It’s mad to blame our housing crisis on ‘blooming foreigners’

But we won’t get any of these schemes going if we are so demented as to tell foreign investors to bog off – because it is precisely this overseas demand that is critical to the economics of many of the developments. In case you hadn’t noticed, our UK banks’ balances were shot to pieces in 2008, and we have a huge national deficit. We need to keep that investment flowing, and those who argue against such funding – or who foment, blatantly or furtively, the anti-foreigner mood – are as wrong as those who protest against people buying second homes in the countryside.

As Kris Hopkins MP pointed out at the weekend, it is those townie second homes that bring cash and jobs to the rural economy. He is brave and right to say it. The same point should be made, analogously, about international investment in London. That cash brings jobs, as well as homes. And we will only find it harder to build the homes we need if we are so foolish as to turn against legal foreign workers. Go to any London building site and listen to the languages being spoken. Yes, native Britons are right to observe, sadly, that huge numbers of jobs in catering, retail and construction have been taken by people from the EU accession countries. They are right to think those jobs might in principle have gone to native people. But that is very largely a function of a British welfare and education system that is only now being reformed.

We need to help our young people – not beat up on Johnny Foreigner. Yes, we should be tough on illegal immigration; and yes, there may well be a case for looking at the relative attractions of British benefits and the median incomes in some European countries. In my view, national governments should have more flexibility in deciding how long EU migrant workers must have been in employment before they can claim benefits.

This is an obvious area where we could see some restitution of national sovereignty, and I hope it will be on the table in the coming process of renegotiation. But it makes no more sense to exclude talented and legally established foreign workers than it does to exclude foreign investment. Before we all collapse in a xenophobic frenzy, let me ask: which European nation provides the most foreigners? It’s us! The British. We live abroad in greater numbers than any other country; we have been pushing up the prices in some European destinations for decades. Should we have a crazed exchange of populations – kicking the French out of Kensington in retribution for what they have done to house prices, while they kick us out of the Dordogne? What a miserable, blinkered, pointless and fundamentally stupid way of looking at the world.

Both sets of incomers bring money and jobs to the community. And don’t think, by the way, that we Britons are above claiming benefits in other EU countries. A spectacular report just out shows that one in 10 Brits in Germany is on benefits – about 10,000 in all. There were some hilarious quotes from British claimants about how simple the German system is, how generous and non-judgmental.

They get up to £23,318 a year from the German taxpayer. I suppose we could just urge the Germans to stop being so soft-hearted and kick out our kids as soon as they lose their jobs. But then what if it was your kid, and what if they were married to a German and had their own children in a German school? Suddenly it’s not quite so clear-cut, is it? That’s one of the problems with bashing the bloody foreigners. We have our own share of irritating British rich people, pushing up house prices abroad and cheesing off the natives. We have our own share of bludgers, living off benefits in other countries. The Brits: we’re the biggest load of bloody foreigners on earth. It’s been good for us, and on the whole it’s been good for the world.

4 thoughts on “It’s mad to blame our housing crisis on ‘blooming foreigners’”

  1. There is no housing crisis except that they are way too expensive relative to incomes . Encouraging even more debt is not the solution. lower prices are. The nascent bubble needs to be pricked or there will be a big correction later. I suggest a capital gains tax on house sales to make them a less attractive investment and a modest increase in base rate now and more in 2014/5. The asset bubble now includes shares, a base rate tweak will help dampen that too.

  2. Immigration is not only good in itself, but immigrants make a net financial contribution, as they pay more in taxes than they consume in health and benefit services.

    Immigration is favoured by the exploiting capitalist class because they can employ people on very low poverty level wages and salaries.

    Which is true – both, neither or one only?

    Did you forget how your white asses came on boats, robbed people of their wealth from colonies in East? And killed and tortured them? Did you ´integrate´ then? You Britishers are-were nothing but thieves. Majority British population does not know its own history of crimes against humanity because your government there wants to regiment you with false propaganda and tell you bed time stories about your ´royalty´… who were, as I said, nothing but thieves.

    We live in a shrunken world and millions of people are on the move; one of our biggest challenges is how we learn to live in proximity to difference – different skin colours, different beliefs and different way of life. According to a study by COMPAS, Muslims born and educated were given the impression of outsiders. The perception among Muslims is that they are unwelcome in Britain is undermining efforts to help them integrate into wider society. Most of them say that they have experienced race discrimination and religious prejudice. Muslims and Islam is promoted a fundamentalist and separatist by the western elite, which have negative impact on community and social cohesion. The number of racist incidents occurring in London Borough of Redbridge’s schools have reached their highest levels since record begin.

    Immigrants are the creators of Britain new wealth, otherwise, inner cities deprived areas could not get new lease of life. The native Brits regard such areas as ghettoes. Integration is not religious and cultural, it is economic and Muslims are well integrated into British society and at the same time they are proud of their Islamic, linguistic and cultural identities, inspite of discrimination they have been facing in all walks of life. According to UN, 80% of British Muslims feel discriminated. They are less burden on social services. Immigrants made up 8.7% of the population, but accounted for 10.2% of all collected income tax

    Anyone who has ever glanced at the newspaper section of a supermarket knows what the press do to immigrants. They libel them, abuse them, humiliate them and stoke up resentment against them. It’s been that way my entire life. After studying 58,000 articles in every national newspaper in Britain – over 43 million words – researchers found the word most closely associated with ‘immigrant’ was, you guessed it, ‘illegal’. It almost trips off the tongue. Even for those of us on the other side of the debate the two words feel intimately connected, like ‘pub’ and ‘pint’ or ‘library’ and ‘book’. One goes with the other.
    For tabloids, other words closely associated with ‘immigrant’ were ‘coming’, ‘stop’, ‘influx’, ‘wave’, ‘housing’ and ‘sham’.

    The press knows what it’s doing. It’s demonising immigrants. Its aim is to make us think of them as less than human beings. They are not humans, they are immigrants. And soon they won’t even be that. They’ll be ‘illegals’. And then you won’t have to worry about them at all anymore.

  3. At last a politician who will go against the grain on immigration instead of seeking votes by repeating tired old ‘popular opinion’. Keep up the good work Mr Johnson.

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