Alliance MP Mrs Long highlighted the dangers of inflammatory and unbalanced debate around immigration and European Union membership feeding racial tension during Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons today (Wednesday), answered by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg MP.
Mrs Long said the Government must do more to ensure the public debate on these issues is balanced, reflecting the significant positive contribution of immigration to the social, cultural and economic life of the UK.
“It is important to highlight the many benefits which being an open and welcoming society have benefited and positively shaped our society. There is a real danger that in an economic downturn, immigrants can be scapegoated for a region’s woes.
“Immigration has enriched our society over many generations and many of our key services could not be provided without it. Whilst the challenges it poses for integration need to be addressed, with support for local communities, the recent rhetoric around the issue risks inflaming tensions on the issue.
“I was pleased the Deputy Prime Minister recognised this positive contribution and also took the opportunity to condemn racist incidents in my constituency and the shocking racist abuse Anna has received in recent weeks.
“Those who abused Anna or who take part in any racist or xenophobic activities are bullies, targeting the vulnerable and damaging their own communities in doing so. If we are to rob them of any sympathy or support, then urban myths around immigration need to be challenged and the facts made crystal clear. Government has a key role to play, especially in the run up to the European elections when these issues will increasingly become the focus of debate.”