Pandaemonium

TO SEE BEYOND THE STEREOTYPES

shafaq ahmad al mussawarThis essay was published in the Observer, 5 April 2015, under the headline ‘Diversity and immigration are not the problem. Political courage is…’


Two events this week, some 2000 miles apart, captured the fraught character of the current debate about multicultural Britain. On Wednesday, nine Britons from Rochdale were arrested in Turkey, apparently as they tried to cross the border into Syria. One was the son of a local Labour councilor Shakil Ahmed, who said he was ‘shocked’ to hear of the arrests. ‘My son’, he added, ‘is a good Muslim and his loyalties belong to Britain, so I don’t understand what he’s doing there.’

The next evening in Salford, a hop and a skip from Rochdale, came the General Election leaders’ TV debate. UKIP’s Nigel Farage elicited outrage by blaming foreigners for seemingly all Britain’s social ills. But while his claims about ‘health tourism’ and about foreigners with HIV undermining the NHS might have enraged liberals, they seemed to play well to his core constituency. Post-debate polls showed both great support and great loathing for Farage. While many despise what they regard as racism, others applaud the UKIP leader for, as they see it, speaking the truth.

From Salford to the Syrian border, the question of how to respond to multiculturalism remains fraught and divisive. Some celebrate multiculturalism for having transformed Britain into a vibrant, cosmopolitan nation. For others, Britain has become too diverse. Too much immigration and too little integration have, they suggest, combined to erode social cohesion, undermine national identity and corrode public trust.

The two groups foregrounded last week have, for very different reasons, come to dominate the debate: Muslims and the ‘white working class’.The growing numbers of young Britons drawn to jihadism are, for many, emblematic of the refusal of Muslims to integrate and revealing of the failures of multiculturalism. According to YouGov poll last month 55 per cent of the population thinks there exists ‘a fundamental clash between Islam and the values of British society’.

Meanwhile rising support for UKIP has drawn both fear and contempt. Many fear that without mainstream politicians adopting tough anti-immigration policies, support for populism will grow. Hence the ramping up of anti-immigration rhetoric in recent months. Fear of UKIP is often mixed with contempt for the supposed racism and backwardness of the UKIP-voting masses. Times columnist Matthew Parris described Clacton, where last October Tory defector Douglas Carswell became UKIP’s first MP, as ‘Britain on crutches’. Its ‘voters are going nowhere’, Parris sneered, for ‘This is tracksuit-and-trainers Britain, tattoo-parlour Britain, all-our-yesterdays Britain.’

untitled

The idea that Muslims as a group are poorly integrated is not borne out by the facts. Numerous polls have shown that Muslims tend to identity with Britain to a greater degree than the population at large. In a 2009 Gallup poll, 77% of Muslims said that they identity ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ strongly with Britain – compared to 50% of the population at large. Similarly, a 2011 Demos poll found that 83% of Muslims were ‘proud to be British’, as opposed to 79% of Britons in general.

British Muslims certainly tend to be highly conservative in their social attitudes, being far less liberal on issues such as homosexuality and abortion than the general public. Such conservatism does not make their beliefs incompatible to British values – there are plenty of Christians, Jews and atheists who are equally illiberal – or suggest that Muslims are unable to integrate. Nor does Islam necessarily make one socially conservative. Muslims in other Western nations – France, Germany and the USA, for instance – are notably more liberal. As indeed were previous generations of Muslims in Britain.

There is much talk, on both sides of the multiculturalism debate, about ‘the Muslim community’ – and about its views, needs and aspirations. Until the late 1980s, however, few Muslims in Britain had thought of themselves as belonging to any such thing.

The first generation of postwar Muslim immigrants to Britain, in the 1950s and 1960s, were pious, but wore their faith lightly. Many men drank alcohol. Few women wore the hijab, let alone the burqa or niqab. Most attended mosque only occasionally. Their faith defined their relationship with God, not a sacrosanct public identity. They were more likely to call themselves Sylheti or Punjabi than Muslim.

The second generation – my generation – was broadly secular. The organizations we looked to for guidance and support were not religious but political, groups such as the Asian Youth Movements or the Indian Workers’ Association.

