UKIP Party leader Nigel Farage appeared on BBC Question Time on Thursday 17th January, which on that particular night was being filmed in Lincoln.
One of the issues being discussed was mass immigration and a local lady from Boston, Rachel Bull, put forward her point of view on how mass immigration was affecting her home town (See below)
On the panel with Nigel was Cambridge University academic and TV presenter Mary Beard, most famous for her BBC 2 show about the Romans. Ms Beard put forward her view that ‘public services can cope’ with a further influx of migrants from Eastern Europe and that there are ‘myths’ surrounding immigration in her counter argument to the personal experiences of Ms Bull.
Ms Beard quoted from a report published by Boston Council and her response can be seen on the video below
Living in an area that has seen a large amount of immigration over the last thirty years, I posted a link to an article from a national newspaper the following day on my political Facebook page and stated that “Mary Beard is typical of the establishment,preferring statistics over eye witness accounts” – This automatically re-posts to my English Patriot Twitter Feed. To my surprise, Ms Beard actually picked up on this and all credit to her for mounting a defence to her point of view in a conversation spanning a few days on the social networking site.
Unfortunately, Twitter is a very difficult medium to have a proper debate on what Mary herself calls a ‘very complicated issue’ with the limitation of 140 characters, so in this post I will outline why I think she is wrong both from statistics and personal experience.
Before I start, I would like to retract the accusation that Ms Beard is typical of the establishment because unlike many she was prepared to debate her point with good grace and in the face of some determined resistance from myself to her line of logic. She has also received some pretty strong abuse over it from some quarters – Whilst I disagree with her point of view, personal insults do nobody any favours and the mass immigration debate needs to be had without unnecessary unpleasantness. After all, how many of us who have laid down the argument against from a logical point of view in terms of numbers and infrastructure capacity been abused as ‘racists’ over the last twenty years?
Above – Mary Beard on BBC Question Time (Photograph courtesy of the BBC)
I am a great believer in the ultimate truth of quoting statistics – The stat’s you get out are only as good as the information you put in. Ms Beard quoted from statistics put out by Boston Borough Council about how they could ‘cope’.
Firstly, you have to ask yourself the following question – How many councils will admit that they can’t cope? In these days of increased media scrutiny, admitting that you can’t cope is tantamount to asking the electorate to give you a good kicking at the next election, especially if your council is made up of predominently the same party who are in power nationally.
Now let’s look at some statistics from other organisations that would refute the argument that is being put forward.
Firstly, there is a report that has come in from a body of the government’s own MP’s on the ‘Fresh Start’ Group in January which states that a quarter of the EU nationals living in the UK are not working. That is above the national average for UK born citizens from all backgrounds, and being EU nationals they are entitled to benefits from a system that our own government is trying to rein in. This flies in the face of Ms Beard’s assertion that the migrants in Lincolnshire are not a drain on the public purse unless they are bucking a national trend.
Even if they are, then they are an isolated case in the overall picture.
Then we have the following figures from the ONS (Office of National Statistics). Taken from 2009, a quarter of all births across the UK were to foreign born mothers – In Newham, East London, 75.7 % of births were accredited to this source. This puts an immense strain on the NHS and will ultimately fuel pressure on school places and then housing. In my own home borough of Hillingdon, the population has grown by 30,000 in ten years – More than three times the government’s own estimated growth figures.
In the last two years, the number of people on the affordable housing waiting list has reached nearly nine thousand (The last printed council figure quoted in the Gazette in September 2011 was 7586) , whilst the council are now looking at building on green belt land to satisfy predicted demand for primary school places.
Our National Health Service has been put under tremendous pressure by the amount of migrants using it. Alongside the increase in usage of maternity services, £45,000 per day is spent on translation services as uncovered by a Freedom of Information request submitted by Tory MP Nick De Bois reported in the Express in July of last year.
