The Government’s tough rhetoric on immigration is alienating migrant communities and causing “new forms of racism” to break out across the country, a major study will warn today.
Controversial policies such as the use of billboard vans warning illegal immigrants to “go home or face arrest” and the posting of pictures on Twitter showing suspects being led away by officials has led to legal migrants being subjected to racial prejudice, it concluded.
Different migrant groups have become increasingly suspicious of one another, with hostility breaking out between asylum seekers, refugees and Eastern Europeans. Some migrants reported ethnic minority British citizens telling them to “go home”.
One Bradford resident told researchers: “People can’t tell who is legal or illegal and they make judgements based on your appearance. Sometimes that changes when they hear your accent.”
10 things immigration has done for Britain
10 things immigration has done for Britain
1/10 The Mini
The 1959 classic, that is, perhaps our greatest piece of industrial design, a miracle of packaging and revolution in motoring. Its genius designer was Sir Alec Issigonis, who was an asylum seeker. His family, Greek, fled Smyrna when Turks invaded this borderland in around 1920, and he wound up studying engineering at Battersea Polytechnic. He went on to create that most English of motor cars, the Morris Minor, as well as the Austin-Morris 1100, all much loved products of his fertile imagination.
2/10 Marks and Spencer
Once upon a time there was no M&S in Britain, difficult as that may be to believe. We have one Michael Marks to thank for our most famous retailer, and he was a refugee from Belarus, arriving in England in about 1882, and soon after set off to flog stuff around Yorkshire. He eventually teamed with Thomas Spencer to create the vast business we know today.
And many other TV shows created, funded and otherwise produced by that largest of larger-than-life characters, Lew Grade (also a world class tap dancer). The man who dominated commercial television gave us memorable entertainment such as The Prisoner, the Saint and brought the Muppets to Britain (a sort of fuzzy felt wave of immigration), as well as puppet shows where you could see the strings. All this from a penniless Jew from Ukraine, born Lev Winogradsky, who escaped the pogroms in Ukraine with his family in the 1890s. His nephew Michael Grade has also done his bit for British television.
4/10 The House of Windsor
Or the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha until George V prudently rebranded the family during the First World War. Well, our royals are a pretty German bunch, as well as having various types of French and other alien blue blood coursing around their veins. ‘Twas ever thus. There was William the Conqueror, Norman French, who certainly broke the immigration rules; William of Orange, a direct import from Holland; the Hanoverian King Georges, the first barely able to speak English; Queen Victoria, who married a German, Edward VII, who couldn’t stay faithful to his wife, a Danish princess; George V wed another German princess; Edward VIII married an American (though she hardly visited England and prompted his emigration and exile); and the Queen is married to man born in Corfu. The embodiment of the British nation, to many, but one thinks of them as quite multicultural really.
5/10 I Vow To Thee My Country
Our most patriotic hymn was the product of a man named Gustav Holst (pictured), born in Cheltenham, but of varied Swedish, Latvian and German ancestry, who adapted part of his suite The Planets to put a particularly stirring and beautiful poem to music, just after the Great War. As the second verse has it, “there's another country/I've heard of long ago/Most dear to them that love her/most great to them that know”. Imagine if the Holst family had been kept out because the quota on musical European types had been reached.
6/10 Curry and Cobra
Chicken Tikka Masala is, so they say, a dish which not only the most popular in Britain but specifically designed to cater for European tastes. For that we probably have to thank an Indian migrant, Sake Dean Mahomed, who came from Bengal to open the first recognisable Indian restaurant, the magnificently named “Hindoostanee Coffee House”. History does not record if a plate of poppadoms and accompanying selection of pickles and yoghurts were routinely placed on the table for new diners, but we do know that we had to wait until 1989 to taste the ideal lager for a curry - Cobra. That brew was brought to us by Karan (now Lord) Bilimoria, a Cambridge law graduate who hailed from Hyderabad.
7/10 That big red swirly sculpture at the Olympic Park
Or Orbit, to give it its proper name, the work of Anish Kapoor, who arrived in 1973 from India and had the artistic imagination to fill a power station.
