• ‘We are not objects, we are not things’: ethnic minority women’s views of the UK home office immigration campaigns

      Dhaliwal, Sukhwant (Springer, 2016-05-01)
      The lead-up to the 2015 general election in the United Kingdom included considerable discussion about how to encourage women to vote (Grice, 2015). A poll conducted by TNS BMRB for BBC Radio Four ‘Woman’s Hour’ found that immigration was one of the top five concerns for the women who they polled (What do women think about the general election?, 2015). The same survey drew additional insights from a focus group session with six women from Bexleyheath in Southeast London. It seems that these six women viewed immigration as a problem, but, other than a passing reference to border controls and the impact of global elites on London’s house prices, there is little detail about what their specific concerns centred upon or stemmed from. This can be contrasted with interviewees on the Mapping Immigration Controversy (MIC) project1 who suggested that references to immigration can act as a proxy for other grievances, particularly concerns about the economy, access to housing, health care and education. Furthermore, the MIC surveys found that it is difficult to capture, statistically, the multiple factors that are encompassed when individuals say they are concerned about immigration (Jones et al., 2014; Bhattacharyya, 2013). In this short note, I will reflect on some of the key findings from two focus group sessions with ethnic minority women, and on the possibility that anti-immigration campaigns have the effect of making them think that their vote is far less important than the white majority vote. Renewed debates about intersectionality within the United Kingdom, and beyond, should remind us that women do not speak with one voice; Home Office messages on immigration could be received differently by women depending on the way that they experience multiple axes of power. The women who feel the impact of the Home Office’s immigration campaigns most acutely may be from ethnic minorities and particularly (but not only) those subject to immigration controls. It is not clear how many of the Bexleyheath focus group participants were from minority communities. In contrast, the MIC project held two focus groups to specifically gauge the views of ethnic minority women.