Using emotional arguments FOR immigration

Some years ago, I used to work in the training field and learnt loads of really interesting stuff about how people think. Without getting too scientific, lots of people make decisions based on logic (weighing up the evidence before coming to a conclusion) whereas others make decisions based on emotion (how something feels to them)  It’s all to do with brain makeup and how people use the left and right side of their brains more. Now I admit that doesn’t sound very interesting for a political blog until you start linking in to certain key political issues and in particular the rise of UKIP.

In this country, most politicians in most parties are logical thinkers and you can tell that by the way they speak. So for example, they will talk about facts and figures and talk in detail about policies to try and address the issue. Problem is that many people in the population don’t think like that and that is because they are emotive thinkers – they decide due to their emotions such as what makes them happy, sad, angry, anxious etc. without using any particular logic or reason and many politicians don’t understand that.

So let’s take a controversial subject such as immigration – generally recognised as one of the top 3 issues raised in public polling. We have all heard people on the doorstep who say that “There are too many foreigners, they take our jobs, my kids can’t get a house, they use up our NHS” etc. etc

Mainstream political thinking when faced with a resident like this is to spout facts & figures at them, examples in other countries, argue with them or find some way of ending the conversation quickly. However, this is usually a bad idea and doesn’t actually address what the voter is saying and more particularly, HOW they are saying it.  This then leaves parties such as UKIP who cleverly use emotional connections with the voter such as fear and anxiety to their advantage and ultimately are currently picking up more of their votes.

The reason is that the overwhelming majority of the public are either not interested in politics or only have a passing interest and therefore are simply not interested in detailed analysis of policies. Obviously some people are and that is why parties look for serious and detailed policies but for others, it doesn’t matter and they don’t care about any policies, it is what they feel that counts.

So for something like immigration, I think there are 3 ways that the mainstream parties can improve on this issue without getting involved in policy arguments:-

1) Be willing to listen to a resident who raises immigration and in particular listen to their story and WHY they are concerned. Is it jobs? Is it housing? Is it worry about family security? Have they read something negative?  Even if their views are based on complete myths or exaggerations, it is real to them and they have one vote just like everyone. Let them get any anger out of their system and just listen without trying to argue with them even if their views are uncomfortable listening..

2)   If they allow, acknowledge their experience and agree (if you can) that this sounds terrible and accept why they therefore feel as they do,  Acknowledge that there have been bad examples of immigration which have been in the news and that those examples also make you feel angry, sad, upset or whatever emotion they have put to you.

3) Once a common emotional bond is established, that’s the point to then share the positive aspects about immigration.  Not in some meaningless facts and figures way but talking about real people that they know.  So, did they know that the following people were immigrants or came from immigrant families? (there are many examples – here are just some)

– Winston Churchill (grandparents from France/America)

– Prince Philip (Greek) – therefore meaning Prince William and Prince George have immigrant ancestry.

– John Lennon (Irish parents)

– Dame Helen Mirren – well known for playing the Queen but in fact had Russian parents and real birth name is Russian.

Even William Marks (from Marks & Spencers) was actually a Polish immigrant

You can also have TS Eliot, the composer Handel, Andrew Strauss who captained England cricke, Mo Farah and of course the numerous footballers at Premier League football clubs – all of whom contribute massively to British society.  So it’s fair to say that whilst there are some “bad” immigrants, there are also some very good ones and most people (apart from a few BNP supporters) would accept that point.

Ah – but it is not those people they say, it’s those others who come into the country now – what about them? They just take our benefits and housing and there are too many etc.

Well, an emotive argument to use at this point would be to give specific examples in the local community of people who are immigrants and contributing such as specifically naming my local doctor (Indian) and dentist (South African) and try to get them to agree he or she are good people in the area. There are probably immigrant teachers, business leaders, faith groups, sport teams or others in their friendship circles where they can think of positive role models. I even had someone in Old Dean who was very angry about immigration who then realised that they were good friends with their next door neighbours (a Pakistani couple) and actually it wasn’t so bad after all!

At that point, the debate is redefined and you have got people emotively thinking of particular immigrants as positives and real examples of friends rather than them immediately thinking of immigrants as terrorists or in some way, threatening their way of life.

Of course, this doesn’t work with everyone but it does work with lots more than you might think- the question is whether any of the mainstream parties will try this approach and start talking publicly in “the language of the pub” or just carry on coming up with soundbite policies instead.


