Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The UK election and immigration

So the UK election is tomorrow, and not a moment too soon. I'm sick of the campaign coverage, and the fact that the BBC chose The xx song "Intro" as the theme song of all their Election 2010 commercials - I love that song and now I'll never think of anything besides Gordon Brown, David Cameron, and Nick Clegg whenever I hear it.

I think one of the reasons I am "over" the campaign is because I can't vote. Last week The Irishman asked me who I'd vote for if I could, and I truthfully answered that I didn't know because I hadn't been paying attention. It's so different from during the last American election, when I was glued to the news coverage, soaking up every last detail and freaking out about whether I'd get my absentee ballot in time (even though I knew it really wouldn't count). Here, I know vaguely what each of them are saying: I feel bad for Gordon Brown every time he opens his mouth and makes a horrible gaff; I don't trust David Cameron, and his snake-oil charm; and Nick Clegg just has a really annoying way of delivering a speech.

It dawned on me though that this election has actually revealed a strange truth for me: I am an immigrant. I am a disenfranchised immigrant who threatens British people. Amongst all of the talk about British jobs for British workers, each of the parties has a proposal for lowering the numbers of people who enter the UK to work - people like me. It feels really strange that rather than being an oft-courted demographic (young, single, female mid-range earner), here my views and concerns aren't even registered. It's funny - it's like shut up, pay your taxes and your exorbitant visa fees, and we'll let you stay here with limited freedoms. Wow. What a change.

For that reason alone, I should be paying attention to the candidates to understand what they have in store for people like me. Somewhat ironically, educated skilled workers would suffer the most under the Tories: they propose a cap on immigration and making it even more difficult for companies who want to bring non-EU nationals over to the UK to work. Those of us already here would be okay, but who knows what they would do with the Points-Based System that gave me the freedom to own my visa and right-to-work. LibDems want to send migrants only to cities that need workers (ie, Manchester rather than London), and to be honest I have no idea what Labour is going to do.

So I will participate in the election tomorrow the best way I know how - by watching the election returns and eating takeaway, but it will definitely be sad to know I didn't get to vote and be "part" of the action.


  1. huh... good points. Perhaps I should pay closer attention, seeing as how I will be apply for Tier 5 in the next few months.

  2. Hiya, just popping by to see if you'd be up for doing a little interview for a project on my blog. It's called Listen to a Londoner - interviews with people who live in this lovely city posted every Sat. 10 questions about London life, a photo of you and a few sentences for an intro. Let me know if you'd like to join in. There's a link to the rest here: