22 April 2006

More On Immigration

He's often referred to, if he's referred to at all, as "the lesser Hitchens," but Christopher's more conventionally conservative little brother sometimes comes up with some astute observations on his own, and I think this one qualifies.

He's essentially arguing, as I have for years, that the recent rise of far right political parties in Europe, should neither be surprising, nor taken as an indication that a new wave of fascism is on the march. The prospect of the British National Party, the cleaned-up and allegedly more "respectable" version of the old National Front, getting a hefty share of votes in next month's local elections is, Hitchens claims, solely a function of there being no other way for people to vent their frustrations with the massive social experiments of multiculturalism and out-of-control immigration.

As he points out, it's virtually impossible to question either policy without someone from one or more of the major parties suggesting you're an illiterate racist. At one time the Conservatives made some circumspect forays into the field, but new leader David Cameron looks determined to out-Blair Blair himself, i.e., seeming to stand for everything while ultimately standing for nothing at all, and the Liberal Democrats, always the California/granola ("When you get take out all the fruits and nuts, all you've got left is the flakes") of British politics, have gone even farther into left field/Planet Dingbat under their new leader, Menzies Campbell.

The tabloid press are still having a field day denouncing "foreign scroungers" and "woolly-minded elites," but they're not taken seriously by anyone except the very same working classes being successfully targeted by the BNP. Yet while their language is often intemperate, their viewpoint is not always far removed from simple common sense. What exactly is the reasoning behind allowing millions (literally) of people, most of whom have no conception of the rights and responsibilities of being British to illegally take up residence here, often at public expense? No one seems to know, or if they do, they're not saying.

The Guardian, one of multiculturalism's most diligent (and tedious) cheerleaders, argues like a mantra that immigration is "the solution to our ageing population and pensions crisis," but that presumes that the new immigrants are going to become an asset to the economy rather than a drain upon it. The trouble with this reasoning is that "immigrants" are far from some monolithic class about whom universal statements can be made.

In reality, immigrants from some countries and cultures do very well indeed. Indians, for example, frequently work two or even three jobs and rapidly integrate themselves into the British way of life (not without preserving many aspects of their own culture, of course). Meanwhile, Somalis have unemployment rates in the area of 90% and are disproportionately represented in both the dole queues and the criminal courts. In between these two extremes are a wide range of success stories and not-so-successful stories. Afro-Caribbeans, for example, who've been here longer than most of the present wave of immigrants, still struggle with high unemployment, crime rates, and school failure; black Africans who've only just arrived regularly do better, to the point where they're frequently attacked by hostile Afro-Caribbeans who, like some working class whites, claim, "They're stealing our jobs and our council houses."

What's most bewildering about the present system or lack thereof is that it seems almost deliberately skewed to favour those least likely to make a contribution to the British economy and most likely to become a burden on it. Meanwhile, the government is threatening to deport qualified doctors from India and Africa (at a time when the NHS has been spending itself into oblivion trying to keep up with the demand for medical care) on the premise that it will hurt employment prospects for UK and EU doctors (who've already enjoyed a 25% pay rise because of their relative scarcity). Yet no such concern is shown for the unskilled labourers who, already struggling to get by on minimum wage, have to compete with illegal immigrants willing to work for far less.

As near as I can figure it, immigration as it's presently being mismanaged represents a cynical collusion between conservative business interests who see it as a means of keeping wages down, and left-wing ideologues who see it as another tool for smashing the last vestiges of British imperialism (if indeed there are any) and perhaps Britain itself. And why, my American readers might ask, should you care? Well, in case you haven't noticed, almost precisely the same thing is happening there.

No comments: