Immigration and the UK general election

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The campaign as to who will become the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom has kicked off today. Amongst the topics that political parties are campaigning on is IMMIGRATION.

Not only are political parties campaigning on this issue, their record on immigration is being scrutinised by both the public and the media.

Immigration is such a hot topic, that the UK Independent Party (UKIP) a previously unknown political party has made significant political gains at the expense of mainstream parties by promising to take the UK out of the European Union. This is their strategy on managing and reducing immigration from the EU into the UK.

Is it that simple?

Writing in The Guardian, David Blunkett said “Anyone who thinks they’ve got a simple answer when it comes to immigration is delusional”

I agree with him. As I have previously argued the reasons why people immigrate are complex and in my opinion out of the control of any political party to a certain extent.

Let’s consider some of the issues that may contribute to the migration of people, political and civil unrest, globalization, human rights abuses, natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes.

Could a political party here in the UK, argue convincingly that they would have control over any of these issues?

I don’t think so. This is not to say that governments whether here in the UK or elsewhere in the world should have open borders as immigration has implications for both resources and cohesion in receiving countries.

Migrants on Immigration

There is a broad consensus that there should be an open and frank debate on immigration and its implications and I note that the media has made an effort to include the voices of migrants in this debate.

When asked for their views on immigration, some migrants say that, those that come in should not expect handouts and should be required to work and contribute, whilst others say immigration should be “stopped”.

I am not entirely sure I understand what they mean by this, but they seem to be suggesting that the UK should close its borders on incomers.

Working with that assumption, that stance is puzzling for two reasons;

  1. If the UK had closed its borders chances are that immigrants taking this stance would not be here either.
  2. Most immigrants have to send money back home. If you are the only person sending money home, the financial burden can be huge. It therefore makes sense for that person to bring over other members of his/her family so that they too can work and send money back. This spreads the financial burden.

It is interesting to note that the views of migrants and natives with respect to immigration are not miles apart. By this I mean that, immigration polarises both immigrants and natives alike with some calling for border closures whilst others acknowledge that a certain level of immigration is needed to plug the skills gaps etc.

Isn’t it therefore time that we had a reasoned debate on the issue or is that wishful thinking on my part?

What do you think?

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