Politics 13 October 2013 From economics to the England football team: Immigration is a scapegoat for everything The real reasons for our economic, social and sporting woes is not unfettered immigration: it's bad management and dishonest politics. Print HTML Immigration: the movement of people into a country to live on a permanent basis. It is incredible how many issues in society are related to this one phenomenon. Think of any commonly recognised problem in modern Britain and you can almost be certain that immigration will commonly feature among its popular causes. Why is employment so hard to find? Immigration. Why are there so many cases of benefit fraud being reported? Immigration. Why is there a lack of social cohesion within our working class communities? Immigration. We are partaking in a pantomime society with an anti-immigration call-and-response between the politically right-wing and the population as a whole. Why is it done? To mask more fundamental issues within our economy and society, issues which are far more politically and intellectually challenging to resolve than merely capping the number of foreigners to enter our shores. The result? A society where immigration is a scapegoat, to be held aloft and royally lambasted whenever something goes awry on our otherwise ideal island. The past week has seen evidence of this in the form of a national emblem which is adored more than any other: the England football team. As you may be aware, the Football Association has recently established a committee to investigate why, simply, we are so terrible at football. Two of its members, former England manager Glenn Hoddle and England defender Danny Mills, have since bestowed upon us their initial opinions on where the fundamental problem lies. You guessed it: immigration. Hoddle and Mills have both claimed that to improve the England team's fortunes we must limit the number of foreign players Premier League clubs can play, thus ensuring that English players receive more playing time and are able to develop their abilities on the pitch. Hoddle articulated his stance in these terms: "We have to be ruthless in this. We have to be thinking about English, English and English again." With the scapegoat of our society illuminated once more, it has cast into shadow the more fundamental reasons for our footballing failure. A lack of high quality youth coaches, adequate pitches, and a mind-set based around nurturing young talent provide the crux of why we haven't seen players with the technical abilities of Xavi, Iniesta, Ozil and Pirlo grace our national crest. And while our current mentality continues, we will merely have to be satisfied with the lumbering exertions of Rooney and Co. England has 1,178 UEFA "A" level coaches, which on initial inspection sounds a satisfactorily high number. However, when we look at other nations, namely Spain and Germany, who are presently the most feared sides in Europe, this figure becomes pathetically inadequate. These countries have 12,720 and 5,500 "A" level coaches respectively, dwarfing our meagre sum. This is comparable to leaving school children without a teacher and expecting them to perform well in exams, and then keep on improving as they take more of them. We attribute our lack of success to foreign players and thus assume that the most vital years for a footballer are the ages 19-23, when they are first emerging as potential first team candidates. This needs to change. By the age of 20 most of these individuals are experienced footballers, they have been playing since they were kicking an oversized ball around their back gardens at the age of 6 or 7. Those 14 years, from 6-20, are far more crucial than what happens after. These are the formative years for a player, when they shape and hone their technical abilities; match experience merely adds gloss to an already manufactured product. Moreover, by limiting foreign players are we not just dealing with a symptom of these structural problems, not the cause? Maybe so many players are being imported precisely because England doesn't produce enough young talent. We need to rethink our perspective, and to do this we must reshape our political thinking, by refuting the divisive, damaging rhetoric of the political right. Immigration is blamed by the Conservative Party and the right-wing media, both implicitly and explicitly, for many of our economic woes. One of the most extensively disseminated is that immigrants "steal our jobs," that well-qualified, honest, British individuals cannot find work because Poles, Pakistanis and Palestinians are satisfied with a lower standard of living and therefore are willing to work for less. The solution? Cap immigration of course. Casting a veil over any sinew of logical economic thinking, David Cameron and the Conservatives have peddled this policy up and down Britain, from the Pennines to the white cliffs of Dover, and even across our shores to Brussles on a number of occasions. In footballing terms, this solution would have the same effect as the Premier League pledging to cap the number of foreign players. The result would be limiting the influx of players such as van Persie, Ozil, Suarez, Vidic, Oscar etc. who have made the English Premier League the best in the world. There are many foreign leagues where there is this situation, with a low proportion of foreign players, such as the Bundesliga. But would you rather watch the Premier League or German football? I know what my answer would be, and I expect yours is similar. David Cameron's immigration cap poses a similar problem for our economy. By limiting immigration we face a lack of ingenuity, innovation, skills and investment, all of which will contribute to make our economy weaker, not stronger. David Cameron exclaims that the Conservative Party is a party of business and economic growth, yet has set on a course to create a Bundesliga economy. "We would all be in jobs though, just like German footballers are in Germany" is surely an adequate defence? Once again however, this is immigration-blame distracting from genuine economic issues and solutions. If the Premier League had more teams, more spaces for domestic players to occupy, then individuals, both foreign and domestic, could co-exist in a high-quality, nationally balanced organisation. Now, although this almost certainly won't happen in terms of football, a similar situation could feasibly be enacted in terms of economics, a seemingly radical but historically proven plan: the creation of jobs. A focus on investment and a moderation of austerity could create the jobs necessary to produce a harmonious, innovative economy incorporating both domestic and immigrant workers. This is the alternative plan that David Cameron so sweepingly rejected, as himself, his government and the right-wing media set up a smokescreen of immigration-blame to justify their economically crippling measures. In modern Britain scapegoating immigrants is the solution to everything and yet the answer to nothing. To bring about genuine change to solve profound economic problems we need to start treating a fundamental lack of jobs, rather than sensationalised myths. In realising that immigrants are not the problem we may just get better at football also. We can only hope. Sam Bright is Editor at the non-affiliated political website Backbench › Labour stances on welfare and free schools prove it wasn't "the Blairites" holding Miliband hostage Compared to Germany and Spain, our capacity to nurture home-grown talent is lamentable. Photograph: Getty Images. Sam Bright is editor of the political website Backbench Subscribe More Related articles The triumph of Misbah-ul-Haq, the quiet grafter The joy of only winning once: why England should be proud of 1966 At the Olympics, one question will hang over the female athletes: are you a real woman, whatever that is?