Through the ages, people have moved between countries. Either they are running away from something, or attracted towards something else. Whatever the driver, they seek a better life for themselves, and often for their children. Go back a few tens of thousands of years and the islands of the UK had no human inhabitants at all. Reflecting on those timescales, , all of us currently living permanently in the UK are migrants or are descended from migrants.
So it saddens me when I hear some people talk in ways that indicate that their underlying philosophy is what could be described as “fortress UK” – draw up the drawbridge and keep them out. A modified version of this is “keep them out, unless they have skills we need and can’t get locally”. This is still essentially the same thing, or perhaps even worse. It’s saying those people are prepared to accept people in as wage slaves but not if they need help and might be a net cost to our welfare state. What an appalling underlying set of assumptions lurk beneath these opinions. The assumption that we’re not interested in letting people into our country unless they can show a net positive financial contribution. To reduce them to mere economic statistics towards a flawed measure of success – GDP.
If we are all migrants, or descended from migrants, what legacy do we think our migrant ancestors would be proudest of – a stance that creates a fortress and protects a population’s comfort and greed or a stance that respects and supports human spirit and endeavour which resides in people who uproot themselves and seek a better life.
Maybe people who build fortresses find it difficult to comprehend and empathise until their walls (or their bodies and minds) crumble and decay through ossification and they have to venture outside them for support, warmth, or even just for essential services they can’t provide for themselves (eg health services).
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