Being different can be difficult, even dangerous, in the UK

Protesters demonstrate outside the Rwanda High Commission against the Home Office's plan to relocate individuals

Protesters demonstrate outside the Rwanda High Commission against the Home Office's plan to relocate individuals identified as illegal immigrants or asylum seekers to Rwanda for processing, resettlement and asylum in London, United Kingdom on June 8, 2022.

Photo credit: AFP

If you are “different” in Britain — skin colour, religious faith, born elsewhere — life can be difficult, even physically dangerous, a recent survey of race inequality has found.

More than a quarter of people from these minority groups told the survey they had experienced racial insults and 17 per cent said their property had been damaged.

One in three Gypsy people, one in five Jews and one in six from other minority groups said they had experienced a racist physical assault. 

Nearly a third reported discrimination in education and employment and more than a fifth reported similar treatment by the police.

Crowded housing 

Ethnic minorities were more likely to live in overcrowded housing – 60 per cent of Roma families and a quarter of Pakistani and Arab people.

Asylum seekers are among those who are particularly vulnerable to violent rejection, and the irony here is that the arguments their critics use are all wrong, as demonstrated by the Strategic Migrant Partnership.

Claim 1: There are too many asylum seekers in the UK. Fact: Britain takes around one per cent of the world’s refugees. France and Germany take many more.

Claim 2: They take our homes. Fact: Asylum-seekers cannot choose where they live and are often housed in properties that are difficult to let.

Claim 3: They take our jobs. Fact: Asylum-seekers are not allowed to work or claim benefits.

Claim 4: They are illegal. Fact: It is not illegal to claim asylum and claimants must prove they have a well-founded fear of persecution.

Claim 5: They are mostly young men. Fact: Forty-one per cent of asylum-seekers are children.

Claim 6: They have passed through other countries where they could have claimed asylum. Fact: There is no law that says claims must be made in the first safe country. Refugees often come to the UK because they speak English or have family here.

Prof Nissa Finney of the University of St Andrews, who led the race survey, said it showed that racism was “part of the daily lives” of people from ethnic minorities.

“The UK is immeasurably far from being a racially just society,” concluded the two-year research project. It urged the government to tackle “substantial ethnic inequalities” across a range of areas of British life and institutions.

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I recently had cataracts removed from my eyes, as many old people do, and the improvement in my vision was spectacular.

What always puzzled me about cataract operations was this: I knew that the lens which you are born with is removed, and a new, artificial lens is implanted in each eye. My question: Why did the eye not reject the new lens, as it always does with foreign bodies, such as wood or metal splinters?

My clever nephew Tony, who specialised in this area, gave me the answer. During the Second World War, fighter pilots often suffered horrific eye injuries when their planes were hit by enemy fire. But one clever British surgeon, Harold Ridley, noted that if a plane’s canopy was shot to pieces and the pilot received slivers in his eyes, he did not experience any foreign body rejection.

The surgeon discovered that the canopies were made of silicone and that silicone is inert and is not rejected by the human body.

Today’s lenses are made of acrylic but it was the silicone discovery which paved the way.

Footnote: Cataract is another word for a waterfall and looking through a waterfall is the sort of vision experienced by a person with a cloudy lens.

* * *

A pointer to soaring food prices was contained last week in this column when it described a thief stealing meat from a supermarket shelf.

Further evidence has come in a survey in which one in 10 younger adults and one in 25 adults overall admitted stealing items at supermarket self-checkouts. 

They do this by intentionally skipping or incorrectly scanning foods or drinks.

The most recent official statistics show a 19.1 per cent rise in the price of food and non-alcoholic beverages in Britain since March last year. 

And economists say the trend is for prices to stay high for some time.

* * *

A survey shows that when it comes to inter-family communications, Mum is the straight woman while Dad thinks he’s a comedian.

Mum’s four favourite sayings: 1. Because I said so, that’s why. 2. I don’t care who started it. 3. Wait until your father gets home. 4. Does it look like I’m made of money?

Dad’s: 1. Keep the change (when there isn’t any). 2. Oh no, they’re coming for you (when police sirens sound outside). 3. You make a better door than a window (to whoever stands in front of the TV set). 4. You missed a spot (to someone who has done a clean-up job).