Ever since the 1880, immigrants came to Britain to flee from various reasons such as poverty, religious persecution, and other different social reasons. Britain was the world’s largest market for transportation of human lives. Now, Britain offers LGBT rights, Black rights, and other minority rights that most countries lack. Moreover, it also offers health care benefit for anyone living inside Britain. Lastly, it is a safe haven for refugees to seek for asylum. As a result, Britain has received more immigrants and asylum seekers than any other countries in the European Union. There immigrants come from countries in many different parts of the world including Afghanistan, Poland, and even Ireland.
However, in the recent years, there have complaints by the British natives that there have been way too many immigrants. In the past 10 years, there are about 1.5 million people immigrated into the UK. Over two-third of them came from the continents of Asia and Africa. In 2006, the United Kingdom’s population was 61 million. If immigration continues at this current rate, the total population in the UK in 2031 will be 70 million according to the government actuary department. Currently, the people born outside of the UK account for 10% of the UK’s population compare that to just 6% in 1981 and 8% in 2001.
This has made Britain a very ethnically diverse nation. However, there have been major clashes between cultures in the United Kingdom. Native British people believe in tradition rather than fairness and value community rather than individualism. Most indigenous British residents complained that the government allow too many immigrants to enter inside Britain and felt that the British culture has been diminished by these newly immigrants. Most of these complaints are from the London region, where most of the immigrants resided. With the large wave of immigrants, British people felt their tradition was being harmed. With the freedom of mobility in the European Union, people from countries inside the EU can visit and stay in the United Kingdom. Many of them would just stay and not return to its formal countries. There is an estimate that there could be 35000 people from outside of the European Union who come on a visitor’s visa and then never leave. When these immigrants arrive, they form their own community and transforming the once British community into their own. This frustrates a lot of indigenous British citizens as they see their old community getting converted into a foreign community. For example, the largest immigrant group to Britain is Polish. Currently, Polish represents 1/60 of the population in Britain. These polish immigrants don’t fully integrated into the British society and still continue their lives as if they are in Poland. They form their own community in Britain and keep themselves separated from traditional English community.
Furthermore, many indigenous British citizens are concerned that their jobs might be taken away from these newly immigrants. Most of the immigrants who came into Britain are usually from poorer nations. They would work hard and would be satisfied with getting paid minimal wages. Many indigenous underclass British people have seen their jobs taken away by new immigrants. Moreover, indigenous British complain that these immigrants have received more benefits from Britain such as health care benefit than they have contributed to the system. British people argued that they see the quality of their social service decline as immigrants are drying up the social fund. According to government’s latest “Citizenship survey”, over 77% of the population thinks that immigration should be cut. Therefore, in the UK’s election in may, both the Labour and the Conservative party are considering putting a limit on immigration. They also want to increase security to prevent illegal immigration and will have stricter criteria for refugees to join, making sure that refugees genuinely need help in order to survive .
Ethnic minority in the United Kingdom complained that they don’t receive the same rights or opportunity as native white British citizens. A lot of ethnic minorities find it hard to find jobs in Politics or to take on an executive position in a company compared to white British citizens. For instance, Yasmin Aili Brown said she was the only minority in her News Paper company in the United Kingdom. The British public had been very hostile/racist against her, sending her hate mails and saying that the real Britain is for White people. A lot of ethnic minorities especially the Muslim group shares the same experience as her when it comes to discrimination. Immigrants complained that there were stereotypical and derogatory jokes towards them. For example, Black is often characterized as uneducated and uncivilized outlaws. Muslim would often have characterized as wearing Hijab, turbane all the time and their refusal of alcohol. One example our speaker Adrian gave us was an example of a Muslim who immigrated into UK 10 years ago had to change his name from Mohammad to John in order to fit in with the British Society more. He always doesn’t get invited to social events or get promoted. Lastly, many ethnic minorities / immigrants dislike the fact that most British people would classify them either as Black or Asian. People from India, China, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, and Japan would all be considered Asian and People from Hispanic countries, Caribbean island are all be considered as Black. Thus, this is causing a lot of minorities feel as if they don’t belonged in Britain as they have lost their identity. Therefore, the clash between the indigenous and newly immigrants is currently a serious issue facing Britain.
