Land of No Hope or Glory
Here’s something I haven’t seen before. While most countries work on trying to promote their own good image and encourage visitors, the UK is apparently trying to consider ways to do just the opposite – discourage people from coming.
In 2007, the latest expansion of the European Union took place, adding Bulgaria and Romania to the group. There were, however, strict conditions put in place due to the relative poverty and perceived problems of the two countries, including crime and corruption. Whereas the rest of the EU members are free to come and go between countries as they please, Romanians and Bulgarians continued to have their movement restricted for the next few years as one condition of their entry. At the end of this year, that restriction will end and the borders will open up to everyone.
Britain is worried. There is speculation that once the borders open up, those from the East will pour in and soak up all the jobs, free healthcare and benefits and further inflate an already over-full city, bursting with so many people that getting a seat on the tube is just a dream, and students can no longer attend schools in their area.
These aren’t unfounded fears. Much was made of the analysis of the results of the 2011 census, which showed many things, including that 37% of Londoners were born in another country – more than half of those having arrived in the last 10 years as more countries joined the EU. Regardless of what they came here for, with its accession to the EU in 2004, the numbers of people born in Poland now living in England and Wales increased ninefold over the previous 10 years. Polish is now the second-most spoken language in England, after English.
No official policies or even projected figures have yet been released. But with two new countries poised to enter the fray at the end of the year, there have been reports of government agencies considering ways to stem the flow, getting people to ignore everything they just finished saying last year with the Olympics and the Jubilee, and highlighting Britain’s less-desirable qualities such as the godawful weather, ridiculous class divisions, rioting, crap food, drunken idiots, and all the rest. In the meantime, people at home are making their own posters, and here’s a few from the web. None of these pictures are my own. There’s also a whole website of stuff over here.