Only in the late 1980s did Muslims begin to identify with ‘the Muslim community’. A generation that, ironically, was far more integrated and ‘westernized’ than the first became more insistent on maintaining its distinctiveness.

the favour

The reasons for this shift are complex. Partly they lie in a tangled web of political changes, including the collapse of the left and the rise of identity politics. Partly they lie in international developments, such as the Bosnian war of the early 1990s, which played an important role in fostering a heightened sense of Muslim identity. And partly they lie in the promotion by the state of multicultural policies.

Multicultural policies emerged in the 1980s largely in response to the anger within minority communities created by racism, an anger that found an explosive vent in the inner city riots of the late 1970s and 1980s. To assuage this anger, the authorities pioneered a new strategy of drawing black and Asian communities into the mainstream political process by designating specific organizations or community leaders to represent their interests.

In this process was born the idea of Britain as ‘a community of communities’, as the influential 2000 Parekh report on multiculturalism put it. The authorities attempted to manage diversity by putting people into particular ethnic and cultural boxes, defining individual needs and rights by virtue of the boxes into which people were put, and using those boxes to shape public policy. They treated minority communities as if each was a distinct, homogenous whole, each composed of people all speaking with a single voice, each defined by a singular view of culture and faith. The most conservative figures often came to be accepted the authentic voices of minority groups.

The consequence has been to create a more parochial sense of identity and a more tribal vision of Islam. And for a small group of Muslims, tribalism has led them to find their identity and an authentic Islam in Islamism. The attractions of jihadism to some Muslims is an issue that needs confronting. But it does not reveal a problem with Muslim integration as such, or with too much immigration.

The problem of multiculturalism is not one of too much immigration or diversity. It lies, rather, in the impact of the policies enacted to manage diversity. When we talk of ‘multiculturalism’, we often conflate the lived experience of diversity with public policies towards minority communities. The failure of those policies has led many to blame diversity itself as the problem.

This leads us to the second issue at the heart of the multiculturalism debate. The debate about UKIP, and about hostility to immigration in working class communities, is as misguided as that about Muslim integration. UKIP certainly draws support from hardline racists and many of its policies are bigoted. But it also enjoys wider support, from people whose hostility towards immigrants or Islam is shaped less by old-fashioned racism than by a newfangled sense of fear and insecurity.

ali ormar ermes waw

Over the past three decades, a host of economic and social changes – the decline of manufacturing industry, the crumbling of the welfare state, the coming of austerity, the growth of inequality, the creation of a more atomized society – have combined with a series of political shifts, such as the erosion of trade union power, and the distancing of the Labour Party from its old working class base, to corrode the social bonds that once provided strength and identity to working class communities and to diminish their status in society. The result has been the creation of what many commentators now call the ‘left behind’ working class, who feel politically abandoned, voiceless and detached from the mainstream political process.

The ‘left behind’ have been left behind largely because of economic and political changes. But many have come to see their marginalization primarily as a cultural loss. The very decline of the economic and political power of the working class has helped obscure the economic and political roots of social problems. And as culture has become the medium through which social issues are refracted, so the ‘left behind’ have also come to see their problems in cultural terms. They, too, have turned to the language of identity to express their discontent.

Once class identity comes to be seen as a cultural attribute, then those regarded as culturally different come to be viewed as threats. Hence the growing hostility to immigration. The forces of globalization or the internal wranglings of the Labour Party are difficult to conceptualise. The Polish builder or your Bangladeshi neighbour is easy to see. So, immigration has become the means through which many sections of the electorate perceive their sense of loss of social status. It has become both a catch-all explanation for unacceptable social change and a symbol of the failure of the liberal elite to understand the views of voters.

Most politicians today defend multiculturalism, and sneer at UKIP policies, while assiduously fostering fears about immigration and adopting populist anti-immigration policies. What we actually need to do is the opposite. We need to defend diversity and immigration while challenging multicultural policies. And we need to engage with the concerns of UKIP voters while also challenging prejudices about Muslims and immigration. Will any politician have the courage and vision to do this? I’m not holding my breath.

