Heidi speaks about immigration

I am very pleased to participate in this debate. I am grateful to my right hon. Friend Mr Field for proposing it and to Nicholas Soames, who cannot be here today. I do not necessarily share all their views on this subject, but they are both entirely right to say that immigration is a matter of overwhelming concern to the public.

It is with a degree of trepidation that I speak on this topic. Unlike my right hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead, I have done comparatively little work on immigration. I do not pretend to have all the answers, and I certainly do not pretend that my remarks will please everyone, but as someone who represents a part of London that has benefited enormously from the flow of people from all over the world I feel compelled to say something about the conundrum in which we now find ourselves, where the Government’s desire to see the “brightest and best” come to the UK is contradicted by an artificial, policy-driven cap that prevents those very people from coming in the numbers our economy needs. It is a conundrum in which thousands of people, many of whom have families, have been told by the UK Border Agency that they face removal or deportation, yet for years have been left to get on with their lives in towns and cities up and down the country. It is a conundrum surprisingly summed up best by our tabloids. One day it is “Save Gamu Nhengu”, the next it is back to the old refrain of “Fewer immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers”. I meet people such as Gamu every week in my surgery, who have come to our country to make a better life for themselves and their families. Not everyone has been on “The X Factor”, but many have equally strong cases for staying in the UK.

Immigration was one of the top concerns raised by my constituents during the election, as it was for many other Members. In fact, I would say it was probably in the top three subjects of conversation on the doorstep, along with concerns about the economy and a general disillusionment with politics and politicians. Time and again, I spoke to people who believed that immigrants were taking their jobs and homes. The vast majority of those people were not racist and some were first or second-generation immigrants themselves, but they were often people who were struggling to make ends meet, had seen significant changes in their neighbourhood and were looking for someone to blame for their own hardship. Many held the belief that immigrants were jumping the queue for social housing, and others felt that eastern European construction workers were taking jobs from their sons and grandsons.

Read on…

About Andrew Brown

I live in Lewisham, South East London, and spent 9 years as a Labour councillor in the borough between 1997 and 2006.
This entry was posted in Heidi Alexander, Lewisham's Politicians. Bookmark the permalink.

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