UK Government: Please, Don’t Come!

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Last year we discussed the crowded kingdom that is the UK: its population has grown at twice the UK average over the last decade and is projected to hit 70 million people by 2021.  This population growth has been fuelled largely by migration, and the cost of accommodating large numbers of immigrants has been highlighted by some groups in the UK

The UK government has promised to bring the current level of net migration (216,000 a year) to the tens of thousands a year by the end of this parliament (2015) “no ifs and no buts”. Saying and doing are rather different things however, and the government now has to think of ways to actually achieve this reduction. One of the more interesting ideas is to dissuade potential migrants from Bulgaria and Romania via a negative marketing campaign. Kind of like tourist advertising in reverse. As the Guardian reports:

“The plan, which would focus on the downsides of British life, is one of a range of potential measures to stem immigration to Britain next year when curbs imposed on both country's citizens living and working in the UK will expire.

A report over the weekend quoted one minister saying that such a negative advert would ‘correct the impression that the streets here are paved with gold’.”

The opening up of Britain to Romania and Bulgaria is expected to bring increased numbers of migrants from those two nations, but opinion diverges on how many can be expected.

“Campaign groups such as MigrationWatch have predicted that 250,000 will come from both countries over the next five years, although these figures are disputed. One Tory MP, Philip Hollobone, has claimed that Romanian and Bulgarian communities will treble to 425,000 within two years.

These figures have been questioned by experts, because they are based upon the numbers of Poles and Czechs who moved to Britain in 2004. Then, only three countries opened their borders. This time, all of the 25 EU states will lift Labour market restrictions.”

Of course, if the UK does go ahead with a campaign denigrating its own country, it will certainly be a marked reversal from current policy:

“The idea, however tentative, appears to clash with the billions of pounds Britain spent on the Olympics, partly to drive up the country's reputation. It also emerged as the Home Office launched a guide to Britishness for foreigners who would be citizens which opens with the words: ‘Britain is a fantastic place to live: a modern thriving society’.”

For inspiration, Government officials might want to look here. The Guardian has taken upon itself to ask for suggestions for the ad campaign from British readers. The posters are worth a look – no surprises, the weather is a constant refrain! So, what do you think? Will the plan work? I think that it might take a bit more than a few negative ads to put people off emigrating, after all the "grass is always greener" is a strong pull factor!


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Welcome to Demography Is Destiny. We launched this to counter two media memes: that humans are a cancer which is destroying our planet and that world population is spiralling to unsustainable levels. The real story is that intelligent and inventive humans will rise to the challenge of climate change and that our real problem is the coming demographic winter. The editors of Demography is Destiny are Marcus and Shannon Roberts, who live in Auckland, New Zealand. Send them your comments and suggestions. 

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