Incredibly, we're now heading into the third week of the new year. How did that happen?
While the majority celebrated the end of 2013 and welcomed in 2014, others were dreading, if not actually fearing 1 January. On Twitter and Facebook, some people were truly scared, thinking that "Britain will stop existing as we know it". The reason? Well, the Romano-Bulgarian invasion, of course!
But January 1st came and went and the huge invasion of Bulgarians and Romanians simply did not happen. In fact, it was all a bit of an anti-climax, rather like a wet sparkler that splutters but refuses to ignite.
So what happened with the argument that the UK would be stampeded by a horde of Romanians and Bulgarians just busting to get their hands on free money, free housing and free medical care? Quite simply, it didn't have legs to stand on. As it had been pointed out time and again, those who wanted to come here were already here.
So what now? Well, recently, the leader of the anti-immigration discourse, Nigel Farage, proclaimed that it's better for the Britain to be poorer than to have more immigrants. (Read here:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/immigration/10555158/Id-rather-be-poorer-with-fewer-migrants-Farage-says.html))
This is such an interesting line of approach for various reasons but I am only going to concentrate on one, mainly because I think it hasn't been considered in mainstream media. That is, Nigel Farage is indirectly admitting that immigration makes the UK richer!
Whilst by no means is Farage alone in his anti-immigration rhetoric, it is now widely accepted that he initiated the discourse as the limits to Romanian and Bulgarian movement into the UK were coming to an end. It was part of his anti-EU push and he was heavily reliant on the supposed economic burden that such an "influx" would cause. However, time and time again, it was demonstrated through studies and even Home Office statistics that immigrants actually contribute more to the British economy than their British counterparts and generally depend less on benefits than the British. (Read here: http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/nov/05/migration-target-useless-experts )
A politician would have to be rather foolish to keep banging on about something if all the evidence is against you. Furthermore, only one new Romanian came into the country on January 1st. Hardly what you would consider a burden on the UK economy.
So the tactic needed to change and he told us he would rather see a poorer Britain than to see more immigrants. However, by saying this, he is indirectly conceding what the statistics and studies have been saying all along - that immigration improves the economy!
Quite simply, if less immigrants make you poorer, more immigrants make you richer. And that is precisely what the studies have been saying.
Now, let's not forget that when a politician says "Britain", they are talking about you. (I was about to say "you and me" but given my uncertain situation, I'm not entirely sure I should include myself in that). So, effectively, Farage, a wealthy City stockbroker, is saying he would rather see you poorer than have more immigrants here. And therein lies the worrying part - wealthy people convincing poorer people that they should be even poorer.
The current government (and the opposition) for fear of losing votes to Farage, has been running with the "immigrants are a burden" discourse to win votes back and to justify unpopular cuts to every sector it can get its hands on. People from across the social spectrum, except maybe the wealthiest, have felt these cuts acutely - their bills are higher, their taxes are higher, their incomes are lower. And they are naturally angry about this. And who better to blame than the immigrants? For the politicians immigrants have little political value because, in the majority, immigrants cannot vote. Therefore, immigrants are an easy target when it comes to the blame game.
The Coalition has, for four years now, been going for a hard-line "austerity" approach to tackle the economic disaster created by the banking crisis. People somehow put up with and even agree with the hard-line strategy because there is the promise at the end of it that the economy will grow quickly and we'll all be better off financially. But now it cannot be clearer - if the UK cuts down on immigration, there will be less money for all, the economy's growth will be slower and you will be ultimately poorer. Even Farage concedes!
All that for the sake of not having someone with a funny accent live next door?