Blogs by Don Flynn
In the end it turned out to be something of a comfortable victory for the Labour candidate, Sadiq Khan, in the race to be Mayor of London.
Over one million people voting for a candidate, who is the son of a Pakistani immigrant to the UK who worked as a bus driver. During the course of the election campaign Mr Khan was subjected to a barrage of criticism from his Conservative opponent with regard to his work as a human rights lawyer who has defended individuals accused of religious extremism in the past. His own convictions as a Muslim where equated with his professional work with the intention of creating the impression that his role as Mayor would present the capital city with security threats.
There are two things to say about concerns registered on behalf of migrants.
The first is, yes, there are very good grounds for believing that many of them are exposed to a high risk of abusive, exploitative work conditions.
The second is, don’t get carried away: migrants are working hard to turn their disadvantages around, and there are things to learn from those who are registering a degree of success in doing this.
Migrant workers are not necessarily vulnerable workers
The facts are a good place to start this discussion. And here the empirical evidence for the disproportionate presence of migrants in work situations which are clearly exploitative is not as clear-cut as many suppose.
It is getting on to ten years since MRN was launched as a project that aimed to improve the capacity of organisations concerned with the rights of migrants of all kinds to network with one another.
Back in 2006 it had become clear that the UK, along with other developed market economies across the world, was in the middle of a new ‘Age of Migration’. Driven in by the globalisation of labour markets the trend for countries like the UK in the years since has been to acquire stocks of migration which are typically in the range of 10 to 15% of their total populations.
The tone of reporting on immigration shifted over the course of this weekend as the media took stock of Pope Francis’s visit to refugees on the Greek island of Lesvos. In the company of the heads of the Greek Orthodox Church, Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics caused ripples of shock by declaring before media onlookers that before the thousands now penned into so-called ‘hotspots’ on the island became refugees they had also been people.
The sense that the European Union is badly floundering in its response to the refugee crisis on its south eastern border was increased last week as the authorities charged with acting on its behalf began to implement the much-criticised deportation deal with Turkey.
By the end of the week it was reported that a total of 326 people had been returned from Greece to Turkey since the deportations started on Monday 4 April. The deportees were said to be men from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who the authorities believed had no claim for asylum.