Religion and Politics. Religions plays no part in public discourse in the UK. And very little even here in 'Catholic' Spain. In the USA, however, everyone seems to talk religion, especially during presidential elections. Is there any candidate there, other than Bernie Saunders perhaps, who doesn't believe that God is responsible for their success and/or failure? It seems The Almighty has plans – always a mystery – for each and everyone of them. Which prompts the question – Why vote? Why not the drawing of straws, overseen by Big G? Anways here's a couple of people who'd be laughed to perdition in the UK and elsewhere:
- The daughter of evangelist Billy Graham insists that If Americans repent, there will be peace on our streets. And God will begin to reveal the plots of our enemies and terrorists before they are carried out. Not just that. He'll also control the weather patterns and protect us from these violent storms that are taking human life. Surprisingly, she admits that God allows bad things like the September 11 attacks and the mass shooting in San Bernardino to happen to show us that we need Him and that we’re desperate without him. She'd be considered insane in the UK. Like that nutter David Icke. But, then, he did believe he was the son of God. And complained when people didn't take him seriously. Thunderbolts would have been more effective.
- People of the Right in the US are now wondering whether Donald Trump is their punishment from God for straying from the path of their (Biblical?) version of Righteousness. Here's one example of this form of lunacy.
Identity Proving: There are at least 4 documents you can use in Spain to prove your identity. Needless to say, this provides ample opportunity for error, both on the part of dumb computers and (even dumber) people. I made between 10 and 15 efforts last night to try to get confirmation from Telefónica's Movistar that I can get cable at my house. Having had the NIE number (on their previous contracts) rejected more than 5 times, I tried every other document but without success. It's rather ironic that I can't communicate with the computer of a telecommunications company. Or would be outside Spain . . .
UK Benefits: My neighbour, the lovely Ester, visited me the other night, to raid my fridge for beers. There was a program on the BBC about people in the UK who live off benefits. Seeing that folk could spend their entire life on these – cf. a couple of years or so in Spain – Ester sat there gently shaking her head in astonishment and disbelief. Why do you thing refugees like to head for there? I asked her. But answer came there none.
Government Lies: It's never wise to believe official figures, even in Britain. At the end of this post is an article by the estimable Alison Pearson, who notes just how false the British government's numbers have been about immigrants in the last 5 or 6 years. I was going to just link to this article but it seems to have disappeared in the last 2 hours.
Britain and the EU and: HT to my Ferrol friend Richard for this wonderful clip from the marvellous TV series Yes, Minister of a decade or two ago. It's hard to believe it wasn't accurate back then. And even more so now.
Finally . . . The Caminos de Santiago: I've cynically stressed a few times that these have far more to do with money than faith. Hence the regular 'discovery' of old routes that merit re-introduction. Here in Galicia alone, we've had 2 of these in the last 5 years. The first was the Spiritual Way, heading NW from Ponters via the wine country to eventually join up with the established Portuguese way. And now we have The Way of Father Sarmiento. As this map hopefully shows, this turns west once you cross the river Miño at Tui and then heads along the Spanish bank of this river and up the coast to the island of Arousa, where some walkers will be able to refresh supplies at the centre of Galicia's drug trafficking operations. The camino then heads up to Pontecesures and the Portuguese Way again. I trust God is impressed with all this devotion.
The gap between ONS migrant figures and the truth is as wide as the Grand Canyon. We are owed an apology
So, it turns out the British people are owed an apology.
- Every parent whose child can’t get a place at a secondary school of their choosing.
- Every plasterer who claims that his wages have been driven down remorselessly by Eastern Europeans, yet been told to shut up because migrants are really good for the economy.
- All those damned as “racist” when they dare to wonder why families who have lived here and paid their dues for several generations can’t get priority on the housing ladder.
- Every heavily pregnant woman turned away by her local maternity unit because it’s “full”. (Half of all UK maternity units have rejected women in labour over the past two years, particularly in migrant hotspots where the birth rate is going through the roof.)
- Every poor woman’s husband who has to drive 35 miles, with his wife groaning like a stricken moose, to find another hospital in which she can give birth. And this in the world’s fifth richest nation.
