Denis Macshane is a former Minister for Europe. The one time journalist had a short lived ministerial career –no great surprise there.
Now he has warned Britons living in Spain to prepare to come under attack because of the global credit crunch. He says they could receive the same sort of attention as has been given to Polish workers in the UK.
Speaking on the risk of social unrest in Europe Macshane says: “I would not want to be a Romany; I would not want to be a foreigner; I’m not sure I would even want to be a Brit in Spain.”
Macshane admitted to the Royal United Services Institute that he had not yet seen any evidence of hostility but warned some were questioning the burdens placed on services by some expats. Later he told the Press Association: “There are already some low-level rumblings in Spain that the ageing end of the British population are demanding the care and attention that older people do.”
Quite –because those people have paid in to the British health service and are now claiming benefits from the Spanish health service. Therefore the British government has to find an adequate way of repaying Spain.
Macshane went on “But as Spanish unemployment is rising faster than anywhere else in Europe you will see the gradual arrival of anti-foreigner feeling - much as there has been anti-foreigner feeling generated in Britain by the tabloids against the Poles and Eastern Europeans. I would predict that across Europe there will be the kind of anti-foreigner demagoguery that we have seen in a lot of our tabloid papers and from some right-wing politicians against the Europeans that live and work in Britain.”
I doubt if many Britons in Spain will take Macshane’s words too seriously although one may question the effect they may have in stirring up tension.
The majority of Britons in Spain have either retired or have second homes there – the majority are self sufficient and have private health insurance.
Those on low pensions and who draw on the health service are a problem – but a problem for the British and Spanish governments to resolve.
Those of us who live and work in Spain do so legally, as part of the Spanish tax and social security systems. The majority of British workers are not competing in the Spanish labour market but tend to service the requirements of fellow ex-pats.
The construction and tourism industries, the very motors of the Spanish economy, depend on Britons and other foreigners to invest, visit and live in the country. Indeed they are working hard to bring Britons in not attack them in the streets.
Drive the Britons and other foreigners from Spain and the country’s economy would truly collapse.
Drive the Polish from Briton and you will just have to wait longer for a plumber.
In the meantime spare us from idiots like Macshane –the world has enough real problems as it is.