Taxpayers suffering from cancer in England have also been denied life saving drugs such as Abiroterone and Herceptin due to cost, yet the European Court of Human Rights has insisted that migrants should be treated for HIV/AIDS on the NHS – A move supported by the government as it will ‘Reduce the risk of Britons being infected’. I think better border controls are probably a less expensive way of stopping Britons becoming infected, but that is just my point of view.
We have also seen in recent years the resurgence of diseases such as TB that had been successfully eradicated from our country in the seventies and eighties by innoculation programmes – Another direct result of uncontrolled immigration where health checks are not carried out due to non-existent border controls.
Then we have the ridiculous situation where women from countries such as Ireland and Poland where abortion is banned can come to the UK to have the procedure carried out and then hop back on the plane leaving the NHS to pick up the tab.
The Olympic Games in London last year was supposed to be a pick me up to the local economy in the face of austerity. Large amounts of public funding were put in to building the stadia and facilities to host the games, not least on the showpiece stadium in Stratford.
Yet figures from The Olympic Delivery Agency showed that of over six thousand jobs on the construction of the main site, less than a thousand went to UK born construction workers. Moreover, much of the public money going in to pay wages was sent overseas to fund the families of the migrant workers rather than being spent in the local community, thus depriving the area of additional job creation.
It is a pattern that has been repeated frequently in the last ten years, with migrant workers living five and six to a house sharing the bills and thus being able to easily undercut skilled tradesmen already here with mortgages to pay and families to keep. I have friends locally in trades including plumbing,plastering and electrical who tell me that they are earning less now than they were fifteen years ago whilst their overheads both in their working and personal lives have increased dramatically.
But it is not just in the construction trade that this has happened. My friend Kevin spent thousands of pounds of his own money on passing the HGV class 1 qualification so he could drive large lorries. He is now one of just two English drivers left within his company as the management have employed far cheaper Eastern European drivers who have not had to go through the rigorous training that he did and can drive on our roads with a basic tractor license from their own countries. Kevin now gets the difficult jobs as his Polish colleagues are unable to manoeuvre the large vehicles around the tighter streets on his route, whilst overtime and pay rises are out of the question. Road safety is also secondary to the EU free movement of workers regulations in cases such as this.
Something that also needs to be brought in to the equation and cannot be covered by statistics is the ‘black economy’, where cheap migrant labour is imported and the workers live in sub standard and often illegal accommodation. I have seen this for myself locally when I stayed over at a flat above a previous employers shop in neighbouring Southall.
Getting up early in the morning, I viewed numerous people leaving what appeared to be extensions on the back of houses from my vantage point in the first floor flat and getting in to the back of white vans. When I asked my friend Hardeep the next day what was going on, he advised me that this is a regular occurence and that the people I had seen were going out to work on the building sites in the area. Many of these workers are not registered and paid ‘cash in hand’, thus avoiding tax and keeping their employers overheads down – Employers who can then undercut other firms who are tendering legitimately for the same work.
This practice not only damages the economy, it also exploits the migrant workers who in many cases have come looking to better the lives of themselves and their families. This practice has also spread and created a situation in my own borough of Hillingdon where it is referred to as ‘beds in sheds’, a phenomenon that caused a local man to document information and pass it to me showing how planning has been abused to further the spread of this particular problem. The file has also been passed to one of the local MP’s and the council, who have claimed that they can’t track what is happening – A clear case of burying their heads in the sand on an issue that affects local communities, the environment, the employment market and also the wellbeing of those being abused in the labour market in this way.
One of the areas where the effects of mass immigration in my locality are most keenly felt is in the availability of housing.
When the Conservative government of the day brought in right to buy of the council housing stock, they made the fundamental mistake of not taking the money raised and re-investing in new stock for the next generation. This has now been compounded by open-door immigration – With Heathrow Airport in the borough, we are often on the front line of any new influx.
The figures are pretty damning – The English Housing Survey as reported by Migrationwatch states that around 20% of all the social housing stock in London is occupied by foreign nationals.
