The Sunday Telegraph editorial of 2nd March 2014 trumpets the success of research in the UK with the headline “Our medical science is in rude health” highlighting three genuinely world-leading developments in medicine.
First, the news that researchers have developed a new reparative technique that would, for example, allow a new ear to be grown for those with genetic abnormalities, using their own flesh to avoid rejection issues. Secondly, the discovery of a new part of the human body hidden deep within the eye that could pave the new way for a new era in addressing glaucoma. Thirdly, a further team have identified a single pill that may help avoid Alzheimer’s in future.
I agree, all fantastic stuff. But wait a minute, Dr Patrizia Ferretti, a key player on the tissue growth project, started out at the University of Pisa; Prof Harminder Dua of the glaucoma project is from the Punjab; and Dr Rafael de Cabo of the Alzheimer breakthrough is originally from the University of Cardoba in Spain.
How does the crucial contribution of these “immigrants” fit with the growing exposure of the underbelly of racism with which Ukip has managed to contaminate British politics, including that of our Conservative Party?
It is a centuries old tradition that we have welcomed the world’s greatest minds to our Universities and research centres. That must continue. What is more the children of previous generations of much less skilled immigrants have, once they have benefited from our education system, gone on to provide a solid foundation of academic and research excellence that have led to scientific breakthroughs; to say nothing of powering our nation’s businesses.
If we want to remain at the cutting edge of world science (and the arts for that matter) we should think twice about pulling up the drawbridge and denying our society and our economy the benefit that immigration brings, and has consistently brought for so many years.