David Brider (davidbrider) wrote,
David Brider

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Deep thinky thoughts

You know what I don't get? And this is something that's been troubling me for some time, although it's particularly relevant following the (IMO) disastrous EU referendum campaign...

What I don't get is this...if I move house to just down the road from where I live, nobody would bat an eyelid; some people might think (and after the amount of effort Sarah and I put into moving to Hemel, I'd agree) that it's a lot of hard work for moving such a short distance, but I've known siilar things happen - my dad and his family in north London moved to somewhere about two minutes drive away (not quite down the road but not far off), my sister moved out of the home we grew up in and is now - admittedly after at least a couple of other places in between - a couple of minutes walk along the same street, and one of my friends has just moved next door to where she had been living.

If I move house to somewhere else in the town in which I live, again, nobody is likely to object. If I move house to a different town, or a different county, it's much the same.

And yet...if I - or to keep it nice and general, if someone - moves to a different country, then sometimes, depending on who it is and where they've moved from and where they're moving to, people object to this in the strongest possible terms. Immigration is, for some people, not to be tolerated, and...I just don't get why. Sometimes, the argument might be that they're "coming over here and stealing our jobs". This, it has been pointed out, isn't really accurate - if you lose your job, it's probably because you weren't much good at it. If someone foreign to these shores moves here and gets a job, it's probably because they had an impressive CV, had the skills and abilities the employer was looking for, and could start in the job during the time frame required by the employer.

On the other hand, there's the myth of Schrödinger's Immigrant - coming over here to steal our jobs, and also being given a small fortune in benefits. And yet, despite some of the scare stories printed in tat rags like the Daily Mail, there doesn't seem to be any truth in these claims. There's no way someone who hasn't lived in the UK could claim more in benefits than someone who's lived in this country all their life and been paying NI contributions; it's *possible* (I genuinely don't know) that EU citizens may be able to make UK benefits claims based on payments made overseas - but again, they're not going to be able to make claims over and above those made to UK citizens.

It's worth bearing in mind that the "coming here to take our jobs" accusation can also be levelled, with the same degree of accuracy, at people moving from one part of the UK to another. Many people might move to another town or city to be nearer to a job they've recently got, or to give themselves a better chance of getting a job. And yeah, both of those are things which people from overseas might do. Again, though, neither of those are actually *stealing* a job - one involves a job you already have, whilst the other involves taking the chance that the employment situation in the place you're going to will be better than that in the place you've come from. Personally, I wouldn't want to move to a neighbouring town for that kind of risk, never mind to another country entirely. But if someone does that, good luck to them.

And then there's the notion that people moving from country A to country B will somehow destroy country B's culture. I don't know - will it? People arriving in England from somewhere further afield may bring with them all sorts of new culture - cuisine, fashion, music, art, literature, etc. - but that doesn't destroy the indiginous culture, it just adds to it. Anything that's good will last. Anything that's not good, won't last. There's a reason why Blake's 7 and the works of Dennis Potter are loved and remembered all these years on, whilst Come Back Mrs Noah and The Black and White Minstrel Show aren't, and immigration isn't going to change that

Then there's religion. Some people are worried that Muslims coming to the UK are going to somehow lead to a situation where Muslims will make up 50% of the UK's population by 2050 (highly unlikely). More generally there's a notion that the UK is a Christian country and that allowing Muslims into the country will somehow ruin that. The first part of that is debatable - I'd argue that there's no such thing as a Christian country, because only people can be Christians, countries can't. And if you want to say, well, the UK has a majority Christian population - true, if you measure that in terms of people who declared their faith to be Christian on the latest census. But in terms of church attendance and affiliation, the numbers of Christians in this country have been dwindling for years. An increase in the numbers of Muslims in the country will have some sort of effect on that, sure, but it'll take a lot to throw the numbers our considerably. And even if, eventually, that does happen - so what? As with culture - the good will last, the bad won't.

And finally, there's terrorism. Obviously, not all terrorists are immigrants, but some are. Same as not all terrorists are Muslims, but some are, and not all Muslims are terrorists, but some are. And to people who object to immigration on the basis that they don't want terrorists coming over here, I'd say - let the security services do their job. But don't assume that by stopping or curtailing immigration, you're suddenly going to put an end to terrorism. I don't believe that any known, suspected terrorist should be allowed to move from one country to another through legal channels. But, I'm going to hazard a guess here (yes, I'll admit, I've not looked this up...) - I'm pretty sure that they're already prevented from doing so...

Really, for me, the bottom line is, people are people. I really don't care much if the people I meet and interact with come from the same area from me, or if they've moved here from a different street, a different town, a different county, a different country, or a different continent. Okay, as I said before - don't allow terrorists free passage; I'd also bar known wanted criminals from migrating, and people who need to be quarantined for health reasons. But apart from that, I strongly believe that people should have the freedom to move from one country to another for whatever reason they choose. And I genuinely can't understand why, for some, migration is such an issue...

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