Apr 222010

Just some brief remarks, because I expended most of my rage by silently live-tweeting.

There were two main things that struck me about what the party leaders had to say.

The first was something Brown said about an hour into the debate: that if the voters realised how much of their daily lives was affected by government policy, they would be a lot more politically engaged. Someone had asked about coalition governments, hung parliaments, and voter turnout, and his response was to point out that income, benefits, housing, the environment, business, crime, social cohesion, etc. etc. etc. were all inextricably linked to government policy and action.

Frankly, I was horrified. If your argument that people should exercise their vote is that government affects everything in their lives, you’re not exactly pointing out a positive there. Unfortunately, I think he’s right. I don’t like it, mind, but he wasn’t misrepresenting the truth (or whatever is the parliamentary language for lying). The fact of the matter is that he is right. Government in this country does have an impact on almost every aspect of people’s lives. And that is profoundly depressing.

Oddly enough, the other thing that really gripped my wick was also a Brownism. I expected not to have any reaction to Brown – I thought I was completely insensitised – but actually I found what he had to say more interesting (if also more objectionable) than the other two know-nothings on stage with him.

During the question on immigration, roughly 20 minutes before the end of the debate, Brown was defending Labour’s points system (introduced less than two years ago, by the way) by claiming that it made sure that the only non-EU immigrants who came here (legally) were ones with necessary skills.

I beg to differ, my friends. Having gone through the torturous process of the new points system, I can say with absolute certainty that it has nothing to do with skills and everything to do with wealth.

Now, some of you may argue that wealth is a good indicator of skills, and that showing a high previous income roughly correlates with having useful skills. Perhaps so.

But not if your job is highly skilled (in the general, wishy-washy sense) but low-paid. I was a teacher. Britain had a teacher shortage. Before the introduction of the points system, teachers could immigrate here quite easily. After it, only teachers of maths and sciences can do so easily, even though the shortage of teachers has not diminished, regardless of the subject being taught. The ‘skills-based’ points system application never enquired as to my profession or the skills necessary to work in it. It wanted to know how many degrees I had, and how much money I had earned in the previous twelvemonth.

I was fortunate in that I had been earning in sterling during that time. But an American, or Canadian, or Australian teacher wanting to come here would have been in a pickle (and I’m sure many were) because of the exchange rates. Teachers in those countries are paid roughly the same number amount as teachers in the UK. So, for example, a teacher in the UK might earn £25,000 p.a., while a teacher in the US, Canada, or Australia might earn $25,000 p.a.

But the ‘skills-based’ points system only considers your earnings in pounds sterling. So a quite respectable wage in the other Anglosphere countries becomes miniscule under this system, because it has to be converted into pounds sterling. When I first applied for my ‘skills-based’ points system work permit, the exchange rate was roughly £1.90 = £1.00. That $25,000 an American teacher might have been earning would only count, under the points system, as £13,000 – not enough to earn even a single point in the ‘previous earnings’ section of the application.

The honest-to-God truth is that Labour’s points system gives the highest rewards to those who have earned the most money, not those who have the most necessary skills. Third-world kleptocrats would have no problem immigrating to the UK, whereas skilled professionals earning what would be considered huge amounts in their native countries would be turned away because the points system measures earnings in pounds sterling, not the average wage in the country of origin.

The other thing I’d like to point out regarding Labour’s points system is that it gives huge advantage to those who have an MBA. Many, many people on the left wing are big fans of Labour because they have the impression that Labour will stick it to the evil capitalists. They do not realise that Labour’s immigration system is now designed specifically to favour those evil capitalists: an MBA will automatically grant a person 80% of the points they need to immigrate here. Add into that the points you gain for knowing English, and someone with an MBA will waltz into the UK, way ahead of doctors, nurses, teachers, blue-collar workers, etc – the very people the left wing are supposed to be supporting.