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The paintings are all by British Muslim artists. From top down, Shafaq Ahmad, Al Mussawwar; Vaseem Mohammed, The Favour; Vaseem Mohammad, Untitled;  Ali Omar Ermes. Waw.

27 comments

  1. Hi Kenan and thanks for broaching the topic on your website.

    UKIP…many of its policies are bigoted.

    Which ones? Please read http://www.ukip.org/policies_for_people and tell me which policies are “bigoted”.

    But it also enjoys wider support, from people whose hostility towards immigrants or Islam is shaped less by old-fashioned racism than by a newfangled sense of fear and insecurity.

    The rise of UKIP is not about a hostility to immigrants. It’s a hostility to the political class which has allowed mass immigration (currently at 300,000/yr – ten times the level prior to 2000), while failing to provide the extra hospitals, schools, trains, GP surgeries, etc required for the increased population.

    UKIP has 70 BME parliamentary candidates in the 2015 election. It is a colourblind party. If the reaction to mass immigration were a hostility to immigrants, it would be a surge in support for the far right groups we would be seeing, not a surge in support for UKIP.

    Declaration of interest: I am the UKIP parliamentary candidate for Pudsey, West Yorks. The candidate for neighboring Bradford East is Owais Rajput, and the candidate for Bradford West is Harry Boota. UKIP nominates local candidates who have lived in their area a long time (or all their lives), and can properly represent their constituency’s aspirations and needs..

    • Fi

      UKIP don’t just have a hostility to the ‘political class’. They also show hostility towards intellectuals, academics and scientists. You are our very own Tea Party.

      I understand your longing for a perceived past that was simpler than today. Modern life makes my head feel like it is going to explode. Unparalleled complexity and specialization are with us however, and they are not going to go away. To try to act in the world while in a state of denial will result in disaster and needless suffering.

      We need to listen to those who have do lots of difficult thinking like Kenan and stop listening to the likes of Farage who is barely one up from ‘a taxi driver speaks’.

      • Hi Fi. Do you suffer from these feelings of persecution by UKIP often? Imagine how the general public feel about the 30 year long PC browbeating they’ve had from the intellectuals, academics and scientists?😉

        I hold a joint honours degree in Philosophy/History & Philosophy of science. I published a couple of papers in a physics journal last year (only to have leading IPCC authors lean on the publisher to shut down the entire journal in reprisal for publishing our findings on natural climatic variation). It’s not some general hostility to academia and science UKIP has, it’s quite specific. We think the censors and gatekeepers need outing and shaming for undermining the scientific method. If you disagree with scientific findings, you rebut them with another paper. You shouldn’t e in the business of shutting down debate by deleting journals.

        But unfortunately shutting down debate is the modus operandi of those self righteous guardians of the PC worldview. UKIP makes no apologies for challenging their assumption of authority.

        We need to … stop listening to the likes of Farage

        “La-la-la-la we can’t hear you”

        It’s not a good look, and the public has had enough of censors and self appointed arbiters of good taste.

      • We need to … stop listening to the likes of Farage who is barely one up from ‘a taxi driver speaks’

        Perhaps Fi would prefer to hear what the great grandson of the founder of the Labour party has to say about UKIP (and the Labour party)?

    • @tallbloke Blaming foreigners for Britain’s social ills, or suggesting that ‘health tourism’ or too many foreigners with HIV are responsible for the crisis in the NHS – that’s what is bigoted. Yes, UKIP has its share of BME candidates (and indeed support); that, however, is irrelevant in debating the character of its policies.

      • @ Kenan “Blaming foreigners for Britain’s social ills, or suggesting that ‘health tourism’ or too many foreigners with HIV are responsible for the crisis in the NHS – that’s what is bigoted… the character of its policies”

        Many people accuse Farage of “Blaming foreigners for Britain’s social ills”, but they never quote his actual words when doing so, because that’s not what he actually says.

