Saturday, April 27, 2002

What was he doing here, anyway?

One of the good things about this web logging lark is that you can say what everyone else thinks is totally bonkers. So here goes.

I know that Damilola Taylor's tragic murder has nothing much to do with British foreign policy, but what precisely was he doing here?

It seems that his family came over here so that his brother could get free NHS treatment. In the meantime they lived in a taxpayer provided council flat (in an area where there is a long waiting list from native born Londoners of all colours) and with the children going to publicly funded schools. Although I haven't seen it in the papers, the Taylor family did seem to be surviving and there is a good chance that this was not all from money transfers from Damilola's father in Lagos.

And what had the Taylors actually contributed to the British exchequer before living off the taxpayer like this? I can't find any evidence that any of them were actually working over here.

And then there is Anna Climbie who came over here to take advantage of Britain's education system (she didn't but the intention was there). And it looks like her parents are going to be suing the state for a few hundred thousand for the parent's neglect. And Bunmi Shagaya who was in our school system when she drowned in France (who's father, like Damilola's also came from Nigeria when his daughter drowned).

Every death is a tragedy, especially when so young. However, the point is how many African children are we paying to educate in our schools and treat in our hospitals. I don't blame the parents, except if they want to sue us, hell if I was in the same situation I would probably take the free healthcare and education on offer. But there certainly is a pattern here, it seems like the tip of the iceberg.

This is not a cultural, even less a racial, problem. More an economic one. We know that the areas that they are ending up are the ones with the hardest pressed schools that we are always told are underfunded - or as David Blunkett put it "swamped".

Can we really afford this? Maybe this is an isolated phenomena, although anecdotal evidence - admittedly unreliable - suggests otherwise. Where are the statistics on this?


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