Not all Romanians are vampires, Mr Cameron

Article published on Jan. 8, 2014
Article published on Jan. 8, 2014

Britain, once an em­pire which invaded other islands, is now bravely fighting off immigrants from its own shores. David Cameron recently introduced laws di­rected against the Bul­gar­i­ans and Ro­ma­ni­ans expected to flood the British labour mar­ket. Cameron is trying, at least in the eyes of the public, to turn them into an army of Drac­u­las, who want to suck the ben­e­fits out of Britain

The most com­mon lie prop­a­gated by right-wing politi­cians is that im­mi­gra­tion harms so­ci­ety. Ap­par­ently im­mi­grants, mostly il­le­gal, take our jobs, fail to in­te­grate and cre­ate ghet­tos where vi­o­lence reigns. David Cameron’s po­si­tion is not unique - he is fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of a long line of Eu­ro­pean lead­ers who toy with the same kind of rhetoric. His gov­ern­ment hastily pushed through laws that will stop un­em­ployed im­mi­grants from re­ceiv­ing ben­e­fits if they have lived in the UK for less than three months.

The new an­nual re­port by the Cen­tre for Eco­nomic and Busi­ness Re­search pre­dicts that by 2030 the British econ­omy will have out­stripped Ger­many. The re­port tells us: ‘Pos­i­tive de­mo­graph­ics with con­tin­u­ing im­mi­gra­tion [and] rather less ex­po­sure to the prob­lems of the eu­ro­zone than other Eu­ro­pean economies com­bine with rel­a­tively low taxes by Eu­ro­pean stan­dards to en­cour­age faster growth than in most west­ern economies.’ It must come as a bit­ter­sweet sur­prise for David Cameron and other pop­ulists that im­mi­gra­tion is ac­tu­ally help­ing to build a stronger econ­omy in­stead of un­der­min­ing it as they would lead us to be­lieve

"ALL I WANNA DO IS TAKE YOUR MONEY!"

The British Prime Min­is­ter re­cently ad­mit­ted that fail­ure to apply tran­si­tional move­ment con­trols to new EU mem­bers such as Poland in 2004 had been a ‘huge mis­take’ for the UK. On 1 Jan­u­ary, the whole EU labour mar­ket will be opened to Bul­gar­i­ans and Ro­ma­ni­ans. Cameron fears a re­peat of 2004 when, in­stead of the es­ti­mated 13,000 Poles, a quar­ter of a mil­lion came one year. The dif­fer­ence is that in 2004, Britain was the only EU coun­try which opened its bor­ders, whereas the new wave of mi­grants have the whole EU to choose from.

What British con­ser­v­a­tives do not want to un­der­stand (or rather cyn­i­cally lie about) is that im­mi­grants are now es­sen­tial to the re­ju­ve­na­tion of so­ci­ety. In other words, im­mi­gra­tion dri­ves the econ­omy. Pol­ish women are more likely to give birth to chil­dren in the UK than in Poland. This mi­gra­tion is ac­tu­ally more of a prob­lem for Poland than Britain since Poland thus loses fu­ture gen­er­a­tions of pro­duc­tive cit­i­zens. In con­trast to gov­ern­ment rhetoric, very few Poles live on ben­e­fits be­cause the vast ma­jor­ity have a job - only 20,000 Poles were un­em­ployed in 2011. Be­tween 2001 and 2011, im­mi­grants were 45% less likely to claim ben­e­fits than ‘na­tive’ British-born cit­i­zens.

Not for the first time in his­tory, so­cial and eco­nomic crises are fo­ment­ing xeno­pho­bia. UK gov­ern­ments his­tor­i­cally tend to sense the growth of na­tion­al­ism and cre­ate an enemy ac­cord­ingly. This time the ham­mer has fallen on Bul­gar­i­ans and Ro­ma­ni­ans. They are de­picted as a rabid mass hun­grily eye­ing British ben­e­fits. With one eye on the 2015 elec­tions, David Cameron has sensed the fear of the na­tion and given that fear an ob­ject. Bran­dish­ing pop­ulist slo­gans he has cast him­self as the only politi­cian ca­pa­ble of de­fend­ing Britain against the in­sid­i­ous wave of im­mi­grants. This mar­vel­lously Machi­avel­lian streak is wor­thy of a politi­cian but not a true states­man. Cameron fears the UK In­de­pen­dence Party - the eu­roscep­tic group that, para­dox­i­cally, has a strong chance in the Eu­ro­pean Par­lia­ment elec­tions in May. En­e­mies help build a sense of iden­tity when there is none. Im­mi­grants are per­fect for the job. But the duty of a leader is to mit­i­gate so­cial un­rest, not ex­ag­ger­ate it.

The Eng­lish Prime Min­is­ter is fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of for­mer French Pres­i­dent, Nico­las Sarkozy. In an at­tempt to snatch votes from the Na­tional Front, he de­cided to ‘get tough’ on the Roma, seek­ing to stoke fear and re­sent­ment of this mar­gin­alised com­mu­nity with very pub­lic ex­pul­sions. Let his fate be a warn­ing for Cameron.

We need to think about what the Eu­ro­pean Union has be­come. It is be­gin­ning to rep­re­sent all the val­ues that the found­ing fa­thers op­posed - xeno­pho­bia, mis­trust and the ‘every man for him­self’ phi­los­o­phy. Mr. Cameron is the face of this new EU.