We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

Clarkson and Illegal Immigration

January 12, 2012 9:00 AM
By Philip Ling, Parliamentary Candidate for Bromsgrove 2010 in UK Chinese Times

Last Saturday British TV presenter, newspaper columnist and "humourist" author, Jeremy Clarkson, made another of his now "infamous" comments in his Sun column. He has prided himself on being outspoken, politically incorrect and controversial. Previously he had said that 'public sector workers who went on strike in November should be "executed in front of their families"' on BBC's One Show. The latest 'joke' was regarding synchronised swimming and comparing the spectacle of the sport to Chinese Morecambe Bay cockle pickers (where at least 21 Chinese cockle pickers died in 2004 when they were caught in the rising tide at Bolton-le-Sands near Morecambe, Lancashire, when they were working illegally for a gangmaster.

The comments were picked up by the Sunday Telegraph who reported it.

'Clarkson mocked the sport of synchronised swimming as "Chinese women in hats, upside down, in a bit of water", adding: "You can see that sort of thing on Morecambe Beach. For free!"'

It is a deeply inconsiderate joke to make, and as I commented in the Sunday Telegraph , it was "insensitive" and given that he's now offended numerous groups from civil servants, lorry drivers, Mexicans to the Morecambe Bay disaster. It really is time for Jeremy Clarkson to take a step back and think about what he writes.

Furthermore, his comments are insulting to the people affected by the Morecambe Bay incident, both in the UK and China, not to mention the sport of synchronised swimming and the athletes who have committed themselves to the sport.

It's not clear, I admit, whether he was referring to the Morecambe Bay disaster or to the fact there are still Chinese cockle pickers in Morecambe Bay, but it is no doubt what the imagery to the average reader is.

His comments, I refuse to acknowledge it's a joke, has created a lot of comments on the Sunday Telegraph website, some aghast, some sadly supportive of Clarkson's column. However, what really stuck out to me was the issue of immigration and if the cockle pickers should be here if they are illegal.

Most migrants in the UK are here for economic reasons, to have a better life with the economic opportunities the UK can provide. Studies have shown that few are here to "claim UK benefits" as some right wing newspapers would have you believe. The Liberal Democrats welcome legal migration and does not believe in artificial quotas which are damaging to the UK economy.

There is no doubt that illegal immigration is wrong and dangerous for a number of reasons. Firstly it impacts the legal workforce and wider society as wages are driven down and artificially reduces government tax receipts whilst at the same time increasing pressures on resources needed to deal with a larger population.

The largest problem though is the dangers to the illegal migrants themselves. They have no protection and are afraid to approach authorities if they have employment, health or just general problems. Worse are they are prone to criminal gangs, who as we know from Morecambe Bay and Dover, where 58 Chinese illegal migrants froze to death in the back of a tomato lorry in 2000, are cruel and heartless even though many share the same backgrounds.

This is why the Liberal Democrats want to crack down hard on illegal immigration. Proper border checks so we know who are coming into and leaving the UK, exit checks are still too weak. Strengthening our border police force so that less people are smuggled in. Furthermore and in direct difference to the Conservatives, working with our European partners to strengthen the borders of the EU. Immigration checks must start in Spain, Italy and Eastern European countries like Romania, it should not be at the gates of Dover. This would make people smuggling much more difficult and we need to ensure the disasters of Morecambe Bay and Dover, never happens again.