Thursday, 27 August 2015

There isn't a migration crisis - only a migration opportunity

The narrative around the migration crisis has been shocking to many of us. The language used by the UK foreign secretary is eerily reminiscent of the 'cockroaches' language of Rwanda. The only positive is that it's been shocking enough to cause a backlash. An article from Al Jazeera refusing the use the term 'migrant' because of it's negative connotations has been widely shared - it's depressing that  it's come to this (it should be a simple descriptive term), but at least people who object to this kind of dehumanising are starting to speak up.

In parallel, today we see that net migration is up (cue dramatic music). Great news! People are moving here because our economy is growing, albeit slowly, and they're helping grow our economy further while not claiming benefits, shrinking the deficit. Only, even on the 'neutral' media, that's not what we're supposed to think. The BBC has a quote from the government ("deeply disappointing"), a quote from Nigel Farage (let's not go into that). Only right at the bottom does it have a slightly more positive quote, from Yvette Cooper, pointing out the difference between economic migration and asylum.

These are two different stories, but they're linked. And many of us joined the Liberal Democrats because we object to this sort of thing. We welcome diversity. We're open to reviewing the evidence, which overwhelmingly shows the benefits of immigration. And most of all, we believe in protecting human rights - which means offering sanctuary to the brave people fleeing impossible situations. 

We need to be speaking out about this, loudly and at every opportunity, even if it makes us even less popular than we are already. Tim Farron is doing his best on this - but the language we're using is still defined by our opponents.

Proposal: every time someone talks about the 'migration crisis' let's correct them to call it the 'migration opportunity'. 

As in 'in further development in the European migration opportunity, 4,000 brave, determined and dynamic people are crossing from Greece into Macedonia every day, seeking to contribute to Europe's economy, pay taxes and create jobs. Despite this, European governments seem determined to send them back to face war and torture'.

Anyone with me?

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