One thing advocates of liberty are usually least keen to address is immigration. If we look at party politics then we are constantly treated to the spectacle of parties trying to produce the harshest immigration policy to win over the public. Public perception towards immigration is that there is too much of it and immigration is nearly always viewed in negative terms. Politicians can hardly be blamed for following the public’s lead on this. When we couple this with the rise of the BNP then we can see that it is this area that those who espouse freedom must concentrate their efforts to reverse this damaging sentiment towards immigration.
Why should any government be able to deny people the freedom to live where they wish? Should the pure luck of one’s birth place confine a person to remain there? If one is serious about freedom then we must take a stand and say that a truly free nation, both socially and economically free, would have open borders for people to come and leave as they like. This policy already exists within the borders of the EU, and so the logical extension should be to first apply this to other English speaking countries (America, New Zealand, Canada, Australia) and in time to the rest of the world. Such a policy should be pursued in tandem with a pursuit of global free trade, which is itself dependent on the free movement of goods, services and of course, labour.
It should be noted that this is possibly the hardest goal for those who advocate freedom to achieve. It is simply out of tune with public opinion. Wont these people take our jobs and steal our benefits etc etc? In economic terms we have nothing to fear from greater competition in the labour market, this will push up productivity, lower costs help to push down inflation; all things we’ve seen from the much maligned immigration from Eastern Europe.
Altering the public image of immigration must start with how people view immigrants themselves. Immigrants aren’t lazy spongers, but people who embody the kind of rugged individualism that those who are most critical of immigration should embrace. These people are brave economic migrants, willing to work hard and travel the globe in search of a job and a better life for themselves and their family. They should be applauded, not scorned and we should welcome them to the shores of Britain.
Felix Bungay is the 2nd prize winner in the 2010 Young Writer on Liberty