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7 April 2015Immigration

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The topic of immigration is once again a political hot potato in the run-up to this year's general election. Rarely completely out of the media and with the media often seeming to shape public opinion on the issue, each of the main UK parties –the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, Labour and UKIP - have set out their respective stalls, providing policies that explain how they will tackle what the media portrays as a simple but what is actually a complex problem.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats are the most effusive about the overall benefits that immigration brings to Britain:

"Liberal Democrats are proud that Britain is an open, welcoming country. Highly-skilled migrants have brought many economic and social benefits to us over the years"

"Immigration is important for Britain's future….[Labour is] proud of our diverse and outward-facing country, where people have come from abroad over many generations to build Britain's businesses, work in our public services and contribute to this country."

That immigration is actually seen as a problem in this election can be seen clearly in all the main parties' policies. Fingers point to Labour's unrestrained policies on immigration under Tony Blair's leadership, with Labour themselves admitting that they "got things wrong on immigration in the past". This, coupled with the policy of multiculturalism, has left many people feeling anxious that British and indeed Christian values are being eroded.

The Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, Labour and UKIP have all emphasised the need to control immigration and the problems of illegal immigration (see links below). People do have legitimate concerns –that there are not enough jobs available for British people, that immigration-related costs to public services are skyrocketing and that British values are being lost –but these same concerns can easily be twisted and used by racist and xenophobic groups to support their narratives.

Many column inches in late February and March were devoted to the story that the Conservatives had missed their targets in reducing net migration to the UK and that it had risen to 298,000 for the year ending September 2014.

What are some of the complexities of immigration?

  • Our membership of the EU and what that means with regards to the rights of citizens of EU member states to seek employment and live in the UK.
  • The role of the tabloid media in highlighting stories of individuals abusing the immigration system –but often reporting these stories inaccurately or sensationalising them.
  • The confusion between asylum ad immigration.