by Kiri Kankhwende 

Listening to the coverage of the Tory Party Conference in the last couple of days a real blind spot is emerging: who are we going to blame for everything when the foreigners are gone post-Brexit?

Granted, not everyone will go, but this government is going to try to get rid of as many as possible. Everything is geared towards supplanting “foreign” with indigenous.

Like, doctors. Jeremy Hunt, possibly the biggest threat to the future of the NHS but with the durability of a post-apocalyptic cockroach, has pledged that by 2025 the NHS will not have to rely on foreign doctors. Plans to provide 1,500 more training places a year for new doctors aren’t a bad thing, but the British Medical Association said that this “falls far short of what is needed.”

Hunt also said that he would force doctors to repay some of the money for their training if they left the UK within four years of qualifying. Maybe it would be better to prevent them from wanting to go in the first place, by not forcing that contract on them.

Prime Minister May doubled down on this though, adding doctors to her migrant hostage list (currently featuring EU migrants, who may or may not be allowed to stay post-Brexit) by dodging questions on whether foreign doctors would be allowed to stay in the UK after this home-grown doctor target is reached.

Other migrants coming under more pressure are students, especially those on “lower quality” courses – whatever that means – while the never-ending border grows ever larger, with more penalties for people like landlords who rent to people with irregular immigration status.

All of this, Rudd says, is to get immigration down to “sustainable levels” in the “tens of thousands” and “turn the tide of public opinion” on immigration. But the evidence shows that setting arbitrary targets which you then don’t meet makes public opinion more hostile towards politicians and feeds the sense that the problem is out of control.

So, the government, like many before it, will say and try almost anything – anything but the truth that we need immigration and there is no way to stop it completely. Most businesses know it, which is partly why they aren’t too keen on the new plans to force them to publish the number of foreigners they hire. We should be disturbed too, it’s not something to be ashamed of and feeds the dangerous notion that there is a vast conspiracy to cheat British people out of jobs, housing.

Farage says he’d rather be poorer to reduce immigration. If we continue with “hard Brexit”, sacrificing everything we gain from EU membership to hit a hard “reset button” when it’s all over, he might get his wish.

Migrants are the scapegoats – for now. But with the Chancellor promising some sort of austerity-lite, the economic pain will still be felt by many of those who are being directed to blame migrants for their standard of living.

So when we have dealt with all the migrants, who are we going to blame next?

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White Men Dancing is a weekly column. Kiri Kankhwende and Maurice Mcleod keep an eye on Westminster. Politics is too important to leave to politicians.

Kiri Kankhwende is a Malawian journalist and blogger specialising in immigration and politics. She has a background in French and Chinese language studies and holds an MSc in International Political Communications, Politics and Human Rights Advocacy. An accomplished public speaker, she has also written for the Guardian and the Independent, and has been a contributor to BBC TV and radio, Al-Jazeera and Fox News. Find her on Twitter @madomasi 

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3 thoughts on “Wanted: Scapegoats

  1. I think that the far right have convinced themselves that before mass immigration Britain had full employment, virtually no crime and ditto social problems. They have certainly convinced themselves that #whitemendon’trape.

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  2. What on earth makes you think migrants are the first scapegoats of modern neoliberal UK and that austerity hasn’t been going on for years, killing people in the process? Did you sleep through the persecution that disabled and poor people have suffered for many years now, even before the Tories came into power? Did you not hear Iain Duncan Smith say that “work sets us free”, used to justify attacks on sick and unemployed? Did you sleep through the ‘workshy’ rhetoric of the construction of disabled and poor as ‘scroungers’? Are you unaware of the people dead because of austerity policies against sick, disabled and poor in this country?

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