Luuuuuuv this one!

This is the kind of journalism I’d love to be involved in. Bold, not afraid to take a stand, hands-on type story telling.Instead of continuing to bicker over unreliable and often unavailable statistics about the impact of immigration, which everyone’s twists to their own argument, they’re going out and just directly asking the question: Well, what if the immigrants did leave? Would the unemployed suddenly find themselves perfectly contented?

In the UK, BBC1 has produced a show called “The Day The Immigrants Left” (not to be confused with the horrible psuedo-comedy-with-a-message “A Day Without a Mexican“) in which journalist Evan Davis will follow a set of jobless Britons in an area heavy hit by unemployment as they are offered the jobs of various immigrants against whom people typically rail during such economic hard times.

The jobs span agricultural, construction and even an Indian restaurant.

From the Guardian, on Feb 12:

Wisbech, near Peterborough, was chosen by the programme’s makers, the independent production company Leopard Films, because of the large number of immigrants who live in the area, many of them from central and eastern Europe. It has also suffered from a big rise in unemployment over the past year.

“Of course immigration is a topic that arouses complex emotions and unwanted tensions,” said Davis, the BBC’s former economics editor and a presenter on BBC Radio 4’s Today. “But that is why broadcasters should tackle it and not avoid it. This programme is an attempt to get beyond the abstract arguments one hears for or against immigration, and to illustrate why it occurs and what it means in human terms.”

The programme was filmed over a three-month period in the spring and summer of last year. Producers sought volunteers with a broad range of views to take part, and put them in jobs that were typically filled by the town’s immigrant population. Davis will also look at how the town’s public services are performing, including its schools.

Well, it seems the program’s under way, and one Independent writer (and immigrant herself) Yasmin Alibhai-Brown weighs in. This is priceless:

Half the British workers either failed to show up or turned up late on the first day. Thereafter, the tasks proved to be beyond the endurance of most of them. I sympathised with them initially – especially with Terry and Paul, mates who used to repair water mains, and Terry’s wife who wept as she described how she feared they could lose their home. Paul, a single father, was learning maths from his 11-year-old daughter. It didn’t seem fair, their suffering.

I wanted them to do well but couldn’t stand the self-pity and anti-migrant bitterness. Paul refused to call his co-worker by his Portuguese name, he wouldn’t respect a “foreign” supervisor. In the end they did shape up thanks to a feisty, young female English manager who didn’t put up with their rubbish.

A resentful builder also started off badly but came right. But most of the rest failed miserably even with kind bosses. A chef at the Indian restaurant given the job of taking orders didn’t survive a single morning. The owner graciously invited him to have a meal before leaving. The youngest lads were the most useless. My English husband couldn’t bear to see what the working classes had become – his own class in fact.

Wow. What a surprise! And what a great project! Way to make people reexamine their complaints and xenophobic ranting. “They’re taking your jobs? Really? Ok, well here, have them back then. Oh, not so much eh?”

I really wish I could find the video to this somewhere, does anyone know if there’s a way to access BBC programming online?

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