Friday, 13 April 2012

Migrant workers in context

This special issue of the Journal of Poverty and Social Justice (20(1) 2012) “Migrant workers in the UK and Europe: Immigration, exploitation and policy change” starts with an editorial by Gary Craig (University of Durham) which sets out a short history of, and a context, for immigration into the UK (primarily, in historical terms, into England).

It has been calculated that more than a million have already immigrated, and not far from fifty thousand still come every year, nearly all of whom enter the industrial districts, especially the great cities, and there form the lowest class of the population. Thus there are 120,000 in London; in Manchester, 40,000; in Liverpool, 34,000; Bristol 24,000; Glasgow, 40,000; Edinburgh, 29,000 … these people having grown up almost without civilisation, accustomed from youth to every sort of privation, rough, intemperate, and improvident, bring all their brutal habits with them among a class of the English population which has, in truth, little inducement to cultivate education and morality.
Thus Engles in 1844 about “the Irish”.

Despite, however, having experienced 2,000 years of immigration it seems that many of today’s politicians and, let it be said, many “ordinary people” seem determined to assume that migrants undermine the native economy. This journal sets out, through commissioned papers, to show that this is not the case.

The editorial has been made freely available on the IngentaConnect platform (PDF 8pp)

Hazel’s comment:
This journal never makes for comfortable reading for anyone with a social conscience. This particular one seemed more disturbing than usual if only because it introduces the realities of living standards which that those of us with a roof over our heads and food on the table every day cannot easily comprehend. At least, I can’t.

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