The culture that is Britain

Please don’t come to Britain – it rains and the jobs are scarce and low-paid. Ministers are considering launching a negative advertising campaign in Bulgaria and Romania to persuade potential immigrants to stay away from the UK.

The plan, which would focus on the downsides of British life, is one of a range of potential measures to stem immigration to Britain next year when curbs imposed on both country’s citizens living and working in the UK will expire.

Here is more, via Paolo Abarcar.  What would you put in such an ad?  As for precedents:

In 2007, Eurostar ran adverts in Belgium for its trains to London depicting a tattooed skinhead urinating into a china teacup.

On the other hand:

…the Home Office launched a guide to Britishness for foreigners who would be citizens which opens with the words: “Britain is a fantastic place to live: a modern thriving society”.


Well, if it leaves the EU, the UK won't have to create ads discouraging travel.

However, strangely, no one else in the EU (plus even non-EU countries in the Schengen Agreement) seems to feel the same need to keep people out the way the British do.

So why did every existing EU state in 2004 (barring the UK, Ireland, and Sweden) impose restrictions on workers coming from the accession states? As so often, the general enthusiasm for bashing Britain wins out over any regard for truth.

This isn't 2004, and these government has changed, obviously.

Why would temporary measures be put in place to ensure minimal disruption when transitioning between rigid boder controls and completely free passage, as the EU extended its borders to the former Soviet Union?

I'm stumped - well, no, I'm not. And 2004? - well, anybody heard anything a bit more recent (the last 5 years is fine - though not including Denmark's blatantly illegal blustering) about Schengen Area movement/EU residency restrictions?

"strangely, no one else in the EU (plus even non-EU countries in the Schengen Agreement) seems to feel the same need to keep people out the way the British do."

You should try reading the news. From the Daily Mail last year, complete with great photographs:

"How to crush a gypsy camp French-style: It took us 10 years to clear Dale Farm but France's ruling have smashed six Roma camps in as many weeks. Guess where the gypsies want to come next

"Hundreds of police have been launching dawn raids on camps throughout France

"Nearly 1,000 Roma have been deported following at least six raids in recent weeks

"In the most recent raid, Roma families ordered to leave as 500 officers entered an illegal camp near Lyon

"Police arrest 180 people who now face being deported back to Romania

"After gypsies are evicted, officers smash up caravans with diggers

"New Socialist government escalating crackdown that began under Sarkozy
PUBLISHED: 07:20 EST, 28 August 2012

Read more:

I used to live in England and would be willing to consult for free on the campaign. Commercial could start with two people in track suits swearing and arguing on the bus in front of children, then fade out to a group of heavily made up middle-aged women in tiaras and 8-inch heels vomiting in public at seven in the evening, then cut to some pudgy youth throwing eggs at elderly asian people, or maybe dropping cement blocks off of overpasses onto passing cars.

Spot-on, Lewis.

But none of your archetypes own weapons or pay for their Liverpool Care Pathway out-of-pocket or eat imported Chilean plums, so Britain remains more civilized than Utah.

You Americans really have a problem with the Liverpool Care Pathway don't you?

Well, I am Romanian. A Romanian actuary, working in a multinational. British should rest assured and save the money: I don't have the slightest intention of moving to London. 50 shades of grey city, cold and sad, with faceless corporates drinking alone in front of pubs at 5 o'clock, exhausted by the lifeless office politics of the countless MBA graduates eager to succeed through Powerpoint in such a "city of choice". No way.

Curiously, I've never met a foreigner working in London who didn't adore it. We need more actuaries: reconsider. ("Drinking *alone*"?! you clearly have no idea.)

Selection bias?

Isn't Eastern Europe, including Romania, stereotypically dreary? I would think Eastern Europeans would feel right at home.

Budapest is most certainly not dreary. If Hungary had a modicum of decent governance, Budapest, for medium-sized cities, would be in the Top 5 globally. Been there, done that.

Bill, come to Prague, Krakow or Budapest, you'll see that your prejudice isn't warranted. Even the poorer countries like Bulgaria have some fantastic cities (like Veliko Tarnovo).

50 shades of grey? You realize you make London sound a lot more exciting than it is, right? ;)

All fooling aside, though, yes---for architecture a la Romania's "Golden Age," you'd be better off staying home. Cost of living's a lot lower in Bucharest, that's for sure.

The British are less worried about Romanian Romanians and more worried about Romanian Romas. Tyler's commenters seem kind of obtuse about this.

Department to be headed by Morrissey.

+1 "London: Where Everyday Is Silent and Gray."

+1 to both Lewis and anakin for entertaning comments. I would take an assignment to London if my company asked. Decent hub for getting to the rest of Europe and Central Asia, places I'd like to visit. One place I would like to check out is Romania, actually.

If only the U.S. would undertake such campaigns in (a) certain country/countries...

Aside from Fox News and right-wing talk radio, what reason couldd we possible give for staying away? :)

First, the sheer exsistance of such ads is contradictory. A country with the institutional capacity to do a neg campaign on itself is probably better than the country within which those ads are running.

Second, Britain should be doing positive ad campaigns for alternative countries. Divert the flow! Or promote home countries' nationalism, pride or shame for not making their own country better.

