Holy Immigration - Bishop of Dudley bashes the Prime Minister
In policies apparently aimed at the imminent influx of 29 million Romanians and Bulgarians, the Prime Minister intends to reduce immigrants' access to benefits by insisting that they prove they are looking for work and requiring residency for at least two years before they can access council housing (an exception will be made for those fleeing 'domestic violence' or 'family breakdown'). If they fulfil neither, it's back to the shanty towns of Romania for them (assuming they don't just 'disappear' into the underworld of illegal immigration). Further, the free-at-the-point-of-need National Health Service will no longer be a free International Health Service. Those requiring treatment will be required to pay for it, or prove they can pay for it, with some sort of NHS 'entitlement' card introduced.
So, presumably, Bulgarian women will be left to give birth in the gutter, and Romanian men will be left to bleed to death from their severed arteries while those who are entitled to treatment sail on ahead of them.
Presumably, also, nothing can or will be done about immigration from the other 24 EU member states, who will remain as free as ever they were to claim whatever benefits and housing they want in order to fulfil their human rights as decreed by the European Convention. We can expect an awful lot of weepy women and quivering children to claim they are fleeing domestic violence. And, in this age of gender equality, expect quite a few butch men to claim the same. Quite how the Border Agency will check the veracity of thousands of such claims is unclear. And neither is it clear what the threshold of 'domestic violence' will be: having watched Channel 4's Gypsy and Traveller brides as they plan their wedding days, it is quite clear that some of their cultural norms - like 'grabbing' - may be deemed to constitute a violation and assault. Will the threat of being 'grabbed' become a passport to UK welfare?
Observer: "Public fears around immigration are like fears around crime. They bear little relationship to the actual reality."
The Bishop has served on this board and is a former chairman of that board, and seems well-versed in committee proceedings and waffly proclamations. He opines:
"The tone of the current debate suggests that it is better for 10 people with a legitimate reason for coming to this country to be refused entry than for one person to get in who has no good cause. It is wholly disproportionate as a response. It is especially galling in Holy Week, when Christians are remembering how Jesus himself became the scapegoat in a political battle, to see politicians vying with each other in just such a process.His Grace agrees with the Bishop that the tone of the debate is inappropriate, but only insofar as it is nowhere near as robust and forthright as it needs to be. What is 'especially galling' is for a senior cleric of the Established Church to whinge about the rhetoric without offering any solutions to the immigrant ghettos and shanty towns which are popping up in some of the most densely-populated cities in the UK. Is the Bishop in favour of transitional controls? No? Why not? Does he support the free movement of citizens from other EU member states into this country? Yes? Why?
"Studies show that the vast majority of new arrivals to the UK enhance and enrich our society, both economically and culturally. The true threats to our national wellbeing lie not with those who come to visit or make their lives here but with the increasing gap between the rich and poor among us."
The Bishop is apparently concerned about such a debate occurring during Holy Week, 'when Christians are remembering how Jesus himself became the scapegoat in a political battle'.
It ought to come as no surprise that an Anglican bishop perceives the Stations of the Cross as a socialist manifesto. But the vast majority of Christians won't give a thought for the politics of immigration as they meditate this week upon the Cross of Calvary. They'll be thanking God that their sins are forgiven; that they are cleansed by the blood of the Holy Lamb of God; that they will rise again on the Last Day in triumph and spend eternity in Glory with their Saviour.
Bishop David ought to try living for a while in Peterborough, Burnley, or Barking and Dagenham, where social cohesion is among the lowest in the country. He might visit a primary school or five in which 26 separate and distinct languages are spoken, and try imparting the National Curriculum into that mêlée. Uncontrolled immigration fractures and fragments communities, significantly increasing public anxiety over housing, doctors, dentists, hospitals and schools. Certainly, some immigrants come to contribute positively - like taking low-skilled jobs or working in the NHS. But many more come to sponge of our welfare and exploit our hospitality. And it is not at all clear why we're not training British teenagers to be doctors or nurses and then granting them preferred employment in the NHS. Perhaps Christians might reflect on that 'political battle' this week as they're staring at their crucifixes.
The Bishop appears to fabricate a ratio of 10:1 of workers to shirkers. Those who demur, of course, are cast as racists or xenophobes. But some councils - obviously not Dudley - are under great pressure from the social consequences of immigration. And, whatever David Cameron says or does or says he is doing, whatever hardline anti-immigrant rhetoric he spouts, it will be about as efficacious as Gordon Brown's plea of 'British jobs for British workers'. The numbers cannot be controlled without the UK taking control once again of its own borders.
So, as the Bishop of Dudley turns Holy Week into a homily on European union and utopian ever closer union, His Grace exhorts you to block your ears to his New-Labour vision of the New Jerusalem, and reflect instead upon the un-socialised Jesus - the real scapegoat.