Blog : Posts tagged with 'immigration'

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Snowed in

In which we consider historical weather and historical labour disputes


Incidentally – while the weather is still cold and the snow is deep again – I should point out that, on this day in 1978, the weather was pretty much the same as it is today. “Country in grip of freeze” all over the papers, and that sort of thing.

The reason I know this is: my mother kept all the press cuttings about it, so she could stick them in her New Baby Book.

The other big thing in the news which she saved clippings of, oddly enough, was: Grimsby workers getting rather upset about foreigners taking their livelihoods away. Back then it was fishermen, who hadn’t quite given up their hopes of fishing in Icelandic territorial waters, even though the main Cod Wars had been over for a few years. Today, of course, it’s oil workers who are going back to work, presumably satisfied that their rather vague demands* have been catered for; the fish industry now sticks to breadcrumbing and battering other people’s fish. This is only a rough guess, based on anecdotal evidence, but I’d say that most of the people working in fish-related jobs in Grimsby are migrant workers – largely, as I said before, because they’re the people who apply for factory-line jobs nowadays.

* An awful lot of the strikers interviewed on TV didn’t seem awfully sure what their demands even were, or what it would take to get them back to work. “We’re sending a message to Gordon Brown, that someone will have to do something?” “What will they have to do?” “Um … well, I dunno, but someone is going to have to do something

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Running The Place

In which we consider the blind spots in people’s xenophobia


People I come across, for once, seem to be getting themselves interested in politics. The local elections, and the soaring cost of petrol,* are for once getting people interested in who runs the country, or things like that.

Sadly, most of the people I come across at work and day-to-day aren’t the sort of people you’d trust to run the country. Trains of thought go along two lines. “Wouldn’t it be nice if things were a bit cheaper,” and “there’s too many foreign people about, you know.” They then say to our Token Polish Office Temp: “I don’t mean you, of course, but you know what I mean. There’s too many foreign people about.”

They don’t really mean that he’s white; it’s just that people everywhere seem to have an enormous blind spot when it comes to “these dirty foreigners.” The sort of people, at least, who say there are too many foreign people about, always have one big exception: foreigners they know personally. They don’t count. They are decent people, unlike the rest of them, the great mass of indistinguishable and interchangeable Foreign People who are here to steal their women and marry their jobs (or something like that). “Oh no, I don’t mean you, I mean all the ones who you read about in the papers.” Why is it that they still believe what they’ve read in the papers, have heard from a mate in the pub, will pass on in a “joke” text message, when all their personal experience goes in the opposite direction?

* it is a Rule Of Clichés, apparently, that any time the cost of petrol is mentioned, the word “soaring” has to be attached.

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Weekly news

In which we think some people are not entitled to keep their opinions to themselves


Time for a news roundup. Today in the news: Ellenor Bland, a Conservative councillor and parliamentary candidate has been caught forwarding an unfunny poem about illegal immigrants. She said it might have been her husband that did it, not her; but he’s also a Tory councillor, so it doesn’t really make much difference.

I don’t particularly care that some Conservatives might enjoy racist jokes – it’s hardly recent news, after all. I’m more worried that they have such a poor sense of humour. The “poem” has been going around for some time now – several of my colleagues were circulating the email a few weeks back – so it’s hardly news either. The worst thing is what she said to attack the rival politicans who broke the story:

[S]he claimed that the leak was “an infringement of my life”, adding: “I’m finding this all rather tiresome.”

I’m sorry? You want to be a politician, don’t you? If you want to be a politician, even a local councillor, you have to expect people to want to know what your opinions are.* If you do something that seems to demonstrate you have an opinion on a political topic, you can hardly complain when people want to talk to you about it. You can’t pick and choose which opinions you want to discuss.

In other news: someone has been searching the web recently for: “symbolic forest pressure group”. Which is clearly a sign that I should set up a pressure group of my own; I’m just not entirely sure what I want to campaign for (or against). Suggestions, please! Maybe I should campaign for more single-issue campaigns.

* even though, like most politicans, you may well end up straining as hard as you can to prevent people finding them out.

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