Tuesday, June 05, 2007 

Between wanting and making.

The Guardian's headline says it all: Rules to make migrates integrate. As always with this government, they don't want people to do something of their own accord, they're going to make them do something, by dropping in threats.

Liam Bryne and Ruth Kelly, both having established themselves as being bloody useless, have written a Fabian pamphlet on integration and "cohesion". As well as introducing a points system for immigration, they propose setting up another one for those seeking citizenship. Those seeking to become British would have to accrue "credits", through time spent here, bringing investment to the country, passing English tests, demonstrating knowledge of the UK, undertaking civic work AND living in a law abiding way. Points would be deducted for that old favourite, anti-social behaviour, fly-tipping or other more serious criminal behaviour.

All of this would make up a "contract", which would be providing to all migrants, setting out what's acceptable and what's not, because they clearly won't understand as they're from foreign countries where they take a shit in the middle of the road and bite the heads off chickens. It's so typically New Labour, so earnestly belittling and patronising that you can almost think they're doing it on purpose. The idea of contracts is clearly one which appeals endlessly to New Labour, as we've previously seen with the proposals from Blair that a citizen, rather than just paying their taxes, needs to make certain agreements with the NHS, schools and the police for services to be provided. It likely started off with the acceptable behaviour contracts that schools themselves often have with unruly pupils, which have since been extended outside the classroom by councils and police who have used them rather than ASBOs and have apparently been a far greater success. The implication though is that New Labour thinks it's perfectly OK to treat us all as naughty children, who need constant clips round the ear to keep them in order.

Migrants are however far easier to bash and talk down to than the actual British population are. The general idea isn't a bad one, it just seems to be making attaining citizenship as onerous as possible for all the wrong reasons, doing something likely to appeal to the tabloids who want the door slammed shut rather than to help make those who want to come and live and work here actually feel welcome.

Similarly twisted is the idea for a "British Values Day". Does anyone know what they are? It's clearly based on the notion that the American sense of patriotism and pride is something worth aspiring towards, when a lot of us quite rightly are sniffy about gratuitous flag-waving and the general belief that any country can be the greatest in the world, with a healthy dose of Christianity seeming to go hand in hand with it. In a nation which is increasingly godless, and which only gets bleary-eyed about the state of the nation when we get knocked out of the football, that seems something to be suspicious about rather than do out of natural joy at the quality of life. The same main problem applies with this at it does with the migrants' credit scheme; it's something that New Labour wants to enforce from above, and if you don't want to celebrate, then they'll make you, like it or not. People have to want to get out the bunting. By all means, give us an extra bank holiday. But don't make us do something in order to deserve it.

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