Please don’t hate me, but this is actually being written on Tuesday 31st. I’m so sorry, it was Rene’s birthday yesterday, we went to multiple restaurants and the cinema and made steaks (yes two restaurants and a home cooked meal, we like food get over it!) Then I had to finish the Royal Rumble… I know this has shattered the trust between us, but if maybe we could just pretend I wrote this on Monday 30th, just like I’m pretending someone other than me is reading this.. Maybe, just maybe, we can get through this… Together.
Yesterday I thought of a very topical, very astute summary of the political events gripping the world by the proverbial throat, I’d planned to share it with you all today and rightfully take my place as the political commentator of the decade. Then I went to sleep without taking any notes. I think it went something like “Trump.. Pfft, what’s up with that? AM I RIGHT!?” There was probably a bit more to it than that, but I think that was the overall gist.
In all seriousness though, I wonder if I’ll be able to re read this in a year’s time with the same sense of levity, at the moment Trump is one week into his 4 year reign of terror and I can’t help but react to it in the same way I’d react to a terrorist attack in a non westernised country. “Oh dear, that’s horrible… I wonder if we have any cans of pepsi max left”. It’s bad and I shouldn’t feel that way, but if you don’t distance yourself from horrible events that are literally distant from you then you’ll end up either always crying or protesting things nobody even donates money too.
Donald Trump however is a different kettle of fish. Every time I open a news app and see his gurning mug I’m terrified that whatever I’m about to read is going to have lasting international ramifications that ripple through the economy of not just America but also the place that I live. This may seem selfish, but really it’s the only way to have a fair democracy. If everyone votes for their own self interest then we should always end up in a situation where the majority are catered for and that’s really the best we’re likely to do. The problem comes when people are misinformed, misguided or simply missing functional parts of the brain and perceive removing foreigners to be of greater self interest than securing a future for their families (or worse believe these are one of the same), but that’s a discussion for another time.
My self interest covers two major points; keep the IT industry (where I work) booming and don’t deport my South African family for being born in a different country. Now the first one seems to be fairly safe at the moment. I am not a majorly skilled developer or a system administrator who keeps servers running using dark magic and strong alcohol. I’m fairly low on the IT totem pole as a test engineer leading a small team of lackeys. My skill-set puts me just above fresh graduate and just below ‘cleaner who has been here 6 months’. That being said, I still receive around 10-20 different job posts a week in my local area and I feel I’m qualified for about ¼ of them, so I should be alright for a while.
The other issue however, my family’s right to live and work in the UK despite stupidly choosing to be born somewhere else… Now that I’m more worried about. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not expecting the UK to suddenly kick out all of the foreigners or ban Muslims from entering the country… Not upfront at least. No, and the mass pressure from parliament being put on Theresa May to denounce The Donald’s Muslim ban shows at least a modicum of hope. The unfortunate truth however is that the main difference between UK and America is subtlety. It’s Aston Martin vs Dodge, Bentley vs Hummer, Springer vs Jeremy Kyle. As much as it pains me to state it, we’ve become a toned down version of the States in almost every facet of our lives.
We might not be locking the gates at Heathrow and emailing a picture of Nigel Farage’s nuts to the UN but you just have to look at the immigration policies that we actually do control to see how desperately we want to keep foreigners out.
In 2012 the UK implemented some incredibly strict immigration controls on spousal / family visas. These delayed my ability to bring Rene to the country for two years while I struggled to find work that gave me a high enough salary to satisfy the Home Office (who determined you need £24k to support another human being but pay only £200 a month for unemployment benefit). We managed to meet all the criteria (obviously) and after £2000+ in English tests / medical tests / police clearance and visa fee’s Rene is now happily in the UK stealing the jobs of nationalists and eating your tax money for breakfast.
That was just over a year ago, since then fees have risen by a further 25% and two more English tests have been implemented that despite taking less than 15 minutes each and consisting of simple speaking and listening, cost £200 a piece. By the time Rene has her citizenship we will be out of pocket a whopping £7,000. That’s assuming fees stay at their current level, which let’s face it, seems unlikely.
You’re probably wondering, ‘what’s the point? What does this have to do with Trump?’ Well I trust the UK government not to go out and out bat shit crazy and start slapping gold stars on people with a different prayer book, but the more Trump plays moral limbo with himself the better the rest of the world looks in comparison. If your debt ridden neighbour goes out and buys a Ferrari on credit then you start to feel a little better about dipping into your overdraft. Maybe next month you dip into it a little further.