Roughly halfway house, and we’ve burned a few pounds from our easy living! The faint muscle stiffness has abated and we are swinging along with renewed confidence as each mile passes us by.
About a year ago, I had an operation on my left foot, and I worried whether the foot would survive the inevitable battering, for if the feet pack up, then it’s goodbye sweet Prince to the walks. For some weeks it was a bit stiff, so with some trepidation, I launched the foot on my second last walk. My old theory holds good: if you simply ignore pain, it often goes away. It did. Now it’s all fine.
Heaven on Earth
“If there is heaven on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here.”
So said the fourth Mughal emperor, Jahangir, while visiting Kashmir in the seventeenth century – and those words might aptly be applied to the UK today.
Anyone who discusses immigration runs the risk of being called “racist” and as there is no agreed definition of the word, it can be launched as a general insult to smear anyone you dislike. Nevertheless, ever since Tony Blair threw open Britain’s borders and rebuilt the economy around cheap migrant labour, immigration has remained a contentious issue.
Once the genie had flown from the bottle, that was it. Cameron proved this in 2010 when he promised voters to reduce net migration from hundreds of thousands to tens of thousands – instead, he ended up presiding over the highest levels of immigration ever seen. His inability to honour that pledge reinforced the growing sense amongst voters that no one was in control. Of course, this was one of the factors behind Brexit and it will be an important determinant at the next election.
Land of Milk and Honey
Voters aren’t stupid. According to YouGov, uncontrolled immigration – particularly illegal immigration – remains among the electorate’s top three concerns. Across the Third World, millions of people, mainly young and unemployed, are determined to make the UK their home. Many of them live in countries where life is often cruel and short, where corruption is endemic, where there is no chance to alter society for the better, and where thinkers and critics often rot in jail. Meanwhile, their mobile phone screens tell them that the UK is a land of milk and honey – a country that promises free healthcare, free education, generous social services, religious freedom, democracy, and the rule of law handed down from incorrupt courts. A land where – so the people smugglers tell them – lawyers will (for free!) do all they can to prevent new arrivals from being deported.
In short, the UK is to the Third World Emperor Jahangir’s “heaven”. Who can blame young hopefuls for their iron determination to reach our shores? And who can be surprised that there is a booming business to facilitate their passage, run by corrupt people smugglers?
What can we do about this? First, truth must be separated from garbage. We are told that these non-European migrants are an economic benefit to the UK. If this is true, please will someone tell me why Belarus and Turkey use immigrants as weapons? Why isn’t France campaigning to get its valuable migrants back from Britain? Why aren’t countries everywhere competing eagerly for more incomers, perhaps incentivising them with bribes and goodie bags?
There is no such thing as a bargain! The reality is that migrants cost a great deal of money and the numbers are staggering. Net immigration – people allowed to come here – soared last year to about half a million. That represents the population of a city half the size of Newcastle each year and it costs north of £15bn.
So, although estimates differ wildly, illegal immigration is an economic drain – at least in the short term – which is why the countries the immigrants pass through play pass the parcel and hope they land up in the lap of the UK.
The 100,000 illegal migrants are, in the main, unskilled, poorly educated and heavily dependent on the public purse. Their accommodation in south-coast hotels costs UK taxpayers £5.6m per day – and this pays no heed to the numbers in the black economy, into which many foreigners disappear.
UK residents already face an acute housing crisis, schools are overcrowded, and the NHS has a waiting list of seven million patients. We have escalating welfare bills and there is a growing reluctance by the country’s increasingly elderly citizens to pay the necessary higher taxes to fund the welfare services they have grown to expect as their right. So, what is the government to do? Of course, no one wants immigrants attempting dangerous boat crossings to drown. But we must stop our laws from being flouted by people smugglers.
And why is HMG embarrassed by critics focusing on self-interest on behalf of UK voters? Dare we discuss the level of immigration that suits the UK, however contentious that calculation may prove to be? We must not heed the siren voices that tell us we must be “kind and nice” and try to improve the lives of immigrants everywhere, for this will lead to national bankruptcy. There are 89 million displaced people in the world, 27 million are refugees, 40 million live in modern slavery and up to 780 million can claim fear of persecution on grounds of race, nationality or religion. The solution cannot be to bring even a small minority to the UK. Similarly, the popular “safe and legal routes” cannot stop the crossings unless they apply to everybody prepared to travel here illegally.
Surely, we must concentrate on the interests of the people who already live in the UK? Our government should decide what number of immigrants best benefits our resident population and elevate the interests of voters who already live here above the interests of people who don’t. What’s wrong with that? After all, HMG owes its first allegiance not to suffering humanity, but to the UK taxpayers who live in the country it was elected to protect.
Voters are merciless! Unless our relatively liberal government does something about uncontrolled immigration, voters will shrug and back far-right leaders who will. That’s what’s happening In Sweden, Italy and Germany. Our present leaders should take note.