After Nigel Farrage’s anti-immigration comments on Question time about Romania and Bulgaria, PHD student Petia Paramova responded in a critical open letter. She has given us permission to publish it.
The leader of the UK Independence Party said on BBC’s Question Time last week that “It is completely wrong, irresponsible, in fact damn stupid, to be opening our doors next January to 29 million people from Romania and Bulgaria.” He empathised with poverty in eastern Europe but argued that Britain, already struggling from youth unemployment, could not cope with another influx of migrants. “It’s a national health service,” he said. “It is, frankly, not there for the rest of the world.”
Petia Paramova, a PHD student and Bulgarian immigrant to the UK, responded in an open letter criticising Mr Farrage. She has given London Migrant Hub the permission to publish it, below.
Having listened to your comments made about Bulgaria on ‘question time’ I felt obliged to write and clear a number of points which you so forcefully presented.
First of all I would like to introduce myself. My name is Petia Paramova and I have lived in the UK for the past 17 years since the tender age of 12. My secondary education I completed at Fettes College while subsequently I also went on to study at Goldsmiths College, University of London, where I read Psychology for my undergraduate degree, Occupational Psychology for my masters degree and where I am currently completing a PhD looking into the cross-cultural aspects of political leadership and specifically comparing Bulgaria and the UK. While my home is here my connections with Bulgaria are still solid and certainly highly valued by myself and my family.
I must note that you were somewhat right to say that the economic situation in Bulgaria is not so good. However you were certainly wrong to insinuate that life there is simply unbearable and that life here could provide a brighter future. While my life here has certainly been good I must admit that the difficulties posed by young people in Britain today are extensive. What I did find over the years is that discrimination for foreigners, lack of value for their achievements and inequality were certainly aspects which made living considerably complex. Even achievers like myself struggle in the UK to prove themselves and to assert themselves to the level of others who were born here. Being made to feel like an unwelcomed guest in the country is certainly a feeling which many would identify with, while one must point out that OUR contribution to YOUR economy is substantial. You might think that The United Kingdom is a magnet for individuals like us and individuals who you would probably brand as ‘needy’ but I must tell you that the majority of those who enter the UK and taste the negative aspects noted above are quick to rush back home where with the foreign education, which they paid for dearly, they could achieve more than they can here. So one would wonder whether the future in the UK is always as bright as you might think it is and whether the Bulgarian status makes you liable to always ‘pack your bags’ and run for the UK.
Additionally as a daughter of one of the top economists in Bulgaria I must note that I also felt insulted by your comment about Bulgaria’s leadership. Corruption is certainly evident but one would be wrong to place all leading figures under a common denominator. The current government is certainly doing well in handling recession issues in a critical environment and looking deeply into the work they do might be valuable.
While completing my rigorous research I came to the conclusion that while differences between the Bulgarian and the UK political leader samples in my work were evident, those were certainly marginal, which would suggest that one would be wrong to brand our leadership as incapable in providing bright future when compared to the leadership exemplified in the UK.
Mr. Farage, I chose to live in the UK not because my future here is brighter but because I settled, I created a family and I presented myself as flexible enough to withstand the difficulties which living in Britain pose. My life here is reasonable and I would refrain from instigating anything negative about the country which I now call home, but you must reconsider your extreme reaction, as such reaction is not only inapplicable for a leading figure in politics but also one which causes offence to those who are here not to steal or benefit from anything that your might brand as ‘yours’ but are here to add to your economy in return for some basic respect.
The UK does provide a lot and has given me a home and life so I am thankful but I cannot go without noting that I often return to Bulgaria for healthcare, be it to keep on top of my stress related heart problems or simply to consult myself with specialists, with regard to my daughter’s health. Similarly my sister, who has lived and worked in the UK for the past 19 years also returns home for healthcare, as following her two life saving surgeries in the UK caused by mistakes of the NHS staff, she no longer feels safe and protected by YOUR national health service, which she certainly pays for.
This letter is not intended to provoke an argument. It is just a statement of a young professional who ‘YOUR’ country has taught to be considerate, mild and not assumptive when presenting an opinion of others. As someone who is academically knowledgeable enough to advice political leaders I would strongly insist on your increased diplomacy over immigration issues which are certainly always incredibly sensitive and which could cause you and your political affiliation an unnecessary lack of support.
I am certainly willing to meet and discuss this issue further.