Wednesday, February 11, 2009

British Jobs for British Workers: A Note on Latest Protests

I am travelling, but reading the reports about UK job protests. Basically, the British workers are protesting because they are getting left out in new construction projects and politicians are paying lip service to them. This is one place where I think politicans are saying what they really believe - after all, the phrase 'British Job for British Workers' came from Gordon Brown.

There is no moral objection to the fundamental proposition - British jobs should go to British workers. But to do what? Produce products and services which they would want other countries to buy? Yes, such is the level of double standards these days - we want British jobs for British workers, protest against outsourcing in America and then rail against China and India because they are not buying enough British/ American products. So, this is what the politicians like Gordon Brown expects - British Jobs should go to British Workers and American/ Chinese/ Indian consumers should buy British products. That's more than funny.

The current protests are against immigrant European workers, but I do not think it will take long to turn this into a racist thing. Britain is a racist country, in its own insultingly patronizing way. Politicians are guilty of this more than anyone else - despite living in the country for five years and contributing in terms of taxes and taking British businesses overseas - I have always been told why immigrants like me are creating parking problems in British boroughs. I have more or less understood that this is a question of colour too, and being treated as an office boy in the office is part of life for a skilled but coloured immigrant. He will have to endure a life of daily insults and being put in the same bracket as terrorists and fake asylum seekers, and obviously, he will never be welcomed in the country.

I do think Britain will lose out significantly because of this. They failed to make their economy vibrant and innovative by keeping immigrants at an arms length, and failing to stop the talented Britons from leaving the country. The usual assumption of the politicians seemed to be that Britons are leaving the country because of increased immigration - while it seems exactly the opposite: they are leaving the country because of lack of economic opportunities, and high costs of living, which comes from years of monetary misadventure.

Living in Britain as an economic immigrant, I know the pains involved. First of all, you tend to get labelled - immigrant - and generally regarded as a crook, an illegal alien and a scavenger of public services. The company you work for takes you in reluctantly, as they do not have another option perhaps, and then treat you as a special case and an office boy, alternately. Because of the huge role government funds play in education, business and welfare, the immigrants are significantly disadvantaged against locals. They are given an unfair odd to compete against - almost labelled again for a fixed place in the society, which is to serve local companies. They have very little chance of social mobility or integration, and mostly their practises will be frowned upon or simply regarded 'un-british'.

I do think, however, such things will exact a heavy toll on the British economy in the coming months of recession. This is a time when its competitiveness will take a hit, and predictably, more nationalist feelings will emerge - leading to retaliation against British products abroad. Nationalist outbursts actually top the list of Don'ts in a recession, but British politicians apparently do not know that. I hope Britain will survive - as a politician entity, with its monarchy and pomp intact - this recession; however, this has to survive a very strong attack on itself, and pay a rather heavy price.

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