On the 5th of March 2013 I wrote to Nick Clegg urging him to speak in favour of migration instead of ignoring the research. I left the Lib Dems soon after once I realised that they were not interested in speaking the truth but more worried about pandering to fears. Here is my letter:
Dear Mr Clegg,
I have read about the latest government proposals over benefits for immigrants and I am shocked that the Liberal Democrats do not seem to be opposing the changes. The whole debate on immigration has been dominated by negative and hateful rhetoric for many years. I have been living in the UK for over 15 years where I have studied, worked and served as a Liberal Democrat councillor. During my years as a councillor, I have never heard my constituents mentioning my nationality. Yet, the media and political parties have legitimised a discourse that is narrow-minded, racist and bigoted.
The loss of confidence in the immigration system is not a result of Labour’s miscalculation of possible Polish immigrants, as you suggested in an interview, but the constant negative rhetoric over immigration and foreigners, and the inability of implementing effective policies. Areport by the Migration Observatory of the University of Oxford found that public opinion in Britain is more strongly opposed to immigration than public opinion in other comparable European and North American countries. Political parties are directly responsible for this.
Another report by the Migration Observatory found that the net fiscal contribution of migrants is higher than the UK-born value. In 2003-2004 the net fiscal contribution of migrants was negative, however it was less negative than that of the UK-born individuals. An LSE report found that immigrants are generally younger and better educated than British-born. They tend to be employed and less likely to live in social housing. There is little evidence of an overall negative impact on jobs and wages.
A recent Home Office report (N. 68, November 2012) reported on the emigration from the UK. In 2011, 57% of the people emigrating from the UK were EU and non-EU citizens. The “migration of EU citizens is more ‘circular’ than of non-EU citizens”. Thus, the ‘threat’, if there ever was one, of a surge of immigrants from Bulgaria and Romania lacks evidence.
Immigration rhetoric has only produced bad policies, including the revenue-making test and ceremony for British naturalisation, not to mention its absurd and ideological questions. The way successive governments have tried to define ‘Britishness’ has bordered on racist. I do not believe the government propaganda reflects the Britain I know, which is far more liberal than its political parties and media.
Considering that “the UK ranks eighth highest in the world in terms of the number of its nationals living abroad”, the British government should welcome and support new immigrants. It is when one feels valued that one is encouraged to give back. Leaving one’s country is always difficult and painful. This should not be exacerbated by spite and discrimination. The government proposals go against fundamental liberal principles, European citizenship and, above all, human dignity. Are the Liberal Democrats capitulating to the same xenophobia?