Thursday, October 04, 2007

Britain: Muslim immigrants are the chief parasites

Labour's favourite thinktank yesterday named the migrant groups which are a drain on the taxpayer. Immigrants from Somalia, Turkey, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Iran are most likely to be out of work and claiming state benefits, it said. There tend to be high numbers of asylum seekers among those groups who have failed to take advantage of the opportunities offered by Britain's open economy, a study found. But immigrants from many countries do better than people born in the UK in terms of the proportion who work, their level of earnings and the school performance of their children.

The report was produced by the Institute for Public Policy Research, which has close links to Downing Street. The institute has always in the past been supportive of Government immigration policy and its work has focused on the benefits rather than the downside of largescale migration. The report's results, which are based on an analysis of government figures, were produced for a Dispatches programme called Immigrants: The Inconvenient Truth. It is being broadcast on Channel 4 at 8pm this evening. They figures show that Somalis in Britain are the worst- off migrant group. Fewer than one in five has a job and four out of five live in subsidised council or housing association homes.

The report also confirms the widespread perception that Polish-immigrants work hard for less money than most British-born workers would accept. Australians are the only nationality in Britain more likely to have a job than the Poles. In the hours they work Poles are second only to the notoriously workaholic Americans. However, Poles earn on average the lowest hourly wage, 7.30 pounds.

The institute report said: 'There are some immigrant communities who rank consistently lower on most indicators than the UK average. "In some cases, these relatively lowranking communities are predominantly made up of people who have come to the UK for non-economic reasons, for example to join family members who are already in the UK or to seek asylum. "These communities may be made up of large numbers of people whose admission into the UK is not based on their potential economic contribution to the UK." The report added: 'Some immigrant communities are clearly faring less well in the UK and are unable to contribute as much as others because of the poor socio-economic situations they find themselves in. "Many in these groups are present in the UK because they are fleeing persecution and violence in their home countries and require our protection."

The institute's latest findings come in the wake of Whitehall's revision of the expected levels of future immigration to almost two million in the next decade and the declaration by a Home Office minister of 'the need for swift and sweeping changes to the immigration system'. Gordon Brown has spoken of 'British jobs for British workers' and is bringing in a points-based immigration system, which will give priority to those with education, skills and high earnings. The institute report said almost all migrant groups have children who spend longer in the education system than the children of British-born parents.

But some migrant groups have failed to turn educational success into economic success. Groups whose children have not done well in school include Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Turks and Somalis. Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Sri Lankan and Iranian children all do better than average in school, the report said.

State statistics over the past 15 years have identified recent migrant groups who have done best in economic and education terms. Generally speaking, Asians who came from East Africa in the 1970s and Chinese are counted the most successful, followed by Indians. Some groups do better than others. For example, black Caribbean girls do well in school and earn more on average than white counterparts, while black Caribbean boys are more likely to fail.


Strange questions in the British citizenship quiz too

Do you know what ESOL is? Do you know how the process of housebuying is different in Scotland than it is in England? Do you know the proportion of British people that say they have a religion, and how many attend religious services? Are you up to speed on the British cultural calendar, such as when saints’ days are celebrated?

These are all questions that immigrants will be asked before they can become full citizens of the United Kingdom. There is a notable gap between life in the UK and Life in the UK – the official government handbook to prepare immigrants for taking their British citizenship test. There is Britain as it is lived, in all the richness of work and play. And then there is this otherworldly version of Britain on which would-be citizens must be tried and tested.

It was in response to this gap between real life and government-imposed testing that a group of Manifesto Club members proposed holding a citizenship test as a pub quiz, that quintessentially British activity. They got the idea after overhearing a chance conversation in a pub:

‘A Japanese woman, who we figured had been living in the UK for about 10 years, presently studying for an MA, was recounting to her British friends some of the questions in the citizenship test she had sat earlier that day. She started recalling some of the questions to see if her friends knew the answers. Nobody seemed to have direct answers, a few guesses were offered, but the main response was further questions: “What’s that got to do with anything?” and “Why would you need to know that?” Towards the end of their conversation, the Japanese woman said, “It’s alright for you, you don’t have to do would you like it?”’

