Immigrants: putting the country and record straight


The asinine comment made by Nigel Farage, blaming immigrants for his delayed drive on the M4, has paradoxically made many people reflect on the role those from minority backgrounds have played and are playing in making this country such a fine place to live, though we more than most are aware of its injustices.

If Farage had thought a bit harder, he would have realised that many of the buses, coaches and trains transporting other people around this country whilst he was stuck on the motorway were being driven by people whose background is from overseas, and that our transport infrastructure depends on the hard work and commitment of 'immigrants' who get up very early in the morning and work throughout the night to ensure the country functions properly.

And the NHS, the future of which has caused the UKIP leader some embarrassment, also depends on those who come from many countries whether they be top consultants or ancillary staff. The NHS, admired around the world, employs those more motivated by a desire to care for their sick and suffering fellow human beings than by big salaries. As anyone who sees our health service in action will observe, the quality of mercy is colour blind.

An increasing number of teachers from immigrant backgrounds are enabling our children to succeed academically, and indeed the latest research shows children from immigrant families are the highest achievers. They will go on to be captains of our industries, scientists, artists and innovators, with a greater desire to achieve in no small part because of the values imparted by their families…yes, Mr Farage, immigrant families.

Of course, these examples of positive contributions to our society - to which can be added those playing in our top sports clubs, leading lights in the arts world, creative industries and entertainment - do not mean we're living in some sort of multicultural paradise. Racial injustice and social deprivation which hits the BME community the hardest remain with us, and sadly the current government has done very little to address these issues. Indeed, depressingly Labour and the Tories, seem intent on mimicking UKIP's stance on immigration.

In the run up to the May General Election, we'll be working tirelessly to impress upon politicians of all parties that they must take the power of the black vote seriously and put the issues faced by the BME community far higher up their agendas. This is particularly important because, unlike in the other sectors mentioned above, in politics and public administration, there has been less progress by those from BME communities. We will expect whichever party holds power after May to address the democratic deficit which sees far too few Black people involved in politics and participating in civic society.

Paul Hensby