8/10 The Sun
Love it or hate it, and many do both, this has been a symbol of much that is successful and a lot that is awful in British journalism since its inception in 1969. In its turn it spawned the Page 3 Girl and some nastily xenophobic headlines. All the stranger when you consider its creator was, of course, Rupert Murdoch, born 11 March 1931 in Melbourne, Australia.
OK, Karl Marx’s philosophy was not much of a gift to the world, but for a while it seemed like a good idea. Though we might not dare admit it, Marxism still has a few insights to offer to anyone wanting to understand the workings of capitalism, though too few to excuse everything that was done in its name. Born in Germany spent much time in the British museum and the British pub, buried Highgate Cemetery. Oddly, his ideas never really caught on in his adopted homeland.
10/10 The NHS
They came from many, many backgrounds, including Ireland, the Philippines, east Europe, the Indian subcontinent, and Africa, as they still do, but the contribution of the black nurses who came to the UK from the Caribbean to heal and care for is a debt of honour that must be recognised. It so sometimes forgotten that it was Enoch Powell, then Minister of Health (1960-62), who campaigned to recruit their skilled nurses to come and work over here. One abiding legacy we can thank Enoch for.
The disturbing findings come in the wake of official statistics showing that net migration to the UK has risen to 298,000 – around 50,000 higher than when David Cameron became Prime Minister. The Conservatives previously promised to reduce it to below 100,000.
While it has failed to reduce the number of people entering the country, the Government’s hardened stance on the issue has meant that it is now “acceptable” for people to be openly anti-immigration – a viewpoint which can easily cross the line into racism, the researchers said.
Some legal migrants have been so intimidated by the Government’s messages that they are “scared to be politically engaged” in case their right to remain in the UK is threatened, the researchers said. Even “established minorities” were found to be increasingly reluctant to take part in political activism.
The study, which drew on an Ipsos MORI survey of more than 2,400 people, was launched in the wake of controversy surrounding the deployment of vans instructing illegal immigrants to “go home or face arrest”, which toured six London boroughs in 2013. The pilot scheme was later ditched by the Home Office, which claimed it led to 11 people leaving the country.
Some of those polled believed that the adverts had been organised by far-right groups such as the English Defence League, rather than the Government. One Birmingham resident told researchers: “It’s a group of people who don’t want foreigners in their country. I think it’s the EDL – they are telling us that they don’t like us, they don’t want us, we should go.”
Academics from seven different universities around the UK contributed to the 18-month project, Mapping Immigration Controversy, which received funding from the Economic and Social Research Council. Its findings will be presented at a briefing in London today.
Lead researcher Dr Hannah Jones, of the University of Warwick, said the study’s findings undermined the Government’s statements about the importance of “British values” such as tolerance and respect, as its tough talk on immigration made new arrivals feel unwelcome and threatened.
“We had examples of people saying that when they were in Afghanistan, or whichever country they came from, they believed that Britain was a place of tolerance and a place of safety. But now they say it doesn’t feel like that,” she said.
The Government campaigns had also created “resentment between different migrant groups”, she added, as well as leading to people “being treated as though they were illegal immigrants” because of what they looked like.
“It’s not necessarily people being in the traditional racist mode of hating black people or thinking black people are inferior, but seeing people of colour as potential immigrants and not belonging. In that sense it’s a new form of racism,” she said.
Labour's David Hanson MP, the shadow Minister for Immigration, said: "The Home Secretary was worried about the Tories being called 'the nasty party' but the disgraceful 'go home' vans were a clear example of the awful immigration policies and rhetoric that's been the hallmark of this Coalition Government.
"These findings are extremely worrying and should serve as a reminder to the government of the impact of their careless use of divisive rhetoric. Over centuries Britain has benefited from the energy, ideas, hard work and investment of people coming to live here from abroad.
"Immigration will continue to be important to Britain, but it needs to be managed and controlled so the system is fair. We need strong borders, and for rules to be enforced, but we do not need the government stirring up community division in the rhetoric they use and the policies they pursue."
The Home Office declined to comment when contacted by The Independent.Reuse content