The Blog

Immigration 1: when the media says who is threatened

It's easy to say that immigration has been in the news this week, but in modern Britain, immigration is always in the news. An Englishman's home is, we are told, his castle - the inside is great, the fires are blazing (without any firemen to tend to them), the market is growing (albeit slowly), and the lord is harsh but fair (unless you're an American hedge fund manager); but there's the constant threat of people who want to get in, and who knows what they'll be like? They might be diseased or criminal or just downright stupid.

But some young, radical peacemakers say that we should let more people in. They think it would benefit our culture and create global harmony. Have you heard them talk? Too much ale and not enough work, I fear. Fear not, for the brave knight atop the masthead of the Daily Express is leading a "crusade" to help these youthful dreamers find work.

"Say NO to new EU migrants," his banner proudly proclaims, demanding the serfs petition King David "to defy the EU and keep in place labour market controls on people from Romania and Bulgaria indefinitely and not to let these controls expire on December 31 2013". The hero explains: "With youth unemployment in Britain running at nearly a million, to facilitate a new major migration from Romania and Bulgaria would amount to a betrayal of young British people looking to get on the first rung of the jobs ladder."

For some reason, this caused outrage amongst the peasants. "Daft racists," shouted one. "Say NO to resorting to racism," another burst out. "Say NO to using racism to try and improve flagging sales," a third witticised.

Obviously, there's much debate to be had about whether the Express' comments were honest, xenophobic, or straight up racist, but I'll leave that debate for another post. What I want to shine my brief candle's worth of light on is how the Express completely misdiagnosed the problem of youth unemployment, without consulting any actual youths.

There are certainly some unemployed young adults out there who are xenophobic and do believe that immigration is 'stealing their jobs'. Yet these young adults will often be spouting their parents' own xenophobia, plus, this type of young unemployed are often truly at the bottom of the social pile, without many job prospects even if immigration were nought and we did have a booming economy.

The majority of young unemployed, however, do not fall into that category. There is a massive cohort of unemployed and underemployed university graduates who do not believe that immigration of Bulgarians and Romanians is the key reason for their troubles; on the other hand, it is the immigration of companies. Deutsche Bahn run several of our train operations. EDF Energy are taking a greater role in providing us with household utilities. Car building is financed by the Japanese or the Germans or the Indians or whoever else wishes to take up the helm, seemingly.

These are foreign companies. Companies who themselves are going through tough economic times and are having to cut back on the number of jobs they can finance in their foreign operations. Companies who will find it cheaper to make products back home and ship them over here, or who find it easier to have their customer services and business centres run entirely from abroad. This means that jobs that could exist under British firms in the UK do not exist.

Yet the brave Sir Richard (not really), owner of the Express, is a businessman himself. It's quite simply bad form to go round insulting your fellow businessman or woman like that, as that might affect his business interests in the future. Instead, it's much easier to target those who cannot be identified and do not have a voice.

This is standard business practice, and while it's not very nice, I accept that it exists and that there's not much we can do about it unless you're planning a Russell Brand style revolution. What I object to most is the Express deciding to go on this crusade in the name of the youth. As past student protests, the Occupy movement, and numerous other actions have shown, we are perfectly capable of speaking for ourselves.

I'm certain that many will join me in saying that if this crusade takes place, then not in my name.