In the last few years, the one issue that’s seemingly got the British public hot under the collar more than anything is immigration. The rise of Ukip has got the more established political parties quickly playing catch up when it comes to immigration policies that speak to a number of voters, as Farage and his merry band of Union Jack wavers appear to do. Regain control of our borders and slash immigration, they cry! But, on the other side of the argument, a sizeable slice of the population still feels immigration is overall a positive thing for the UK, with a good chunk sitting somewhere in the middle, cherry picking elements from both sides of the discussion.
I’m currently working on BBC Three debate show Free Speech – think of it like Question Time‘s baby brother; a bit sassier with grimey bassline intro that would have Dimbleby clutching his pearls in shock. We’re aiming to get to the heart of the immigration issue by engaging young people online with our latest film. In it, we follow Victor Spirescu, a Romanian who arrived in Luton airport on 1 Jan 2014, the same day the UK lifted work restrictions for Romanians.
The surprised young man was met by MPs Mark Reckless (who recently defected from the Conservatives to Ukip) and Keith Vaz, as well as lots of journalists as soon as he stepped off the plane. In the video, he discusses what happened after his arrival and reflects on working in various types of jobs including construction. He concludes we need immigration because, „English guys don’t want to do hard work for cheap money and the hard jobs are not well paid.”
There are a number of public figures who have argued the same point as Victor. Jamie Oliver for example said young British people are „wet behind the ears”. Others, including politicians from both Labour and the Conservative party (such as David Lammy and Boris Johnson) have echoed that sentiment. But there are plenty who would argue that British people are the most hardworking folks you’ll find, and that it’s people from abroad coming to take those jobs leaving British citizens struggling to find work. Also that the influx is placing a strain on our healthcare, welfare and housing systems. But there’s also arguments that without immigrants our NHS in particular would collapse.
Are we a nation of people too good for tough or ‘menial’ jobs? Or are we just letting in too many people to do them for us?