“Do the panel here watch the internet?” the man in the Question Time audience piped up. “If you watch the internet… half of them immigrants they don’t want the water, they don’t want the food, they want money and they want to get to Britain”. Now at the time, me, and the couple of million others watching Question Time would have laughed at the clear and utter ignorance of the gentleman. But we shouldn’t. Firstly, obviously, it’s clear xenophobia, hence the use of the word ‘immigrant’. Now this isn’t to say of course he’s a racist or a xenophobe; I do not know the guy. It may be a clear case of pure ignorance, but that ignorance is the main issue at hand. And for both ‘Remain’ in the EU debate, and Labour, in-fact the whole of the left, this is a huge worry.
One of the big issues surrounding the EU debate is immigration, and this has especially been a big issue for the past few years for many of the electorate; with Ian Warren’s article highlighting how 60% of the public view immigration as a top three issues facing this country. One of the main reasons for this has been because of the majority of the right wing media, plus right wing ideologies like UKIP/Republican party scaremongering the public. They paint these refugees, fleeing a war torn country for a better life as ‘money grabbing criminals, possibly terrorists’. They tell the public that these people are dangerous invaders, who are simply after our money. Hence the views of the gentleman on Question Time last Thursday. This scaremongering and dispersion of fear across the public is what has led to rise of UKIP, Farage, and even worse personalities like Trump and Cruz across the pond in America.
Now why is this such a problem for ‘Remain’? Because of the EU’s ‘Open Door Policy’, which is being used as one of the main arguments by Brexit. The problem is that the media are merging this with the refugee crisis, to not only inflate the numbers in statistics but create more fear. People like the gentleman above forget about their own free movements, and all the other brilliant assets that come from being part of the EU e.g. access to the single market, security, global power. Now I won’t ramble on to much about the EU and the referendum, I’ll do that in a future post closer to June. But I will highlight the lack of knowledge Brits have about the EU, highlighted in this article. ‘Remain’ needs to begin to educate the voters on the EU, and the brilliant things it brings to us, and just how better it could be under reform. Otherwise, we could be leaving the EU.
Now, for the left, and Labour. I know I blether on about Labour’s issues a lot, but this is a big one. Immigration is an area where the electorate do not have faith in Labour. As Frank Podmore highlights most of the electorate who stopped voting for Labour in 2010 were ‘social conservatives’, and one of the reasons was because they believed we let too many ‘immigrants’ into the country. In 2015 Ed was able to win back much of the left, but he couldn’t shake off the perceptions of Blair/Brown etc, and wasn’t able to win back the Social Conservatives. Even though migration into the UK is higher under the Tories, and the Conservatives are nowhere near meeting targets, the electorate still see their ‘tougher stance’ as electable. This is another area where Corbyn and current Labour is very unelectable, and I can’t see that changing for a long time, especially when Corbyn, McDonnell and co call for more open borders.
Many of that audience had very ignorant, bigoted views and the lack of humanity was astounding. However, this is the electorate that Labour and ‘Remain’ need to try and win over somehow, and that will be an incredibly tough task indeed.