        “too many foreigners with HIV are responsible for the crisis in the NHS”

        He didn’t say that either. He did point out how much that single infection costs to treat for those who have never paid into the system (£1.18Billion/year and rising), but he also mentioned the 50% increase in non-medical middle management under Labour, and the £300Billion debt left by their madcap PFI deals. However these latter two points have nothing to do with immigration and so they are immediately disregarded and forgotten by those who love to accuse Farage of “Blaming foreigners for Britain’s social ills”.

        46 other countries refuse to admit HIV+ migrants. Presumably they are all populated by bigots. A health practitioner I was speaking with yesterday says it would make more sense to get their countries of origin to negotiate with the drug companies so they can be treated at home. That way, financial assistance required could come out of the foreign aid budget, rather than the budget of our National Health Service, which has just had to de-list 25 cancer drugs which could prolong the lives of people who have paid into the system for decades, due to a £0.2Billion cash shortfall.

        • I don’t particularly want to waste my time debating the finer points of UKIP policy. I have always argued that the real problem is not UKIP but the mainstream parties who, by pandering to populist anti-immigration sentiment, give credence to such arguments. Having said that, your attempt to present UKIP policies as merely reasonable, rational, and without a hint of bigotry, etc, are ludicrous. Let us take your specific points. It is not Farage’s critics, but Farage himself, who, when asked about the crisis in the NHS, focused on ‘health tourism’ and on foreigners with HIV (while getting the facts wrong, incidentally). And it is not just nasty liberals who think his claims were unacceptable. UKIP MP Douglas Carswell pointedly refused to back him on the issue of foreigners with HIV. When UKIP’s own MPs are uncomfortable with Farage’s views, are you surprised that others are, too?

          You claim that nobody quotes Farage. So let me. What does he blame immigration for? Well, among other things taking British workers’ jobs, youth unemployment, street crime, a shortage of social housing, children not being able to play on the streets, traffic congestion on the M4 and making Britain ‘unrecognizable’. I could go on, but I will leave it at that. ‘Blaming foreigners for Britain’s social ills’, is, even you must agree, a good summation of all that.

  2. Kenan, you refer both here and in The Moral Compass to the disintegration of the old Left, including the non-Communist Left, of which I am, I suppose, a relic. Have you analysed this? Or is there any good analysis by anyone else available?

    And one uncomfortable comment: when Farage points as he did in last week’s debate to the reckless eastward expansion of the EU, and the competition for entry level jobs from immigrants from Romania (my grandmother was from Romania), one can see how this appeals to the white working class and plays on latent xenophobia, which I fear is a human universal.

    • one can see how this appeals to the white working class

      Hi Paul. A recent survey found that ALL ethnic groups in the UK think immigration levels are too high. It isn’t just “the white working class”, it’s the working class, period.

    • Paul, I have discussed aspects of this in various essays and books – see for instance From Fatwa to Jihad. But I have yet to write about this with the depth it deserves.

  3. damon

    On Farage outraging liberal sentiment the other night, this statement was in the Guardian the next day.
    ”Of the 53,000 heterosexuals with HIV, according to Public Health England, 11,000 were African-born men and 20,700 African-born women.”
    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/reality-check/2015/apr/03/do-foreigners-come-to-uk-to-get-hiv-treatment
    So where does that leave all the people who laid into him? Including Garry Liniker.
    Multiply those numbers with the cost of HIV drugs and you are up over £600 million a year.

    There was an interesting insight into multicultural Britain on the Channel 4 News last week when Krishnan Guru-Murthy went back to his hometown of Nelson in Lancashire to talk to people there about race. It was generally considered to be quite divided, with Asian people predominating in the town centre, and white people in the suburbs and surrounding villages. Some young Asian women who now lived in the suburban house Guru-Murthy grew up in, said that they didn’t even feel comfortable in the town centre because of creepy Asian guys looking at them in ways they didn’t like.

    In our more diverse boroughs now, I’m not sure how much state multiculturalism has influence any more. Young black people will identify with an American ”concious rapper” like Kendrick Lamar, and his ”N word” laden new album much more than they ever would with English prog rock (for example).
    And mix in socially exclusive groups of friends – and gangs even.
    In the Channel 4 News piece, some young people said they did mix with people from other backgrounds at college, but rarely outside that environment.

