For some reason both the UK and Denmark are having their elections at around about the same time. This means that whether I read the news in Danish or English, I have to read about immigration.
What else are mainstream politicians going to talk about during an election? They cannot talk about making large multinationals pay their way, they can’t talk about reversing the trend of reducing public services so state debt is effectively transferred into the credit card balances of citizens, they can’t talk about changing the structure of major institutions because ‘the markets’ will stop them. They cannot talk about anything substantive. They have to pick on special groups to get people nice and distracted.
So what’s left? Education, crime, immigration.
Education is an easy target because no one is 100% satisfied with either their school days or what their kid is learning in class. It is ridiculously easy to mobilise a population to resent teachers.
Crime is even easier because criminals are outlaws by definition. They broke the rules. Who cares what happens next?
Immigration is a favourite because making people suspicious of outsiders is like shooting fish in a barrel.
All the parties say slight variations of the same thing. (This is partly because this what the electorate ‘wants’ and partly because they have not got the authority to suggest bigger changes because the IMF and WTO have ways of shutting that shit down.)
Let’s look at the current left wing party adverts in Denmark.
“40 000 new jobs in 4 years and we need to continue” “Historically short waiting lists and we need to continue” “Strict asylum rules and more demands on immigrants” “If you come to Denmark, you have to work”
I think what gets to me the most is the way the target audience is not going figure out they are being manipulated.
There is no possible justification for strict asylum rules outside of ‘vindictiveness’. You just need ‘rules’. And the rule should be ‘people who need asylum should get it’ and that is because Denmark signed treaties saying they would offer asylum to people who need it. Making the rules ‘strict’ implies that people who did not need asylum were getting it. I don’t think that’s the case at all. If there are more refugees it is because there are more conflicts and similar disasters. Making rules ‘strict’ fails the people who need somewhere to live because otherwise they will die.
Similarly, there is something about the word ‘krav’ that winds me up. Demands. As in a point system. As in an arbitrary set of hoops to jump through. Why would ‘more’ be an election promise? Surely the demands currently in operation are sufficient. What extra ones could they bring in at this stage? And how could ‘more demands’ be anything else than punitive?
How DARE immigrants come here, work a certain number of hours, get to a certain prescribed level in Danish, spend a prescribed number of hours volunteering, live in a certain sized home, for a certain length of rental contract, give a large security deposit to the state and prevent their Danish partner from receiving state assistance. Who do they think they are? We need more demands on them to show them what is what.
“If you come to Denmark, you have to work” is another empty election promise. Obviously. That has been true for a long time. The fine print on their website claims that it’s not just the ‘being able to support yourself’ part that is important, but how you get to learn Danish through having a job in Denmark.
Unless, of course, you are a spouse of a luksus immigrant. Then, whatever, who cares. Start a food blog.
Unless, of course, you are the spouse of a Dane who can support you or you work internationally. Then keep on keeping on, Stephen Kinnock.
All this poster does is make Danish people think that immigrants are NOT working. And what sort of monster wants to create that impression? And why? Looking at the statistics, which are a matter of public record, the biggest group of officially unemployed foreigners (as in, not students or stay at home spouses or retired), are Asians and the next biggest group is Europeans.
Unemployment of working age Asians in Denmark is around 5 to 6%. (I do wonder how much of the Asian unemployment rate is due to the Green Card shit show.) Non-Danish European unemployment in Denmark is less than 2% of the population of Europeans. Danish unemployment in Denmark is just over 3% of Danes of working age.
If you slice it a different way and just look at how the numbers of unemployed people compare:-
79% of unemployed people in Denmark come from Denmark and around 6% come from elsewhere in Europe and 7% from Asia.
So, the biggest group by number of unemployed… are Danish people.
Which brings me neatly to the other two adverts. 40 000 new jobs in Denmark. Shorter waiting times. Both of these things are intimately related to why immigration is a good thing. You got shorter waiting times because of all those foreign doctors and nurses (not depicted in the election poster). You got some of those new jobs because of foreign firms starting up, investing or expanding.
They want it both ways. We are free loading jerks who need to be punished on one hand but our contribution to the success of the country is waved away.
They could have been brave. They could have smacked down the right’s rhetoric about immigrants easily, a hundred times over. Denmark is a better place to be because of the immigrants who live here. Immigration has improved Denmark. There is proof. Instead they stole the right’s ideas and ran with them.
Easier to sow distrust and righteous indignation.
Let’s look at some crowdsourced adverts in the UK to raise the tone of the ‘debate’ (though how it can be called a debate when all the parties agree with the centre-right, I don’t know) around immigration over there. While the last thing we need is a campaign to remind voters that good immigrants exist, I think the idea that immigrants do give back and immigrants do contribute is critical.
Not that mainstream parties have any interest in spreading that particular message. Why make like complicated for yourself? Why not play the shell game, so while voters are distracted by the Other, they don’t see what is really going on.
So, who ever wins this election, the immigrants are definitely going to lose.