature when that’s clearly false.

    I say clearly false and that needs backing. One example I always think of (and one that puts it in terms simple minds like myself can understand!) could be seen in football. Out of 18 World Cups that have taken place, 15 times the competition winner has been a country from the continent in which the tournament has been hosted. 6 of those times, the winner was the host nation itself. You could argue that teams winning the world cup could merely correlate with a particular group of talented players coming through at that time, but my response would be – “not that consistently they don’t”. Is it more likely that a team will perform better when it is playing in familiar conditions? I’d say so. Crude example, but you see my point I hope.

    As such, if you’re going to make statements like ‘we are equal before nature’, it might be better to clarify in what areas we are equal. There’s a difference between claiming equality of inherent ability between all mankind and claiming that all mankind should be granted equality of opportunity, equality before the law and equal human rights. I don’t see myself as superior or inferior as a human being to somebody of East Asian descent, but I might expect them to be more vulnerable to suffering ‘Asian Flush’ if we were to have a drinking contest!

    By all means, we should judge people principally by their personal and civic merits (what they ‘do’, instead of what they ‘are’), but it is counterproductive to claim some kind of universal equality of ability. To quote Heinlein: “Correct morality can only be derived from what man ‘is’ — not from what do-gooders and well-meaning aunt Nellies would like him to be.”

  • Mark
    13 January 2010 at 20:50
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    For me the interests of British people should always come first beacuse this is Britain. Immigration should be allowed only if it is benefical for the nation.

    In an ideal world everyone would be welcome but it isn’t an ideal world and we have to put ourselves first because no one else will.

  • David Jones
    15 January 2010 at 13:00
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    Alex Friede – I welcome your criticism of my views. If, as you claim, supposed racial differences are non-existent and, at most, illusory, how do you explain that the race of a person can be ascertained from small DNA samples, or from a skeleton? Why are the best runners from West Africa? Why do people from different racial groups exhibit real physiological differences (hair, bone desities, average cranial capacities etc)? For a detailed and scholarly resume of these racial differences see:

    Race Evolution and Behaviour by J Philippe Rushton

    http://www.charlesdarwinresearch.org/Race_Evolution_Behavior.pdf

    To “judge individuals on their personal, civic merits than on their ethnic characteristics” is fine as long as the number of individuals of a different race remains small enough not to alter the complexion of the native stock and their society, culture and identity – ie individuals are OK but the group dynamic may not be. Just take a look at the chaos in former white run African countries which are now black run. As far as “humans existing in a state of nature that no longer exists” that is a red herring – we are all products of evolution and our evolutionary past. No matter how much money you throw at black kids, from the US “Headstart” campaigns of the 1960s to the present day in the the UK, low average black IQ is fixed, they will always remain at the bottom of the pile no matter in which country they live. In the US, blacks have been for generations in some areas yet it’s first and second generations Koreans who run the shops and businesses. It may be unPC to say so, but let’s have honesty. It will be the best policy in the long run. As far as “we are all rational individuals who, thanks to technological advancements, can survive almost anywhere in the world” goes, some individuals are more rational than others, we all have our own place where Nature (or, for the religious, where God) placed us; we indigenous people created our country and it is only right that we should be paramount here. Enforced diversity and equality will eventuall destroy our people and our homeland – what bothers me is, that for reasons which are unclear, some people (like you?) are unconcerned.

  • Rob
    26 January 2010 at 16:03
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    Shouldn’t we have open borders because people should be free to move where ever they please, rather than justify immigration on economic grounds?
    @David Jones- You do realise that Phillipe Rushton is a castigated scientific racist and countless numbers of academics have challenged or put into context his claims. If you claim to have an interest in ‘race’ in a scietific sense I suggest you read some Kenan Malik, Strange Fruit is a good place to start. I would like to debunk or contextualise your claims but that is a lengthy process because it is rather complex.

  • Vanessa Brown
    27 January 2010 at 05:45
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    @ Daves Jones:

    I do understand that it can be a bit of a “culture shock” for older generations who are suddenly the minority within their local area. But as Lucy Hayes says, calm down because this is hardly the case in most areas of the UK!

    Additionally, I would like to second Alex Friede’s comment: What do you make of individuals from mixed-race/culture backgrounds? In your opinion, where do they fit in? What if someone is, like me, 3/4 black and 1/4 white – would the larger racial denominator decide? If so, what if one is 1/2 and 1/2 ? Would these individuals be 1/4 or 1/2 more intelligent because of the white genes in them? I am interested to know how you “scientifically” qualify your opinions, as I am yet to hear of a study that shows this. Darwin focused on physical differences; others have attempted to further this by using concepts such as “intelligence” but most have proved to be heavily flawed – any scientist that sets out to “prove” an already presupposed notion is of course going to bias, and thus ruin, his/her own study.