Now, obviously I don’t care much about the massive advantage MBAs have in the British immigration system. Businesspeople are all well and good. But I found that, in the reality of Labour’s ‘skills-based’ points system, it no longer profited me to be a teacher. Instead, I have gone into evil capitalism. This country, with its dire shortage of teachers, has lost a skilled and experienced teacher because it treated me like a piece of foreign shit: not as worthy as a businessperson, and not nearly as worthy as a native Briton, despite the kind of bottom-feeding scum who are native to this country and contribute nothing to it in the way of hard work, taxes, or civil behaviour. This government (and all prospective governments) has done everything it can in the past two years to reinforce their view that compared to even the shittiest British wastrel imaginable, I am inferior. There are Britons who have never worked or paid taxes – I do. There are Britons who are criminals – I’m not. There are Britons who hate me, as part of a general ‘inferior’ class, because I was not born on this soil and because they think I’m stealing something from them, either a job or resources, or because I’m diluting their pristine and delightful culture that… treats immigrants like shit.

I did not choose to come to this country out of romantic Anglophilia or anything like that. I came here because, in order to do my post-graduate degree, I needed documents archived in British libraries and it made more sense to get the degree here than to do inordinate amounts of travelling from the US. I stayed because, for the most part, I like the British people and I like British culture. I would certainly never do anything to harm either.

But I get more and more demoralised by the fact that a lot of British people, most of whom are perfectly happy to have me in their country, nevertheless go on about how ‘something must be done’ about all of these fucking immigrants. And they say it without realising just how hard it is, in reality, to be a legal immigrant in this country. They seem to have this idea that immigrants are just strolling over the border and doing whatever they please – and I can state without reservation that for 99% of immigrants, that is just not the case. It’s hard to immigrate here. And I’m not saying that’s wrong.

What I am saying is that none of the parties – none – are going to fix it in any reasonable, humane way. Cameron and the Tories want an arbitrary quota. Clegg and the Lib Dems want to intern migrants in particular regions. And the Labour party has already shown its fascist colours in making their points system overtly partial to wealthy businesspeople rather than, as Brown disingenuously avers, the highly skilled.

So let’s cease the lies, shall we? Forget complaining about racism towards immigrants. Let’s all just admit that the vast majority of British people are xenophobic hypocrites who preach endlessly about social justice but then vote to prop up an immigration system that is manifestly socially unjust. Oh yes, everyone has a right to education, healthcare, a living, blah blah, except immigrants. They can get to fuck. They’re stealing benefits that should be reserved for native Britons. And if they come here and work and pay taxes, then they’re stealing jobs. And if they come here as independently wealthy taxpayers, they’re diluting the culture.

Immigrants can’t win. And the three fuckers leaders have made that abundantly clear.

If I had the vote, I’d vote for whoever acknowledged that the vast majority of non-European immigrants subsidise your fucking state and come here because they want to be part of British culture.

But since I can’t vote, I simply have to ask the rest of you British people, with all sincerity and no small amount of self-interest: consider what the immigration system here is really like. Take a look at the UKBA website and see if you, as I did, could sort yourself out without a solicitor or immigration advisor. Ask yourself if you would be willing to do what I did to get a visa. Ask yourself if your boyfriend, girlfriend, or whatever would be willing to do what DK did for me. Consider whether you earn the minimum of roughly £22,000 p.a. that a foreigner needs to earn to get a work permit here, or whether you have have the master’s degree you would need. Really put yourself in an immigrant’s shoes. And then, when inevitably some of you discover that if you were an immigrant you would be turned away with a contemptuous laugh, give a thought to how you vote.

There are more people in Britain than simply Britons. Most of us have no say in this election. We are entirely at the mercy of whatever government is in power. If you have no preference yourself, consider what our preference might be. One of the primary precepts of libertarianism is that all people are human and equal, regardless of race, creed, gender, or nationality. Yes, we came to Britain knowing we wouldn’t have the vote. But I think most of us would like to think that the British are humane enough to consider us when making their decision at the polling station. We, the foreign minority, rely on you to protect us. Please don’t let us down.

  30 Responses to “Second leaders’ debate”

  1. I really couldn’t agree more. The whole thing makes me feel profoundly queasy. Even the Lib Dems are Tough On Immigration (look at how much the others try to capitalise on just the amnesty) Any pro-immigration statement by any politician is now considered an electoral liability. Disgusting.

