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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 April 2005, 19:44 GMT 20:44 UK
UK voters' panel: Alistair Quinn

MEET THE PANEL
Alistair Quinn
Name: Alistair Quinn
Age: 34
Lives: Kings Lynn
Works: IT
Current voting intention: Labour
In 10 words or less:
"Family man, small business owner trying to earn a living"

A major key point I will be looking out for in Labour's manifesto is the important issue of immigration.

I am a firm believer that charity begins at home and I would like to see strict rules for people entering the UK.

We should only allow permanent access for people who are going to benefit the country.

Just short of 140,000 people settled in the UK in 2003.

This certainly had a direct knock-on effect on employment in Norfolk, as the local-born land workers were substituted for cheap labour.

VOTERS' PANEL
Education is another key point I will be looking at.

Schools need to go back to basics. Ask most teenagers their 12-times tables or ask them to write a letter and they will struggle.

Giving children a good basic knowledge is of far more use to them than making them jacks of all trades.


Your comments:

Alistair, I am an immigrant New Zealander - my wife is an immigrant Italian, most of our friends are immigrants. My family has paid tax in this country for a decade and never taken a penny back from the UK government, we even have private medical. We are the real face of immigration to the UK. How do you think pensions are paid? Not from past savings but from the savings and taxes of people working now, people like me. It is my family's taxes and saving that are funding current UK pensioners and NHS and so on. My story is the real story of immigration in the UK, not the story fed out by the tabloid press. A vast majority of immigrants to this country are hard-working taxpayers that have never accepted a penny from the state, how many locals can say the same? I am feeling increasingly unwelcome in this country and would happily take my money and skills elsewhere if I'm not wanted.
Craig, London

If we are so short of Labour why for example are tens of thousand IT Specialists in the UK being replaced by imported workers from India! I have ensured that I will only deal with companies that use local or British People.
Bruce V Fox, Bournemouth

What is Alan Damper of Eastbourne talking about "the lazy British". He may be lazy, but most of us work far harder than our European counterparts, and for less reward than our counterparts in the USA.
Russ, Reading

So Alistair, which newspaper has been brainwashing you? You are a narrow minded bigot.
Sunjay, London

Should we keep the South Africans, Aussies and New Zealanders out as well, or the EU citizens, most of whom aren't from eastern Europe, or just those whose skin is different?
Mike, London, UK

The trouble is that when people hear the word immigrant they picture a black face. That's what Howard is tapping into, out and out prejudice. At least the BNP, however abhorrent they are, are honest it their racism. We are not swamped with immigrants, in fact we need their skills to keep the NHS (amongst other services) running well. Ignore the right wing lies about immigration. Yes we need to tackle anyone illegally entering the country, but all this Enoch Powell rubbish is beginning to turn my stomach.
Iain, Beds, UK

The question should be: who should we allow to come to the UK? The fundamentalists? The people who do not want to integrate? Those who want their own ghettos? Those who want to impose their view on the majority of public? Those who want to ask us to tolerate their intolerance? Or those who want to better themselves as well as the UK?
H, Leicester, UK

Every single comment I have read on the subject of immigration tends to miss the point. The problem with immigration is not necessarily people not assimilating (although this can be a problem) but rather the UK is a small country that cannot keep accepting people year on year. The real question should be: "do you want the countryside eroded by extra housing and roads, do you want even more traffic jams, more pollution, a more crowded country?" When this sort of question is asked, the unthinking robots of political correctness (i.e.: Labour supporters) trot out what they have been brainwashed to trot out, and that is that you are a racist for even bringing up this issue.
Stephen McCullough, Perth, Australia

I agree with you Alistair, charity begins at home. Why are we donating 20 billion over 10 years to Africa? That money should be invested here. Once again, Labour double talk. You're not getting my vote.
Richard, London

I agree absolutely with Mr. Quinn. All reasonably intelligent people know that the vast majority of so-called asylum seekers are nothing of the kind - a significant number of them are criminals escaping justice in their own countries and are not only allowed to roam free in ours but are provided with houses and incomes to do so! On the subject of education, when are politicians going to admit that most young people are not academically adequate to attend university. I passed the 11+ at the age of 10 in the late 1950's; a comparison of my O-level grades with GCSE grades today indicate that I am intellectually inferior to many young people today yet they cannot even spell properly - and the less said about their grammatical ability the better. We need a decent education system that allows those few with real academic ability to go to university at no cost to themselves or their parents and the majority to be trained as electricians, plumbers etc. (the skills so badly lacking today).
Sarah Marsh, St. Helens

