Tuesday, 23 February 2010

A few problems with that argument...

Great Britain is a certified welfare state. If you’ve got a scratchy bottom, you can claim incapacity benefits and stay at home, downing fish-and-chips and lager to your heart’s content until your arteries get so clogged up that you need to call in the heavy artillery to clear a path for your poor red blood cells. What’s more, the opinion propagated by the mainstream media is that Great Britain is a Mecca for immigration (legitimate and illegal) due to these generous social benefit schemes. Contrary to this opinion however, a vast majority of immigrants in the UK are not beneficiaries of this country’s generous social welfare schemes. If, for example, a work permit holder loses a job, he has to return home. If his unbridled love for his wife results in a stampede of little feet, well, tough; he will have to make do by cutting down on meat because he will not be entitled to child benefits or tax-credits or even a weekly milk-and-nappies allowance.

Unsurprisingly then, this terrifically magnanimous social benefit system – a system which hard working immigrants are largely unable to enjoy – comes in for a lot of slack from those same immigrants. A favourite tack is how half the indigenous population either procreates like rabbits or fibs about some disability (when they are actually out playing golf) to claim benefits; and then have the gall stones to blame immigrants for putting pressure on a creaking public services sector.

Into this maelstrom came the suggestion earlier this month by The Daily Telegraph that the Labour party had wilfully relaxed immigration rules with the intention of creating a large, supposedly ‘left-leaning’, immigrant voter base, under the guise of creating a ‘multi-cultural’ society. The right-leaning Telegraph based the story on the discovery of some previously unseen party policy documents. Unsurprisingly, the story was quickly latched on to by the two most popular newspapers in this country – the cheerful Daily Mail and the sensationalist Sun – shouting to the rafters about a left-wing conspiracy.

There are however, several problems with this story. In the first instance, this is an insult to our collective intelligence as it presumes that all immigrants will vote Labour in the blind hope that voting Conservative will mean stricter immigration rules and even stricter implementation of these rules; that as soon as the Conservatives come into power, UK Border Agency staff will begin swooping down on every non-indigenous looking man, woman and child asking for ‘documents’. The truth however is that the worst enemy of a genuine immigrant is the existing non-genuine immigrant in the country. Admit it or not, this is an opinion held by all legitimate immigrants.

Secondly, those immigrants who are legitimate in the first place – and who can consequently use their vote – are people who will give a moments’ intelligent thought to the voting process. They will consider factors other than strict immigration rules; factors such as an economy in shambles; investments that keep losing money; hospitals that make some public hospitals in India look like boutique hotels; a Health and Safety obsessed culture where smacking your child will result in a visit by Social Services and a benefit system that rewards and mollycoddles certified bums and punishes hard-working tax payers.

Thirdly, the vast majority of immigrants which the Labour party presumes will vote for them are in reality too busy trying to make ends meet because they are unable to get any hand-outs from the state. Sure, they will go and get themselves on the voting register but the only reason is so that they could get a credit card or a personal loan. They won’t have the time to use their franchise because most people just don’t have the time to go in and vote because they are too busy working 16 hours a day, 7 days a week at just under minimum wage, coming home and cooking because they can’t stand microwaveable food, looking after children because they can’t afford to employ a prohibitively expensive child minder (or have that money refunded by the government) and they can’t to leave a friend with the children because the friend’s too busy working 16 –hour days, 7 days a week and relatives are unable to get visas to come and help out.

In reality then, only a small fraction of the immigrant population – asylum seekers, visa rule violators etc – can be considered certified loonies, sorry Labour voters, under this supposed conspiracy.

What’s more, the Labour party’s posturing in recent times – for instance, introducing a tiered system of giving entry clearance to work permit holders and students – has only made matters worse. A system which was meant to cut the number of entry clearances given people, actually resulted in a 30% increase in the number of people cleared for entry into the UK. This is largely because the system depends to such an extent on proper documentation and discourages border agents to think; to make a judgment not only based on documentary evidence but other factors such as the plausibility of an individual’s reason for travelling. Take the recent example seen on UK Border Force – a veritable orgy of unfit border agents in knife-proof jackets, multiple walkie-talkies and waist-belts stuffed with Victorinox multi-tools.

A 22-year-old, fresh faced young Punjabi man who is unable to converse in English and who has the social skills of a blackhead has married a 53-year-old Welsh Grandmother and wants to settle in the UK based on the fact that he is now a dependent of a British citizen. The young lad confesses that this lady ticks all his boxers while the lady professes undying love for her little Chapatti-maker. He was promptly given a visa to settle in Wales. Call me cynical but there’s something that’s just not right about this situation. However, the immigration officer can’t make a judgment call; he needs to make a call based on the documents provided; and the document says that they are genuinely married. A marriage certificate can be bought in Old Delhi for as little as Rs 500.00.

Legitimate immigrants – work permit holders, genuine students, HSMP workers – are, in truth, deeply offended by this sort of thing because they have worked incredibly hard to be able to come to this country in search of a better life. The young Punjabi lad gives us a bad name and a bad name – especially if you’re South Asian – is akin to fornicating with the devil.
- Vijitha Alles