  2. I agree. Immigration is a topic where I despair almost daily.

    Sensible policies are spat on like the Amnesty for illegal immigrants despite the alternative being… what exactly? Magically locating, magically catching and magically teleporting the immigrants out? While bankrupting all the business that employ them. Of course the alternative is bankrupting all the business that employ them and the state in the process trying to catch them. Great plan guys!

    Sorry, from the British about our immigration system. (But at least the beer’s good once you’re here)

    • Thank you – that means a great deal.

      And yes, the beer is very good. I’m quite partial to real ales. 😉

  3. I knew it was bad, but not that bad. You are right, our attitudes to immigrants is a national disgrace and we should be ashamed of ourselves. We used to be proud that people chose to come and live here, especially those seeking asylum.

    On your specific points:

    The issue of past twelve month’s salary is irrelevant at best or dangerous at worse; are we prepared to turn away great teachers because they chose to spend a couple of years teaching in the third world? This is just a typical bureaucratic tick-box response to a politicians’ knee jerk reaction to a Daily Mail “something must be done” headline.

    The attitude towards MBA’s is an even bigger disgrace. At one time you had to have a successful 10 year career on our CV before you would be accepted by a business school. Now you can get one before you even start a career. I worked in India in the mid 90’s just as they had realised that socialism doesn’t work. They were building management schools by the score and turning out MBA’s like a sausage factory. We used to use MBA’s to deliver mobile phone bills by hand because the postal system didn’t work and these MBA’s couldn’t get work elsewhere.Nothing personal but that should not be a qualification in any restrictive imigration system.

    As for the Borders Agency and Border Guards, the names themselves are creepy and imply not only keeping people out but, like prison guards, keeping people in. Not something that should even be contemplated.

    What can we do? DK’s post on the subject reflects something I have thought for a long time. We could also try more open trade with countries, especially poor ones, that way people won’t need to leave just to make a living.

    Just a thought, but I wonder how many good people we have lost because their wives/husbands weren’t allowed to settle so they buggered off somewhere else? I’ll bet is a goodly few and I hope you and Chris are never put in that position.

  4. Re my final point. Last night I was at a birthday party for an old colleague and friend. He had flown in from the USA where his wife is leading heart surgeon but on a restricted visa. This means my friend cannot work.

    Give that he has a PhD in technology and innovation, has been a very senior figure in a number of consultancies and businesses and is very very hard working this is crass stupidity. Now two countries have been denied his skills. Cutting off their noses to spit their faces, as a my grandmother would have said.

    Again, I wonder how many similar cases we have in this country.

  5. It does seem to me that the ‘problem’ of immigration is a red herring that can stir irrational anger quite easily – if in doubt, find the easiest bogeyman and distract attention from actual problems. The best type of ‘political football’ as they say in the Thick of It…

    I wouldn’t really want to come here though. What’s it like emigrating to the US?

    • It’s really not that much easier, to be honest. Our government plays on the same paranoia of immigrants. However, it’s more racially charged. That is, a Briton is more likely to succeed because of the close relationship between our countries than, say, a Mexican. The xenophobia here is derived from our porous border with Mexico and the idea that they come here and dodge taxes. My stance is, if you can sneak in, find a solid job to support your family AND avoid income tax, then more power to you. Frankly, I’d do it if I could.

      But yeah, immigration is characterized and impeded similarly here.

  6. I went to my foreign-born wife’s citizenship ceremony. She is very enthusiastic about Britain and the opportunities it offers for hard work and its rewards, compared to the communist state she has escaped from. We had to listen to a dreary bureaucrat, standing in for the lord lieutenant of the county, drone on about the delights of local industrial estates, breweries, shopping centres, ignoring the city of Oxford where the ceremony was held, so as not to be prejudiced against the rest of the county.
    Nothing to welcome the new citizens (dangerous to be seen to be favourable to immigration), nothing to reflect a pride in Britain (too political), nothing to underscore the enormous contribution that immigrants, and the children of immigrants, have made to the UK (e.g. Winston Churchill).
    Everybody had to shake the hand of the dreary bureaucrat in turn, and be presented with an empty red box. Nobody knew what it was for, but all kept quiet. I wish someone had shouted ‘please miss, someone has stolen my pen!’. Perhaps it was to keep the appropriate piece of paper in.
    That’s another foot shot off then, not many left now. Pathetic.

