[Illustration: Dr. Mahmood Elsayed and surgeon Mr. Philip Moore; Welsh-speaking immigrants. Sadly not high on the Welsh Government’s agenda. Image credit: BBC Wales]
The political Left has long abandoned any pretence of looking after the interests of working people. Even so, it’s still surprising how brazen it is in pursuing its own interests when it thinks no-one is looking.
I stumbled across a good example of this last week, in the form of the Welsh Government’s “Nation of Sanctuary – Refugee and Asylum Seeker Plan”, drafted by (or at least on behalf of) Jane Hutt and enthusiastically endorsed by Rosella Pagliuchi-Lor, the UNHCR’s representative to the UK.
I should begin my critique of it by saying that I am very much in favour of immigration. My own wife is the daughter of a refugee, who arrived here at the end of the Second World War. The people who run the Polish convenience store about 50 yards from my office in Wrexham are used to having me drop in two or three times a week in search of things that are hard to find in ordinary supermarkets (I have a particular liking for pierogi and Polish kefir). The years I spent working in Silicon Valley taught me a lot about how successful a multi-ethnic society can be. Immigration doesn’t have to be a drain on a society, and immigrants can often bring with them talents and skills that greatly enrich the countries in which they settle.
Yet Wales is not Silicon Valley, and Jane Hutt’s document is delusional, self-serving and represents everything that is wrong with the way that the Labour Party – which also, don’t forget, is the only openly anti-semitic party in British politics – regards Wales.
Few people’s first choice
Before delving into the document, bear in mind the background: Wales is the poorest part of the UK and one of the poorest parts of Western Europe, and continues to fall further behind both, as a direct result of Labour’s policies over 20 years of unbroken rule. It is hard to imagine many asylum seekers actually choosing to come here – in fact some who arrived here have begged to be moved somewhere else – but still the government seems to want to bring in as many as it can.
So much so, in fact, that on the very first page of the document Jane Hutt bemoans the fact that
“many of the challenges experienced by these communities cannot be fully resolved without policy changes by the UK Government. […] Although we will continue to work with the UK Government on these matters as far as possible, we have to accept that we cannot control their decisions.”
Let that sink in for a moment. The unionist Labour party, which has fought tooth and nail against Welsh independence for the whole of its existence, is now complaining that its own devolved government, over which it has complete control, can’t do what it wants to do in bringing asylum seekers into Wales because it can’t control the UK government’s decisions.
The Client State
The reasons why the government is so keen to bring in refugees become clearer as one reads through the document.
It has been well documented how the Welsh government works hand-in-glove with Wales’s bloated ‘third sector’ (i.e. so-called charities who in practice receive the bulk of their revenues directly from public funds, only without the accountability that public-sector bodies would bear). The venerable Royston Jones has called out innumerable examples of such organisations receiving funds from the Welsh Government wholly disproportionate to the identified needs for their services within Wales, leading to the wholesale import of clients from over the border.
This extends to those with a particular interest in clients from further afield, including some within five minutes’ walk of my office. They include the 48 different agencies being funded by the Welsh Government to provide homelessness services. 48! I did a double-take when I saw that figure, but it comes straight from the Welsh Government themselves in reply to a FoI request that Royston made to them in November 2017 (you may read the article here and the actual letter here).
All of this suits the Labour party very well. By patronising a network of organisations which are almost exclusively staffed and run by its own supporters, it builds up allies for itself who are only too happy to speak up for it in local campaigns and in the media. By deploying public funds unaccountably and unproductively, it ensures that Wales remains poor, and so can carry on arguing that we need the Labour Party to protect us from ‘evil Tories’, and that we need to remain in the Union because we’re obviously too poor to stand on our own two feet.
So it will surprise no-one that most of the work in housing, educating and caring for its proposed influx of refugees is proposed to be delegated to that same Third Sector. More clients, more patronage.
Where are we, exactly?
Another thing that caught my eye was the anxiety that these refugees be taught English, as a top priority. The Welsh Government has made much of its support for the Welsh language and its supposed ambition to increase the number of Welsh speakers to a million by 2050 – despite the lack of any credible plan for achieving that.
Here, though, it seems to want to work in the diametrically opposite direction, diluting the status of the Welsh language even more by bringing people in from all over the world who don’t want to be here in the first place and teaching English to them!
To be fair, it also proposes that they get free admission to the National Museum, so at least they’ll have something to show them that they’re not in Luton.
A note of sanity
To repeat what I said at the beginning of this article, I am in favour of immigration and Gwlad are not an anti-immigration party. Wales has benefited from many waves of immigration over its history, for example the French Huguenots (who gave the village of Fleur-de-Lys in the Rhymney Valley its name), Italians (who gave the Valleys a coffee-drinking culture to rival Seattle’s a hundred years before anyone had heard of Starbucks), Jews (very prominent in Llanelli when my mother was growing up there – as a small child she used to play with Michael Howard, later the Conservative party leader, who lived close by), the long-established Polish and Portuguese communities in Wrexham and of course the East African and Yemeni community in Cardiff. We have much to be proud of in the way that we have welcomed people and reached out to them over the years.
But Wales needs a government that will put Wales and its own people’s needs at the top of its agenda. Reversing the decline in our education, health and infrastructure that has taken place on Labour’s watch, restoring pride in our language and culture, and making it a place that people are attracted to because of what it is – not because of the handouts offered by its government.
Gwlad has an immigration policy which is compassionate and clear. Open borders. Opportunities to work. A path to full citizenship for all who settle here – though it does require fluency in Welsh, something not required of those who are citizens by birth or marriage. But such a policy, and the making of Wales into a nation that people will aspire to live in rather than merely settle for, can only be enacted with independence. Anyone who works against that, and seeks to keep us dependent on the rest of the UK while making us ever poorer, is doing a disservice to everyone who lives here – no matter when it was that they or their forebears arrived.