7 thoughts on “Using emotional arguments FOR immigration

  1. Nick B Scales

    This is true but unfortunatly Labour left a legacy of us being one of the few EU countries to allow it’s social welfare policy to apply to all new arrivals, in the meantime local authorities up and down the country failed to grasp the scale of migration that would happen both from internal UK destinations, near Europe like Ireland, France & the Netherlands and those Eastern European countries & Commonwealth countries that already had large historical and family links like Poland, India, Nepal, Moravia, Jugoslavija. As a descendant of Welsh/Samoan maternal grandparents and Scots-Irish/Jugoslav [Serb] I am glad this country gave a safe home to my descendants – BUT they had to work hard for the right to live here. Labour however exercise positive discrimination policy on new migrants in councils that the control. Government housing policy priotises large families so rewards catholics, muslims & others who arrive with large families and penalises the more sexually reponsible. Councils like Rushmoor with a significant Labour membership failed to prepare the local area what it knew would be a large influx of eligable Nepalese once legislation changed. – Much of the local issues relating to immigration are not caused by immigrants. – they are caused by the failure of Rushmoor to deal with the issue. – in Aldershot politics are just a fight between the Red Corner and the Blue corner. – Both clans fail to listen to the electorate which have allowed for the UKIP & Green Party across the borough.
    Meanwhile while Labour join the Tories with Policies that blame the Unemployed for being Undemployment, demonise young people who have neither finances nor academic results for University and practice positive discrimination towards their selection of council and parliamentary candidates where priority is given to BAME [Black, Asian & Minority Ethnicity], Female candidates or those from a major party donating union. Is it any surprise that even in it’s South Lancashire heartland of The Borough Of Rochdale. Home to the Co-Operative movement Labour is failing. Their 0.8% growth in the vote is exactly the same growth The Green Party of England & Wales gained in Clacton on the same night. Unlike Labour we are shouting about it. The Heywood & Middleton election proves that Labour are out of touch with the core vote who are either voting with their feet and staying home or voting with their heart and believing the media spin on UKIP’s devisive old fasioned politics of division.
    Much as though I detest the fact UKIP now have an MP from a spineless Conservative turncoat.- But it is a clear mandate that the public want change and unless parties grasp that our elected chambers will change over the next 5 years and not neccessarily for the better.

  2. camberleyeye

    Yes, but if you’re unemployed and you want to work, it’s a tempting logic to say ‘if they weren’t here, then I could have ‘their’ job.’ Is there a simple and convincing counter-argument? I’m not sure that having an Indian doctor provides one.

    1. Nick B Scales

      The reality is we should actually be teaching our youngsters skills required for society. Instead Labour created aspiration culture where anyone whose parents and friends think they can sing gives them the false impression they’ll be the next Madonna or Lulu and created trash TV shows to pander to or create the myth that a nobody can be a somebody without hard work. We have an education system post-1986 that just teaches people enough to pass and exam but no life skills and knowledge to do something other than a fairly menial job. Then a management and ownership of menial jobs who know they can get by with paying just the mimimum permitted wage because there is a workforce of people who are desperate enough to earn that they work for the lowest wage as better than nothing or wages in their homeland.

      We should be aspiring our youngsters to take pride in their work, but if a Conservative, UKIP, New Labour neo-liberal society says being a cleaner, careworker, bus driver, postal worker are failure jobs than where is the incentive for our society to work in them. Many of our New Migrants will take these jobs due to pride – in Jugoslavija there is still a 1950’s attitude to anyone under 60 or not visibly disabled claiming state help. Also ignorance they believe the minimum wage is a good living wage compared to home salary, are unware of their entitlement to sick pay, holidays working time directives so less enlighted employers exploit this which indirectly lower wages in less skilled work areas.
      As someone who has been unemployed due to employers disliking my long health disability it annoys me that Labour & Conservative fail to deal with helping people into work. Meanwhile Labour push me to one side as they are no longer insterested in poor white trash as my experience at SW Surrey CLP proved.

      1. Rodney Bates (@RodneyBates1)

        Thank you for the comments – the purpose of my post was not to discuss policy initiatives (which is widely discussed across the political field) but to consider wider issues around communicating with the public on contentious issues and the rise of UKIP. I have slightly moderated both posts by removing a few words in each as it related to personal comment on other people which I try to avoid on this blog.

    2. Rodney Bates (@RodneyBates1)

      Agreed – it is a tempting logic but the same goes both ways. I would suggest something like…

      If everyone “went back to their own country”, we might lose the immigrants but all we would get instead is a massive number of ex-pats returning such as all the English people living in Spain and elsewhere so it doesn’t actually mean they get a job at the end. At that point, you can then talk about some of the logical policies such as job guarantees, skills, training, apprenticeships or whatever.

      1. Tony New

        Discussing migrants in this way is frankly bourgeois racism, the problem is Capitalism! Until the workers of the world unite and create a world of no masters, no borders and no money there will always be poverty somewhere. Instead of blaming workers because they try to do the best for their families under the present system you should be promoting socialism.
        And should be blaming the rich rulers and their cohorts for the austerity measures they have introduced.

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