  4. damon

    For anyone interested in race issues in England, a Sunday evening radio programme on BBC London is an esential listen I think. The one hosted by Nigerian born and Tottenham raised Dotun Adebayo.
    It’s a show about issues for black Londoners and I’ve been listening to it for years.

    The people who come on as guests always seem so self identified as black British.
    Last night they were talking about a hypothetical ”black manifesto” for the coming election and were putting forward ideas for it. One was for there to be ”institutionalised affirmative action” and they were asking why black people were so much more likely to be in prison or unemployed etc.
    It was all down to white racism in their opinion. Racist police, racist courts, racist employers.
    I can’t really see how it’s official multiculturalism which drives the feelings and agenda of this politicised part of the black population. Its pretty international too, with much in common to views held by the black political mainstream in the USA.
    Here’s a link to dozens of Dotun’s past Sunday night shows.
    He’s so different when he does his overnight, non race-based programmes elsewhere on BBC radio.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p001d7cn/clips

  5. @Kenan “Farage …What does he blame immigration for?”

    This is progress. Farage has said many times he doesn’t blame immigrants for taking advantage of the opportunity to come to Britain to better their lives. Finally, you have stopped saying “Farage blames immigrants” and now you talk about him blaming “immigration”. This is halfway to the truth. Farage has also said many times that we need immigration. What he, and the majority of people in Britain (77%), of all ethnicities and national heritage have a problem with is UNCONTROLLED MASS IMMIGRATION.

    Sorry about the shouty bold capital letters but it really does seem that since some people are determined to misinterpret and misquote what Farage says so they can paint him as a bigot, xenophobe or racist, it has to be spelled out.

    • I admire your attempt to defend the indefensible, but I’m afraid it doesn’t wash. Is this the same party that plastered hoardings with the slogan ‘26 million people in Europe are looking for work. And whose jobs are they after?’ No pointing the finger at immigrants there, then, nor any scaremongering. And could this be the same Nigel Farage who said that he didn’t want Romanians moving next door to him? No bigotry there, clearly, just an attack on the political class.

      • damon

        That LBC interview when Farage talked about the Romanian neighbours was a disgrace.
        James O’Brien used the tactic of hostile attack from start. It’s a tactic that can work on live radio or TV as you just don’t let your opponent to settle. Like what happened to Nick Griffin on Question Time. I don’t like Farage, but he’s not very good at talking live to camera or microphone. Maybe it’s contrived and he does it wilfully.
        When he was saying Romanian, he was obviously (I think) thinking of Roma. The ones that come unprepared to look after themselves in the normal way, like a million other eastern Europeans have done.
        Getting jobs, paying rent, fitting in etc. In western Europe there are tens of thousands of Roma migrants who aren’t doing it that way, but doing it the other way. Sleeping rough, building shanty shelters, begging, asking for charity, overcrowding in any houses they do get to live in etc.
        The outraged radio presenter chooses to live in a posh Chiswick street where these things are not seen though, which is why I think he’s such a hypocrite.

        As someone earning £9 an hour driving a truck, I think that wages have been kept down because there is so much surplus labour in the economy. If I don’t want to work for that, there are plenty who will. Wages down, cost of housing up.

      • Hi Kenan. Two quick points on that.

        1) All the other parties castigated Farage for saying that many more Romanians and Bulgarians would take advantage of the open door than the few thousand they estimated. We still await figures, but we do know the number of people coming to Britain from these two countries increased by 41% during 2013, (before the fully open door) to around 178,000. (ONS)

        2) Farage didn’t say “he didn’t want Romanians moving next door to him”. He said he’d expect many people would be concerned if a large group of Romanian men moved in next door to them. This was following crime figures stated by a MET chief inspector, who has since been told to shut up.

        Tellingly, a Romanian woman, Mariana Gordan, interviewed on Channel 4 news, agreed with Farage, much to the chagrin of the John Snow, who thought he’d set up a nice bit of Farage bashing. On twitter, a Romanian commenter thanked the UK for ‘taking all the dross’ from his country that his government wouldn’t give Romanian passports to.

