The groups that fill the otherwise empty buses in the sleepy English hinterlands speak in a language foreign to all but them. Their faces are the usual contrast of tiredness, satisfaction and a dispassionate emptiness among any working class. These are the migrant workforce that locals of wealthier European countries have come to detest. They see them as an uncontrolled horde that takes away jobs, threatens the cultural fabric and exploit all possible loopholes of social security. They are, after all the rhetoric of a global village, foreigners.
Compare that with the similar expressions of the garments workers in Bangladesh, migrants from their home towns but a pivotal cog in the wheels of the economy. Maybe they chatter in a language that others do understand, maybe they aren't exactly taking jobs away merely because they are citizens. Both groups contribute to the local economy not just through industrial and organisational output but also in consumer spending. Both groups send back a major portion of their earnings to impoverished homesteads. And, as ever no one cares a hoot that they are open to doing work that others find below their dignity. Yet someone has to do it. The open-border concept has today come under fire after having worked so well and strangely, it was exacerbated not by European migration but the more middle-eastern and African refugees fleeing for their lives from wars that were, in turn, exacerbated by countries of Europe.
Sometimes, the obvious gets overlooked just because it is so much a part of life. 'The nation of shop-keepers' as England was defined by Napoleon Bonaparte may have graduated and moved on to better things but their corner shops have changed ownership to Pakistani or Indian migrants to more of east European descent. Menial jobs are no longer for the British but while that much is conceded, they are holding fast to opposing competition in cushier jobs. The obvious was overlooked again. Tech jobs and professions such as physicians were not favoured by locals leaving government with little option but to allow migrants to take them. But now it's all turned sour.
Europe knows very well that its way of life has resulted in longevity but also in its negative population growth. Without new blood, industries and services cannot progress. Some of the best minds in all faculties of management just happen to be non-European simply because they were able to accept more hardship in order to progress. While this may or not have caused a psychological disorder, it has served the economies well. Imprudent policies weren't their fault in the first place.
With the so-called experts having got it wrong again, voters in France and Holland have decided not to trust right-wing fundamentalism, no matter how sexy its appeal was. The decimation of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) is being put down to a hijacking of intellectual property by the Conservatives. For now, the French far right know that ten million votes were in their favour. Holland was dismal but there's hope anew in Italy.
The refugee influx has proved that for all its sophistication, Europe's borders were inadequately patrolled. It also went to show that there are limits up to which people will retreat. After that stage, it doesn't matter any more. William Blake's 'Songs of innocence' are making way to 'Songs of Experience' - a little to rapidly than that which is comfortable .
The writer who is now
on a visit to Europe.