Thursday, 26 May 2016

The problem with immigration

I've just watched my home town on the national news - again. The backdrop is always the same - the majestic parish church (Boston Stump), the wide sweep of the market place and the slow curve of the river. Then come the cut aways to West Street where the shop signs are in Polish, Latvian, Lithuanian and Russian.

I've blogged about immigration many times before. And let me be clear: it's a big problem. Migrant workers work hard, often for low wages. But they place an enormous strain on local services. Try getting an appointment at the doctors round here, or applying for a school place with any certainty. And there are some - a small minority - whose anti-social behaviour and street-drinking is a real and persistent problem in this town. 

But wait. Let's just make sure we know where to apportion blame. People grumble about jobs being scarce yet more and more migrants are leaving homes and families hundreds of miles away to successfully find work here. Might that say something about the attitude, commitment and possibly the work ethic of some of those complaining that there are 'no jobs' for them?

And whose fault is it that local services are at breaking point? Hard-working, tax-paying migrants have been here now in numbers for over a decade - long enough for money to be spent and provision made for the necessary expansion in school places, doctor's surgeries and hospital beds. And who's planning for the future?

No one can deny the small numbers behaving in unacceptable ways in public. But there are laws against such behaviour. Just no-one, it seems, willing to enforce them. And laws that aren't actively enforced are worse than no laws at all.

It's a shame that when the issue of migration is discussed and the TV crews once more descend on Boston that no one seems to ask the obvious questions:

  • Why have successive governments failed to act to ensure that local services are adequately supported in order to meet increase demand?
  • Why is the local council so keen to pass by-laws that it then fails to enforce? 
  • And why do those who complain so bitterly about migrants 'taking our jobs' not apply for the work themselves? 
Migrant workers travel hundreds of miles, leaving homes and families far behind, to build new lives in a strange and often hostile country. The work they do is essential to those of us who demand cheap, fresh produce in our supermarkets. They work and - it's a matter of record - pay far more in taxes and NI contributions than they receive back in benefits. 

So where does the money go?

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