Tonight the ever probing and issue tackling Channel 4 will be showing a programme about Leicester. Our multicultural home situated in the middle of England has seemingly attracted attention for being a diverse city, and ‘one of the first where white Britons are no longer in a majority.’
A follow-up to the ‘Make Bradford British’ programme, tonight’s show sees four British nationals from different backgrounds and four recent immigrants have a little tea party of sorts. Channel 4 describes it as people spending ‘time together to explore their feelings about immigration and what being British means to them.’
You may have seen the ‘Make Bradford British’ programme in 2012, depicting the well-known fact that there are many non-white British and non-British people living there. It won the 2013 Rose d’Or International Television Award for reality and factual entertainment.
So why exactly do Channel 4 feel the need to do the same set-up once again? Well the build-up to the programme is still eliciting a broad spectrum of responses and evoking many questions and opinions from people of a variety of backgrounds.
We know Britain is multicultural. We know certain cities are more diverse than others, and in turn we know certain cities are more tolerant and accepting than others. Last month Clacton and Frinton, a seaside constituency, elected a UKIP representative as their MP.
Sixty percent of the voting constituents, that is 21,113 people, voted to elect a UKIP MP. The furore in the media and responses from other Politicians surrounding this seemed to suggest that this is a view reflected by many parts of Britain. That a large number of people believe in the manifesto and positive views of UKIP.
We know what UKIP are against but what exactly are they standing for? It seems Clacton and Frinton are the only ones that seem to know. Or maybe UKIP won not because of their manifesto, but because the ex-Tory, Douglas Carswell, who won the UKIP seat, was known as the town’s most popular MP before he resigned from the Conservative party.
I hope the majority of the UKIP votes were votes for Carswell as a well-respected, widely held figure in Clacton and Frinton. Unfortunately, these votes resulted in a political ripple. UKIP seem to be ever in the spotlight, but there seem to be only murmurs of support for their one immigration policy.
After the by-election result, there were many reactions from the public. Twitter users did not fail to deliver with their jibes; my favourites being ‘Go home Clacton, you’re drunk’ and ‘this is why Clacton can’t have nice things.’
One MP in Parliament cannot surely reflect the views of a large proportion of society. Imagine cities like Birmingham or Manchester electing UKIP in their by-elections and elections. It’s okay, I laughed too.
So what about Leicester? The place where you can have a fully vegetarian café like OiPotato, a halal serving Indian takeaway like Bombay Bites and the high street chain Italian restaurant Zizzi’s all on the same road called Belvoir street – which is supposed to be pronounced ‘beaver’ street. DMU has a vibrant and diverse population of students from all over the country and world. The different societies and projects on offer just emphasises how the University encourages and promotes equality and diversity.
The answer should be simple. Leicester shows that it is welcoming and integrated. But let’s face it; if everything was simple and everyone got along swimmingly, then it wouldn’t make a very good Channel 4 programme now would it?
The trailer to the show is short but definitely not sweet. The people at the ‘tea party’ seem to all have different views, which is understandable as they have varying backgrounds. We might have stereotypical notions of how this may play out, but I am certain everything we try to predict about the show will be turned upside down.
There is an Asian lady in the trailer, quite old but with a so-called posh accent, who inexplicably says immigration should be stopped and she ‘does not want any more people coming into this country. Enough is enough.’ The look of disappointment and disgust from the Somalian lady sitting next to her will definitely make you want to see what happens next.
In a country where the education system is free, the healthcare system is free and the government gives state benefits; compared to other countries we have it really good. There won’t be any teachers concocting drug compounds to pay for their medical bills here. No way.
So the immigration topic always seems to go hand in hand with the job market. If you are competing with an uneducated, unskilled ‘foreign’ worker for a job where the boss can be sneaky enough to pay you cash under the minimum wage, you need to re-evaluate your life.
On the other end of the spectrum; doctors, nurses and plumbers for example, they have worked hard for their qualifications. You cannot practice as a doctor in this country without the strict qualifications, and with the shortage of doctors in hospitals and fees being paid for by the government for nursing and midwifery, there is a demand for workers.
I hope the programme tonight is fair. I hope it is well-rounded and thought provoking. Most importantly, I hope it points out how ridiculously stupid ‘Make Leicester British’ sounds, because country of origin should not define a person.
Watch it tonight on Channel 4 at 9pm.