I am prepared to accept that the family unit is under pressure. They are much smaller entities and much more dispersed than they were a century ago. Many of today’s social problems can, in part be attributed to their breakdown. Care for the elderly, social loneliness and the shortage of housing are amongst those that come to mind.
I have read with interest though that somehow freedom of movement is the cause of much of the family’s woes. It has encouraged members of the family to try their hand somewhere else, leaving behind their roots and ties. It is argued that humans need a strong basis in a stable society to thrive.
It is also being argued that freedom of movement is one of the main reasons behind the result of the referendum in 2016, in that it has allowed long standing communities to be destabilised. The irony is that many of these communities only exist because of the former demands of now extinct industries.
The question I ask though is if it is so bad why do we encourage it? Freedom of movement within this country has long been the policy of both the Conservative and Labour parties. Norman Tebbit’s noted speech is a perfect example promoting freedom of movement: ‘I grew up in the 30s with an unemployed father. He didn’t riot; he got on his bike and looked for work and he kept looking ’til he found it.’
The delegates at the Conservative Party Conference (October 1981) where Tebbit delivered his speech erupted, not in indignation but in admiration.
The problem is not with freedom of movement but rather with inequality. In a capitalist system, money will always move to where it can get the best return and skill will always be tempted to move to where it can earn the most. The overheated South-East of England is having a drastic effect on traditional communities by sucking in people from the rest of the country and abroad.
You can’t have it both ways. Either freedom of movement is good and we should get on our bikes, or it is bad and we should be tied forever to our native communities.
What people actually mean when they talk of freedom of movement is that they don’t want foreigners to be allowed to come and take our jobs.
Talk of freedom of movement as a cause of society’s ails has undertones of racism.