The Life in the UK website tells would-be citizens that the test will ‘give you the practical knowledge you need to live in this country and to take part in society’. The Amazon version of the handbook is sold with the exclusive accolade: ‘Pass the Citizenship Test with Life in the United Kingdom: A Journey to Citizenship - the only official test book and study guide edited by the Home Office and members of the Advisory Board on Naturalisation and Integration.’

The test may be sanctioned at the highest level, but nobody could fail to notice that it contains a strange set of questions, part Trivial Pursuit, part Citizens’ Advice Bureau information. The questions have their origins in the strange political process that was initiated by then home secretary David Blunkett in 2003. This was an elite operation (Blunkett picked his former university tutor Sir Bernard Crick as the test-master), and it was motivated by particular elite concerns: the need to improve ‘social cohesion’, and strengthen people’s sense of connection and loyalty to Britain.

The citizenship discussion is restricted to a very particular group of people. Seminar rooms and political conference halls are alive with deliberation about the meaning of citizenship; the pubs and streets of Britain, however, are not. Politicians and think-tanks are constantly discussing how best to define British identity and how to make Britishness matter, and many will come up with their list of three or four values that they call their ‘British values’. And unluckily for migrants, they have ended up as the guinea pigs in this often quite desperate attempt to define Britishness.

There is something of an aristocratic bent to this fashion for ‘defining British citizenship’, or ‘making citizenship meaningful’. Citizens – as opposed to subjects – were supposed to be free men, a self-constituting body of people who came together in association with one another. Whereas subjects were an extension of the personality of the king or lord, citizens defined themselves. Most citizenship tests – in America, for instance – had their roots in some kind of citizens’ movement. By contrast, the new British citizenship test, full of dull and bizarre questions about buying homes and attending church, has its origins in the elite’s sense of confusion about what its nation stands for today.

Citizenship is increasingly an identity that is defined from above, rather than by your real relationships and contribution to society. So would-be citizens spend their evenings in classes learning about ‘Life in the UK’ according to the Advisory Board on Naturalisation and Integration, when they could be out on the streets really learning about life. Prime minister Gordon Brown recently said that new migrants would have to prove that they could speak English before they could enter the country. Yet surely living in a country is the best way to learn its language, in context and in response to real needs.

Brown is erecting a hurdle that immigrants must leap over in order to prove their commitment to Britain. Yet for decades immigrants have learnt and improved their English-speaking skills while resident in the UK – while building up real relationships of commitment at work, in communities, in social environments. As with the citizenship test, the demand that immigrants learn English before coming here looks like another attempt by our leaders to work out their own angst about what makes a Briton a Briton by imposing arbitrary tests on newcomers to our shores.


Britain: Creationism can be a topic in class

Teachers have been given permission to discuss the controversial theory of creationism in science lessons. Pupils should be able to ask questions about the theory provided teachers emphasise it has "no underpinning scientific principles", new Government guidance says. If the subject is raised teachers will be expected to contrast the strict Biblical belief that the Earth was created by God in six days between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago with Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. Teachers are told to respond "positively and educationally" to such questions and be "respectful of students' views, religious or otherwise".

But the document – drawn up to clarify the rules after Christian academics challenged the teaching of Darwinism in GCSE biology – makes it clear that such beliefs are not "scientifically testable" and are not valid scientific theories.

It is hoped the guidance will help avoid the situation in the United States where some schools – under pressure from the religious Right – have compelled science teachers to introduce lessons in intelligent design, a creationist off-shoot.

The guidance says schools must teach the broad outlines of evolutionary theory to pupils aged five to 14, and focus clearly on the "nature of, and evidence for, evolution" at GCSE and A-level. Questions about creationism should provide an "opportunity to explain or explore why they are not considered to be scientific theories".


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