I had no idea what to expect when I nestled in to watch Channel 5’s ‘big British Immigration Row’, a live debate surrounding an issue that isn’t very prominent within Asian or West Indian communities.
With a panel consisting of Vanessa Feltz, Nancy Dell’olio, Katie Hopkins (you see where this is going) it was indeed, a row. Any concept of a debate was thrown out of the window minutes into the program, and there I sat, flabbergasted and pretty disheartened at the whole thing.
When you have a show that touches on a subject that is serious, sensitive and can potentially deviate on to other issues such as race and class, it helps to have presenters/mediators that are in control, balanced and gives everyone enough time to put their views across – no matter how uncomfortable they may be. Nick Ferrari and Anne Diamond were frankly the weakest hosts I have ever seen in any debate. Unable to reel in shouting banshees (more specifically Katie Hopkins) it felt as though they were strategically riling up people, only to cut them short when giving them the opportunity to explain their point of view.
There is much to be said about the content and comments made throughout this program. First of all, why on earth do we have Z-listers discussing a topic that should be reserved for our government? Along with members from the media and figures within society who have something worthy to contribute, how about throwing in a few NGOs and governing bodies who work day in, day out to improve our immigration regulations.
Secondly, immigration isn’t about race, class or religious prejudice. It’s political. When Labour decided to open our jobs market to the EU, they encouraged migrants to come to the UK. We were told tens of thousands would arrive. The final tally ran into the millions. Are those migrants to blame for this? Or should we be looking at our government and their lack of control, organisation and monitoring?
The issue of people abusing our benefits system is very real and it doesn’t surprise me that this is happening. No, people shouldn’t be taking advantage like that but again, why blame them when there are massive discrepancies in the way the whole thing is managed? Our government can’t even give us an exact number of immigrants who have come over. But instead of stepping back and looking at immigration in practical terms, we fall into a territory that drags in race, class (apparently Hopkins believes only ‘Tier 1″ individuals should be let in to the UK) and religion – when did Islam start factoring into the issue of immigration?
At no point did anyone address the fact that British citizens are leaving for other countries such as Spain, Australia and America and how on earth we would feel to hear the same things being said about us? “They’re coming here and taking our jobs. We only want ‘Tier 1’ individuals in our country.” Doesn’t feel so nice now, does it?
Rather than it being a debate where sensible solutions would arise, it was in fact a ploy, in my opinion, to get ratings by waging a shouting war amongst the panelists and audience. Great way to exploit a serious issue.
The media of course, doesn’t help with immigration much. Provoking headlines, biased reporting and generally no desire to educate people is the reason why there is an injected fear and a growing hatred towards immigrants. But as long as we all stay quiet and refuse to challenge what we’re being fed, we won’t be better off and those attitudes will continue to grow.
One of the reasons why I love London is because it is a melting pot of cultures and diversity. Multiculturalism has done a lot of good for the UK and still can do if a practical solution is implemented where immigration is concerned. Not only would it encourage positive and forward-thinking conversations, but it would also allow some of those “celebs” to go back to the one thing they all find far more important than immigration.