The Calais migrants are brave, determined and enterprising

Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 23.21.13France, writes Dalrymple, is a more attractive country than Britain. It is

better organised and preserved, cleaner, more efficient and less corrupt (in the sense that people are likelier to do what they are paid to do, both in the private and public sectors). It is far less crowded and has fewer dreary and hellishly ugly towns. Its medical services are better and its population much healthier, in large part because people ­indulge less in gross and self-­destructive habits. Its poverty is better hidden, and probably less in fact. Its crime rate is much lower. Its economy produces as much as Britain’s in three-quarters the number of hours worked, indicating a considerably higher quality of life.

Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 23.06.13Why then, would anyone seek to quit France for Britain? Why do migrants from the Middle East, the Maghreb, Sudan, the Horn of Africa, Iran, Pakistan etc. see Britain as an El Dorado worth risking their lives to reach via Calais and through the Channel Tunnel?

There are three main reasons, says Dalrymple — the third being by far the most important.

Language. Most of the migrants probably speak a few words of English, and are more anxious to learn the world language than one which is much less important than it was.

Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 23.09.41Papers. In Britain there is no legal requirement to carry any form of identification. You cannot be asked for your papers. This is the tiny residue of the tradition of the free-born Englishman, who does not have to justify his existence, or his presence, to authority. (France has countless sans-papiers, who subsist in marginality and fear of official clampdown, though their chances of being expelled are tiny; for the liberal Left in France, the sans-papiers are heroic victims almost by definition.)

Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 23.22.59Work. It is easy to find work in Britain, albeit at a lowly paid level, sometimes considerably below the ability of the migrants. The populist notion that the migrants (overwhelmingly young men) want simply to parasitise the welfare state is mistaken. They are mainly people desperate to improve their lot and, thanks to its relatively liberal labour laws and its lack of serious effort to control the informal sector of the economy, their chances of doing so are better in Britain. The prospect of work, and even of starting a business, is far more important to them than healthcare or the beauty of city centres. The truly poor want to work their way out of poverty.

Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 23.17.43The Channel migrants, Dalrymple affirms,

are brave, determined and enterprising. No one does lightly what they do. Does this in itself mean that the native population that wants to keep them out is wrongheaded, mean-spirited or even vicious? Some economists argue that migrants bring economic growth ex officio: but it is economic product per head that is important, not the total product, and here economists are far from unanimous. In addition, much of the population fears that we are creating not a melting-pot but a stir-fry of incompatible ingredients. Britain, after all, is a very small wok.

Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 23.20.19

 

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