Notes From the Margins…

Cameron reclaims ‘our borders’ (again)

  • October 11, 2011
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Having failed to win the nation over with his condemnations of Britain’s ‘sogginess’ and lack of backbone at the Tory Conference of the Damned,  David Cameron yesterday delivered  yet another ‘major speech’ on immigration, which  set new standards of populist rabble-rousing.

As always this latest intervention was dressed up  as a courageous and frank attempt to address public ‘concerns’.    What are these concerns?  After the usual homilies about how Britain has benefited economically from  immigration, and  should always be ‘open to those seeking asylum from persecution’,  Cameron gets down to the nitty gritty and informs us that ‘  excessive immigration also brings pressures……real pressures on our communities up and down the country.  Pressures on schools, housing and healthcare’.

Then there are the ‘social pressures’ that occur

‘When large numbers of people arrive in new neighbourhoods, perhaps not able to speak the same language as those living there, perhaps not always wanting to integrate, perhaps seeking simply to take advantage of our NHS, paid for by our taxpayers, there is a discomfort and a tension in some of our communities’.

Oh dear.  It’s bad enough that immigrants don’t speak the lingo and ‘perhaps’ don’t always want to integrate, and ‘perhaps’ take advantage of ‘our’ NHS ( the same NHS that Cameron and his cronies are frantically dismantling), but then they come here bringing  ‘discomfort’ to  ‘our’ communities as well.

And it gets worse, since

‘Crucially, while it is crude and wrong to say immigrants come to Britain and “take all our jobs”……there”s no doubt that badly controlled immigration has compounded the failure of our welfare system……and allowed governments and employers to carry on with the waste of people stuck on welfare when they should be working’.

So even though immigrants haven’t taken ‘all’ our jobs, they’ve nevertheless taken so many of them that Brits have been pushed en masse onto benefits, creating a culture of dependency.  And that’s just not fair, is it readers? But luckily Cameron won’t stand for it.  He wants

Fairness for people already living here, working here, contributing here…who worry about finding work, getting a good school for their children and affording a good house.  For too long, they have been overlooked in this debate.

Having established that immigrants are preventing British citizens from finding work, sending their kids to good schools or owning a house,  Cameron comes in hard with various proposals to limit the numbers coming in, and also to make sure that those who do come speak English and know what it means to be British, since

‘There”s a whole chapter in the Citizenship handbook on British history,  but incredibly, there are no questions on British history in the actual test’.

Yes it really is incredible.   But even worse, would you believe it,

‘Instead you”ll find questions on the roles and powers of the main institutions of Europe and the benefits system within the UK.

Excuse me while I go and lie down in a dark room to recover from this.  But wait

‘So we are going to revise the whole test  and put British history and culture at the heart of it’.

Hurrah! Let them know which king burnt the cakes and who Winston Churchill was. That will prove…precisely nothing.   Consider it a kind of social Rennies – the perfect cure for community discomfort.   And  there is also the question of the ‘illegal immigrants’ who are already in the country and draining its resources.  But no worries

‘Since May 2010 we have completed a total of 68 specially chartered removal flights, sending home more than 2,500 people.  But I want us to go further and be even tougher.  For our part in government, we are creating a new National Crime Agency with a dedicated Border Policing Command which will have responsibility for safeguarding the security of our border’.

Excellent.   I think I’m feeling more secure  already.  And this is the Big Society, after all, so Cameron doesn’t want to leave all this to the institutions, since

‘ I want everyone in the country to help,  including by reporting suspected illegal immigrants to our Border Agency through the Crimestoppers phone line or through the Border Agency website.  Together we will reclaim our borders and send illegal immigrants home’.

Yes, together we’ll do that won’t we?   And what a jolly country we will be when that happens, eh readers?  So get out that there and start snooping, and if you see anyone who looks like they might be an ‘illegal immigrant’ consider it your patriotic duty to report them.  That way our communities will become stronger and more cohesive -and we might forget about a  vile government that has nothing to offer its population but xenophobic fear and loathing at a time when the country is facing an economic disaster that has nothing to do with immigration.

Context is everything in such interventions.  This week youth unemployment figures reached one million.   On the same day that Cameron was puffing on his dog whistle,  the Institute of Fiscal Studies published a report on Child and working age poverty from 2010 to 2020, which predicted an ‘unprecedented drop’ in living standards across the UK.   According to Investment Watch the report predicts that

[stextbox id=”alert”]Typical families will suffer a sharper drop in their incomes than the poorest. It will take until at least 2015 before the typical household recovers to the levels of 2009, the study found.  At the same time, the number of children and adults living in poverty will rise to more than 10?million by 2020 as a result of the Coalition”s tax and benefit reforms….More than 2.5?million people are unemployed, with women and those aged under 25 being among the groups worst affected[/stextbox].

Faced with a future like this, Cameron’s determination to flag up immigration is certainly understandable, but that doesn’t make it remotely forgiveable.

 

 

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About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

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