In Praise of Migration and Cultural Diversity
As those who know me are fully aware I actually – difficult to believe given its current state – love the United Kingdom and especially its diversity.
What I mean by diversity goes beyond that of the environment and the indigenous populations.
And by that I mean the diversity between the people who originate from the South West, South East, Wales , Scotland, Northern Ireland, North East, North West and all points South, West, East and North of the British Isles.
It must come as a shock to visitors to these islands to find that not everyone speaks like the Queen, Hugh Grant, Judy Dench or any of the other actors that they see on celluloid or the television.
In fact I believe most foreigners especially from the English speaking nations must find some of the accents across our nation almost if not actually incomprehensible.
However having said that one of the problems with living in some areas of the British Isles is the lack of diversity.
For example where I live in South Devon the lack of cultural diversity is glaringly obvious and the result is that people brought up in this region have a very limited experience or exposure to different cultures, religious and ethnic groups.
And yet incidentally they – or at least those I have met – are convinced that the British Isles is being over-run by foreigners which is bizarre because there are very few who actually live here.
And yes the South West overwhelmingly voted to leave the European Union which is even more bizarre.
It is difficult to explain to those who think travelling outside of the South West will expose them to some kind of contagion that will diminish there way of life.
It must come as a hell of a shock to those young people who leave to go to University to find that there are other races and cultures who contrary to what they may have been led to believe actually get on with each other.
I may have a simplistic attitude but I am glad that we raised our kids in a region where they were exposed to and surrounded by people from different cultures and so are both not only aware but actually fight against those who display fear or prejudice.
I’m pleased that they think intolerance based on unfounded fears and prejudice is not only wrong but a pathetic response based on ignorance.
Not that I’m saying the people of the South West are ignorant, or prejudice or intolerant.
Having said that however there is no doubt what so ever that the Brexit referendum outcome was a result of people’s fear and intolerance where immigrants were seen as the cause and therefore to blame for the lack of housing, pressures on the National Health Service, poor wages and falling education standards.
There were many – in fact 17.4million – who were only to willing to ignore the truth…
That the lack of housing was a result of successive Governments both Labour and Conservative failing to ensure sufficient new home were being built.
That the pressures on the NHS are a result of Government policies to underfund it in order that they could sell it off and privatise it piece by piece.
That businesses were responsible for paying low wages and that they relied upon the taxpayer to subside their employees through the benefit system and that it is business that has failed to train enough people to provided the skills required in construction, manufacturing and agriculture.
That failing schools are the result of successive Government underfunding both the construction of new and maintenance of existing schools and to fund teacher training.
The argument for Brexit was reduced to “Vote and keep Johnny Foreigner Out” and everything will miraculously be all right.
The media joined in with what was overwhelmingly negative comments about how migrants were responsible for many of the United Kingdom’s woes which because politicians such as May, Johnston, Gove, Davies and Fox publicly supported and subscribed to the view means that I now live in a society where many people who aren’t white and/or British have been demonised and those who are subjecting them to such abuse feel vindicated.
Cultural discrimination and racism has in fact been normalised by our very own Government.
What was lost in all of the noise of the debate – and lies – is the benefits migration bring namely that migrants contribute more to the exchequer in social contributions and taxes than they cost in social benefits.
And that is in addition to boosting – and filling the void in – the working age population caused by a lack of skills in some sectors of the economy.
Which incidentally for those who don’t know includes over fifty thousand European Union citizens who work in the NHS.
It includes foreigners who make up 17% of the newly qualified teachers in England.
It includes all of the migrant workers who work on farms throughout the United Kingdom harvesting our crops and keeping the industry going.
I know – I know – I KNOW…..
Those bloody foreigners coming over here nursing and looking after our sick and vulnerable, educating our children and grandchildren and even diabolically harvesting the food we eat –
Damn them all.
The honest truth – that’s something we ‘used’ to be able to proudly announce to the world our politicians possessed – is that the United Kingdom has benefited enormously from migration.
Perhaps we and especially those who are so ardent Brexit supporters should also remember are those Brits who because of a lack of opportunity in the UK have taken their skills overseas and that migration is an essential element in the global economy.
Which is why no matter how much I love living in the South West I think it would be even better if the cultural diversity in the region was increased.