The Romanians are coming....the facts
(04 April 2015)
By Ian Brockwell
It is perhaps a British trait that we have an initial fear of “foreigners” and automatically assume the worst when contact is imminent. I am old enough to remember some of the reactions that existed when West Indians began settling in the UK. It should be remembered that WE invited them to the UK, they were not uninvited guests.
This all happened back in the 50’s and despite our initial concerns, these immigrants (and their families) have become an important and welcome addition to British culture, following the “British” way of life AND sharing their own.
Many other immigrants have arrived over the years and most (but not all) have embraced the culture and traditions of their adopted country.
Our most recent immigration concern has involved a couple of new members to the European Union (Bulgaria and Romania), although Romania has attracted the most attention from the mainstream media.
Millions of people have watched the TV programme “The Romanians are coming”, which has concentrated mainly on the negative aspects of Romanians, and because our knowledge of Romania and its people is limited, it is easy to understand why our opinions are being shaped by this programme and the articles that have appeared in many newspapers.
Are all Romanians beggars and thieves (as frequently portrayed by the media)? Of course not! Every country has a percentage of criminals and “bad apples”, Britain is no exception. Imagine for a moment that Britain’s economy was like that in Romania, where work was very hard to get and the pay was incredibly small (£1 an hour for some). Would we not see more British people travelling to other countries to find a better life?
Whilst I do not support begging or crime, is it not natural for a beggar or criminal to take advantage of a location that provides the best results? This applies to every country on the planet. You cannot blame the people who take advantage of such situations, only the country or government that allows it. There are many British people who take advantage of the Benefits system here too, choosing to take handouts from the government and spend that money on alcohol, drugs and junk food, instead of taking a job that many immigrants are grateful for.
Regardless of what you may hear, the number of Romanian “criminals” in the UK is relatively small in comparison to the total number living here. It is estimated that 100,000 Romanians now live in the UK and of that total, only 2,500 are claiming benefits. The highest percentage can be found in London and one in five of the homeless in the capital are Romanian. How many other nationalities would choose to live on the streets when our benefit system has a history of being so generous to immigrants?
Have the media made us a little paranoid when it comes to Romanian immigrants? Sadly, we seem to be missing some positive aspects to all of this. Whilst it is unfortunate that Romania’s economy has forced many to leave, there is a real opportunity for countries like Britain to profit from this situation. Why not open factories and other outlets in Romania, where salaries and other expenses are much lower? This would provide increased profits for the British companies and much needed income and work for the local population in Romania. You can be certain that most Romanians would prefer to stay in their own country if the standard of living was better.
So, what positive things can we say about Romania and its people? Most people may be aware of “Dracula” and Transylvania (in Romania), although the creator of this story was an Irishman (Abraham Stoker 1847-1912). But there are many other things we can get our teeth into (couldn’t resist a pun).
Romanians are very ‘family orientated’ and the young look after the old, and the old take care of the young (if needed). Foreigners are made very welcome in their country, which is another good reason to consider setting up a business there.
Many are religious, but share quite a few superstitions with the British (walking under a ladder, black cats etc.)
It is said that Romanians are very creative and find unexpected solutions to problems. This could be a very real asset in a world that seems to be running out of ideas.
You may already know some famous Romanians like: Ilie Nastase (World’s number one tennis player 73-74) and Nadia Comaneci (Gymnast), but did you know the famous actor Edward G. Robinson was born in Romania?
As I mentioned earlier, not all immigrants have blended into their new home and this is perhaps an area of concern. Whilst Britain cannot expect all immigrants to abandon their culture and traditions when they arrive here, it is not unreasonable to ask that British values are placed above their own. This thinking should (and usually does) apply to most other countries and this is how it should be.
Generally speaking, most Europeans fit in well with the British style of life and that is almost certainly due to our proximity, climate and religious beliefs. Most Europeans are happy to live in any area within the UK, rather than choose a location where many of their own people already reside. This willingness to integrate anywhere helps an immigrant to blend in much faster and encourages the development of the English language. The best way to avoid potential hostility and be accepted by the British, is to speak the language as well as possible and give the appearance of being “British”
Many European immigrants are worried that political parties like UKIP may endanger their stay in the UK. Although you can never be sure what a politician will do, some control over immigration is necessary. Placing some limits/restrictions on immigration can help to protect those already here, because an excessive number of immigrants could trigger demonstrations and violence, and these would target ALL immigrants (regardless of where they come from).
Britain has always been a multi-cultural society (The Romans, Vikings, Saxons etc.), but we have always managed to maintain a particular image and this is something that most British people would like to see untouched. This is why the immigrants that embrace British customs the most are accepted much quicker.I do not think Britain has anything to fear from Romanians or any other European country, because we are so similar. Try not to let the media cloud your judgement, their job is to sell papers and the best way of doing that is to write stories that titillate or fuel our fears. Like most things in life, commonsense is the best option every time.