Magazine article Geographical

Immigration: Visiting on a One-Way Ticket

Magazine article Geographical

Immigration: Visiting on a One-Way Ticket

Article excerpt

Once again, immigration has become a politically inflammable subject. Not since Enoch Powell was delivering his bloodthirsty (and inaccurate) race warnings in the 1960s has Britain been so agitated by the belief that it is a nation under siege. This summer's enlargement of the EU, coinciding as it does with the queue of asylum seekers snaking its way towards Britain, has sharpened the underlying sense of public unease. The more rancorous elements of the popular media have been quick to depict Britain as a historically settled nation in urgent peril from foreign invaders who are, almost by definition, lazy and unscrupulous scroungers.

The metaphors that govern the public 'debate' tend to be aquatic. They talk, in the usual wild and pejorative way, of an 'influx' or 'flood' threatening to 'swamp' or 'drown' British life. But perhaps we would do better to think of migration simply as weather: human weather. People drift along on currents created by the tension between areas of low and high pressure--between wealth and poverty, or between peace and war. Sometimes the clouds along the fronts can be turbulent, even stormy. But they are changeable: sunshine follows rain.

It has never been easy to speak calmly about migration: the subject raises too many emotive matters of race and identity. …

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