Flying into a political storm

The political hot potato that is immigration and the coverage of the issue in the press is a classic case of the chicken and the egg – which came first. Are papers simply reflecting the angst of an indigenous population concerned their nation is being swamped with migrants on the hunt for jobs, benefits and free health care, or does press coverage whip up hysteria about an issue that really has very little impact on the average person. As always the truth probably lies somewhere in middle.

I’m an unashamed fan of migration and migrants – because ultimately we are all migrants if we look back far enough in our own family trees. And to misquote Tony Benn he said you can gauge the quality of a Government by the compassion it shows to refugees – because that’s the way they’d treat the rest of us if they could get away with it. If you use that yardstick it doesn’t give the present administration a five star rating.

However, mistakes have been made and many of them were committed by the New Labour luvvies who were all too happy to have enthusiastic and cheap immigrant nannies, plumbers and waiters make their lives easier. Nobody really wanted to address the issues of how this pool of cheap labour impacted on the life chances of those already struggling towards at the bottom, who end up lashing out at what they see as the immediate problem of immigration instead of the lazy political system that has let them down.



But I still think it is great that we’ve had a black England football captain, Muslims play for our cricket team, almost every high street has a Polish deli and the national dish is chicken tikka masala.

However, those people who want to put up the barricades and say this nation is just for us do get a lot of ammunition by officials either hamstrung by crazy rules or who just make elementary blunders. Exhibit one this week was a story about how Serco, who were contracted by the Home Office to transport a number of migrants from near Heathrow to Manchester, hired a £5,000 stretch Hummer limo for the journey. It seems so mad that if you dreamt it you’d think it was ridiculous.

On the back of that story I unearthed some figures about the cost of flying illegal migrants and foreign prisoners back to their homelands. The costs are inflated because much of the time the Home Office charters whole planes and then jets half way around the world with virtually nobody in the seats. It is all fuel on the fire to those who are anti immigration. What we should try to remember is that for each of these ridiculous stories there are many more positive tales of migrants working hard, contributing to our economy and making the country a better place for us all.

I’ve provided some links below to some of the documents that were used as source material for the Daily Mail splash.

FOI 34891 FOI 31100 Reply FOI 22088 Enforced Removals by Charter Flights PQ Deportation

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