        Labour’s David Blunkett warned of the Roma vs Muslim powderkeg at flashpoint in Sheffield. He got told to shut up too.

        On a wider point, you’re concentrating on off the cuff comments Farage has made in interviews, but my main concern with your piece was your statement:
        “UKIP…many of its policies are bigoted.”

        I asked:
        Which ones? Please read http://www.ukip.org/policies_for_people and tell me which policies are “bigoted”.

        How’s that coming along? Have you found any?

        • 1. Actually the figures show that Romanians and Bulgarians did not ‘take advantage of the open door’ as you put it after transitional controls were lifted. As Migration Observatory notes ‘the A2-born population in the UK grew by a similar number before and after the end of transitional labour market controls’.

          2. Previously you argued that the fact that UKIP has a number of BME candidates is relevant to the question of the character of its policies. Now you argue that the fact that a Romanian woman agreed with Farage’s views somehow makes them acceptable. Why should it? If a ‘liberal’ had a made a similar argument, you would (rightly) have castigated them. It’s the argument of desperation.

          3. You claimed in a previous comment that ‘Many people accuse Farage of “Blaming foreigners for Britain’s social ills”, but they never quote his actual words’. When I do quote Farage, you suggest that I’m ‘concentrating on off the cuff comments Farage has made in interviews’. Having it both ways might be useful in your quest to be an MP, but it’s just silly if you want a meaningful discussion.

          4. It’s true that nowhere in the UKIP policy document does it say ‘UKIP will ensure that you don’t have to live next door to a (large group) of Romanians’ or that ‘We will legislate to reduce the number of foreigners on our motorway’. My point is that it is the idea that foreigners are to blame for Britain’s social ills that’s the problem.

    • damon

      What annoys me about Farage is the way he says things that aren’t entirely worked out and nuanced properly, and then walks away and let’s a media storm take place.
      A recent example was when he talked about employers being allowed to discriminate in favour of British born job applicants.
      I then had to listen to outraged foreign born British citizens ringing into the radio programmes saying how discriminatory that was. And asking whether their citizenship to be seen as second class because they were born overseas. I was born outside the UK myself, as was Kenan I believe.
      The Tory MP for Stratford, Nadhim Zahawi, was particularly upset by this, as he is British but was born in Iraq. I heard him complaining on the radio at least twice during the day.
      Farage let that brew all day.
      Its like his statement that he thinks that the children of immigrants shouldn’t be able to attend state schools for five years. How’s that going to work in Tottenham and Newham?
      Half of the kids in school are the children of new immigrants. Or would there be loads of exemptions – like for asylum seekers etc? He is a bit of a charlatan imo, but should be free to make his points without the dishonesty that others often then attack him with.
      Like with the HIV comments the other night. With a country like Zimbabwe having an infection rate of 20%, taking in a lot of people from that country will put people here at some risk of more HIV spreading. And the cost of course. That Plaid Cymru woman was the one who should have been ashamed in that situation when she attacked Farage on Thursday.

      A point to Kenan. It wasn’t the government or councils which developed a new accent for black people.
      It’s come about in just the last thirty years, particularly the last fifteen to twenty. Sometimes when I hear it being spoken, like with radio callers, I’m amazed to hear how complex and convoluted it is.
      Where did that come from? The change of accent more widely among young people (influenced by the new black accent) has make the traditional London accents a thing of rareity in schools there.
      These accents were driven by racial consciousness much more than official multiculturalism I think.

  6. Kenan claims : “UKIP MP Douglas Carswell pointedly refused to back [Farage] on the issue of foreigners with HIV”

    In fact Doug Carswell did no such thing. According to the article Kenan links to support his claim, Carswell said:
    “our health service should not be an international health service”, which he described as a “far and reasonable point”.
    And when when asked three times about Mr Farage’s comments on foreigners with aids, Mr Carswell described it as a “slightly slanted question”. “I am not going to play that game,” he said. Does this amount to Carswell “Pointedly refusing to back Farage”? I think not.

