Net migration into Britain this year reached 250,000.

On one side of the Immigration debate, capped levels, earned citizenship, ID cards, and annual migration reports –  on the other, open borders, a welcome for all, a call to increase the size of the cake, a celebration of a multi-cultural society….

Emma Barnett interrogates David Goodhart, Director of the independent think-tank Demos, and Ceri Dingle, Director of Worldwrite, an education charity campaigning for global equality – and then lets them loose on each other’s arguments.


[Image courtesy of mckibillo via ©©]

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  • Manhattan is Ceri’s idea for our future. As if it is self- sufficient and doesn’t make use of a huge amount of the world’s resources. In any case that kind of urban density is a definition of hell for many especially if there was.nowhere to go to that offered wide open spaces and solitude.

    Tellingly she refers to the places from which people emigrate as simply ‘blobs’. one piece of land is of course the same as any other if Manhattan is your goal.

    Goodheart made some good points but the cultural points were not made well enough beyond alienation and loss of community for those ” amongst whom they come” The proponents of multiculturalism never really argue the positives either beyond adjectives such as vibrant and dynamic and mention of music and food.

    The reality is that mass immigration has dehumanised the experience of many in our cities. Without a shared language we are all inhabiting a blob. An island full of noises signifying …?

  • The well educated Ceri sugarcoats the immigration issue with big words rather than speaking about the simple facts. I was in London the other day and it was simply awful: too many people, who don’t speak e
    English as their mother tongue and the majority of the jobs especially in retail were filled from the ethnic communities. How about positive discrimination for white people when they apply for these jobs in such densely populated areas. A cap on immigration would still increase the cake for highly creative people from wonderful diverse backgrounds but with enough room for of us. I hope we will in the future reclaim the space in London!!!!!

  • Emma begins the interview by asking ‘who should be allowed into our country?’ It is, however, worth asking what makes Britain ‘ours’ (presumably Emma is addressing the British born listeners?) and why ‘we’ should want control the borders from ‘them’. I disagree that we should keep Britain ‘ours’ by tightening borders and controlling immigration to keep out the ‘alien other.’ Speaking of immigrants as ‘legal’ or ‘illigal’is absurd -Immigrants have not committed crimes so why are some branded as ‘illegal’? I agree completely with Ceri that ‘illegal’ immigrants should be decriminalised.
    Ceri makes some interesting and thoughtful points about freedom of movement as she explains that she wants it for everyone (not just academics and wealthy students as David seems to suggest). What frustrates me with this debate, and debates on immigration more generally, is that there is a view held by some which says clearly that it ok for some people to choose where they live in the world but the majority of the world’s population should stay put. In differentiating between the two groups, there is no way that David can claim that he believes in the equality of all human beings. David refers to what he believes as the negative social and cultural impacts of ‘unfamiliar people speaking an unfamiliar language’ but fails to recognise all the positive social, cultural (and economic) benefits that immigrants bring to Britain.

    Sian Earl

  • This was an interesting debate, particularly as currently there is so much talk about the need to cutback and look at who is deserving enough to get a good wage, even a job, even benefits, as there is, apparently, not enough to go round. To me this is wrong, it is looking at what is a societal structural problem and blaming individuals, setting us apart in categories of deserving or undeserving. David’s arguments represents a numbers game, based on the idea that we simply don’t have the intelligence or imagination to create something better so we better ‘hunker down’. It is also based on what I can only describe as the ‘fear factor’; I’d say don’t be scared of more of us. Most of us don’t see the UK as a tiny island and certainly do not want the world to think of us as small and scared islanders frightened of having anybody come through or stay.

  • As someone British born who notices that lots of services are often provided by people who “ain’t from around here” and who used to have a job working for a migrant – I find the Demos guy (and the interviewers’) characterisation of migrants as just users and consumers is not quite my “cup of tea”.

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