  7. “I wouldn’t really want to come here though. What’s it like emigrating to the US?”

    A British Bella would be only admitted into the US as the spouse or close relative of a US citizen or permanent resident, or as the spouse of someone admitted on an L1 (intracompany transfer) visa.

    And if the latter she would not be permitted to work.

    The USA has no equivalent of the Tier 1 scheme that Bella is so upset about. They have more sense than to introduce such a harebrained scheme.

    • “The USA has no equivalent of the Tier 1 scheme that Bella is so upset about. They have more sense than to introduce such a harebrained scheme.”

      I wouldn’t give them credit for that. My guess is the feds simply haven’t thought of it yet since they’re trying to regain lost ground in the race against Britain to wipe out our liberties.

      • The US has its own migration insanity in the form of the H1-B visa scheme which over the last 15 years has effectively wiped out the tech sector as an employment option for Americans.

        The UK’s Tier 1 scheme is even more perverse. Not only it is open to any of the millions who graduate each year from universities throughout the third world, but anyone who can accrue the required number of points (which isn’t very hard no matter what Bella claims) will be admitted whether they have a job to go to or not.

        • “whether they have a job to go to or not”

          Yes, Dan. That’s sort of the point of the Tier 1 visa. Otherwise Britain would have no self-employed immigrants or immigrant small-business owners. ‘Cause you see, sometimes immigrants come here to work and end up creating jobs for the British.

          • Bella – I have an open challenge on the table for anyone, immigration enthusiast or not, who can point to a business enterprise started from scratch by a post-WWII migrant which has resulted in the creation of 500 or more jobs for native Britons.

            It’s still open.

          • And that will prove what, exactly?

            Even a cursory glance through the top 500 British companies shows that most of them are either foreign, or started in some form prior to WWII.

          • Can you point to any that have been started from scratch by a post-WWII migrants, whose entrepreneural skills are so widely lauded by the immigration industry?

            Just one will do.

            The truth of the matter is that recent migrant entrepreneurs tend to employ other migrants, the 100,000 workers in the curry industry being just the most obvious case in point.

          • The immigration industry? Well, okay. But that’s not really germane to the discussion. Every immigrant who spends money here contributes to the employment of British and non-British alike. Migrants are, after all, just other people. I don’t see that it matters whether they add to the economic happiness of the British, so long as they don’t detract from it.

            The whole argument, of course, is that they do in fact detract, in some way, from the glorious life native British would otherwise be leading. And since I can’t prove a negative, there’s no point in challenging that position any further.

          • The money-spending migrant is a familiar prop in the ‘GDP is Good’ argument. However if we were to pursue that to its logical conclusion, we would then need to conclude that the optimal migration strategy would be to invite the entire population of the third world to come join us, since the more migrants the more jobs, and more is always better.

            As a matter of actual fact, contemporary mainstream economic theory holds that migration will only be beneficial for a destination country when migrants earn more money than the settled population, on average, and they skills that are different and complementary to those of the natives. Any migrant who does not fit this template is either substitutive (ie displaces a native) or economically parasitic, or both.

            This does not account for the capital cost of providing the supporting infrastructure for mass migration, a subject which is a curiously neglected.

            And don’t worry about failing the challenge, you are by no means the first.

          • Incidentally Bella, I took a look at the Entrepreneur section of the Tier 1 application. The principal requirement is to have £200K in a UK account. UKBA don’t seem to have any interest on what sort of business you intend to create or invest in, at least on the initial application.

            Once in I could blow it all on nags and birds and they’d be none the wiser until I came to claim ILR. At that point maybe I wouldn’t bother and just claim asylum instead since the chances of being turfed out then would be infinitesimal.

