Tag Archives: immigration to the United Kingdom

PakiBash, 2.0: How Postmodern Racism Enables Systemic Decay

The renaissance of racism was one topic that we at Mediolana did not except to be writing about in the late summer of 2017, but with the rise of authoritarian populism in both key developed economies and emerging markets – and a nod to the 16-bit cult video game PakiBash – it makes perfect sense to elucidate the mechanics of this phenomenon.

Contemporary postmodern racism – while certainly not excluding the possibility of physical violence – is a predominantly virtual beast. But it has far-reaching real-world consequences, including ’tilting’ elections, the dehumanisation of out-groups and – crucially – guaranteed decline. Here’s how it works:

  1. Activate ad campaigns. The media is critical in creating a fecund climate for postmodern racism. It does this by running increasingly shrill stories which make popular scapegoats synonymous with structural economic and social problems that they have little-to-no tenable causative connection with, especially vis-à-vis the rest of the population. Wildly inaccurate extrapolations from unrepresentative examples are routinely deployed in this phase.
  2. Increase the heat. The next step – in which the media often (though not always) plays the roles of both cheerleader and instigator – is to claim that in an era when hate speech has become the defining wallpaper of our digital culture, ‘ordinary people’ are somehow being silenced from expressing hate speech. This has the effect of getting people to adopt confrontational demeanours, raising the temperature far beyond rationality.
  3. Airbrush inconvenient facts. That EU migration constitutes a vast economic subsidy to, say, the finances of the United Kingdom – a net benefit of £8.8bn from 1995 to 2011, as opposed to a £604.5bn drain on the exchequer during the same period by British nationals – is something that must be flushed down the memory hole. Sexual abuse – something which numerous high-profile cases have demonstrated is tragically institutionalised at all levels of UK society – is, somehow, to be construed as solely committed by people with darker skin tones and ‘alien’ names working in the margins of the nighttime economy.

Postmodern racism is, in many senses, a quite brilliant stratagem. And to certain population demographics, this new and improved form of Paki-bashing will doubtless provide that surge of adrenalin which is otherwise presumed missing from their existences.

However, it does not actually solve any of the problems it purports to explain. Quite the reverse: (i) it infantilises sections of the general public by conning them into believing that their own deficiencies – such as catastrophically low levels of educational attainment – can be remedied by blaming abstract entities; (ii) it deliberately polarises and degrades political discourse; and (iii) it gives a Get Out of Jail Free card to the taxpayer-funded agencies whose performance and policies have been central in engendering systemic decay.

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Reality Check: Migrant Workers’ Protest ‘Could Bring UK to a Screeching Halt!’

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Migration Watch Latest: Incoming Population ‘Might Know More Than You Think’!

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London Property Bubble Latest: Explaining the ‘Blackspots’

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Last month, the Financial Times published one of the more interesting maps that our Creative Director and CSO has glimpsed in recent times, a piece of cartography illustrating the change in property prices over the past five years in the triple-dip recession-hit United Kingdom. The picture is a sobering one, with the vast majority of the country covered in one or other shade of red: since 2007, the value of the housing stock of Northern Ireland has plunged 50%;  one-bedroom flats in the Ibrox neighbourhood near central Glasgow presently retail for a measly £22,000.00.

There is one small part of the UK which has proven (at least thus far) resilient to the general reversal in the cost of property, which is London and a select few environs: indeed, the choicest central municipalities of Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea now have a combined real estate worth of more than £90bn, a higher nominal value than the entire property portfolio of Wales.

Yet within this island of house price inflation that may be the only thing standing between the nation’s banks and complete fiscal meltdown, there are some mysterious deflationary tendencies. Boroughs such as Bexley (-4%), Newham (-2%), Redbridge (-2%) and Barking & Dagenham (-11%) have all seen significant price falls in the last five years, with a number of neighbouring municipalities recording almost static growth levels. These are London’s property blackspots, places where a first-time buyer can once again purchase a three-bedroom house for between £100,000.00 and £250,000.00.

But why exactly are they blackspots at all? Why are property prices in these areas falling vis à vis other localities which are arguably at least as overvalued and not nearly as well endowed with new(ish) public transportation systems such as  the Docklands Light Railway, Tramlink and London Overground? After some quick contemplation, we came to the following, tentative conclusions:

1. Historical Perceptions. The east and south-east of the capital has long suffered from a reputation as a crime-ridden, bombed out and polluted part of the world. This may have some truth to it – but it doesn’t correlate with the eye-watering property price hikes in Hackney (33%) and Tower Hamlets (24%) over the same period that the above-mentioned municipalities have lost value.

2. Broader Economic Reasons. The eastern half of London is synonymous with comparative (and in some cases, absolute) urban deprivation. But even within this part of the conurbation there are some locations broadly recognised as aspirational – not least leafy Redbridge. And there appears to be little correlation between the ghettoes of, say, Southwark and its 28% post-2007 property spike.

3. Primeval Swamp. Many of the boroughs where the property bubble has been pricked contain are characterised by possessing an unusually high African, Asian and Eastern European population, particularly recent migrants from West Africa, the Baltic nations, the CIS, China and South-East Asia. Is London a swinging, sophisticated capital? Or a city where novelty + ‘foreignness’ negates the possibility of ‘gentrification’?

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Celebrating An Own-Goal: UK Government ‘In Raptures’ Over Net Immigration Decline!

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Immigration Policy in the UK: Biting the Hand that Feeds Us?

Screen Shot 2013-02-11 at 21.06.18Since the 1990s, there has been a notable increase in the popular stigmatisation of immigrants to the United Kingdom, with substantial sections of the mass media turning terms such as ‘asylum seeker’ – the usage of which was previously the prerogative of the courts or human rights NGOs – into insults to be hurled across a playground. However, perhaps the acme of this trend was not reached until very recently, when the UK government – which seemingly overnight became aware once again of its obligations under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (‘TEFU’) – seriously considered launching an advertising campaign in the EU’s two newest (2007) members, Bulgaria and Romania, attempting to dissuade prospective (and, from no later than 1st January 2014, entirely legal) economic migrants from attempting to seek their fortunes on this shores.

The presumptions behind this line of thinking appeared to be numerous, but two in particular stood out: ‘lazy’ immigrants are a drain on the United Kingdom’s benefits system; and they will ‘flood’ into the country (immigrants never settle somewhere – they always flood it). However, unlike the policy wonks who clearly never meet an immigrant knowingly, we at Mediolana had another – and dare we say, more empirically-sound – perspective:

1. Adding Up. The Financial Times recently reproduced official government statistics showing that a mere 7% of foreign nationals resident in the United Kingdom claim working-age benefits – as opposed to 17% of British nationals. The idea that immigrants as a group move to the UK for the purposes of exploiting an ever-more parsimonious system of state aid (financial institutions excluded, natch) is simply untenable.

2. Entrepreneurial Zeal. The above-mentioned figures do not encapsulate the tiny percentage of immigrants who fill (often, though certainly not always) unproductive positions in the state bureaucracy – jobs coveted for, amongst other things, their short hours and minimal risk. Conversely, one cannot walk down a high street in reasonably-sized British town without coming across an entrepreneur – whether it be a restauranteur, shopkeeper or pizza delivery person – willing to work insane hours just to make something more of their lives.

3. Geography Lesson. Are people more likely to move to countries with which they have strong linguistic and cultural links, and where there are already substantial communities of compatriots present? Will people move to the other side of the continent to find work when they have a booming megalopolis next door?

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