Britain has become one of the main EU countries at the forefront of the whole immigration debate in Europe right now and, in what can only be described as one of the most alarming trends within this discussion, has been the way in which seemingly one-time, respectable, mainstream politicians have come out of the closet to voice views in public that are disturbingly similar in tone to those of the far, right wing, British National Party (BNP), whether they be doing so intentionally or not.
This week saw British Member of Parliament for Birkenhead, Frank Field add his name to this unenviable list. Mr. Field is an ex-minister in the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair no less, such are his credentials, and still operates as a prominent backbencher in Parliament.
In an interview with the BBC, he is quoted as claiming that the UK is ”living on borrowed time” on the matter of immigration and questions whether the levels of immigration into Britain are sustainable.
One wonders where we have heard these arguments before - commonly from the customary prophets of doom, convinced as they all are that if we keep on letting those pesky foreigners through our doors then all hell will inevitably break loose at some point in the future.
It’s the same drivel that right wingers like Enoch Powell trotted out in his famous “Rivers of Blood speech” in England in 1968 and that Pat Buchanan has been ranting on about in America since the 1980s (a man who ran for President and failed dismally not just once but twice, one should note). Decades later, the world has still managed to keep spinning on its axis and life goes on normally of course.
Mr. Field, predictably, will decry the comparisons no doubt and yet the logic of his argument shows him to be just as out of touch with reality as these people were in turn.
”Do we just merely accept this as another form of globalisation?” he asks in the interview, “that it doesn't matter where you are, or that you belong to a country and have roots?” he goes on.
So let me see if I can answer that question for him then - yes, greater levels of immigration is unquestionably an inevitable side effect of globalisation and, speaking of roots, if you are uncomfortable with that then you may want to consider returning your own Labour Party back to its supposed socialist roots that it once had many decades ago and oppose it globalisation in the first place. Until then I suggest you stop complaining about what is an unavoidable, economic fact of life these days.
Most laughable above of all though, is the way in which he tries to paint such views as those coming from a man who, like various others these days, is just trying to generate a serious, open and honest debate on the issue. How interesting then that he chooses to describe the current rate of immigration into the UK as something that the country is “suffering!”
Little surprise that his comments come applauded by Sir Andrew Green, of pressure group Migration Watch, a well known anti-immigration group in itself.
However this has become a popular tactic these days. How often have we heard from people that they are merely trying to have a “serious” debate on the issue of immigration, when in reality that phrase has become little more than a keyword for opposing it in the first place.
So the argument goes that, by not truly addressing this issue, we leave a window of opportunity open for neo-Nazi political parties like the BNP to feed off voter’s concerns and gain leverage at the ballot box.
That, of course, is an entirely confused and misguided logic.
It’s a bit like having a conversation with a heroin drug addict and then turning around to your friends afterwards and telling them that you think he may just have a point there about legalising drugs.
Rather than sympathising with the bigoted, racist concepts of any kind or delicately top-toeing around the issue, we should call them precisely what they are and utterly condemn them.
Politicians like Frank Field don’t see that, and one wonders if perhaps the reason why he doesn’t is because, deep down, it’s just not within his beliefs to credibly do so.
To suggest that someone like the BNP could be doing a lot better in elections if only they had a better party leader is to tacitly imply they have some credence to their policies including, let us not forget, one of repatriating immigrants.
People should be left in little doubt here as to the danger of the fire that they are playing with.
So if we really want to have a serious debate about this then let’s do just that and get all the facts out on the table here.
A token reference about how benefits “will” come from immigration is not doing that or anywhere close to it. The reality is that the benefits are being felt right now and have been for a long time, and indeed it is interesting to note that one of the three EU countries which did not restrict immigrants from the new Eastern European nations that joined in 2004 - Ireland - is well known for having one of the strongest and most vibrant economies around presently.
Indeed how ironic that this week also seescomments from the National Unions of Students in Europe (ESIB) reported in CNN about how their concern is actually the brain drain of many of Europe’s best and brightest students moving to study in the UK, as many of them then remain there afterwards gaining employment, with all that this has to offer the British economy.
In the meantime, whilst some can afford to enjoy the privilege of worrying about things like roots and national identity, they might want to spare a moment to think instead about far more pressing issues the planet has to wrestle with right now such as severe global poverty.
We all may love the country we came from but that does not mean we are going to sit there and starve to death in it because we can’t get a job and provide food for our families.
If Mr. Field, has a solution to offer to those who have to face real problems like that in life then please tell us what it is. If not then I suggest he puts a hold on his next interview with the BBC until he does.
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