I know this is a dangerous post. I understand that it will draw criticism and that my sentiment will be misconstrued. But please understand I’m not a professional writer. I’m trying to explain my perspective and sometimes things get lost in translation. Here goes.
I’m getting a little bit hacked off with this immigration discussion. I’m tired of being accused of being xenophobic or even racist without even being given an opportunity to explain. The truth is:
The United Kingdom has always stood up to be counted when other nations have needed our help. The operative word here is ‘HELP’.
In the late 18th and early 19th Century almost 200,000 Russians and Eastern European and similar Jewish people settled in the UK to escape tyranny and similar in their home regions. They brought with them much needed skills across many industries and businesses. It was a win / win / win situation. Many of these people set up their homes in the East End of London. Many of them stood together toe to toe with every other nationality, culture and religion in the East End as part of 100,000+ who turned Oswald Mosely and his fascist blackshirts around and quashed that frightening chapter in British history. An incident know as the Battle of Cable Street. Mosley’s Blackshirt Movement was sponsored by some of Britain’s wealthiest and most respected business owners and aristocrats and supported by the Daily Mail. The Police as is documented sided with Mosley. Many of the politicians of the day especially the Conservatives thought fascism was a good idea. Consider that against some of the people wishing for an EU Superstate today.
The Polish Phenomenon – In most major towns and cities across the UK you will find Polish Clubs or similar Polish Social societies. Barnsley in Yorkshire has 3, Leeds has a whole community. After WWII, the British Government passed the Polish Resettlement Act in 1947. Almost 200,000 Polish Soldiers, Airmen, Miners, Engineers, Steel Workers and similar who didn’t want to be back home in a new communist Russia settled here. Our country won much needed labour and skills desperately needed to rebuild our country and our economy and they received safety, security and a new beginning.
Yet today the ignorant in this country, and there are many, think that Polish people coming to the UK are a new phenomenon. The fact is it isn’t. They are already weaved within our society and rightly so. They were part of our nation long before the EU. In reality Poland shouldn’t have to be part of the EU for us to encourage them to come to the UK, we have a collaborative history far greatr than some contractual agreement.
In 1972 The British Government allowed the migration of almost 30,000 Indian / Asian’s from Uganda where their lives and livelihoods were threatened by the monster Idi Amin. Again this was a massive win for everyone. Many of our most renowned retail and FMCG businesses were created by these people who brought fresh ideas and a willingness to work with them. Like many other emergency migrants lots of them took jobs that the economy required. In hindsight it was Uganda’s loss and our gain, massively. It is believed that our entire corner shop / convenience store sector is built upon their endeavours.
I could mention the thousands who came from Hungary in 1956 to escape persecution and the attentions of the secret police, the thousands who fled fascism from Italy and Spain prior to and during WWII. The thousands who fled from Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan. The thousands we welcomed from South Africa, Zimbabwe. The Vietnamese Boat People and on and on and on.
The fact is that this country has a rich heritage of being there to help, admittedly often when it suits us, even at times when the actual tyranny they have been escaping has been a consequence of our own historic failings coming back to haunt. But we have always done our share to assist and offer safety when human life has been threatened, when tyranny has ruled.
In Wales there are Italian families who can trace their roots back over 5 generations. In Spalding in Lincolnshire there are flower growers and other horticultural businesses run by 4th generation Spanish families. Our country is adorned with a litany of fabulous flavours, cultures and experiences which arose from immigration which occurred long before our membership of the EU. My own Doctor is the son of a migrant from Iran when his family along with 8,000 others escaped to the UK following the revolution. London has a thriving Turkish community that has been here long before the EU was ever discussed.
It is estimated that 1 in 4 Londoners has ancestry going back to the mass migration of the French Protestant Hugenots when almost an estimated 50,000 came across the Channel in 1789 and set up home in the UK. Guess what, they were escaping persecution, and they came here without any EU Commission involvement, their legacy lives on across the country today.
All of the above is different from economic migrants who’s lives are not in danger. We need economic migrants, but we need controlled economic migration. Saying to 500 Million people “Well, hey, no jobs in your country, no welfare, no healthcare? Well come to Britain, we’ve got loads” Is wrong. Our economic migration policy should be structured around our countries needs. If we need nurses from the Philippines then get them, if we need scientists from Asia, or engineers from Europe or the USA then get them, open up the migration policy, qualify them and welcome them and their families with open arms. But do we really need thousands of men washing cars in derelict garages, warehouse workers, municipal workers? NO. If we do, then lets open our door and offer those opportunities to unskilled people fleeing tyranny or war. To a country where peoples lives are at risk and offer the opportunity to those that really need it because it is a life or death choice for them.
If we keep swelling our population without control the real issue is that when we really need to step up and help and save lives we simply won’t be able to. We will have to say NO. Imagine how many Syrian refugees we could really take if every square inch of vacant land wasn’t being used as a car wash business with its employees living 10 to a room and many not even registered to work. Fact.
These are the cruel facts, the truth. I believe as a nation we should always be able to open our door and our arms to those truly in need, as we have always done in modern times. But we have limited resources and Ahmad from Romania with his 5 children back home living in the country of his birth, which as a result of EU membership has never been safer is taking a resource that Mohammad from Syria and his family really need. Mohammad who doesn’t have a country any longer, who doesn’t have any education for his children or security for his family. Who doesn’t have any food or clean water.
I’m proud of our modern day history in terms of helping asylum seekers and emergency migration. I think historically our controlled immigration policy prior to the expansion of Europe from 15 member states to 25 was pretty spot on. But if we stay in the EU, we will have to say NO louder and louder and louder. At what cost to human life and suffering.
By remaining in the EU what we are actually doing is opening our door to 500 Million People and counting, who by the very nature of the concept of the EU shouldn’t actually need to migrate. To people who if the EU vision had any element of truth should find themselves in a place politically, economically and socially unlike one they have ever experienced before. But we don’t, ask the Greeks, Italians, Spanish, Portugese and even the French. Imagine being a teenager or a young man in his early 20’s in most of those countries what the EU has done for them? What we are actually doing is closing the door to the rest of the World, regardless of the situation. From a young Doctor in Indonesia who wants to enhance his training to the family in some future war torn country with no discernible future. If that isn’t xenophobic and exclusive then I don’t know what is. If this isn’t Europe ring fencing and protecting and excluding the rest of the world from its elitist borders, what is?
But hey, as long as you can drive down the A1 and get your car washed by hand for £5.00 by some guy employed by his own people living in squalid conditions (I’ve seen some of them) and has to give a proportion of his earnings back to his employer, which is basically the closest thing to slave labour this country has.
PS: Wakefield City Centre now has 17 Hand Car Wash operations. The price has gone from £7.00 to £3.50 in 6 months. How long before we have car wash wars?
PPS: I’m the grandson of an Irish Immigrant who came here to work in the Naval Shipyards. I’ve served in the Coldstream Guards and lost friends fighting for freedom and against tyranny and oppression in Bosnia, Kosovo and the Middle East.
PPS: I’ve lived and worked all over the world and loved every minute of it. Never once has been an EU citizen enabled that or enhanced that experience.
The views expressed above are my own and are not representative of my company or any relationship that company holds with service providers or customers. Free speech is a beautiful thing, embrace it, it won’t be around for ever.
PS: I’m OUT.