          • Good deal. Carry on proving my point that the application is about wealth, not skill. I’m much obliged.

          • I’m more than happy to provide evidence of the daftness of Britain’s ‘managed’ migration system.

  8. […] Bella Gerens, justifiably angry following last night’s debate. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)The Curious Case of Dana AliAnother good post on migration […]

  9. I am an elderly Englishman living in England. I quite like things as they were. We have imported millions of people in the last decade or so. Being English, I am tolerant and decent and can see that we cannot deport them all. So we are on a roller coaster of social and cultural change and I don’t believe it can be stopped. Perhaps it will all turn out for the best – who knows? But however it turns out, it won’t be the culture, country and society that Bella says she loves.

    The thing that sticks in my throat is that I wasn’t asked. I thought this was my country – apparently not.

    • That’s not really fair there, Envelope. The culture, country and society I love is the one I have experienced – all within the last 5 years. The only Britain I know is the one you seem not to like.

      • It is not a question of not liking it – more that I liked it as it was. I think we are committed to major cultural and social changes and I was not asked if I wanted to do that. It is not that it could not be prevented, rather that the establishment couldn’t be bothered. You say you like the place as it is now – but it is not going to stay that way is it?

        • I see your point, but it does still leave me rather cold, I’m afraid. I don’t know what Britain was like ‘as it was,’ so I can’t argue with your preference there. I might have liked that too – who can know? But culture changes all the time. All cultures have good points and bad. British culture may have lost some lovely features, but it may also have gained some new ones.

          And only the British people themselves can make ‘the establishment’ change its ways. There are many things wrong with the establishment here, of course – only your votes can do something about that. Or, as seems to be the case now, your public opinion. And public opinion seems to be saying that since the establishment has been very kind toward immigrants over the last decade, it’s now time to be hardly kind at all. Surely there is a humane point in between those extremes where immigrants can be valued as productive members of society, retaining their cultural backgrounds whilst adopting core British values too?

          That would, of course, necessitate identifying those core British values we want every immigrant to adopt. I, of course, am not really qualified to do this, but I’d be obliged if you made a few suggestions. For example, one big complaint about some groups of immigrants is that they are actively opposed to free speech, or democracy, or treating women as equals. Would those things count as core British values necessary for cultural integration? This is not a facetious remark – I would really be interested to see what your list might be.

          There is one caveat, though: any value or aspect of culture which native British themselves are not in agreement about doesn’t really count as a ‘core’ value. And don’t forget as well that the Scots, Welsh, and Northern Irish are all British. Otherwise, we can talk about English core values if you prefer, but the caveat still applies if the English themselves are in major disagreement.

  10. Couldn’t agree more. As a Liberal Democrat, and the husband of an immigrant (who couldn’t move here unless we got married) I find our immigration policy disgusting, and I want to get it changed.
    It’s *LESS* disgusting than the other two main parties, but still disgusting.

    • As the immigrant wife of a Briton, I’m totally with you. However – what’s the deal with this region-based stuff? It seems a bit, I dunno, central-planningish and not likely to work very well. Also, these debates are the first I’ve heard of it.

      • First I heard of it was when I read the manifesto. And yes, it is very centrally-planned – and frankly more the kind of thing I’d expect from Labour. As a Liberal I believe in the free movement of people.
        Now that I know about this, I shall do anything within my power to get the policy changed…

  11. […] affects real people. See this for one example. Another example is my wife. As an immigrant, she has made a large net contribution […]

  12. “The other thing I’d like to point out regarding Labour’s points system is that it gives huge advantage to those who have an MBA”

    MBAs? The last thing we need is more MBAs. I’ve yet to meet a manager with an MBA that I had much respect for. They’re the sort of middle-management arseholes who buy SAP, introduce ISO9002 and believe in expensive and pointless “team building days”. They’re people who can look good and sound good. They can make a good Powerpoint presentation. They’re working for either the big, useless consultancies selling services to large, tired, stupid companies, or else working in a large, tired, stupid company.

    We’ve got enough of them already.

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