Michael Howard has been harping on about immigration again. This time he’s prattling about how
for too many years immigration has been a no-go area for political debate which, considering that the Tories bring it up in every election campaign, is a bit rich.
Howard says of the British people that
They want immigration to be limited and controlled. Funny, I thought it already was. What he’s jabbering on about, of course, is not reality but peoples’ perceptions. The Tories, and other right-wingers, continually harp on and on about the number of immigrants and asylum seekers, giving the impression that the country is being, and has been, swamped by alien beings who are here solely to abuse our children, use our health service and generally lounge around making the rest of us (i.e. the white people) feel uneasy.
Numerous polls have shown that people in the UK vastly over-estimate the number of asylum seekers and non-white people there are in the country1. Why is it that peoples’ perceptions are so divorced from reality? Could it have something to do with politicians like Howard?
A further problem is Howard never actually saying what the problem is. I don’t actually give much of a damn about how many non-white people there are in the country and, let’s face it, Howard is only really talking about non-white people isn’t he? Your average Australian or German just merges into the background. No need to feel uneasy about them, is there? If it wasn’t for Howard and his ilk continually saying it was a problem then perhaps it wouldn’t be. Life’s too short to get all steamed up about the colour of someone’s skin or whether they eat (what you consider to be) smelly food.
The truth, so far as I can tell, about the problem with immigration and asylum seekers is that if there is a problem there isn’t much of a problem. If we see one it’s largely in our own heads and it’s been put there by people like Michael Howard and his cronies in the right-wing press.
1 One recent poll showed that people thought there were so many refugees coming into the country that if we’d been taking as many as they thought we’d be taking in 24% of the world’s refugees. In fact the whole of Europe takes in only 3%.
Posted 10 April 2005, 23:32 BST