Yesterday in Woolwich, two men killed a member of the armed forces in a brutal unprovoked attack that is being investigated as an act of terrorism. As racial tensions rise in the wake of this incident, we cannot expect another statement of Britons “welcoming immigration” from the Prime Minister any time soon.
As has become commonplace in the last few years when a religious extremist commits a terrible crime, the people take to social media to cry that “they should all be sent back to where they came from” and how “all Muslims are probably terrorists”. I was shocked at some of the ignorance displayed by my 267 Facebook friends and family, all quite rightly stunned by the appalling scenes played out live on our televisions.
However, there is a more dangerous ignorance being shown by David Cameron. When he stands at a podium to claim that the British people are a tolerant society who welcome immigration, what he is actually saying is that we rely on immigration to complete the gaps in workforces across the land.
In a comment on a friend’s Facebook status last night, someone claimed that immigrant nurses were taking jobs from those born in this country. The inconvenient truth is that if they needed to seek medical attention then they are statistically highly likely to be cared for by an immigrant or a British-born descendant of an immigrant. In 2008, figures from the General Medical Council showed that over 37% of the UK’s registered doctors earned their medical qualification outside Britain. [Source: The Guardian]
Similarly, a 2008 BBC programme investigating high unemployment rates in Peterborough contained many young able men stood outside a job centre bemoaning the fact that “they” were coming over here taking “our” jobs. The reporter found the men work picking fruit but they all refused to accept the positions. If “our” people won’t complete these tasks then, quite rightly, employers are going to look elsewhere. [Source: BBC]
Something that many people seem to have missed is that one of the Woolwich attackers spoke of ordering Cameron to bring back “our troops”. It’s a short sentence in a diatribe of hate speech, but it’s there all the same. This suggests to me that although he may be Muslim, he is conflicted on his own background – he is a British born descendant with a conflict of interest. Regardless of his background, it would be hard to argue that the attackers were not mentally ill, either by virtue of indoctrination or otherwise.
Of course, not everyone on my Facebook timeline held the same opinions. In fact, I’d suggest 90% didn’t mention the attacks at all. I cannot lump everyone I know together as being racist or bigoted as that certainly isn’t the majority. The same can be said of the millions of people who have a faith: acts of terrorism are committed by the minority, not the majority.
However, Cameron needs to rethink his strategy on praising immigration and be less London-centric, the only place in the UK where white Britons populate less than half the city. Like it or not, there is a swelling section of the British population who do not support it. But he needs to have the balls to tell it as it is: yes, there are people in this country who believe we are at bursting point but, frankly, until the British work-shy of all colours and creeds are willing to take the jobs they don’t want to do, we’ll keep bringing in people who ARE willing to do them.
I work for a university whose student admissions are at least 50% international. I have been given medical treatment by doctors of Indian and Pakistani descent. I have had my roads swept by men from Poland and Bulgaria. I have worked for the Home Office and seen first hand the benefits of helping those unfortunate enough to be seeking asylum. I have seen first hand the benefits of positive immigration. But the uncomfortable and inconvenient truth is that not everyone shares these views and the Government needs to recognise this.