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Archive for November 24th, 2009

Prof. Lord Bhikhu Parekh: Effective Arguments for Immigration Debate

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on November 24, 2009


‘Effective Arguments for an Immigration Debate’ *

Prof. Lord Bhikhu Parekh

House of Commons, ‘Immigrants Contribution to the UK’

24th November 2009

Professor Lord Bhikhu Parekh

Lord Bikhu Parekh, Chair of ‘Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain’ Report in 2000, started with the classification of the audience. He mainly classified the audience into two groups: converted (ie generally supportive of immigration) and racists or nationalists. “What I would like to do is to ask a different kind of question: We can easily talk to the converted and convince them that immigration is a wonderful thing; because we are all immigrants; this is the kind of things they want to hear. So it is easy to convince the converted.  It is impossible to convince the racists. Those who are racists, those who don’t like black and browns at all and those who are nationalists in the mould of Enoch Powell, either  don’t want black people or want to keep a certain way of life.”

Referring to the points of remittances mentioned by Best, Lord Parekh said, “Keith made a very beautiful argument that when you go to Bangladesh or to Mirpur or to India there are villages where remittances from immigrants here have made a profound difference. Now if I go to the audiences here and say look with the same kind of argument; they will say I don’t know what you are trying to tell me. This argument has a meaning only if I have a moral obligation to help people in that part of the world. I don’t recognize any such obligation. So while that argument is very attractive to us but it will not cut any ice with this audience I am thinking about.”

Britain had no tradition of immigration
Lord Parekh mentioned that Britain had no tradition of immigration. “It is worth bearing in mind that until now certainly in Britain we have had people coming from outside but they are not immigrants. They are asylum seekers; refugees; we never positively went out to recruit immigrants, in a way that Canada and Australia and the United States did. Therefore, we have no tradition of immigration and therefore we have no vocabulary in terms of which we can talk about immigration. That is the first point to bear in mind,” said Lord Parekh and added, “When people came in the 1880s; 1920s, they were not immigrants; they were asylum seekers, they were refugees. So what kind of immigration that we are talking about.”

Immigration is a post-war phenomenon
Lord Parekh said, “It is a post-war phenomenon. Therefore, it’s a new to British life. We must bear that in mind. Because there are no old arguments, the traditional arguments upon which we can rely; we have to create our own tradition of arguments.”

Lord Parekh in the aftermath of that report on immigration went round the country and began to ask himself: “Can I speak only to satisfy my conscience or do I want to achieve something? And if I wanted to achieve something; how do I relate to the audience; what is my audience? Racists I cannot touch, converted I don’t want to touch. In the middle there are 75% to 80% of the people. What language they do understand?  At the same time  it’s not enough to know what language they do understand is also important that I should share the value of that language.”

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Migration should be based on the facts and not mythology

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on November 24, 2009

We can absorb the current level of migration taking account of emigration

Migration should be based on the facts and not mythology

Keith Best, Chief Executive, Immigration Advisory Service UK

Keith Best speaking with Tom Brake MP and Prof. Lord Bhikhu Parekh

Keith Best speaking Tom Brake MP (left) Prof. Lord Bhikhu Parekh (Right)

Speaking in the House of Commons Committee Room 12 to an audience of Members of the Lords and Commons and others from The Universal Peace Federation (a global alliance of individuals and organizations dedicated to building a world of peace) with Lord Bikhu Parekh and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown on the subject ‘Contribution of Immigrants to British Society’ Keith Best, Chief Executive of IAS, said that for too long the debate about migration has been based on poor statistics and prejudice rather than facts and this was the reason that the UK in the Transatlantic Trends survey of the USA and six EU countries comes out as the most anti-immigrant in its public sentiment.

“There is now general acceptance that migrants bring not just economic but cultural benefit to the UK, are hard workers and often do jobs that the British workforce is unable or unwilling to do. Migrants have given us our cuisine, art, literature and music” he said. “Against all the evidence of economic and social benefit come the ridiculous and wild assertions of some self-appointed so-called experts opposed to migration that migrants cost us £1 million each – an assertion on wholly flawed logic.

“Students bring more than £8 billion a year to the UK in their overseas student fees and spending power: they do not have the right to settle in the UK. Yet without those overseas students the academic institutions, many of the larger ones relying for more than half their total income on overseas student fees, would not be able to educate British domestic students as Prof David Metcalf, Chair of the Migration Advisory Committee, has pointed out.

“More people are coming for temporary purposes in a globalised world increasingly of circulatory migration which benefits both donor and recipient countries. Remittances are often a more effective way of helping an economy develop than official development aid.

“We are all migrants in the UK – it is just a question of when our ancestors arrived here. We have a rich diversity which is the legacy of Empire and Commonwealth that we should treasure. 8,000 people a week are leaving the UK to settle elsewhere – half of them are British citizens going to Australia, France, Spain and half are migrants who are returning home. This is the example of circulatory migration which will be a hallmark of the future.

“Even though parts of the UK may feel under threat by a massive influx of migrants and a majority of schoolchildren who do not have English as their first language these are issues that need to be addressed locally and do not reflect the situation throughout the UK. We can absorb and continue to benefit from the current levels of migration. About 10% of the UK population was not born here – compared with 25% in Australia, 20% in Canada, 14% in France and 12% in the USA – these are not countries on the brink of social disintegration as a result.

“We need to curb our xenophobia and accept the reality that increasingly people will make their own choices where they take their portable skills and choose to live – there are more UK citizens working and living abroad than there are EU migrants in the UK. These are the facts of modern day life.”

END CONTACT:

Keith Best,

Chief Executive

Immigration Advisory Service UK

26-11-2009

Press Release (Click link for original)

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