Due to the recent waves of immigrants into Britain, there is a fear of the Muslim community with Islamic religion. In 2006, 3% of the working age populations are immigrants born in the Middle East. People feel like security being jeopardized because of the concern for terrorist attack. In recent years, many terrorist activities were conducted by the Muslims who were born inside Britain. For instance, there was a coordinated suicide attacks in London subway station on July 7th, 2005. The bombings were carried out by four British Muslim men, three of Pakistani and one of Jamaican descent, who were motivated by Britain’s involvement in the Iraq War. Furthermore, there was an attempt bombing attack by a British African this year. Many of members of these terrorist organizations were 2nd or 3rd generation immigrants, meaning they were born in Britain. This is a serious issue currently for Britain because it can’t prevent internal terrorist attacks from its own citizens.
Due to the recent financial crisis, Britain is currently facing serious issues in terms of cutting its unemployment rate and reducing its national debt. In 2008, the United Kingdom had to bail out its financial banks such as RBS from bankrupting because a large part of the UK’s economy was financial based. As a result, the United Kingdom has piled itself with debt after many stimulus packages to revitalize the economy. Now, the United Kingdom faces the problem of fixing its financial system and the need of reducing its national debt. The UK’s government has to cut public spending and raise taxes. This is a serious issue because Britain’s social welfare budget and government spending has already been very low due to the poor economy. It would be difficult to continue to cut spending in the public sector when there is a very high unemployment rate. Cutting spending in social welfare program would mean there will be less benefit for the UK’s citizens and the homeless people who need it on the street. Moreover, raising taxes in a country that already has a very high VAT of 20% won’t be good for the economy as people will have less disposable income to spend. In order to reduce deficit, the labour party said that there will be a tax increase of 60% to only the top% of earners. The conservative party proposed to start cut spending immediately in 2010 to eliminate the UK’s structural deficit within the next five years. Therefore, both parties consider the large UK deficit as a serious issue facing the UK. However, cutting spending and raising taxes would ultimately slow down the UK’s recovery and would be an issue for the public as no one likes paying high taxes. UK economy is too weak for sharp spending cuts. Currently, both Tory and labor party tried to avoid taking about spending cut because the public usually isn’t very supportive of it. The government faces the issue of reducing the unemployment rate at the same time because there would be social unrest. Britain certainly doesn’t want its economy to be like its economy in the 1970’s when there was a very high unemployment rate. The government is currently proposing to provide training for unemployed workers in the UK for more than six months in order to solve the unemployment issue.
Relationship with the Europe Union
Britain has lost its once dominance as an empirical power in the world. However, it stills wants to exert influence in the world. Ever since the end of WWII, Britain is losing its once close relationship with Australia and Canada as they are continuing becoming more independent. It is hard for Britain to maintain its relationship with the commonwealth countries due to geographic reason. In 1973, Britain joined the European Union to receive funding from the EU’s central budget in order to salvage its poor economy. Moreover, it joined to give Britain an more importance role in world affairs. Currently, with the rise of emerging markets such as China and India, Britain has found itself falling behind in terms of influencing the world and need to develop a closer tie with the European Union. Now, it faces the issue of whether to further integrate into the European Union or not. Currently, the European Union wants to further integrate economically and politically. However, Britain dislike the idea of political integration in Europe and still wants to keep independency/sovereignty as an imperial state. Britain refuses to adopt Euro as its official currency and refuses to contribute to its part of the share into the Common Agricultural Policy. Britain is against most of the policy proposed to the European Union such as enlargement of the EU. Thereby, most European nations consider Britain as a hindrance rather than a helper for the European progress. This is really harming the relationship between Britain and the European Union. According to the Sun’s poll, the majority of British citizens prefer the European Economic Community rather than the European Union, where Britain will only receive trading benefit for the EU rather than political benefit. It is not taking an advantage of its relationship with the European Union in terms of trading because most of the UK’s businesses are service based. Many citizens proposed that Britain should withdraw from the EU’s political union as they don’t want a centralize government to make the decision for the British. British people want a British government, in which the British can enjoy the basic democratic free right and the ability to throw out a Government they don’t like. Leaving the European Union would severely harm the relationship between the United Kingdom and Europe. Therefore, developing a good relationship with the European Union while maintaining Britain’s sovereignty is one of the major issues Britain is facing today.
Britain is a rapidly transforming nation that still wants to retain its traditional customs and imperial status. However, current issues such as immigration, internal ethnic relationship, internal security, economic recovery, and Britain’s relationship with the EU act as major blocks to the progress of the British society. Whatever the next British government may be, these are the issues that party has to address and solve. The modern British society has to find ways to deal with these crucial issues in order to move towards a brighter future.
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