Monday, 21 May 2007

Immigration: truth, deceit, and hypocrisy

Established British families should be given priority over economic migrants for council housing, government minister Margaret Hodge has said.

She has called for a rethink of social housing policy, to take account of length of residence, citizenship and national insurance contributions.

Social housing was limited and British families had a "legitimate sense of entitlement" to have their own homes.

Could these be the first sensible words ever to pass the woman's lips?

She said white, black and Asian British families, on low incomes, who had lived in an area for several generations could not get their own homes and all felt there was an "essential unfairness" in the system.

"They feel that they've grown up in the borough, they're entitled to a home, and that sense of entitlement is often overridden by a real need of new immigrant families who come in, perhaps locked into private accommodation, poor accommodation, overcrowded. "

No one made them come here and live in this kind of accommodation. In fact, in my opinion, they simply should not be allowed to come here at all, particularly not if they can't or won't provide for themselves.

Nancy Kelley, head of international and UK policy at the Refugee Council, said: "The way to counter some of the views put forward by far-right parties is not to follow their lead."

Put another way, "although people have concerns about the present excessive levels of mass immigration, we should not recognise those concerns, because then people might vote for a party that would do something about the problem. Rather we should try and trick the public into believing that all is well". That, I think, is roughly the gist of what Miss Kelley says.

It is deeply hypocritical, however, for Lady Hodge to talk in this manner, after having for many years been part of a government that has, over a period of ten years, allowed (warning: pdf) literally millions of immigrants into Britain (3.4 million between 1997 and 2005), and at an ever increasing rate. Most of these people are economic migrants, coming here because they have no money where they presently live. Of course such people are going to put heavy pressure on social housing, and on most other social services.

Related to Lady Hodge's comments, and providing an example of the mess that mass immigration at the levels favoured by Labour causes, is a report in The Times on Slough, perhaps the town which in all of Britain is currently suffering most from immigration, demonstrating the kinds of ethnic tension to which it gives rise:

Another Polish woman, an economist by training, told me darkly that she had recently been working in retail “for an Indian” but had stopped doing so “because they don’t respect you”.

A Sikh with a strong Indian accent lent credence to what that Polish woman said when he told me “there are too many immigrants in Slough”. Polish drivers with no car insurance jump red lights, he muttered. And last week he’d been bothered by Bulgarians ringing his doorbell to beg for money.

The provision of social services in Slough is also stretched and undermined by mass immigration:

In the past 18 months [Slough Council] has placed in schools some 900 children who arrived in Slough from overseas. In other towns, they might have had to wait weeks or months to be placed, but Slough established a special assessment centre to speed the process. But it’s slow work: the centre can take only eight children a week. Last year two primary schools accepted 50 Polish children and 60 Somalis in just one term.

Not everyone welcomes the flood of pupils for whom spoken English is not easy. Aneta Kania sends her daughter to St Anthony’s Roman Catholic school but says there are so many other Polish children there that seven-year-old Paulina is making slow progress in English.

And if you're unfortunate enough to be a native child in a class full of Poles and Somalis who can barely speak a word of English then, I would imagine, your own education is going to suffer immensely.

But of course, all this is very racist. Far better to simply close your eyes, pretend it's all going wonderfully, and save up for that house in Dorset.

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