Ilaria Bellacci: Unspoken truths: the sign of Migrant Voice

GMT 11:34 Thursday ,20 March 2014

 Migrant Voice - Ilaria Bellacci: Unspoken truths: the sign of Migrant Voice

Ilaria Bellacci

"The papers next day were full of the ‘Brixton Mystery’, as they termed it. (…) The Daily Telegraph remarked that in the history of crime there had seldom been a tragedy which presented stranger features. (…) After alluding airily to (…) the Darwinian theory, the principles of Malthus and the Ratcliff Highway murders, the article concluded by admonishing the Government and advocating a closer watch over foreigners in England". This quotation does not come from a modern article or novel, but from Doyle’s A study in Scarlet, written in 1887. The question a modern Sherlock Holmes of migration should ask himself is: WHY? Why are British media always ready to point their fingers at migrants and foreigners?  It seems a real mystery to me. It is somehow worrying if Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 127 years ago felt the urge to characterise the Daily Telegraph in this way. Nowadays we have several other examples coming from other journals, but nothing has actually changed. Tom Harris from the Telegraph, for instance, writes: "Object to mass immigration from the EU? Join the Romaphobe club!".  James Black instead claims: "At last, hard evidence that can't be ignored: Immigration is reducing jobs for British workers and David Cameron must act now". Is this acceptable? Blaming the 'outsider' for internal problems has been the oldest and probably most efficient strategy governments around the world have followed for centuries to alter the perception of their (inefficient) mandates. However, in the 21st century this is not acceptable anymore. We need transparency to fulfil the idea of democracy. The fact is this: migration is good. First of all, migrants tend to fill the gaps in the domestic labour supply, providing workforce where nationals can’t or don’t want to work. Secondly, migration has made the demand for both low and high skilled job rise. Thirdly and probably most importantly, migrants fill the gap caused by the low fertility rate and the ageing of population. As the 'domestic' population able to undertake employment is decreasing, there is a higher need for public expenditure in pensions and in the health system that nobody, if not the 'external' workforce, can support. A study of the UN has highlighted that the EU would need to attract almost 674 million immigrants between 2000 and 2050 in order to sustain its national systems (Boswell, Christina (2003), European Migration Policies in Flux- Changing Patterns of Inclusion and Exclusion, London: Chatham House Papers). These are the realities many governments don’t want to hear. The real explanations of why the political debate has never taken these facts into account will remain a mystery that only political scientists can solve. Probably it is because of a mixture of electoral strategies, cultural or anthropological reasons, but I leave such debate for the academia. The only thing I am sure of is that the UK needs organisations like Migrant Voice. They fight every day, step by step, to reshape and change this distorted media debate. They give migrants a voice and raise awareness. They provide migrants with strong tools to speak for themselves and be the masters of their own empowerment. Trainings, lectures, events, lobbying…they may all seem to be 'easy' instruments but they really are sharp blades to cut ignorance with.  Projects like the Face2Face project at Migrant Voice highlight how awareness should not only be raised among migrants, but also among locals and students. Educating the future generations of journalists is pivotal in order to transform the dialectical discourse into a more ethical –but also realistic- one. Therefore I cannot conclude this post without thanking Migrant Voice: not only because helping them is a very fulfilling personal experience; but I also would like to do it on the behalf of many young people who like me are tired of seeing things remain unchanged. Thank you Migrant Voice!


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