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Immigrants, Bigots, Politicians - Songs of innocence and of experience [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Douglas Spencer

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Immigrants, Bigots, Politicians [Apr. 30th, 2010|01:09 am]
Douglas Spencer
I've been thinking about this for a day and half. I said a couple of things on Twitter. And then someone posted something here on LJ, and I commented, and it was long enough for a post of its own, so here it is.

Disclaimer: I have middle-class white British [mostly-]heterosexual educated privilege.

You know what my position is? I want a good doctor, and a good dentist, and a good plumber and electrician and grocer and handyman and library assistant and call-centre-person, and I don't much care whether they're from Formby or Formosa. And I expect to be good at my job if I hope to keep it and I expect to be replaced by someone better if I'm not.

For years I've had a GP from India, and he's brilliant. And a dentist from Buckinghamshire, and she's brilliant too. And I'm delighted to have each of them.

And there was a time five years ago when I really wished immigration was easier in Washington DC, USA... and I recognise how hypocritical I'd be if I wanted it to be harder here.

I just kind of wish that if Gordon was prepared to say "she's a bigot" in the car, he'd have been prepared to say "you're a bigot" to her face, and engage with her and find out what she thinks is wrong, and help her to find out what he thinks is wrong. I think that's one of his failings on this occasion.

[User Picture]From: helenex
2010-04-30 08:54 am (UTC)
I shouldn't have been surprised that whilst the media were all over Brown's comments, what was actually said in the conversation went relatively unreported.

When I went looking for them, actually I pretty much agreed with him saying that she was "sort of a bigoted woman". She wasn't a raving loony, but the language she used to express herself regarding immigration gave the impression that she saw Eastern Europeans as almost less than human (talking about them "flocking" and "swarming").

Mostly, immigrants (even those from Eastern Europe) don't claim benefits or "take our council houses". And yet, there are areas of the country where there is real pressure on public services due to unexpected changes in the shape of the population in the last few years - I remember a few years ago someone from Glasgow City Council told me they had applications for 2000 extra children to enter the school system one September. What goes for schools might also go for doctors, dentists but also the housing rental market, for example.

Politicians can't brush off these concerns, and they are right to respond in public to the issues raised even if the language used is inappropriate.
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