During the recent General Election campaign, I was asked a very good question at the Hayes & Harlington hustings – “With the debate on immigration being driven by negativity, how can we turn immigration from a negative back to being a positive?”
My answer was fairly detailed, but a part of it was reported in some media quarters as ‘silencing the room’ and by some on Twitter as being ‘disgusting’, so with the events of the last week I wish to put the record straight.
The answer, quite simply, is by regaining control of our borders so we can monitor both the quality and quantity of those wishing to come to the UK.
When I was growing up in the seventies and eighties, immigration was running at levels far below those of today. Moreover, before the advent of the European Union in its current form, we had the ability to say who we would and wouldn’t accept in to our country. Because of this, those coming here were predominantly looking to build a better life for themselves through hard work, skill set and integration. In my reply, I pointed to the Ugandan Asians who fled from Idi Amin as a great example of positive immigration, people who have settled and brought with them a tremendous work ethic that has benefitted both our country and their families who are now second and third generation Britons.
The NHS also benefited from immigration in the seventies, with gaps in the service being filled by newcomers taking up positions that we couldn’t fill from our own pool of workers.
Now fast forward to this year. Friends in the NHS have advised me that they can’t recruit workers from outside of the EU to fill vital research positions because of new rules put in by the previous Coalition government, yet the maternity unit at the same hospital is filled with EU migrants who are now entitled to come in to the UK and use the services free of charge. Do I blame them for doing so? Not at all – The problem is caused by the current system allowing this to happen, not by the migrants themselves who are only doing what they are allowed to.
However, with over 600,000 people coming in to the UK last year and Net migration (Increase in population once those leaving has been subtracted from those arriving) at 298,000, a City the size of Hull, then the sheer numbers have turned a positive in our society in to a negative.
My Labour opponent made the housing crisis a big issue during the campaign in Hayes but how can this be tackled when 469,843 migrants in the last 10 years have been allocated either council or housing association property? (Source – National Census). He spoke of building more houses to address the problem, but the pledge of 200,000 new properties in 5 years would not even keep up with the demand from new arrivals, let alone help those already here and struggling on the lengthening waiting lists.
Such a massive increase in population also affects schools places, transport and the environment as well as the housing and NHS as already pointed out.
Then we have the other problem – Our inability to control who is allowed in, which seemed to generate some hostility towards me from a small section of the audience.
But let us look at the facts – I have already pointed out that much needed skilled workers are being turned away purely because of an accident of birth ie they are from outside of the EU. Yet there are numerous cases of convicted criminals from inside of the EU being allowed to walk in to our country and there is nothing our government can do about it under the free movement regulations. On the night, I used the example of Alice Gross, murdered a few miles down the road by a migrant who had already been convicted in his own country of a similar offence and had served a prison sentence for the crime.
This seemed to provoke outrage amongst some but to me the real outrage is that we are barring people from our former Commonwealth countries who wish to come here and SAVE lives yet we allow all and sundry from inside the EU to come here and by not checking and rejecting those with dubious backgrounds it is COSTING lives.
This will continue whilst we remain subservient to the rulings of our political masters in Brussels – Indeed, we learnt only yesterday that the accused in the case of the young lady found in a suitcase in the Grand Union Canal is Thomasz Kocik, another EU national.
Meanwhile, the below story from the Gainsborough Standard has yet to make it to the nationals but has brought criticism from the judge involved in the case of the lack of checks on criminals from the EU being allowed in to our country (In this case, another convicted murderer)
Helping the law abiding
I have a number of friends amongst our immigrant population, both from inside and outside of the EU. What they have in common is that they are all working, are all contributing and have integrated and make a positive contribution to our society. One of these friends is from Romania and is probably the best credit control manager I have had the pleasure of working with. She came here before the restrictions were lifted on the former Eastern European states and now sees the negative headlines in the press about her countrymen – Yet having proper immigration controls would mean that those headlines would never have happened and her positive contribution and that of her fellow countrymen would have been properly recognised rather than buried in the deluge of negative stories about the criminal element who should never have been allowed entry in the first place.
The reaction of the ‘left wing’ press and the likes of broadcasters such as James O’Brien is that we are all guilty of being negative at best and downright xenophobic at worst, but they miss the real truth of the situation – Allowing us to have an ethical and fair immigration policy based around an Australian style points system would turn the negative perception of immigration back in to the positive that it once was and do real justice to those like my friends who enrich our society and make a positive contribution to England in the 21st Century.
This point was firmly drilled home to me on the doorstep whilst helping one of my UKIP colleagues in Thurrock a few weeks ago. I spoke with a Polish gentleman who had come here in 2004, a trained HGV driver who wished to settle down and raise his family in England. For the first few years, everything was going to plan and he was earning enough money to take out a mortgage on a small three bed property. However, in the last few years the massive oversupply in workers coming in has forced his wages down to just £10 per hour, so low that he now has to have a lodger just to cover the mortgage payments. To add insult to injury, because of the poor quality of workers coming in to compete in his sector the EU have now imposed The Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (DCPC) exam, which he has to pay for each year and takes him off the road for a few days to prove that he has a lower skill set than that which he actually possesses – This affects all HGV drivers who have previously passed the far superior UK HGV1 qualifications. Not surprisingly, he advised me that he was voting for UKIP in the election as we understood the problems and were the only political party willing to stand up to the EU and champion the working conditions of people in his industry.
It is time that the conversation on immigration is based on fact and not on negative emotion and poor logic – UKIP will continue to lead the debate and champion the cause of a sensible system that benefits both UK citizens and those wishing to join our society, free of the current discrimination against our Commonwealth cousins and those who we should be welcoming to our shores.