On we sweep with threshing oar,
Our only goal will be the western shore
Led Zeppelin, Immigrant Song
I don't know about anyone else, but I am sick of and sickened by the number of people who think it is perfectly OK to blame immigration for the ills of this country. The blame and ill-feeling which is becoming more and more entrenched in people's psyche to the point where it is increasingly acceptable to comment and litter my Facebook feed with anti immigration messages, memes and sheer ignorant bollocks! The undercurrent of hate is perpetuated by the media and accepted as gospel. There seems to be some sort of twisted joy in getting all indignant about immigrants, from ones perch upon an extremely lofty horse. Almost celebrating the anger that the subject fuels.
A plague of pests invading our country, bleeding it dry, using all our services , taking school places and drs appointments, spending benefits that go waaaayyy above the benefit cap limit, all the while oor weans are living in poverty, oor elderly cannae even live oan their pension, ordinary people cannae get a joab coz they immigrants took them while undercutting the rate of pay.
Stop! Just, STOP! Take a step back and think. Our media is driven by fear and pushing subtle intolerance (although it is hardly subtle these days), as it suits the British Government's agenda. If the public are up in arms, they [The Gov] can continue with their wars whilst arming and creating the opposition.
Greed, money and oil. Arms deals make a fortune. Refugees are the result.
Fighting for G.O.D. Gold. OIL. Drugs.
I don't want to cover the problems and perceptions with immigration generally, because I have already written about that ( last year during the Independence referendum I wrote about immigration in my 100 days series. What immigration could look like in the event of a YES vote). This time round, I would like people to consider WHY immigration is such a 'problem' in our communities and country as a whole.
As with everything in this world, it comes down to money. Money money money! Where it comes from and how it is spent. 'Our' Government (using the word "our" in the loosest sense being as they are very much for themselves rather than us!) is hell bent on "reducing the deficit" and making cuts to achieve such a goal. The cuts have to come from somewhere they say, and that somewhere has been decided to fall on the services and welfare. Rather than focussing on the uber wealthy tax avoiders (both personal and corporate) and offshore tax havens, for instance, where money haemorrhages from the country, completely bypassing Inland Revenue and Customs as if it were made of Teflon. So when the services, such as NHS, education and transport to name a few are stretched to capacity, they are obviously going to struggle and at time fail, to deal with the number of people relying on them. What does the Government do? Starts selling off the NHS to private investors. If it's not their service, it's not their problem. Not able to fund or afford to maintain the service, blame the immigrants for using the services. Service that many an immigrant actually work in - and pay taxes to! In Scotland we have a council tax freeze for the eighth year in a row. 8 years. While the cost of everything in life has increased, the amount of money our local councils have to spend has remained the same - again, they have to find money from somewhere and cuts have to be made. It would appear that the easiest expenses to fell are those that the most neediest of people rely on. Locally to me, the council tax freeze has had a terrible impact upon the lives of people living with disabilities and the services once freely available to them are now charged for at extortionate rates. See - it's all money that is causing the squeeze. When the Government is more than happy to fund illegal wars, renew of our own Weapons of Mass Destruction (which are actually on loan from our pals in the US), or spend over £1m on an investigation into the leak behind Nicola Sturgeon and the French Ambassador, Sylvie Bermann, when Alistair Carmichael was behind it all along (and get to keep his job at the end of it), or dropping £100k in Scotland to rename the new hospital in Glasgow, yet not able to spend the funds on the "everday ordinary people" of the country, then there is something far wrong. The responsibility of that lies firmly at the door of Government, not at the feet of those who come here to live and work and provide a better life/future for themselves and families. While some people will scoff at that last 23 words of my last sentence, I wonder if these same people can explain how that is different to the 8million British expats who live around the world for the very same reason? How many of those expats speak the language of their new country and are fully integrated into communities rather than in mostly British areas? How many are earning a pretty packet in the middle east yet are coming "home" to have their babies in the NHS hospital for free - is that not still NHS Tourism??? Now when it comes up that our pensioners are living off a pittance of a pension and barely surviving, even before the issues associated with winter kick in, let us not forget that Gordon Brown raided the pension fund to the tune of £118BILLION - it's not the immigrants fault that our pensioners have such a paltry income to live off of.
When online discussion start taking place, heckles are risen and defensiveness of our opinions becomes our armour. But the line between opinion and fact is becoming blurred. Opinion and fact are NOT the same thing, no matter how much we would like them to be.
The distinction between immigrant, refugee and asylum seeker could not be any clearer, yet for many they are one and the same thing. Why? Because these people, regardless of circumstance, are painted by the media (when it suits) as a foreigner to our land taking what is ours on their quest for the milk and honey. Yet the UK takes far less refugees and asylum seekers than our fellow European counterparts and pay far less to those to whom we do offer shelter. I was asked yesterday if I think we should just open our doors to everyone - no I don't. I do however think we should be offering help and support to our fair share of people in dire need being as our country is partially responsible for the circumstances from which they are fleeing. The current situation with refugees and asylum seekers is far greater than it ever has been since the time of the Second World War. The photos we see of people in camps in Calais or of bodies being washed ashore of children and adults alike are too distressing for words. Why are we (as in the Western World) so scared to help these poor souls? We should be ashamed. This sitaution is not a "tragedy" it is mass murder. If people from outwith the UK wish to migrate here to live, then they should be able to prove that they can support themselves and their families. If students wish to come here to study then they ought to be allowed to stay following completion of their studies in order to use the skills/knowledge they have gained here, to benefit this country via their skills and by paying their taxes.
The much proclaimed "the UK is full" and "charity begins at home" are used as convenient excuses rather than addressing the real issues. The UK is not full. How many buildings do we have lying empty and abandoned? How many people have their main residence plus a holiday home in the country (thus pushing up the prices of desired properties to well outwith the affordability of local residents), what about the private investors from abroad ploughing their money into the seriously ridiculously over priced properties in London further exacerbating the housing and homeless problems? Of course it is not all to do with just having a roof over ones head, the impact is further reaching by ways of communities and services as previously mentioned,but we have the money to sort that which the Government chooses to spend elsewhere. The Government is the one who needs the reminder that charity begins at home, Instead it chooses to penalise those in need, practically criminalising poverty. Remember the homeless spikes outside buildings? The vicious circle of outsourcing jobs, using machines instead of people thus reducing number of jobs available, offering part time or zero hours contracts (with no sick pay or holiday pay or any benefits), putting people in unpaid work placements (where people could do the same job and be paid for it!) then cutting benefits to the point where some people are finding themselves destitute. How did we get to this stage?? People, regardless if they are born here or elsewhere, are not seen as people anymore; just a way for corportaions (including Governments, because lets be real, they are run by the corporations) to earn more for less.
What would happen if the tables were turned and UK found itself in the midst of war? Take a look at this 3 min video produced by Save the Children :
I am including this link, just for fun, as it shows which of "our own" are not British by birth place. take from it what you will.
At the end of the day, it is irrelevant where we come from or where we were born; we are all human.
And just because I love Led Zeppelin:
(I know it is about Viking invasion)