Are Britons Beginning to Realize the Truth?
The Labour leadership seems finally to be waking up to the fact that the party's immigration policy has not been popular with what has traditionally been seen as its core vote: Britain's white working class. The development appears to have taken Hazel Blears, the Communities Secretary, by surprise. She reacted to a report commissioned by her department that found that many working class whites feel "betrayed" by saying that "the report shows there are real complexities around perceptions [of Government] held by the white working class."The Telegraph captures the metaphysical dilemma faced by most Western nations when Enlightenment values are applied to political policies like immigration:
"Real complexities?" The reasons why the working class feels betrayed actually reduce to one fairly simple fact: they have paid the costs of increased immigration without reaping any of the benefits. They compete for low-skilled, poorly-paid jobs with immigrants who are willing to work longer hours for less money. The white working class is not affluent, so can't take advantage of the opportunities to eat at ethnic restaurants or to employ nannies, plumbers and builders at low wages that delight those who are better off (such as, for instance, Labour ministers and MPs). They are the ones who find that, because many immigrants are even poorer and more in need of services such as council housing and medical care than they are, there is a longer queue for those benefits. The better-off already own their homes, and they don't live in the poor neighbourhoods into which immigrants settle, so their children do not have to go to schools where many of their class-mates do not speak English.
Advocates of unrestricted or very high levels of immigration into Britain often seem simply to have deluded themselves into portraying what is actually a piece of economic self-interest as high-minded philanthropy. Still, underlying the question of how many people from developing economies we should welcome into Britain, there is a very fundamental issue about the basis of rights, and who owes how much to whom.The corrosive creep of universalist sentiments has led Western intellectuals from the proposition that all persons should have the same basic human liberties, to the very wrong conclusion that all persons are inherently equal in capabilities, and are, in fact, interchangeable. Hence the U.S. belief that setting up a democratic government in Iraq will turn Baghdad into a swarthier version of Minneapolis. Or the idea that importing millions of Mexicans into the US - or hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis into Briton - will have no negative effect on nation. Since all people are, as we are told, equal, there are no real differences and any evidence to the contrary is intrinsically racist and must be suppressed. The cold hard facts visible to our naked eyes, must never be acknowledged.
On one side, there is the rationalist, universalist view, which says that the basis of rights and entitlements is "human-ness" – and that morally, every government should treat every human being in exactly the same way. On the other, there is the view that governments can never be more than the guardians of the interests of the particular group of people who elect them and contribute to them. That is why, as a member of a particular nation, you have a right to a voice in deciding what laws govern your society, but outsiders do not. It is also why you also have an entitlement to benefits that is not universally shared.
Labour's policy on immigration has been based on the rationalist, universalist view. That is why its immigration policy, with its insistence that every immigrant has exactly the same rights as long-standing members of British society, has come into such sharp collision with the views of the white working class. They think that the Government should recognise that it has special obligations to its own citizens which it does not have to humanity in general. They, along with most of the rest of us, are sceptical of any politician who claims to be following "universal reason", especially when the "rational policy" requires sacrifices from people who are not politicians. Most British citizens think that the British Government has no obligation whatever to extend to arrivals from Third World countries the benefits to which only being a citizen entitles you.