Another survey based around ONS statistics from 2008 that Migrationwatch published shows the percentage of population living in social housing broken down in to ethnic groupings – Whilst UK born residents are shown at 17%, our EU partners Portugal have a 40% rate of dependency on social housing in the survey, whilst Turkey (Whom Prime Minister David Cameron wants to join the EU) have a 49% dependency – Somali born residents are quoted at a massive 80%. That final figure is particularly relevant to us in Hillingdon as we have a fast growing Somali community, most notably in Hayes and the south of the borough. Unfortunately, as picked up on by The Mail last month, such surveys in the future may be meaningless as councils are increasingly leaving out the nationalities of those they place in social housing as it is ‘politically sensitive’.
But enough of the statistics, which I have already stated earlier can be interpreted in many ways and are not always accurate – What of the reality on the ground, the real stories that affect people such as Rachel Bull?
My own family has been moved around various accomodation in Hillingdon in the private rented sector. Because both my wife and myself work, we are not considered a priority for Hillingdon Council and because of the high price of property we can’t afford a mortgage. Saving up for a large deposit is definitely a no go as the private rents are increasing at such a rate that over half of our income goes just to pay rent before other bills are taken in to consideration.
What is particularly galling is that many times we have been moved it has been down to the council needing property for their ‘category A on need’ clients and out-bidding us on our existing property. Before we met, my wife was moved out of a property in Hayes at the end of her lease as the landlord was being paid more by the council to take a Somalian family, I was evicted from Yeading to make way for Kosovan refugees and since we met and married we have been moved from Hayes End Drive to make way for an Asian family and from our last house as the landlord wanted to put foreign students in. This is not the fault of the immigrants, but of the ridiculous system that the council uses to allocate on ‘need’.
A prime example that I have seen at first hand is the situation of one of my best friends. When his girlfriend became accidentally pregnant, they started to look for a property they could live in together. Despite his wages being insufficient for a mortgage, the council would do nothing.
The flat they found that they could afford was cold and damp,leading to their young son becoming ill and needing major surgery – Still Hillingdon Council would do nothing until they got a letter from the surgeon who carried out his life saving operation stating that unless they housed the family in decent accomodation he would hold the council responsible for the childs death. (Amazing how the thought of litigation can focus the mind of the most stubborn Council!)
They were in emergency housing for TEN YEARS, whilst all around them migrants were coming on to the estate and being re-homed within months. When they finally got the permanent home they had waited for,it was in a sorry state and we all pitched in to help them renovate it.
Living opposite them in a council property are a migrant family who my friend talks with. They have not worked since entering the UK, and the wife recently had their seventh child. The husband excitedly told my friend that the council are moving them soon as the house has become ‘too small’ for his growing family. They also have a late model people carrier sat on their drive that my firend, who works and pays tax, would struggle to afford!
With the EU demanding that the borders are opened fully to Bulgarian and Romanian migrants from 1st January next year, this is a situation that can only get worse as housing availability dwindles and prices rise – Indeed, this has not only fuelled the ‘beds in sheds’ debacle but neighbouring Southall now has people sleeping rough in groups in parts of the town.
Above – Migrants picking out clothing from bags left outside a charity shop in Harlington last year
Mass Immigration – A problem for us all
I hope that Mary Beard now gets some idea of what ordinary people are seeing as their towns and cities are transformed from the communities we knew barely twenty years ago.
Ultimately, nobody benefits from this in the long term – Locals are crowded out and see their standard of living drop, the migrants that work are frequently exploited and end up with a poor standard of life whilst as taxpayers we all see the amount we pay to both local and central government go up as a direct result of the pressures that have been laid out in this post.
Until we leave the EU, regain control of our borders and introduce an Australian style points system that limits the numbers coming to those that our communities can absorb and with skills that benefit all, then the subject of mass uncontrolled immigration will continue to be a contentious issue at the top of the political agenda.
More importantly, as numbers grow, it will be an issue that spreads to university towns such as Cambridge and, as Mary will find out, becomes a problem affecting us all.