A lot has been said and written about how immigrants are such a burden on the UK economy that they deserve to be sent back home. The most recent is the headline in The Mail of December 2013 credited to a high-profile UKIP politician Victoria Ayling.
This woman, a Lincolnshire County Councillor and deputy leader of the local UKIP party, made headlines in March 2013 when she made a very public defection from the Tory part to UKIP. She did this in a dramatic way by ambushing the Prime Minister David Cameron at the Conservative Conference and told him point-blank that she was defecting the UKIP because, according to her, the Tories were no longer the party of aspiration.
According to the report in The Daily Mail, Victoria Ayling allegedly blurted in a video recorded in 2008 by her ex-husband Rob Ayling “I just want to send the lot back but I can’t say that”.
When confronted about her comments supposedly by the Daily Mail before publication, she responded that (though) “it was a throwaway comment that has been taken out of context (but that) it is nothing different from what the Home Secretary is advocating now anyway”. And to drive her point home further, she added that “I stand by what I said”.
What is shocking about her comment is the fact that what she said mirrors what has been spewed by the mainstream parties in recent years.
Some of the mainstream parties (and some tabloids, I hasten to add) started to fan the ember of anti-immigration few years ago with the aim of gathering votes to get into power. The sentiments they started few years ago have now grown into almost an inferno that is now threatening to engulf most of the mainstream parties that started it in the first place.
This anti-immigration sentiment which the UKIP later latched on to by spouting it much louder and has led to it gaining seats at local elections at the expense of those that started fanning the ember of anti-immigration sentiments so much so that the mainstream parties are themselves now running helter-skelter trying to mimic UKIP rhetoric-for-rhetoric for the sole purpose of gaining lost grounds.
When you contrast these anti-immigration sentiments with the recent reports coming out from people in the know about the significant benefits that migrants bring to the UK economy, it makes one to wonder what planet these people live on.
One of such report written by Alan Oakley and titled “Immigration Policy Damaging to UK Economy”.
The main discourse in the report edited by Alan Oakley, a respectable journalist that I admire a great deal, was credited to Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP, one of the world’s largest advertising agency valued at $5bn, employing 140,000 people in 2,400 offices in 107 countries.
Sir Martin Sorrell, a Cambridge and Harvard graduate, was quoted to have said that “the UK needs skilled immigrants to provide the staff for many different sectors of the economy including the technology sector”.
He also added that “UK needs an enlightened approach to policy in order to produce talent of its own of the calibre of Sergey Brin, (co-founder of Google), Andy Grove (co-founder of Intel) and Elon Musk (co-founder of PayPal and SpaceX)”.
The Cambridge and Harvard graduate says that “UK firms are having trouble in getting visas for the skilled international workers they need”. He said: “Although recruiting from countries within the EU is relatively easy, bringing in highly skilled people from outside the region is not, as we at WPP can testify”.
He went further to say “that the UK and the US are being damaged by their restrictive immigration policies particularly in the IT sector. In his opinion, immigrants bring much needed entrepreneurialism and talent to the sector. He quotes the result of a survey of 34 start-up companies in the ‘Silicon Roundabout’ area of London (where much of the IT sector is concentrated), which found that 25% were founded by foreign-born entrepreneurs”.
The poignancy in that report for me was when Sir Martins was reported to have said “that he also has personal reasons for favouring immigration. His own grandparents arrived in the UK from different countries in Eastern Europe in about 1900. Sir Martin would probably not have been born at all if they had not been able to migrate and meet in the UK. Under today’s points system, they almost certainly wouldn’t have been granted entry to the country”.
The report by Alan Oakley is so moving that I am tempted to share the following salient points from it on this blog:
“So I have an instinctive dislike of some of the current rhetoric – both in the UK and elsewhere – about immigration. But my objections go beyond the personal.
“There is much discussion, often emotional, on the overall economic impact of immigration. I’m not going to focus on that, although I think it’s interesting that independent bodies like the Institute for Fiscal Studies say that Central and Eastern European migrants to the UK before the financial crisis delivered a net benefit for the economy, and that the OECD recently concluded that immigration into the world’s leading economies has not proved a drain on public finances.
“What is certain, and all too often lost in the noise of the debate, is that immigrants are a hugely important driver of innovation and entrepreneurialism – traits that spur economic growth.
“Look at the vital technology sector. A survey by Management Today magazine found that, from a sample of 34 companies in the ‘Silicon Roundabout’ area of London, at least a quarter of the founders were foreign-born”.
Another respected columnist, Matthew d’Ancona wrote an article in the Evening Standard of 30 October 2013 titled “Tories must grasp that migrant labour is good for Britain”.
In the article he cited the recently published calculation by the Centre for Economics and Business Research which shows that “government borrowing would be 0.5% higher – no small sum – without EU migrant labour, and that zero net migration would mean a 6.7% fall in GDP (that’s hundreds of billions, by the way).
He also went further in the next paragraph as follows: “Boris Johnson is the politician who addresses this economic reality most robustly – aware though he is that his position on immigration unnerves many Conservative MPs. As a two-term Mayor of London, he knows that the capital depends utterly upon a busy flow of migrant labour, and that the rest of the country depends utterly upon the awesome wealth-creating power of this global city (London). No immigrants, no London powerhouse; no powerhouse, no recovery.
He then went on to add that “These people (immigrants) are not raiders, or invaders or scroungers. They are the foot soldiers of prosperity”.
Even Boris Johnson, the London Mayor Johnson was reported in the Sun of 10 Nov. 2013 when speaking to an audience at mayoral HQ, City Hall that he is “probably about the only politician I know of who is actually willing to stand up and say that he’s pro-immigration”.
Mayor Boris Johnson, who is the great grandson of Turkish journalist and politician Ali Kemal, was reported to have added that “I believe that when talented people have something to offer a society and a community, they should be given the benefit of the doubt”. He also added that he was ‘the descendant of immigrants’.
At the recent Autumn Conference of the Liberal Democrat in Glasgow, Vince Cable, the Business Minister was reported to have told the conference that “it was difficult to make an economically rational case for immigration because we are dealing with an absolutely toxic public opinion”.
As much as I admit that his comments are spot-on, I cannot help but add that the politicians are the same people that forms the public opinion. They are the architect of this anti-immigration sentiment that now permeates the society so much so that any pro-immigration views are often times met with stiff opposition from certain section of the society.
The controversial “Go Home or Face Arrest” mobile billboards trialed by the Home Office earlier this year in some Boroughs in London is a testament to the fact that politicians are the architect of this prevalent anti-immigration sentiment.
It is instructive to note that:
(1) Apart from Mayor Boris Johnson, many of the top leaders in government (those retired and still serving) and notable business leaders in the UK are descendants of Migrants.
(2) Many of these leaders performed and are still performing creditably well for this country.
(3) Many of the infrastructures in this country were built by Migrants deliberately shipped in from the Caribbean and Asian countries in the 50s and 60s.
That is why this anti-immigration sentiment leaves a foul smell on one’s nostril each time it is being spouted by its proponents.
This charade by a section of the population is fast making UK that was hitherto known for its accommodation to be seen as migrant haters both within and outside the EU. A tag that borders on racism is not well suited to this country and it’s about time something is done to address this anomaly that is fast eating deep into the fabrics of this society.