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Immigration seen as a taboo subject in UK

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Immigration seen as a taboo subject in UK


The economy is the main worry for voters in the UK general election, but another closely-related issue is not so easy to talk about. Many feel that it is hard to discuss immigration without sounding racist.

During the years of economic boom, there was an influx of people to Britain to fill the many jobs available. Between 1997and 2009, the working-age population born abroad almost doubled to 14 per cent, but some feel this figure is too high.

One man complained: “Not only from the Eastern European countries, but worldwide, people seem to realise, at the end of the day, Britain is a soft target.”

Another woman described the difficulty of talking about immigration: “You talk about people coming into the country and they call you racist, like Gordon Brown the other day. You dare not mention it too much.”

Indeed, when Prime Minister Gordon Brown called a voter a bigot after she voiced concerns about immigration, it crystallised the view that many held about it being a taboo subject.

The three main parties have been reluctant to confront the issue, but they may have to become more vocal. Opinion polls show that it is the second biggest concern for voters – ahead of health, crime and education.

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