Thursday, 10 October 2013

Nationality : Oh Jack.

This is a difficult piece of writing. The subject matter does sit not prettily in politics, so I will refrain from any political views and hope that we can have a more general, open discussion. Because, after all, it's our country and we pay for its governance.

I'm certain that England football player Jack Wilshere has, by now, been given a lifetime's supply of Duck Tape for his mouth. But what he says about nationality has never really been more relevant than it is today.

In short, Jack (and quite a few others) think that you shouldn't play for England if you weren't born here. This leaves the way open for Have I Got News For You and others to take some more cheap jibes at the quality of England's star soccer players. An easy target.

But this isn't about soccer, or our national ability to constantly fail when it matters at the world level of the game.

It's about life in Britain. Things haven't been great since the Empire started to fall apart. Then the Commonwealth. And now our own 4 nations seem to want to live apart. Our society is plainly not very good at integration and compromise.

And, just political for a moment, the next General Election by 2015 will be an immigration battleground. It will get horrible.

You see - it's really quite easy to be racist. A simple set of rules, easily applied. And racism has 2 powerful extremes. At one end the tattoo-ed, crew cut or bald white male hating anybody with less than white skin, or with a foreign tongue.

At the other, gentle almost unoticed racism. Listening to Len Goodman on Radio 2 last week, my mouth dropped silently open when I heard him state "I've never 'ad a curry or pasta. I hate all that foreign muck."

I wasn't surprised because Len was wrong. He was simply stating the truth and his feelings for food. But I just imagined the BBC Compliance bods getting involved and having a long discussion about whether what Len said could be interpreted as racist or an insult to a foreigner.

Because, that's how bad the debate has got. Every normal-minded person in the UK now lives in fear of being arrested and branded a racist.

We all know that racism isn't simply limited to white vs anything foreign. There's racism in this country between Asians and Blacks. Jews and Arabs. It's everywhere - let's just call it "tribal" because that's where its history lies. Bring in religion, and you open up another reason for hatred between people.

I know. Irish mother. English father. I have witnessed racism at close quarters between members of my own family. Largely based on the ancient Catholic/Protestant battles. I took my wife to see where my Irish grandma lived in Northern Ireland. I hadn't been back for years. It used to be a simple "Housing Trust" area - the NI equivalent of social housing. Now, everything including the kerbs is painted red, white & blue with anti-republican slogans on entire walls. Angry-looking white males with offensive tattoos walk their fighting dogs around the place. It's not how I remember it from childhood. My Irish family history contains Protestants as well as Catholics, it's that confusing.

And it is, of course, not much better in the Catholic/Republican areas - except the colours are green, white & gold and the tats are written in Gaelic.

This, people, is in your United Kingdom. And it has been that way for centuries.

Let's blame history - let's blame the awful English and their rape of Ireland which was continuing less than 100 years ago. Because, it's in our nature - we have to have someone to blame.

Immigration (controlled) is good. Immigration with bad controls creates more racism and hatred. Listen to the vox-pops - English interviewees telling stories of "health tourism" and immigrants ruining their community. Schools straining under the impossible weight of cultures & languages. And, of course, all those foreigners are stealing our jobs....

This UK could not have developed without immigration. Fact. But the immigration numbers are now excessive - and we only know the ones they count. It appears that many more get in without being counted.

So - what to do? I am firmly of the belief that if ANYONE wants to live and work in the UK they must be able to fluently read and write the language. And they must comply with our civilised laws at all times. They must not be permitted to drive, work, get healthcare or other social benefits unless they contribute to the economy and are fully tested that they comply with all requirements.

Does that make me racist or anti-immigration? No - it means I care for our society. And most of the rules stated already exist - but are not being policed or enforced correctly.

I love my neighbour. And we live on a 2-way street - they must learn to love the UK, contribute to its growth, not be a burden. And then they won't be a target for hatred.

Even at the age of 58, I continue to learn so much about different people and their cultures. The UK can gain from this, if we manage immigration with strong common sense. A lot of immigrants over the centuries have brought things to this country that have enhanced our lives. On the good/bad seesaw, immigration leans heavily towards good.

So - Jack - keep getting better at your chosen profession. Concentrate on that. As a player, you excite me. As a philosopher, not so.

Now - all we have to do is tell the politicians. Do they speak our language?