Is Immigration Really the Problem?

Hannah McKellar-Ricketts considers the rise of UKIP and questions the scapegoating of immigrants for wider social problems in our city.

Excuse me, but if immigration is such a big problem in Portsmouth, then why am I enjoying this delicious Chinese chicken Chow Mein so damn much?

UKIP have launched a torrent of moaning about the European Union, immigrants and anyone else slightly ‘off-white’ in colour, and yet in the City Council elections they won several seats and are beginning to gain a following here in Portsmouth.

Can you vote UKIP and still eat out at Ali’s, Ken’s, or the Mexican inspired Al’burrito?

Is the issue of immigration in Portsmouth just a matter of numerous takeaway options?

It feels as though the blame for the same old problems is being thrown at any new target. Which is interesting.

Immigration can offer more than just varieties in food. People from new countries can bring new ideas and new languages. Immigrants can help the economy thrive by starting their own businesses but often also do the jobs that the rest of us don’t want to  do.

Young people in Portsmouth are sadly the least likely in the entire country to go on to study at university. According to statistics published by the Department of Education, just 28% of local state school pupils do so compared to 70% of pupils in Reading, while only 1% are likely to go to Russell Group universities such as Southampton. Not one pupil from a state school in Portsmouth went to on to study at Oxford or Cambridge last year.

Can immigration really be to blame for this?

Portsmouth as a city is beginning to turn its attention to UKIP.

But what is Nigel Farage offering them?

What are UKIP’s views on transports or schools or homelessness or universities or any other topic other than people who weren’t born in this country?

If there’s a lack of affordable housing in Portsmouth and the rest of the country, then maybe we should be asking why the government keeps commissioning the building of luxury apartments at ridiculous prices. What’s UKIP’s position on that?

UKIP have a talent for identifying problems, but are slower to propose solutions.

Portsmouth is 91.86% white British: can immigration really be the city’s main problem?

Portsmouth has been identified as a ‘target seat for UKIP’; what does this suggest about attitudes towards immigration in Portsmouth?

Well when a Pompey resident decides to up-haul their life and go to live in India, they suddenly become an expat and find a community of expats and only go to bars where they know they will meet other expats. By contrast, an Indian lands here and is immediately labelled ‘immigrant’ along with all of the negative connotations the word brings.

Photography by Richard Williams.