Welcome to the new, improved United Kingdom, while it lasts.
If you thought that things couldn’t get worse than they already are, the latest news from the small island out there in the North Sea will undoubtedly make you splutter over your Earl Grey tea and buttered scones in consternation. The United Kingdom Independence Party are undoubtedly having a field day, as are the old guard of the National Front, Britain First and all the other protectionists. Plans to force British firms to reveal the names of their non-British workforce, and then be shamed, have been tabled by the Conservative Party led by Theresa May. One hundred days as Prime Minister, and things are taking a turn many would never have imagined.
What exactly, though, does this naming and shame policy mean, aside from some form of bad taste populism? Will the British government really force companies to name all of their foreign workers or face public vilification? Perhaps Theresa May should better take a glance at who could be named, and begin with those institutions to which she and her government have a very strong link indeed.
Photo Source: UK Home Office – Creative Commons
The clear favorite for name and shame is, of course, the National Health Service. This is staffed by many foreign doctors and nurses who have been educated in the United Kingdom, and are using the skills they learned to both earn a living and help ordinary people. For some employment in the NHS would have been a prerequisite to their studies: they have their education paid for and repay the costs by working in the UK for a set umber of years. The British government doesn’t want to suffer brain drain or the loss of highly educated specialists unless, it would now appear, they aren’t British.
The Diplomatic Service employs many foreign nationals as translators and interpreters, as native speakers, rather than train up their own citizens to speak foreign languages better than the natives.
Next on the list to name and shame is the army, and their Brigade of Gurkhas which currently numbers about three thousand six hundred soldiers, none of whom are British. They celebrated two hundred years of British service in 2015. Will they still be there in 2020, or shamed into non-existence?
The British Broadcasting Service employs countless foreign nationals for their World Service transmissions, funded partially by taxpayer’s money, partially by a licensing fee. Send them all home and cut off the propaganda machine?
On a smaller scale, can Theresa May really imagine every single business listing their foreign workers? What about the Indian, Italian and Chinese restaurants which cover the entire country; every single major city and most towns have a restaurant run by these foreigners who are stealing British jobs. Far better, you’d think, to have a British citizen, born and bred, going back several generations, cooking the finest, authentic Indian curry.
My chosen photograph is a blast from the past: “The Home Secretary Theresa May meets with students from the Young Leaders Programme, spiritual leaders, and community representatives in a visit to Al Madina Mosque in East London.” This was back in February 2015. I wonder whether she would risk visiting them again after airing her future plans.
- Viktoria Michaelis.