It appears that Ruth Kelly is set today to finally admit what many on the Right have known for some time. Multiculturalism, for all its supposed benefits, actually creates and extenuates difference between groups. Following on from John Reid's U-turn that accepted the Tory 2005 election campaign slogan that talking about immigration is not racist; Kelly is set to say that it "is not racist to discuss immigration and asylum" and that there should be a debate about multiculturalism and "whether it is encouraging separateness".
Why the sudden about face you may wonder? Well it clearly has nothing to do with the headlines of the last few days that showed that the Government's estimates on the number of immigrants from accession countries were horrendously wrong. Back then the Government rubbished Migration Watch UK and effectively accused it of tacit racism, oh how things change?
Having said this of course, I don't particularly have a problem with Eastern Europeans coming to work in the UK. Frankly, there are far to many lazy arrogant British people who refuse to take the jobs that many of these economic migrants are taking. The real question we should be addressing is why so many young British-born people won't take the jobs?
Now I'm the first to admit this maybe a wild leap, but we now have an education system in this country that is apparently producing more and more young geniuses. A quick conversation with many of them tells you that's probably not really the case, however an unintended consequence of ever-higher exam grades may have actually been the increase in an attitude of "this work is beneath me" amongst many young people. I have zero evidence to back that argument up, but there must be reasons why British-born people don’t take up the non-skilled jobs many Eastern Europeans do?
There is of course one vital problem with the so-called "debate" on immigration in respect of EU accession countries though. Whether we introduce "rules" to restrict Bulgarians and Romanians immigration to the UK or not, it won’t do anything to stop them coming here as tourists and then working illegally. Once they're members of the EU club, the EU becomes their black employment market playground.
Funnily enough I pointed this out to my Polish and Lithuanian colleagues this morning and I asked them how it feels to be talked about in such broad terms in the newspapers. Their response was enlightening. They said the papers were right and that Bulgarians and Romanians should not be allowed to come and steal their jobs. They also said that Bulgarians and Romanians were lazy and mostly gypsies. This made me wonder; if immigrants talk about immigration is it racist?