The apologies are due because of a report issued by the Office of National Statistics. And what the ONS admitted to was The Gap. Official figures show that, in the five years to 2015, just under one million immigrants came to this country from the EU, as they are perfectly entitled to do. the number of National Insurance numbers issued to EU migrants was more than 2.2 million.
In all, the ONS now estimates a total of 2.4 million entered the country. In one year, mid-2014 to mid-2015, a quarter of a million Europeans came in according to the official measure, yet almost 700,000 bagged themselves a NI number. The Gap, in other words, is more of a grand canyon. Suspicions that the figures were being grossly underestimated are now confirmed. The extra number of EU migrants the ONS has found down the back of the sofa amounts to six Newcastles.
It’s a stupefying figure, which helps to explain the growing crisis in the NHS, with one migrant registering per minute with a GP in England and Wales. (Yes, madam, it’s why there isn’t a single free paediatric bed in Greater London for your little boy with a bursting appendix.)
With the referendum campaign in full spate, no wonder they resisted a Freedom of Information request for months before releasing this deeply damaging data.
So, how to explain the convenient discrepancy between the number of EU migrants the British people were told were here and the actual figure? Ah, says the ONS, with a lofty air: short-term immigrants have not been included in the tally. They aren’t here for long enough to make a difference, so count them out. It depends what you mean by “short-term”. The idea is that, when Piotr the plumber arrives in search of work, he can cheerfully claim to have come for no more than a single year: half-a-dozen bathrooms, a handful of blocked U-bends, a quick burst of grouting and bang, he’s out of here. Lovely job. And, because of the time limit, he will not be registered as an immigrant, though he will still need that NI number. And if, during his time here, some of the other local plumbers get priced out by his efforts, well, so be it. It’s the law of the market.
Now, Piotr may, as the ONS sweetly assumes, have had no intention of staying on. But what if he does? Maybe he proves such a dab hand with the plunger that the urge to leave starts to fade. And what if his family joins him? Then we will have lots of little Piotrs in need of schooling and healthcare. (Just think that we need an extra 900,000 school places by 2024.) Before long, the term is not looking quite so short. In fact, the term may never end. Those in favour of free movement of EU citizens, and who regard anything else as cruel and bigoted, will say such speculation is unfair; we cannot really tell what Piotr is likely to do. But we can. Until recently, anyone wanting to measure The Gap would hit a problem, because HMRC would not disclose how many NI numbers issued to foreign nationals were still “active” – in other words, how many EU workers remain here, and how many have gone home.
Now, the ONS has unveiled the truth: among immigrants from the eastern Europe countries that joined the EU in 2004, half of all NI numbers are active for more than a year. For Romanians and Bulgarians, that proportion is about 40 per cent, and among more established EU members, like Spain and France, it is 45 per cent. In short: every other Piotr is staying put. The fault does not lie with Piotr. The fault lies with the Government, which truly, madly, deeply wishes that we would stop asking awkward questions about immigration and do something else, like lying in beer, bratwurst and I HEART Merkel! T-shirts for our Eurovision party at the weekend. Boris Johnson has accused the Government of “terrible dishonesty” and urged it to “man up” about the facts. And, damn it, he’s right. When your figures are a million men down, and more, it’s time to man up in a serious way. The pattern of this referendum campaign so far is the Establishment telling the men and women of this country we are too stupid to understand what’s good for us. Trust in the elites, folks, and vote Remain. If the latest figures say anything, however, it’s that the elites are not to be trusted. When it comes to uncontrolled immigration, they have played the biggest con-trick in living memory. I am sure there are many eloquent words to describe this situation, but the three I find myself reaching for are absolute, bloody and disgrace.
In 2004, New Labour predicted that unrestricted access for eastern Europeans joining the EU would see the UK population grow by 13,000 a year. We all know how that worked out, don’t we? It took till 2013 for former home secretary Jack Straw to call the calculations “a spectacular mistake”.
A mistake paid for every day by families as their public services fray and fracture. Politicians know that if they consulted the population about uncontrolled EU immigration, they would say, No.
So instead they underestimate, obfuscate and, failing that, they lie. And now, from the great smokescreen of deceit emerges a scandalous truth. The British people sensed it all along. Didn’t we? Our instincts were, and are, spot on.
Brexit now has its best and biggest weapon. Use it well.