    Take home points:
    1)Treating people who have never paid into the system for AIDS costs around £500m/yr and rising.
    2) 25 cancer drug predominantly used by people who have paid into the system for decades have been de-listed because £200m can’t be found.
    3) This is not fair, and is not mandated by the British people. There is an argument for helping with the cost of treatment in the sufferers home countries, but this should be paid for out of the foreign aid budget, not the NHS budget, and should be proportionate to contributions from other nations.

    • Your claim about Douglas Carswell is, as you must know, sheer disingenuity. Three times Carswell was asked specifically if he supported Farage’s comments about foreigners with HIV. He could have said, ‘Yes I support Nigel Farage’s comments on foreigners with HIV’. He refused. Instead he gave a bland response to the effect that ‘our health service should not be an international health service’ and accused the journalist of ‘trying to get me to say something I haven’t said’. Of, course Carswell, as a UKIP MP, is not going to say ‘I think my party leader was out of order’. But to spin his response as support for Farage’s comments, and to claim that I am misleading people on this, is to suggest that you are not really interested in having a proper debate, but simply want to defend UKIP in any way you can.

      As for your argument as to why foreigners with HIV should be denied treatment, you seem to suggest that were they to be denied treatment, the NHS would have money for cancer treatment. That is, at best, a naïve view of why the NHS is squeezed for money. Blaming foreigners for the NHS crisis is a distraction from the real job of fighting the policies of austerity. You also claim that ‘There is an argument for helping with the cost of treatment in the sufferers home countries’. That is to imply that people come to Britain simply for HIV treatment. That is untrue. Few of those later diagnosed as HIV accessed testing as soon as they arrived in the UK. A 2005 Parliamentary report on HIV observed that HIV-positive migrants tended not to turn to the NHS until the disease was well advanced, usually years after they entered the UK. This, it noted, ‘would not be the expected behaviour of a cynical “health tourist” who had come to the country solely to access free services’.

      • damon

        It’s so easy to pick holes in Ukip that I think it misses the bigger point.
        We know what they are. They’re the voice of the people in the pub, or at work. Even your own family members maybe. Slating them for not getting the finer points of sophistry is quite harsh I think. Look at the Plaid Cymru woman’s attack on Farage. If you asked people in Cardiff what they would think about a thousand HIV positive men from Africa moving there and not being diagnosed for several years, you might not get the terribly right-on response like Leanne Wood gave on Thursday. How many people should be infected by these men in Cardiff before they started getting treatment? And that it would be costing the Welsh health service £20,000 a person to treat them after they were diagnosed. That would be £20 million a year.

        A Ukip minded person might ask just how so many of these people manage to come to Britain in the first place. We know that the asylum system became ”unfit for purpose” because of so many false claims and being tied up with legal appeals. Many of the HIV sufferers must have come by that route. But its something that is not discussed, because people on the left (and liberals) find digging into the details rather grubby and unworthy.

        I’ll never be supportive of Ukip, but I find the left that despise them so much, to be even worse than them, because they wreck any chance of proper debate.

      • Kenan makes this claim: “Three times Carswell was asked specifically if he supported Farage’s comments”

        I’ve reread the article again, and nowhere does the article say that Carswell was asked specifically if he supported Farage’s comments. In fact the correspondent avoids stating exactly what specific question was asked. All we get is Carswell’s response saying it was a “slightly slanted question”.

        • This is getting rather silly. The article provides a transcript of the interview. The three questions Carswell was asked were:

          1 ‘Nigel brought back up this idea of foreigners with HIV being treated over here on the NHS. I just wanted to see if you agreed with his suggestion that foreigners with aids shouldn’t be treated in British hospitals.’

          2 ‘You didn’t have any concerns about honing in on Aids sufferers as a particular scourge of the NHS?’

          3 ‘Obviously you have a family link with HIV. I just wanted to check this whole idea of HIV tourism that Nigel Farage has talked about. I just wanted to see…’

          If you can read that twice and still conclude that ‘nowhere does the article say that Carswell was asked specifically if he supported Farage’s comments’, then your understanding of English is clearly different from mine.

  7. Kenan says: It’s true that nowhere in the UKIP policy document does it say ‘UKIP will ensure that you don’t have to live next door to a (large group) of Romanians’ or that ‘We will legislate to reduce the number of foreigners on our motorway’.

