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The Rhetoric of Entitlement

March 29, 2015

Last week Nigel Farage said ‘British jobs’ should be for ‘British people’. Greg Dyke said the Premier League was in danger of having ‘nothing to do with English people’ and announced restrictions to limit non-EU players.

Both statements are intrinsically linked to the idea that people who live within the borders of a country should have first refusal on the opportunities that exist within it. Frighteningly, people are buying into this. An idea full of ignorance, petulance and above all, entitlement. This rhetoric is a solution for a problem that doesn’t actually exist.

Asking employers to value ‘Britishness’ as an asset is bizarre. If you are legally entitled to work in this country, the criteria by which you compete for a job should be based only on the requirements of the role. If a British person needs positive discrimination to attain a position above a person who comes from a different education system, probably speaks English as a second language and didn’t have the privilege of a British ‘first world’ upbringing, perhaps that person isn’t suitable for the role at all?

UKIP argue that immigrants come to this country and don’t pull their weight. How can they be expected to do so if we legislate against their right to work?

English footballers don’t suffer because there are too many foreign players in the Premier League. They suffer because they are not willing to travel to play. The fact is players from the EU and beyond are trained to be bi-lingual and adaptable, so they will be able to play anywhere in the world in a sport where you can be employed anywhere in the world. We have one English player in La Liga and one more in Serie A. That is all.

Many young English players are content to get a contract, get paid and enjoy the lifestyle such careers afford to them (Scott Sinclair jumped into my mind as I typed this…). You cannot blame foreign players who had the drive and determination to get where they are for lack of opportunities for English players. Are you honestly telling me that if an English kid had the talent of Coutinho, a manager would ignore him because quite likes having to wait for work permits?

Jobs do not have a nationality. They exist broadly to allow an economy to meet supply and demand, and to allow business and government to function. It does not actually matter where a person is born when they are performing a role, as long as they perform the role adequately.

Therein lies the real problem. English footballers can’t progress from youth teams because they are not good enough, and English workers with more modest ambitions can’t get employment because they don’t measure up in a competitive market where migrants (within the EU at least) can travel freely to work.

The problem in both cases is inadequate education and insufficient training. After Farage and Dyke’s comments, to this list we can now add ‘denial’.

Before we start critiquing the migrant workforce, we have to question our own. We need to face up to the inadequacies in our own population that foreign nationals thankfully help us overcome.

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