It’s the political silly season again, when the right wing media searches desperately for a story to keep the masses incensed as parliament is in recess. This summer it’s Calais and immigrants.
What could be a more perfect way to keep the ‘politics is boring’ masses incensed than inflammatory immigration headlines accompanied by images of uniformed French men chasing people with batons and pepper spray, in an attempt to make us believe the country hasn’t faced a greater peril from invasion since 1940.
The cold hard facts are undeniable – the UK economy benefits greatly from immigration. But many are so opposed to immigration because they don’t personally see any benefit and the reasons are down to the complex way immigration is handled in the UK media. The same right wing press that deliberately riles millions on this issue are also fully aware that immigration is an essential element of their free market economic ideology.
Consider the words of one woman who had travelled across Africa, Spain and France to get to Calais with one aim – getting to the UK. When she was asked why the UK and not France she admitted all she knew of France was Calais. So why would this person who had gambled everything and probably spent every penny she had to be herded by people traffickers thousands of miles hadn’t even considered any other European country to try to settle in? But if you were living in abject poverty, with zero prospects of improvement and you heard about a country where immigrants get well-paid jobs (often ahead of other people who already live there), free housing and other benefits as printed almost daily as headlines in the right wing media what would you do? It’s obvious – you wouldn’t consider anywhere else, that’s the place you’d want to get to.
But what happens when such people get here and find out it was all lies? There is no free accommodation, there are no benefits and you cannot get a legitimate job. They do the only thing they can – they work in the black economy for rates way below the minimum wage and the black market thrives. But it doesn’t stop there, as this has a downward pressure on wage levels in the legitimate economy, as what were once legitimate jobs now disappear into the black economy and the jobs that are left now pay less as demand for them from people seeking employment increases.
It's too easy to simply blame people who are anti-immigration as ignorant - they are often the people who see their wages fall and not only that when people disappear into the black economy they are not part of official figures used to calculate funding for services and so these suffer too, adding to the impression that things are getting worse instead of better.
So immigration really is the gift that keeps on giving for the political right. It not only keeps the right wing parties popular with the electorate, through anti-immigration rhetoric, but it also provides a constant supply of cheap immigrant labour to control wage levels nationally that is an essential factor for their free market economic ideology. But if you are still opposed to immigration and looking for someone to blame, blame the right wing media that prints these stories.