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Rethinking Immigration: Embracing Diversity and Opportunity

These notes are from the morning after the UK’s recent general election. The Conservative Party has suffered significant losses to Reform, a party driven by anti-immigration sentiments. This trend is mirrored across Europe, where the far right is gaining ground for similar reasons.

From a rational standpoint, this reaction seems illogical because demographics dictate our future. Without substantial immigration, most European nations will struggle to maintain vibrant economies due to dwindling workforces.

Contrary to popular belief, immigrants are not “stealing our jobs.” In fact, employment rates are high, and immigrants often fill essential roles that native populations either cannot or choose not to undertake.

The statistics are alarming. They indicate that European birth rates are below replacement levels, leading to rapidly aging populations. Countries like Japan and China are projected to lose 40% of their populations by the century’s end. Immigration remains the only viable solution, as attempts to boost native birth rates have largely failed.

Despite these realities, few politicians are willing to speak openly about this issue for fear of losing voter support. However, experts in branding and communication could play a crucial role in reshaping public discourse and perception. By substituting “talent” for “immigrant,” not as a ploy but to reflect reality, we can shift the narrative.

Reflecting on my experience at Google, where diversity of talent fueled innovation, and recalling the compassionate care provided by skilled professionals from around the world during my mother’s final years, reinforces the value immigrants bring. Britain has a history of integrating talent from diverse backgrounds, exemplified by Rishi Sunak’s rise to Prime Minister with little fanfare about his South Asian heritage.

While Britain exhibits a welcoming attitude on a personal level, its political and media landscape can still propagate xenophobia. However, cultural shifts are possible, as evidenced by the decline in media-driven homophobia over the past two decades.

As economist John Maynard Keynes aptly noted, demographic shifts have profound cultural impacts. With an aging population, attracting global talent to the UK is imperative and desirable. We should embrace and celebrate this influx, recognizing the transformative power of language to foster a more inclusive and prosperous society.

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