Wednesday, May 28, 2014

It was the BBC wot won it for UKIP - and yet...

 I am going to discuss immigration. In the round, in the light of UKIP's success in the European Parliamentary elections. This post is likely to get me into hot water with my Green Party colleagues.

First, nobody can accuse me of being a UKIP sympathiser. I have a well-read post which collects the failings of UKIP and Ukippers. I have been tweeting intensively against UKIP over the election period. My most retweeted tweet : Voting UKIP to get rid of greedy useless politicians is like trying to treat your ulcer by drinking hydrochloric acid.

I have moaned incessantly at the BBC for their blatant puffing of UKIP, and I've signed the 38 Degrees petition calling on the BBC to stop the media blackout of the Green Party. (Have you?)

Yes, UKIP's "success" is down to extraordinary support for, and lack of critical journalistic investigation of, a shambolic single-issue party on the part of the media, especially the BBC.

Yes, UKIP's single obsession, the evils of the European Union, is not felt very strongly as the main issue even by their supporters. Immigration is the issue that motivates them.

And yes, we know that the right wing tabloids have been pumping the immigration issue for years, to give it a salience out of proportion with its impact.

Yes, we know that we are all immigrants when it comes down to it.

We know that immigrants keep the NHS going, that they do low paid jobs that free-born Englishmen would not want to do. (Thus solving the problem of low pay without obliging employers to pay more.)

We know incidentally that the police do not seem particularly interested, considering how easy it would be to identify them,  in catching the "task masters" who are actually slave owners.

Yes, we know that the net impact of immigration on the UK economy is beneficial, (at least until they in turn grow old, and need carers)

We know that net migration is only about 250,000 p.a.

We understand that any one immigrant coming here is one less person living somewhere else on the planet (although if he is moving from a poorer country, his ecological footprint is almost certainly larger as a result of coming here).

We know that the number of British living in the EU almost completely match EU migrants coming here.

And yet...migration is still a problem for our society. Why? Because, with the help of tabloid editors, it stokes the fires of anger and resentment.

It is easy for middle class liberals living in the country to take a tolerant view of immigrants. It is less easy for working class people whose street and community changes rapidly over the course of a few years to be similarly tolerant, especially when they are reading pernicious, inflammatory tabloid stories of immigrants "taking over" housing lists and services.

Yes, the correct response of Government should be to create adequate services across the board. But this is not how this Government thinks and acts.

So the bottom line is that migration generates resentment and anger, and that is a given.
Another "given" is that tabloid journalism and populist politicians trade in emotions, not reality.

If immigration is a problem, they say, it must be stopped. If immigration from the EU is allowed by EU rules, we should leave the EU. Simples.

Viewed in one way, the world is indeed simple. All life forms, including humans, depend on the land for survival. Each area of land can support just so many life forms - so many bacteria, so many fungi, so many insects, so many birds, mammals, and, especially, humans. It is impossible to expand forever into a finite space. The British Isles are a finite space. Therefore we must put an end to our ever increasing human population in our islands.

That is the easy bit. The difficult bit is moving from the present situation of denial and deceit regarding population to a rational framework. The world is a complex system of interrelated forces. It is going to take years before rational thought about this topic becomes mainstream, and even more years before politicians start to act on it. In the meantime, migration will continue, and we have to be realistic and accept it s a given in a modern world where information and transport is easy and cheap.

The bitter paradox is that the tabloid editors who complain most emotionally about immigraton are the self-same editors who dismiss concerns bout foreign wars, foreign poverty and foreign dictators because they have nothing to do with us. But they do have something to do with us, because wars, poverty and dictators cause immigration.

What, in a nutshell, should we do about migration?

  1. Offer humane, rapid asylum to those fleeing persecution, oppression political imprisonment and death, followed by effective action against the dictators who cause that immigration.
  2. Stop war mongering by UK Prime Ministers 
  3. Work against endemic poverty, economic inequality between nations, and the environmental conditions, including global warming, that drive people out of their home countries.
  4. Inform the public (through press TV and radio articles, advertisements and posters) in nations that are sending migrants to Europe, of the dangers and difficulties that they face not just in the journey, but on arrival.
  5. Informing applicants of the European laws that they will be expected to comply with, and the culture that they will be expected to fit in with.
Of course, there is more to be discussed. But at least we need to discuss it. The Green view does include toleration, but it goes further than the standard left-right dialectic, because as ever, Greens must take the widest possible view. In doing so, it is likely that emotions will be stirred, that names will be called, that Godwin's Law will come into play. We shall see. 

More on this blog: 

The Irresistible Force of mathematics meets the Unmoveable Object of freedom to reproduce

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