So, I just watched part of the televised PM debate between Gordon Brown (Labour), David Cameron (Tory), and Nick Clegg (Liberal-Democrat). My first thoughts regarding each of their opening statements are that Brown clearly seems like a grumpy person… ok ok, all kidding aside: Brown’s opening statement seemed to express that he was confident with what Labour has done over the past 13 years and that he basically wants to shore up the majority of the policies in place (that he’s convinced have helped to improve the UK over the past decade or so), while adding other implementations that would serve more like additional supporting bracket pieces than new levels of scaffolding; Cameron’s focus was on going back to what made Britain great (sounds like the Republicans in the US), while clearly trying to convince the audience that what Labour has done over the past 13 years was create the largest deficit in UK history; Clegg was in the most unique position (and might I add fortuitous position of the 3 – even if he has VERY little chance of winning) by virtue of being able to stand as that fresh new voice in the political arena that doesn’t have to battle with sedentary political tradition, but that can truly offer “change” that neither “old party” is able (I’m not claiming that such will be possible even under the Lib-Dems).
The first question dealt with the issue of immigration. And while I really don’t have the time to get into all 3 candidate’s responses (Brain Massumi’s A User’s Guide to Capitalism and Schizophrenia is beckoning), I do want to relay 3 pithy statements regarding the candidates positions and note one major oversight that doesn’t seem to come up during most political debates surrounding illegal immigration.
3 Pithy Statements on Immigration and a Thought:
Brown: ‘Immigration numbers have been declining over the past 3 years; we are doing well. Vote for us to keep going’
Cameron: ‘What we need is a cap, a specific number of how many people can come into the country per year and an official border control agency to enforce it’
Clegg: ‘We need to implement a policy that allows persons to enter based on regional needs for their services’
First of all, while in power, Labour has implemented a “points-based system” that ensures the difficulty of entering the country legally – trust me, this process is convoluted as hell!!! My gf and I just went through it this past year. This “deterrent” has (according to Brown) been a primary contributor to the decrease of immigration. Along with the points-based system (and this is something that I’m not sure is already in place or something he’s proposing for the future), immigrants here on working Visas are/will be required to carry a card with them that gives proof of their legal working status. Cameron’s rebuttal to Brown was that even though things seem to be getting better that’s only because of recent implementations that have been effected and that not enough has been done over the tenure of Labour’s position of primacy. Cameron believes that what needs to happen is a real “crack-down” on immigration (reminds me of cowboy tactics a bit). He is suggesting to set a cap on how many persons can legally enter the country per year and to have a separate police force monitor the activity of those seeking to enter (and to monitor those persons once they’re in). Clegg, the last to respond, put down both Brown’s and Cameron’s initiatives citing the high cost of implementing or continuing such policies, as well as claiming that setting a “cap” is simply ridiculous and arbitrary. Instead, what he is proposing is to only allow persons into the country to fill specific needs in particular regions where such needs persist. He cited both Canada and Australia as examples of countries that have such policies place.
I agree with Clegg that neither Brown’s nor Cameron’s initiatives seem to proffer good solutions (Cameron’s is horrible, Brown’s is ok, neither is good). However, I think Clegg’s is also weak. It seems that he would be radically limiting the mobility of an individual once one enters the country. Plus, by putting the locating power into a government agency’s hand, he is all but assuring a certain measure of control based on where someone is “needed” according to the whim of some oversight committee. Not exactly freedom…
(Of course, I am only in the early stages of my awareness of British politics. Thus, many of the measures mentioned may not be as cruel as I’m making them sound.)
One Oversight: Foreign Policy
While I do think that there need to be local policies to control and monitory immigration, any proposed local initiative will necessarily fail to target the root of the problem. I’m sure the roots run deeper than this simple suggestion will insinuate. But it does seem that the root (or a root) of the problem is not about how a particular country (the US, the UK, Canada, wherever!) ought to deal with those who are trying to come into the country. At that point, it’s already too late to really deal adequately with the issue. There are events, many, many (systemic) events, that have led to persons desiring relocation. Rather, the real issue is to address why people are coming to a particular local in the first place.
Diagnostically, this could be resolved quite quickly. Here’s an informal attempt: it seems by my basic observation that the primary regions that contribute the most immigrants to the UK are India/Pakistan, China, and Africa (I know this isn’t exactly fair considering Africa is a continent, but I’m not sure which particular countries are most represented among the African constituent). This means that not that many folks from North America, Eastern Europe, or Latin America are venturing into UK borders – I’m sure there are some, although the scarcity of GOOD Latin food is something I have duly noted! The next step is to examine WHY such persons are migrating. Well, I don’t think it takes a genius to figure out that two of the primary reasons are job opportunities and a desire for individual freedoms (which is often related to financial pressures). Thus, it seems that a simply identified and very complex practical solution is to seek to meet persons basic needs in their home countries in order to aid them in flourishing, first of all, in their home countries. This is NOT done by imperialistic means. This is NOT done my military might. This is NOT done by force. Rather, it must be done in a way that allows for the home country to autonomously provide for itself and its citizens, while ensuring an increase in foreign relations.
Thus, the money that is wasted on beefing up the military, creating a “border patrol” agency, bailing out banks, or any other implementation of new micro-policies that seek to “reform” the current system would instead be put towards increasing foreign relations through the provision of aid, the construction of schools, ensuring that clean water is available FREELY for all, the cessation of outsourcing industry to countries who need to retain their workforce to build up their own economies, the halting of labor exploitation in southern hemisphere nations, and stimulating a basic mutual respect for various people groups and cultural expressions. Rather than simply trying to control those who are trying to enter a given country, while such policies are economically necessary, a concerted effort needs to turn toward developing and improving foreign policy, increasing and creating foreign aid, and contributing to community building among countries that are at the receiving end of western-capitalist exploitation.
Great! It’s 1130 and I have mad reading to do… so much for my night…