    I think Rob puts it best: “I would like to debunk or contextualise your claims but that is a lengthy process because it is rather complex.”

    It may seem that my reply is already quite long, but in fact it could have been a complete dissertation as complexity is something that you seem to have missed altogether. As far as you are concerned:

    1)”low average black IQ is fixed, they will always remain at the bottom of the pile no matter in which country they live”

    I am particularly interested in your use of the words: ‘average’ -> now this would depends where you got your evidence/stats from thus it has a large potential to be biased; ‘fixed’ -> so you believe that it is genetically IMPOSSIBLE for black people to get any more intelligent (?!)… okay…; ‘they’ -> hmmm… a bit of the old “us” and “them” it seems but then you discount that you are advocating racial supremacy (although I must admit that this last point may just be me reading into things too much). But finally, where do you get your evidence from? Did the one study this opinion is taken from (which I looked at in my A-Level years) involve global research? As (if I remember correctly) it only looked at the UK and the US; yet here you are using it to qualify a world-wide generalisation that ‘[black people] will always remain at the bottom of the pile no matter in which country they live’.

    On a brighter note, luckily for us evolution and natural selection have at least left us with

    2)”the best runners”

    Yippee!

    Anyways, I really need to get some sleep so that I can make it to lectures in order to try and attempt to raise the average IQ for my fellow black/mixed-race folks (although depending on where the study is taken I may just be missed out…sad times.) But, all jokes aside, I think it would seriously benefit you to read some Sociological/Psychological/Cultural Studies texts on the topic in order for you to be able to evaluate your (in my opinion, extremely unobjective) “scientific” angle.

    The following text is available as an Ebook on the Library Portal and should give you a good understanding of how things actually work from within. I’m pressuming you are not black yourself; consequently, it is easy to overlook the fact that the majority of your comments are naturally presumptions. (Even science itself begins with phenomenon which leads the scientist to a premise etc etc.) Additionally, studying at university should have taught you that THEORY and PRACTICE are regularly two very, very different things. You also should have learnt from our current Government’s dodgy dealings and the global warming frenzy that statistics can be gathered and/or presented to show almost anything if the individual is intelligent enough to know how do so.

    Anyway, the book is:
    Farred, Grant. 2003. “What’s my name?: Black vernacular intellectuals.” U of Minnesota Press.

    This book will explain to you the pressures and obstacles faced by those that, according to your estimates, are significantly “above average” and as a result hopefully you will learn how the “average” and “below average” black individual feels with regards to striving for intellectual achievement.

  • Rob
    28 January 2010 at 17:23
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    @David Jones- You seemed to of confused ‘race’ which is a clumsy, unscientific and more political classifiaction for humans with the fact that there are genetic populations in the Human rae.
    There is a reason that it seems people with Black skin are good at sprinting, except Black are not better than anyone else at sprinting. You are right to suggest that West Africa has produced people or descendents from there who are the best sprinters in the world, however that because west africa is vaguely a genetic population with a higher rate of genes that encourage and facilitate fast twitch muscles which are incredibly helpful for sprinting. It has nothing to do with Blackness at all, its just a poor mans clue. Likewise if we were in South Africa and you told me to pick ten people who are at risk to have Huntingdons disease at some point in their life, I would pick ten white, dutch/afrikans named people. This is not because black people dont get huntingdons disease, or that its a white disease, for its not. It is because a enourmous ammount of the white population in South Africa descend from one boatload of Dutch migrants, and one man on that boat had the gene for huntingdons disease, because the new population was small, it magnified the effect of the gene being passed onto others, its called the founder effect. Therefore white south africans are far more likely that anyone else to have this genetic disease. You see there is much complexity and half truth in what you say, but it needs to be put into context, for it IS A FACT that people with black skin do badly in IQ tests, but whether that is important and actually is a measure of intellegent or whether IQ tests are culturally or discriminatory in terms of class is the context in which you need to consider things.

  • Rob
    28 January 2010 at 17:25
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    Sorry just to recorrect, on average people with black skin dont do that well on IQ tests, of course middle and upper class black people are less disadvantaged so have more opportunity to do better than many other people with black skin, who may suffer from their class background or whatever. But thats got bugger all to do ‘race’.

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