Magazine article The Spectator

Let the Right Ones In

Magazine article The Spectator

Let the Right Ones In

Article excerpt


It is the easiest thing in the world to say who should come to Britain and why. But if there are people who should be coming here, then surely there are others who should not? It is through our unwillingness to address the second part of this question that our problems arise.

All polls show a majority of the British public want immigration reduced. But our politicians do not know what to do about it. One answer is to be honest. The Canadian and Australian 'points-based systems' we often hear about these days is just cover-speak for 'who we want to let in'.

So let's have that discussion. There are those, like Vince Cable, who like to pretend that immigrants consist solely of technology entrepreneurs. In reality almost nobody is opposed to letting in highly skilled workers, especially from first-world countries. They benefit us and cause little to no societal trouble.

Mass immigration from second-world countries (Eastern Europe) is more of a mixed bag. There is an argument that these immigrants do the jobs 'we' don't want to do. But to support this you have to see no problem in importing people to do jobs so that our domestic working class don't have to work. And financial benefits? Most studies show the real-term economic benefits of such immigration to be negligible.

Then there is the 'third world'. This is the part of the debate we ought to be thinking about most. But our fear of racism means it is the issue we now talk about least. Yet the countries from which mass immigration has caused real trouble are all third-world countries: Bangladesh, Pakistan, Somalia and Jamaica, for instance. (Cue the obvious but necessary disclaimer -- no this doesn't mean every person from these countries is a problem.) Does anyone doubt that? Very few in private. But in public blindness remains our default which, apart from anything else, suggests we're not very good at learning from recent history.

Today it is almost impossible to find anyone, even of the left, who thinks that transplanting whole Kashmiri villages to the North of England in the 1960s was a good idea. Brought in to do low-paid, low-skilled jobs which then disappeared, their children don't even have their parents' opportunities. Stuck in areas with few prospects, the religion their parents often sought to escape becomes -- predictably enough -- the dominating factor in their lives. …

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