AT General Election 2024 everybody is worried about illegal immigration. Or are we?

I argue that it is more a case of those who are talking predominantly about ‘illegal migration’ being engaged in a xenophobic discourse designed to distract and exacerbate divisions in an era of uncertainty.

I am reminded of the ‘welcome’ I received in my transition from a Staffordshire primary school to a Birmingham secondary school in 1965 after my parents’ separation. When some of my year one peers heard that I had been born with a disability and born in Africa, I was dubbed ‘Spaz’ and ‘the White Wog’ among other things. Not a pleasant start to a new life.


But what is ‘illegal immigration’? Basically, governments create laws and engineer ‘environments’ that are either ‘welcoming’ or ‘hostile’. Thus, in the time of ‘golden visa’ applications for UK citizenship until that became too embarrassing for Tory government, entry processes for those with a million pounds or so to spare on UK bonds were fast-tracked while poorer folk received a very hostile environment, as too, have sick and disabled people dubbed ‘scroungers’.

While public services have been dismantled under austerity, in Herefordshire even people of working age on state benefits whose incomes were never designed to accommodate paying any portion of council tax have been obliged to pay something over 20 per cent of their council tax following ‘welfare reform’ changes introduced under the Con-Dem coalition in 2013.

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Over the past six years, numbers of council tax defaulters sent liability orders in Herefordshire have risen, as reported in Hereford Times.

When I learned through a freedom of information request in 2018 that the council had summonsed 7,500 people to court over council tax arrears. I had asked what portion of those were on ‘working age’ benefits, but I was told that the council did not keep such records. Such lack of accountability over demographies does not help, as taking people to court is costly.