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Immigration and inequality: Politicians target the weakest victims

Anti-immigration sentiment is not the main cause of Britain’s housing shortage nor of the other economic challenges that it faces. Conservative Party policies have strained the social contract, and a change of government offers hope of fulfilling the promise of shelter and prosperity.


Harry Allen


Over 300 languages are spoken in London, only falling short of New York where nearly 800 are spoken. London is a global city and immigration has endowed it with an enormous variety of culture, custom and talent.

There’s little Romania in Colindale and an East African community on Holloway Road. Visit Southall and you can find the heart of London’s south Asian community, whilst Brixton reigns supreme as the Caribbean hotspot. The city’s diversity is hard to ignore, and census trends show us this isn’t going to change anytime soon. For the far right, London continues to be an easy target for those looking to blame Britain’s current demise on high levels of immigration.

When societies face economic challenges, they tend to blame a minority.

In Britain, migration constantly tops the Conservative Party agenda.  Sunak continually pushes the Rwanda deportation scheme ahead in a bid to combat soaring net migration figures which rose to 745,000 in 2022. The government are even offering a cash incentive of £3000 to leave.

It is an extraordinary number of people; bigger than the population of Hounslow, Kensington and Enfield boroughs combined. There are physical queues of people lining up to view, buy and rent properties in London yet the government declines to initiate any form of support.

It is become normal to send your resume to landlords and prove your worthiness, all to end up in a substandard, overpriced and overcrowded shared houses.

Those born in the UK are left wondering why they can’t afford anything, whilst those arriving are being left bewildered at the cost of a roof over their head. Housing is the cornerstone of security and a strong community.

However, we’re increasingly having to compete for something many consider a human right, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that some are painting this as an immigration issue.

If only the government were honest operators, we may be able to cut the fear mongering and realise that greed feeds the far right, not immigrants.

It is far easier to point the finger at our neighbour than a siloed property developer hidden by tinted glass windows. Restricting the supply of housing, increases the demand, keeping prices and rents high for landlords.

It is the perfect equilibrium for those with multiple housing assets, even if you do sit on the side of rent controls and social housing, there’s no incentive for you to be more ethical.

Underneath the market euphoria are an entire underclass of immigrants, young people and others left behind who see it as modern serfdom. This breeds widespread resentment, manifesting itself in anti-immigrant, and even anti-baby boomer sentiment.

Turning housing into a commodity won the Conservatives an entire generation of voters in the 1980s but now the chickens are coming home to roost. The Conservatives lost 474 council seats in the recent local elections

As age and ethnic demographics change, so is the sting of Conservatism in British politics: they’ve been found out, and if the polls are correct, will be booted out very soon.

Labour doesn’t seem to be offering anything different, appearing desperate to convince right-wingers they can be trusted.

When it comes to housing there is nothing exceptional in Labour’s offer – only 1.5 million new homes are set to be built within 5 years. Sounds like a lot, but it doesn’t outshine current housebuilding figures currently at 250,000 a year.

Having a harmonious social fabric is the only way people will begin to see Britain as a viable place to build a life. Not many people want to be here for a long time these days. Rent controls, more social housing, second home, and wealth taxes, sprinkled in with some phase-by-phase, basic income pilots, are the only way we’ll see any meaningful change for those at society’s edges.

Inequality has run rampant since the 1980s and intensified further since the 2007 market crash. 14 years of Conservative government have been the final nail in the coffin for many of our aspirations.

The governments’ final act is to demonize immigrants in a bid to hold onto their core voter base. It is purely defensive, and all about setting themselves up for a re-election bid in 2030.

The Conservative Party are promoting the economic remedy as a deportation of potentially 32,000 migrants, but it highlights the government’s inability to deal with Britain’s deep-rooted inequalities.

Without a radical set of policies under a new government, issues like healthcare, racism, poverty and housing will not be truthfully addressed in the next parliament, whichever party wins.

Britain’s status as a place of refuge and security falters in times of economic strife. You can’t create any form of social harmony, let alone cultural or racial, without a strong economy and a launchpad for opportunity. It is obvious what needs to be done, but nobody seems to be doing it.

(Photos: Pixabay)

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