Sunday, 10 April 2005

Immigration 'battle'

Labour and the Conservatives have clashed over immigration issues today.

Michael Howard stated on morning TV that:

"Immigration today is out of control and that is a matter of great concern for the future of good community relations in Britain... it's of concern for our national security; it's a concern for the future of our public services.

"Immigration is of real concern to very many people of all parties and of none. A lot of people say I should not talk about these things and that they should be swept under the carpet; I do not agree with that.

"You have to face up to problems; you have to identify them; and you have to say what you would do about them."

Yes, immigration is of great concern to the average Joe in the electorate. In that sense I would concur with Mr. Howard. But (from my libertarian perspective) I don't really share the public worry surrounding issues of immigration.

Libertarians in general welcome and value immigration. This can be attributed (in part) to utilitarian reasons; that more people should be free to live in a free society. Also, libertarians believe all should possess the freedom to come and go as they please. However, I don't believe many people in the electorate (nor the leaders of the major parties) in this current climate would accept libertarian values in regards to immigration.

The common arguments cited against further immigration are that the UK is too densely populated and has little room for extra people. I suppose this is a true statement, since the UK is one of the most densely populated countries in the Western world. Another argument put forward is that immigrants fail to integrate properly into their new society. Again, I believe there is some truth in this as members of some ethnic minorities don't mix with the wider community. The government don't do much to alleviate such a problem, since they often print their literature in several languages (other than English). Why is there is a need to do this? Shouldn't members of ethnic minorities (who have been living in the UK for years) learn to speak English?

Overall, I can understand (but not share) the common viewpoints relating to immigration. I don't believe it is 'racist' to be opposed to further immigration and such an issue will probably be prominent in this election campaign.