Tag Archives: migration

Countering the fear factor

Our ancestors were hunter-gatherers who rarely met anyone they didn’t know, and were probably wise to be cautious when they did. In modern cities we are used to seeing strangers by the thousand, but our genetic inheritance is still there, and it is easy to re-awaken the atavistic fear that people who look or sound different might be dangerous. Stirring up racism is part of a simple principle of leadership; tell people there is an external threat and set yourself up as a powerful and angry leader. If the people fear the external threat they will welcome an aggressive masterful …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 109 Comments

Vince: Migration stats show Brexodus of skilled workers we need to stay in the UK

So, net migration figures today will leave Brexiteers smug about getting rid of foreigners but what does a huge fall in the number of EU citizens coming here and a huge rise in those leaving mean for our economy. Vince Cable says it’s not good as businesses struggle to get the skilled workers that they need. With UK unemployment as low as it is, we aren’t going to be able to meet that need ourselves.

These figures show a deeply worrying Brexodus of EU citizens who have made the UK their home. This is largely a result of the failure of

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Roger Roberts writes: we must do more for the Calais children

The crisis that we are faced with in the UK and Europe is only part of a worldwide migration crisis. We hear from the United Nations that there are 65 million displaced persons in the world, and we know that in Europe alone, as already mentioned, there are 88,000 unaccompanied children. In the years to come, our legacy will not be a good one for our children, because with global warming, economic disasters and conflict, the flow of refugees could well become a torrent. So we have to face years ahead when we will need to tackle problems such as …

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Migrants: Welcome and fear

Recently I was out with some Bishop’s Stortford Liberal Democrats, gathering signatures on a petition for citizens of other EU nations currently in the UK to be allowed to remain in the UK. In a few hours we gathered just over 250 signatures on a not-that-busy street. Some were delighted to sign. Some were relieved that we were not taking the opposite position. Some said their businesses would struggle without people from other parts of the EU.

More worrying was the small minority who disagreed, loudly wanting foreigners to “go home”. A prize for confusion goes to the person who said that, and then added that she wanted to retire to France.

Then came an apparently-xenophobic attack on two Poles in Harlow and Theresa May’s assertion that curbing immigration will take priority over access to the single market in Brexit talks. She must know this is unrealistic: freedom of movement is one of the pillars of the single market and Switzerland’s access to EU programmes was curtailed after they sought to restrict migration.

The sense of farce is heightened by a survey from British Future saying that only a third of people think the government will meet its immigration targets over the next five years and a claim from Boris Johnson that people didn’t vote Leave because of immigration.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 26 Comments

Migration myths and unravelling of Brexit promises

The recent increase in hate crimes against Eastern Europeans in the UK has rightly been met with condemnation from across the political spectrum. Some dismiss this is a post-referendum spasm which will quickly ebb away. I fear that may not be the case and the Brexit decision may cause long-term damage to community cohesion and open a Pandora’s box of nasty populist politics. Let me explain why.

Brexiteer leaders – Farage, Fox, Johnson – made promises which are already unravelling. They told voters that leaving the EU would lead to better NHS services, improved job prospects and smaller class sizes. Those promises were largely based on migration myths which, unfortunately, many people believed.

Voters were promised that leaving the EU would lead to an improved NHS. Migrants were (wrongly) blamed as a drain on scarce NHS resources and that the UK cash contribution to the EU would be redirected to the NHS.

The reality is that the NHS is struggling because people are living longer, but often with multiple medical conditions and there has been a huge increase in conditions resulting from lifestyle choices. Neither of these is related to migration – these are home-grown problems – so leaving the EU will not resolve them and may make matters worse as it could discourage medical professionals from coming to work in the UK. 

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What would you do if you were the Mayor of Calais?

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Inside the Jungle in Calais

I was part of a Local Government Association delegation last week to the ‘jungle’ in Calais.

The ‘camp’ is essentially a shanty town with tents and shacks (including ‘restaurants’) built from scrap materials. It is set in sand dunes next to an industrial estate and alongside one of the key roads heading towards the Channel Tunnel. Its occupants are mainly male and there are over 800 residents classed as children – including many teenagers. The bulk are Afghan, fleeing Taliban conscription and in places combat zones. There are some Syrians as well as Eritreans and Somalis.

The authorities are clearly hostile to the camp: residents feel that the inhabitants are responsible for nuisance and crime. The response to this in March was partial demolition –which meant that 127 children simply disappeared. Meanwhile the CRS (the riot police in other circumstances) harass the inhabitants – confiscating phones, destroying SIM cards – and using plastic bullets, which can cause life-changing injuries.

The camp does not officially exist. Nevertheless, provision has been made for some inhabitants to go into adjacent freight containers – adapted to provide a form of accommodation, aimed at women with younger children, because of the dangers posed by people traffickers in the main camp.

Posted in Europe / International and News | Also tagged and | 16 Comments

Post-Brexit questions on immigration and emigration

 

Migrations, big and small, have causes, so let’s start by looking at them.

War or military conflict, with and without “boots on the ground” is an all too frequent cause. The huddled masses trying to escape from the war torn and terrorised Middle East provide a pressing example.

“Real Estate” or land-grab forced migration is another category, of which the evictions of Native Americans by US governments provide examples. Not all examples are historic.

Politically purposed, forced migration was used in the Scottish Highland Clearances of the 1740s. The UK government forced Scots to emigrate to weaken and punish actual and potential Jacobite rebels. It is possible that the refugee precipitating conditions created in Iraq, Libya and Syria etc. may be similar. To wreck one country may be regarded as a misfortune: to wreck at least three looks like policy.

Religious and ethnic intolerance can be a people mover and divider, as the partition of India into India and Pakistan indicates. Managed bigotry is a powerful political tool.

The consequences of Global Warming are causing increasing numbers to move.

With sufficient perception, will and power all of these human-made migration-causing activities could, at least, be reduced. Prevention is better than cure.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 11 Comments

Migration and the future of the EU

Bach’s cantata “Brich den Hungrigen dein Brot” got the nickname “the refugee cantata” in 1732 when Protestant refugees fleeing a clampdown in Salzburg arrived in Leipzig. The title translates as “Bring the hungry your bread”. It was to be taken literally. It’s a reminder of how much forced migration has shaped European history.

As an island, the UK has escaped the experiences of invasion and moving of borders which have shaped so much of the history of the European mainland — though I suspect that one of the things fuelling both pressure for Scottish independence and the Scottish affinity for the EU is their experience of domination from London.

My Scottish great grandfather who moved from Perthshire to Essex was an economic migrant. My surname is an old Huguenot name — brought by people fleeing genocide in France. Others of my forebears had the name “Woodward” — anglicised from an old Dutch name. I’m not sure if fleeing near-starvation made them “refugees” or “economic migrants”.

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Also tagged | 6 Comments
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