Let’s tell MPs that immigrants are welcome here


by Benali Hamdache

I alongside many thousands of others regularly complete YouGov quizzes in the vain hope of eventually accruing enough points to earn £50. In pursuit of that rather remote goal I regularly complete the weekly YouGov poll that tries to assess the political climate. One of the weekly questions asked was what the big issues of the day were, and dutifully for many weeks I’d tick immigration.

passportsIndeed I am concerned about immigration. I’m concerned about a government that has instituted many arbitrary rules that clamp down on the rights of migrants. I’m concerned about a government that would see saving migrants from drowning in the Mediterranean Sea as undesirable. I’m concerned that in a rush to pander to a narrow tranche of voters the political mainstream is creating an environment that is toxic and hostile to migrants.

After a few weeks I realised that when ticking immigration that was probably not how the pollsters were interpreting my concern. Indeed for the media and for politicians the only audible voice on migration is one of opposition. For the many of us who are pro-migration there seems few outlets for our voices to be heard.

It’s this endless echo chamber of negative opinion that has fuelled a hugely distorted debate around immigration. Survey after survey suggests the public grossly exaggerate levels of migration to the country and underestimate the cultural and economic value of migration. It seems key that to ensure some level of balanced debate the proponents of a diverse and inclusive UK need to get creative in getting their voices heard.


Let’s make our voices heard

The Migrants Rights’ Network (MRN) is one such organisation working to achieve exactly that. MRN works hard to bring together migrant activists and support networks, think tanks, academics and faith groups to advocate for a fair and humane approach to migration. Key to getting political parties to roll back punitive legislation is mustering the allies of migrant communities in the build up to the General Election. Under the banner of Our Vote 2015 MRN will be putting together a set of campaign events, hustings and pledge drives, to break through the wall of hostility.

Our first campaign activity is a Lobby Day of Parliament on Wednesday 26th November. We’ll be heading to the House of Commons to ask our MPs to stand up against scapegoating migrants, and to put fairness back into the immigration system. The day offers an opportunity to stand in front of MPs and have them hear the pro-migration message that they do not hear often enough. Starting at 10am with a cross party debate the day offers an excellent opportunity to begin to change and challenge the rhetoric on migration. For anyone interested in the day you can register here.