Deconstructing a letter in a local paper

Below is an extract from a letter that appeared in our local free newspaper the other week:

“We have the new leader of the Lib Dems saying that we help those coming into this country regardless of age. Is it not time some-one told him to put his money where his mouth is and that goes to all those MP’s who seem to think that the working taxpayer should pay, let those who want them here pay for them to be here, that would change their mind.”

I looked on line using a search term such as ‘negative impact on British economy of immigrants’ and variations on that theme but there was really nothing showed up to support this proposition. So, I then drafted the following reply:

Dear Sir
In Issue 692 your correspondent (In the best interest to do a sensible deal with UK) appears to suggest in paragraph three that those who support immigration into the UK should have to pay extra tax to cover the costs to the economy. That logic is acceptable but only on the condition that it also works in reverse.

In June 2008 the House of Lords Committee on Economic Affairs published “The Economic Impact of Immigration” which was based on a study of economic data over the period 1997 – 2007. As early as page seven this report was concluding that “The evidence we suggests that migration has made a positive contribution” to a growth in GDP per capita that over the study period exceeded the growth in Canada, the United States, Germany and France to name a few that trailed behind Britain in this league table.

A more recent study in 2015 by the London School of Economics “Immigration and the UK Labour Market” reached the following conclusion on page one of the report:
“There is still no evidence of an overall negative impact of immigration on jobs, wages, housing or the crowding of public services”.

Based on these two reports alone, and I did search the internet to find reports that would support the proposition that immigration significantly negatively impacts the economy but without success, I would propose that those who support immigration should be entitled to a tax rebate.

The above response is 240 words long which I think is long enough to respond to one issue.

The correspondent who wrote the original letter then went on to another issue

‘The very young should be allowed in but first ask yourself how could young people afford to come over if they are as poor as they make out’.

I have been reading Ben Judah’s ‘This is London’ and the strap line on the front cover is ‘The Stories You Never Hear. The People You Never See’.


This is a collection of stories that the author has collected about immigrants coming into the UK from Eastern Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Far East. His opening story is about being at Victoria Coach Station in London at six in the morning and watching the passengers getting off the coaches arriving from Roumania. He befriends a Romanian living in a subway near Hyde Park Corner with other people from his village. His story is that he ran out of money, borrowed some and to enable him to repay the original loan from the loan sharks lent him funds to come to London to play his fiddle on the streets that are paved with gold. Don’t worry, you will have the loan paid off in no time and you will be home with your family they told him. Now all he can do is dream of ever seeing his family and home again. He came hoping to pay off his debt but is now trapped barely surviving underground less than one hundred yards from the London Hilton and Mayfair.

Is this his fault he is stuck here?

Further into the book, and this is the one that will respond to the correspondent’s statement about letting young people into the country who appear to be wealthy and questioning their motives for getting here.

A young Afghani with the name ‘Shafiullah’ got fed up with his village life in his home country where despite everyone’s hard work there never ever seemed to be enough food, time to have fun or even the freedom to have fun. A son from his village had made it to London and was working as a chauffeur. He would send back a monthly Western Union payment to his family. Letters would come to with pictures from his life in London. The good life of open streets, smart buildings; that is what Shafiullah wanted. So, he left Afghanistan riding pillion on the back of a people smuggler’s motorbike across the desert and open country into Pakistan. Then through Iran, on to Turkey, into Greece and eventually into London. He wasn’t wealthy but he wanted something more than he could find back home so why shouldn’t he come here? He is working here legally with his elder brother in Hendon in North London. Neither of them are earning much but they are working as they want to pay their own way in life and even send some Western Union payments home to their Mum back home to make her life better. They both left partly because of money and partly to pursue a dream so who can really condone them for wanting to make the hazardous and dangerous journey to Britain without wearing their shoes that have crossed rivers, deserts, mountains and rotted in prison cells in Turkey on the way?


About alangrenville

I live in southern Britain near the fabulous New Forest. While studying for a BSc in International Studies I have developed a strong belief in 'NIBAW' or 'nothing is black and white'. Hence my favourite saying "Too often we...enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought" (John F Kennedy).
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