I think Alistair is a victim of the current campaign against immigration, if it is out of control why is unemployment extremely low? I think political parties are pandering to the mainly xenophobic British public. Immigration is nowhere near as important as unemployment. Immigration is apparently out of control and unemployment is very low. Get back to the main debates about economy, education, health and the whereabouts of Chelsea's team manager!
Mike Newitt, London

You say that just short of 140,000 people settled in the UK in 2003, but can you tell us how many left to live elsewhere? No - that's because no-one knows. How on earth can we have a sensible debate on migration when no-one's bothering to collect such vital information? Without it we can't possibly say how many people the country can afford to take in rendering much of the debate utterly pointless.
Rowan Harvey, London

Alistair, get a grip and vote Conservative. History will show that Blair and his lot have destroyed the culture of our country, and we have paid for it out of higher taxes.
Pete Llewellyn, Gloucester

We are not swamped by illegal immigrants
Jon, London, UK
I am almost ashamed by the narrow-mindedness of the current immigration debate. In almost all our essential services we are desperately short of people. Britain has a strong economy because of participation in the single European market. And we have a history of growing richer through free trade with other countries. I am from South Wales and can never forgive the Thatcher government for the brutality of their economic reforms. But free trade means that hard manual jobs move to the cheapest source of labour and cleaner, skilled jobs remain. We are not swamped by illegal immigrants. We are the destination for entrepreneurial people who want to make their lives better and bring economic stimulation to the UK in return. I wish that our politicians would lead this country and tell the positive message that free trade and immigration has to offer.
Jon, London, UK

I never understand views on education like Alistair's. Why is being able to rattle off the twelve times table more "useful" than learning skills which can be used in a trade? I think it is important that kids who do not have natural academic leanings can use their time in education to learn things that will be of use to them in the future. A teenager who is clearly never going to be a maths graduate would be better off learning woodwork, or even hairdressing, than quadratic equations.
Debs, London, UK

Alistair, it sounds as though you want to vote conservative, but are too proud to. Labour does not represent its traditional values anymore, thanks to Tony Blair's New Labour. All the fundamental issues you have raised are according to Michael Howard, going to be addressed by the Conservative Parties - perhaps it is time to change your allegiances?
Christopher Pilgrim, UK

I really do not understand the obsession with immigration in this campaign. I can see it is an issue but it appears to receive disproportionate attention. I cannot help thinking it is stirred up by the tabloids, despite barely impacting most people's daily lives.
Jules, Swindon, England

The only problem with your argument, as far as I can see, is that a lot of the cheap labour is coming from countries like Portugal, Poland and the Czech Republic who are members of the EU, and therefore wouldn't be affected by immigration controls.
Nick James, Bristol, UK

Don't blame immigrants who often work much harder than us lazy British!
Alan Damper, Eastbourne, East Sussex
Anyone who has moved permanently to the UK is not "cheap labour" as they are still protected by the minimum wage legislation. Many students come here from other parts of the EU for working holidays. These people are more likely to do the work for a low rate. Talk to the farmers about it - don't blame immigrants who often work much harder than us lazy British!
Alan Damper, Eastbourne, East Sussex

Alistair: you seem to be a classic case of someone who appears to hold Conservative views but who perhaps votes Labour out of habit or tradition. I am similarly a family man trying to run a business and I come from a family of Labour supporters. This time, however, I will be voting for the Conservatives because they have at least spelt out their plans and are the only main party prepared to genuinely tackle the issue of immigration, which I also believe is one of the most important issues at this current time.
Morgan, Winchester, UK

Alistair, running your own small business and voting Labour is like a Turkey voting for Christmas! Over the past eight years my small business has been swamped by government red tape and my tax bill has shot up. There is nothing 'business friendly' about Tony Blair's Labour government.
Angus Allan, Harwich

I fail to understand why Alistair intends to vote for Labour given that the key issue he will be looking at is immigration. Labour has had eight years to structure a strict immigration policy and stand up to the directives imposed by the EU. My question is: Does Alistair believe Labour will suddenly deliver an immigration policy that he feels will be satisfactory? My answer is: Pigs are more likely to fly!
John Evans, Northwich, Cheshire

Alistair wants to see firm immigration controls but intends to vote Labour. I'm sorry but the two just don't go together.
SPT, Wiltshire

Whilst I agree with the principal of beneficial immigration, I'd like to understand better what the term 'cheap labour' refers to. Migrants from within the EU are allowed into the UK, just as all the Brits who escape to France and Spain settle there. If we are talking about people from outside the EU, then Alistair is right, immigration should be limited to a points based system as they have in Australia and Canada. Asylum seeking is a different issue, and I hope that immigration and asylum aren't confused. The UK has an obligation to accept that refugees and genuine asylum seekers should be helped to assimilate into British life as soon as possible.
Neil, London, UK





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