Tuesday, 15 March 2011

We will come to you, but don't come to us

No one in the UKs political class suggests that the UK should try less hard to be a Global Player.

We stand ready to invade far-away countries, we want to sell arms on a grand scale (and often to the same countries as we might also want to invade), and we want our cultural influence (English language, Christianity) to penetrate to the four corners of the earth. Mr Cameron is active on all these fronts.

And then there are our banks, who really are global players.

At the same time, and nearer home, we fail to exploit the advantage which arises from the fact that English is the common language of Europe. We didn't join the €uro (still consistently outperforming the pound on the foreign exchange markets) and we won't join the Schengen (Open Borders) area. There are countries not even in the EU who use the €uro or which - like Norway and Switzerland - have signed up to the Schengen Area.

We want tourists to come here: the Government now has a new "Strategy" to promote this as one way of reducing our reliance on banking to balance the balance of payments.

But we are deeply unsure about having foreigners come her to study and work, despite overwhelming evidence that language schools are big business and that employers want to employ migrant workers. In that respect, nothing has changed since the 1950s, when London Transport and British Railways encouraged migrants from the West Indies.

The core of the problem is really this: if you want to be a Global Player, the Globe will also tend to come to you. That is why London is the world in one city. There are economic migrants from our own Empire and other people's Empires: there are refugees from wars we have started; there are those who might have preferred to go to Finland but for the fact that they speak Finnish there.

Just as Mexicans will always find ways of crossing the border into the US, so the World will always find a way to come to the UK so long as they UK behaves like one of the Big Boys.

The choice is simple:

Get over it, and find a way to accommodate a diverse population: build enough houses, for example, it's surely not that hard.

Or:

Get Out of It, and stop playing Big Boys' games

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