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Immigration has everything to do with politics

“Politics is more dangerous than war, for in war you are only killed once.”— Winston Churchill

For months, I resisted watching a very popular Netflix series by the name of The Crown. which follows the political rivalries and romance of Queen Elizabeth II's reign, and the events that shaped the second half of the 20th century.

Thinking to myself, why would I want to know anything more about the British Royal Family?

Well, despite my initial misgivings, I decided to watch all three seasons of the series and it has served as an eye-opener on many levels.

Not so much about the Royals themselves, but more so about events going on in the United Kingdom post 1945.

It was interesting to see how Britain was embroiled in so many negative issues over a number of decades.

Crippling issues such as:

• Environmental disasters of coal-burning power plants creating deadly smog in London in 1952

• An ill-fated military intrusion into Egypt in 1956

• A deficit of $1 billion that they had to borrow from the United States under President Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1960s

• Coalminers strike that caused widespread power outages for weeks in 1972

Now, some may argue this was all part of Hollywood fiction to sell a television series.

Therefore, one would have to actually fact-check these issues.

In doing so, the facts are 5,000 persons died between December 5 and 9 in 1952, owing in large part to the dangerous air quality caused by coal-burning power plants. Up to 100,000 others suffered severe complications with their lungs.

The facts also show that from January 5, 1972 until February 28, 1972, there were massive strikes by the coalminers' union over requests for pay raises.

This strike caused a state of emergency to be declared and, with a shortage of coal for power plants, Britain was forced to have a three-day work week in order to conserve electricity.

Most of those major issues happened over different time frames, all under the Conservative Party — aka the Tories — albeit under different leaders: Winston Churchill, Edward Heath and Anthony Eden.

One may rightly ask this question: “What does this have to do with Bermuda?”

You see, it was during this same post-1945 period that successive Bermuda governments opened the doors for massive migration of workers from Britain to come here and take up lucrative and secure jobs throughout our Civil Service, and in the private sector.

Whether it be as doctors, nurses, police officers, prison officers, government clerks or bank workers, thousands left a country that was experiencing crisis after crisis, rising debt and increased unemployment to come to Bermuda and other colonies for secure employment and warm weather.

Then-conservative United Bermuda Party saw an opportunity to enlarge its voter base by offering both Bermuda status and full voting rights to many of these persons after only three years of residence.

Yet, at the same time, born Bermudians were denied the right to vote unless they owned property of a certain value. The irony in this is that most of those who migrated from Britain were from working-class backgrounds, with many being supporters of the Labour Party.

The net result was that many who had a labour background in Britain were being given permanent residence and status, primarily, in order to bolster the vote count for a conservative party in Bermuda.

Hence, it was those who left behind Britain and all its challenges to migrate here for job security who voted to extend the shelf life of the UBP right up until 1998.

For those who say immigration has nothing to do with politics, history does not lie.

Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him at WhatsApp on 599-0901 or e-mail at cfamous@plp.bm

Winston Churchill

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Published January 17, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated January 16, 2020 at 11:05 pm)

Immigration has everything to do with politics

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