I get stroppy when people are pilloried for stating the bleeding obvious. This happens a lot to politicians because whatever they say is assumed to be politically loaded. Let me offer a couple of examples…
First, Tony Abbott (recently deposed Australian Prime Minister) remarked that taxpayers were subsidising a lifestyle choice by many indigenous Australians to live in remote communities, where employment opportunities are scarce and the cost of providing infrastructure and social services is high. I’m paraphrasing but I think that’s a fair summary. He was immediately criticised for making an outrageous attack on disadvantaged people and ridiculed for using the phrase ‘lifestyle choice’.
I don’t know what was in Tony Abbott’s heart and mind when he said that, but it is objectively true that people, indigenous or otherwise, can choose where they live. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics: “At June 2006, most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people lived in non-remote areas with an estimated 32% of people living in major cities, 43% in regional areas, and 25% in remote areas.”
It may be argued that many indigenous people feel a strong spiritual connection to their land (their ‘country’) and would not be happy living elsewhere. But satisfying that felt need is unquestionably a lifestyle choice, and making that choice is possible only because the rest of the population pays for it. Most non-indigenous Australians feel a mixture of pity and guilt towards their indigenous fellow-citizens so they may be perfectly willing to pay whatever it costs. But what’s wrong with pointing it out?
Second, Theresa May (UK Home Secretary) stated that there was a limit to the rate at which immigrants could be received into the UK without causing social cohesion. Again, I’m paraphrasing.
Her words were perhaps an uncomfortable reminder of Enoch Powell’s “rivers of blood” speech in 1968, but they were nevertheless true. Perhaps that limit exceeds the inflow of immigrants that would result from the UK’s acceptance of a ‘fair’ proportion of the current wave of people fleeing war, persecution and poverty, who are hammering at Europe’s door – or in many cases smashing the windows and climbing in. But it cannot be denied that there is a limit. It’s bleeding obvious, isn’t it?
Note: The phrase “the bleeding obvious” is a quotation from ‘Basil the Rat’, the final episode in the brilliant TV series ‘Fawlty Towers’, written by John Cleese and Connie Booth in the 1970s.