The days are bleak, an Arctic cold wind is blowing through the land. People in dark clothes and visible jitters dash around town, furtively avoiding each other. Yes, it is that wonderful time of the year, when one must meet one's relatives. But how can they be family when their opinions are so different? How can cheerful Uncle Harry not understand how devastating Brexit will be to the future of the family's children? How can this facebooking teenage of a nephew not understand how unlimited immigration will devastate everything that we hold dear, values that tie us together? Yes, it is indeed Christmas time post-Brexit. Down some cognac, build up some Dutch courage, because soon it will be time to talk about Brexit.
The inspiration for this post and thread is from this excellent article in the New Statesman on how to turn Leave voters against Brexit
and I thought that the first six points (the Don'ts) would make for a more pleasant Christmas dinner atmosphere as well. For make no mistake. Many families are split down the middle on Brexit. And while drunken arguments are a part of Christmas tradition in this country, it could easily get out of hand.
Levity aside, it is worth reflecting on the Don'ts list. Given that this is an immigration forum, it is unsurprising that most people over hear are primarily pro-immigration. However, discourse on these forums have sometimes degenerated to a line of "All leavers are bad/evil" or similar sentiments. As that article (and this in the Independent
) argues, do not fight the label, because that only entrenches the other side in their opinion.
Instead, fight the specific arguments. Argue the specific points raised by the other side (and that applies to both sides of the argument).
Also, admit that your side and solutions have issues as well. Take a critical look at your own arguments. Will freedom of movement really benefit every country in the EU, with no losers? Will stopping EU immigration really make it easier for non-EEA citizens in the UK? The same magazine that published the article above on winning people to the Remain side also took a critical look at Europe's crises
and how it is kicking them down the road.
I'm a centrist and see flaws in the arguments on both sides. And it seems that I am in line with broad British public opinion. It is worth reading the evidence given to the Home Affairs Committee, who are conducting an inquiry into developing a consensus on immigration policy
. The four witnesses that gave evidence in the first session
were broadly of the opinion that British public opinion is fairly middle-of-the-road. Immigration is welcome, but must be controlled and not unconditional. Students ought not to be counted as migrants. Migrants must be expected to contribute for a period of time before claiming benefits. Entirely predictable observations. But it is worth reading the evidence in full to get a feel of public opinion on immigration. And the Committee will likely make more calls for evidence, which I would strongly urge everybody to contribute towards.
On the social study of the referendum results, I highly recommend David Goodhart's The Road to Somewhere
to both sides of the divide. The book talks about a divide across most societies in the world, between the Anywheres, the people who have the skills but also the lack of commitment to a specific community to be totally mobile, and the Somewheres, the people who either due to lack of skills or due to attachment to a community, are immobile and are attached to maintaining social and cultural norms of that community/society.
Almost by definition, the vast majority of the people on these forums are Anywheres and hence cannot comprehend how somebody could vote for Leave or Trump. And yet, if they do not even put in the effort of learning and addressing the concerns of the other side, but instead harangue them on being right-wing or having closed minds, they cannot win either the argument or the minds and votes of people on the other side.
The author of the book is a guest on today's Westminster Hour (MP3 download)
, which also includes a section on the concerns of EU citizens in the UK.
We could hear as early as tomorrow afternoon the outlines of agreement on rights of EU citizens in the UK, among other issues, and that should go some way towards assuaging the concerns of some people.
I know that 2018 will be even more tumultuous than the year gone by. But now it will soon be the time for turkey
, wine, the Queen's (or Alternative
) Christmas Speech
and some annoying relatives. Let us eat, drink and try to be merry. Merry Christmas.
I am not a lawyer or immigration advisor. My statements/comments do not constitute legal advice. E&OE. Please do not PM me for advice.