Speaking for Ourselves

Editorial: All talk, no action

Editorial: All talk, no action


 Migrant Voice - Editorial: All talk, no action

It’s been refreshing to hear so much praise for some groups of migrant workers during these first weeks of the Covid-19 lockdown. But amongst the platitudes, the Government has wasted no time in pushing ahead with its plan for a crude and discriminatory points-based immigration system that, if already in force, would have prevented many of those migrants from coming here and doing these frontline jobs. 

Yes, it was remarkable to hear Piers Morgan – usually one of the UK’s most combative voices on immigration issues – reading a roll call of Filipino health workers and talking about migrants “enriching our country” live on air. 

And yes, it was welcome too when the Prime Minister singled out Jenny McGee and Luis Pitarma – both migrants – when thanking the NHS for saving his life.

But sandwiched neatly in between these megaphone moments was the release of some news from the Government that escaped most people’s attention – a document for employers introducing the points-based immigration system due to launch in January. A system that will mean nurses like Jenny from New Zealand and Luis from Portugal, and Filipino nurses Venus and Princess will find it much harder to come to the UK and “enrich our country” in the future.

In an email we received from the Home Office telling us about this newly available information, they explained there was no big communications push planned at the moment – the reason given was that many businesses are currently under severe stress due to Covid-19. But it’s hard to see how the Government could have been unaware of the hypocrisy of releasing this information at this moment. 

They decided the solution was to release it quietly. And that’s the most revealing part of all of this. If the Government were truly thankful to the migrant frontline workers in this country, if they truly recognised their value (and not just the economic), they would be changing their policy, not pushing on with their existing policy under the radar.

If ever there were a time for real change, this is it. This is the time to extend the transition period, scrap the points-based policy and take time to create a new immigration system that truly works for everyone. A system where migrant workers can come to the UK to do jobs that are wanted and needed – whether in the NHS or anywhere else – where they are paid fairly for their work and treated fairly by their employers, where they are valued beyond their earning potential and welcomed as human beings into our communities.

But the Government is missing this opportunity and instead, all we’re seeing are temporary, piecemeal responses such as extending visas for some NHS workers. Although welcome, this is not the way to respond to such an earth-shattering event as Covid-19.

It seems strange to end on a quote from Piers Morgan, but these are strange times. "I hope at the end of this we have perhaps a different sentiment, a different feeling about what immigration has done for this country," he told viewers last week. 

What we’re hoping – and pushing – for is far more than a change of feeling. We need policies that allow migrants to come to the UK and live dignified lives. Platitudes are not enough.  

TOP IMAGE: Screenshot from Gov.uk 

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