For the past 30 years immigration has been the hottest topic on the political agenda.
Whilst most of the debate rages around immigrants relative worth to the UK - in terms of money and culture - most never talk about how and why people have made it here.
For those that believe that immigration an absolute bad, or should be controlled heavily, this is an imperative. There is no way to stop people moving around the world if they are under extreme duress.
For progressives who believe that immigration is a positive - or that people should be free to move where they want - it is equally important to challenge the system that forces people to leave the lands of their birth against their will.
So would a populist anti immigration party like UKIP actually challenge the causes of global migration and decrease immigration?
The answer is, of course, a resounding no.
SETTING THE SCENE
Despite claims that people have ‘concerns’ that never get discussed, the back and forth on immigration around its benefits and problems has never been fiercer.
Our perceptions of immigrants derived from the press are largely negative.
They are largely based on complete falsehoods and misconception. There is a massive gap between perception and reality when it comes to even knowing the numbers of immigrants in Britain.
Into this arena of misinformed and misanthropic debate rides UKIP.
UKIP promise to end the age of “mass uncontrolled immigration”. They promise to do this by with tougher border controls, an exit of the EU, and a complete freeze on legal immigration.
But will these really affect the levels of immigration?
If people are still moving around the globe, migrating, then border controls would not change the numbers of immigrants, we are unable to keep track of migrants as it is. It would merely change their status from documented to undocumented.
It is commonly held that there are 5 key factors that cause migration. So would the UKIP policies change these factors? What do their policies on these areas mean for levels of immigration to the UK and globally?
PUSH AND PULL FACTORS
The major push factors that cause people to migrate away from the land of their birth are war or political oppression, environmental change and poverty.
The pull factors can be seen as the other sides of the same coins. What attracts people to migrate to a new country (outside of those who move for cultural adventure), is economic opportunity and political freedoms not found in their home country.
- CLIMATE CHANGE
Climate change, caused by global warming, is already occurring and it is estimated it is already causing about 300,00 deaths a year.
It is unclear whether natural disasters have increased in impact because of climate change but there is a reasonable consensus that it is going to affect the severity of future events.
The UN stated that in 2008 alone 20 million people were displaced by climate change.
- GLOBAL POVERTY
80% of humanity live on less than $10 a day, and half the world live in absolute poverty (less than $2.50 a day).
Neo-Liberal orthodoxy - the consensus of ideas promoting small government, low taxes, privatisation, bank deregulation and trade liberalisation - are widely held to be the foundation of the policies that have deepened global poverty, increased inequality and damaged democratic governance globally.
Even former heads of the World Bank - the institution that enforces these policies on most nations - like Joseph Stiglitz, agree that neo-liberalism has been disastrous for world poverty.
These policies have increased global poverty massively, whilst redistributing the wealth of the world into the hands of a small number of nations and multinational corporations.
WAR AND POLITICAL OPPRESSION
The UK directly intervenes in the majority of global conflicts, supporting terrorists and politically repressive states as well as invading or bombing countries.
A short example list of our allies, or organisations that we have armed, trained and funded, would include such notables as Al Qaeda, ISIS, Al Nusra, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the ‘government’s’ of Saudi Arabia, Colombia, Indonesia, Iraq, Pakistan, Malaysia, Israel, Libya and so on.
Historically it would be hard to list all of the terrorist organisations, dictatorships and religious bigots the UK has supported in the last 50 years alone, but be assured it is almost all of them.
PULL FACTORS - TWO SIDES OF THE SAME COIN
The pull factors - relative political freedom and the lack of conflict, climate disasters and extreme poverty in the UK - are largely based on the causes of the push factors.
As the home of the industrial revolution we are the number one climate change causer, and benefactor of fossil fuel wealth.
As a large imperial nation we have also profited from war and political instability, not just historically, but also currently.
As an economic bully that enriches our corporations at the expense of entire nations, we have also benefitted economically.
Whilst these benefits have not been shared equally in the UK, nonetheless those benefits are to be seen in the UK.
People of the world are merely following the wealth of their birthplace to it’s new home as the look for more secure life - free from poverty, war, or environmental disaster.
SO WHAT ARE UKIP’s POSITIONS ON THE CAUSES OF GLOBAL MIGRATION?
- CLIMATE CHANGE
UKIP’s position on Climate Change is pretty clear. A good deal of their key members are outspoken climate change deniers.
They plan to scrap the department for Energy and Climate Change, scrap green taxes and support the creation of new mega fossil fuel energy plants.
They will also support Fracking and other extreme energy extraction.
- GLOBAL POVERTY
They believe in British power at home and abroad, which would see British banks and corporations be given further subsidies, tax breaks and support for wealth extraction (and poverty creation) globally.
WAR AND POLITICAL REPRESSION
UKIPs support for the British military is unequivocal. A key pledge is that they “will resource fully our military assets and personnel”, which would mark an ’increase in defence spending’ and that they will build more aircraft carriers.
As we are already number five in the world in terms of defence spending, it would seem that the world would be heading for more even trouble under UKIP.
What the results would be for the rest of the world are pretty clear.
Economic inequality and poverty are likely to increase, as British banks and corporations chase their bottom line with the full support of UKIP.
Climate change will displace and kill even more people, as well as resource wars that will follow, due to the need for housing, food, water - and of course oil. this will continue and increase under a UKIP government.
Wars will be instigated and exacerbated to justify increased military spending. Friendly dictators and terrorist groups will be supported. British power will be projected around the world, as we increase our ‘defence’ spending.
Of course, all this is happening already.
CREATING MIGRANTS - IT’S WHAT WE DO
Ultimately the policies of the British government have always created migrants, regardless of party.
It is nothing to do with ‘open door policies to the EU’.
It is to do with the causes of war, poverty, and environmental destruction.
If we do not tackle the causes of these things here in the UK, then people are going to be continually forced to leave their homes and seek a better life wherever they can.
This is likely to be in an ever more repressive, aggressive and unequal ‘developed world’, but it is one that still offers more than the death and destruction of home.
For those who are concerned about levels of the immigration to the UK, I am afraid UKIP may not be the party for you.
And for those of us who support people’s freedom to move wherever they want, but also believe in the right to lead free, stable and prosperous lives, without being forced from your home, well, we have work to do.