    Thanks for agreeing that UKIP’s policies are not bigoted after all.

    “My point is that it is the idea that foreigners are to blame for Britain’s social ills that’s the problem.”

    Well as I’ve pointed out several times, this is something you are projecting onto UKIP. We don’t blame “foreigners”. We blame the political class which has allowed UNCONTROLLED MASS IMMIGRATION while failing to provide the additional services required to cope with the increase in population size.

    I don’t want to antagonize you further, so I’ll leave it there. Thanks for the debate.

    • I never imagined that you would agree with my criticisms. I don’t doubt that you hold your views in good faith. Nevertheless your defence of UKIP policy does not hold up well. You suggest that UKIP blames not foreigners but the political class. But for what does UKIP blame the political class? For allowing too many foreigners into this country. However you may wish to spin it, it is foreigners whom UKIP blames for joblessness, lack of housing, an ill-working NHS, etc. all the way down to congestion on the M4.

      You claim that because I wrote that ‘nowhere in the UKIP policy document does it say ‘UKIP will ensure that you don’t have to live next door to a (large group) of Romanians’ or that ‘We will legislate to reduce the number of foreigners on our motorway’, so I must ‘agree that UKIP’s policies are not bigoted after all’. That is a slightly desperate manoeuvre. But think of the issue from a different perspective. Why is Nigel Farage led to making such comments about Romanian neighbours or the reasons for motorway congestion? Because at the heart of UKIP policy is the idea that the problem lies with too many immigrants. So every issue, from the crisis in the NHS to the traffic on the M4, becomes seen through the lens of immigration. That’s what creates the bigotry.

      As it happens, I blame the political class too – not for letting in too many foreigners but for imposing austerity, constraining the economy, building insufficient housing, etc. I also recognize that in blaming immigrants for such problems, we make it much more difficult to argue and campaign for the real solutions to the problems we face.

      Finally, this issue is not something unique to UKIP. All mainstream parties accept the ‘immigrants are to blame’ argument, to a lesser or greater degree. I have kept this thread running so as to answer your questions, but as I wrote right at the beginning of this thread, ‘I don’t particularly want to waste my time debating the finer points of UKIP policy… [because] the real problem is not UKIP but the mainstream parties who, by pandering to populist anti-immigration sentiment, give credence to such arguments.’

      • damon

        One criticism of Kenan and people who support open borders is, I don’t think I’ve heard a full and proper explanation of the idea. I was at the Battle of Ideas session last year which had David Goodhart, Philippe Legrain, Steven Woolfe from Ukip and was chaired by Claire Fox …… and even that only scratched the surface and really didn’t move the debate on much.
        There wasn’t enough time basicly.
        It’s good to see that people are open enough to debate Ukip like happened there, but still, people are falling back on ideological positions. Like it doesn’t matter if Britain’s population goes up by another ten or twenty million, because we can just make all the towns and cities bigger.
        And it doesn’t matter if everywhere becomes like our most impoverished and diverse boroughs, where settled communities become overtaken by the ”bedsit culture” that becomes the norm in places that become transient hubs. Most towns have these cheaper areas that can become full of foreign workers living in houses of multiple occupation – and in the same streets, long term unemployed British, like many of the young people who rioted in 2011.
        Where people like Mark Duggan (shot by the police) lived and grew up.
        He should have been doing the jobs the eastern European workers have all taken up, but chose the gang life instead. Because the regular life probably didn’t seem to offer the desired rewards.

        The government will make promises of bringing in thousands of new midwives – from where?
        Are they going to be trained up from our people who are now on job seekers allowance?
        Or just brought in from overseas like the sandwich making company was going to do for a future Northampton sandwich factory?

        ”Silent race wars/culture wars.” The RCP used to love terms like that, and I think it applies to Ukip type people today. They have to be called bigots, just because they aren’t as articulate as many of the people who oppose them. Not everyone wants to live in Tottenham, or work for the minimum wage amongst people who’ve never heard of Morcambe and Wise ( for example). Especially if you think it’s keeping wages down and forcing rents up.

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