Run positive ads for France. TROLOLOLOLOLOL


Your use of the word "neg" is spot on. It's playing the part of the aloof pick-up artist. The question is whether it is intentional or not. The best way to hit on hot girls is to treat them like the ugly, annoying girls you want to go away.

All they have to talk about is the cost of housing.

I seriously considered a job in London about five years ago that paid double my US salary at the then exchange rate, and decided after a little research that with the cost of housing my quality of life would go way down, despite the fact I really, really like London and England culturally.

It seems to me that "liking London culturally" and "liking England culturally" are two very, very different concepts.

It's sort of interesting that the only country for which the "Lingua Franca" of English is the mother tongue, doesn't want anything to do with all the people who are inspired and driven to go there.

Could the ads backfire via adverse selection, so that the worst sort of foreigner is attracted to Britain?

And might the ads also discourage foreign direct investment?

Finally, doesn't such advertising contradict all the nice shows about Britain put on during the London Olympics?

It seems the British are ambivalent.

Instead, England should promote Germany as the better destination for Romanians and Bulgarians.

England could even do this stealthily: make appear that an ad promoting Germany, which welcomed Bulgarians and Romanians, originated in Germany. Or, England could set up employment offices in Bulgaria or Romania to place persons in Germany.

Germany? Send them to Canada and help out the Empire a bit. Romania's even a member of the Francophonie. Romanians have something to offer everyone.

As a man happily married to a Canadian woman from a good Romanian family late of Bucharest (via Montreal), rest assured we'll find a place for them somewhere.

Renovations to St-Martin-in-the-Fields a few years back were sponsored in part by Tourisme Quebec. I laughed out loud when I saw the ad on my first trip to London.

It won't work to their intention. Eastern Europeans are paranoid: they're trying to keep us out of the UK? Then it must be good.

Show them a visitor to London blowing his nose and having it come out black.

Forget the Fifties---that was me in the 21st century. Needless to say I was horrified.

In all honesty, though, Cameron's efforts to turn Britain into the Quebec (circa 1988) of Europe, referenda, bad-faith negotiations of its future place in the federation and all just to humour xenophobes and reactionaries in Angleterre profonde, will do the job of scaring immigrants away better than any ad campaign.

Cue: Rule Britannia then fade

Distinguished plummy voice:

"The reason the sun never set on the British Empire, was because God would never trust an Englishman in the dark. And neither should you. Britain.. it's ok for a visit, but you wouldn't want your kids to stay there after dark..."

Sure, close the door after Norrmen wave and the Angles/Jutes/Saxon's wave. Slavs always get the short straw.

Britain has the most dysfunctional society I have ever seen: I was so happy when I finally left.

The dysfunctional society you talk about is the greatest of all countries - the birthplace of most things modern ranging from parliament and organized sports to miniskirts.

Britain is proud of its "monarchy" because its monarchy had its wings clipped way back in 1688 long before such thoughts were fashionable anywhere else in the world.

He didn't say they were dysfunctional back then.

Things change. Societies decay.

Things have only gotten better.
It is a liberal democracy with the monarchy providing raw material for gossip mostly. Not a dictatorship as Andreas pointed out.

Yes, far more dysfunctional than Saudi or Burma even.

Bulgaria and, especially, Romania have large populations of highly mobile Roma (a.k.a., Gypsies). E.U. expansion allows them to move to richer countries with more naive populations. The French and Italians have been trying to drive the Roma back to Eastern Europe by knocking down their encampments and arresting their pickpockets, so it only makes sense for the Brits to try to discourage them from coming in the first place.

I wrote about the Roma-related problems E.U. expansion will cause back in 2004:

"In 2007, Eurostar ran adverts in Belgium for its trains to London depicting a tattooed skinhead urinating into a china teacup."

To paraphrase Doestoyevsky: Everyone pretends not to like skinheads...

Not the first time it's been suggested:

Seriously, virtually everyone in England believes we're being swamped by immigrants -and true that the population is going up fast despite high emigration of native Brits. No idea what we're doing right.

"No idea what we’re doing right."

You inherited the world's foremost country from your ancestors.

The U.K.'s new slogan: Rue Britannia

Why is there so much negativity about Britain all the time.
All said and done, if I were to consider all the large countries of the world (discounting Canada, Aus, Qatar as small countries), I still find that Britain is arguably the second/third richest country of the world (behind US and almost on par with Germany on per-capita income)

It is still a stinking rich place. And on top of that, one of the freest and tolerant countries on earth.

In fact, if we were to rank countries based on GDP produced per and consider countries with a population of atleast 20MM, I wonder if Great Britain would be number 2 on that list behind Japan and perhaps on par with South Korea?


Actually I'd restrict myself to nations speaking English, and then UK will probably be number 1 on that list.

This suggests there may be sensible reasons to impose barriers on non-English speakers. Japan and Korea seem to be doing fine maintaining barriers to non-Japanese and non-Korean speakers.

"It is still a stinking rich place. And on top of that, one of the freest and tolerant countries on earth."

I think you make good points and I think most people in abstract would agree with you. However, it does appear that the UK has some significant negative trends. Particularly an increasing amount of violent crime that the police may well be significantly under reporting. And long term budgetary issues.

However, I still think that Britain is in a much better position than France.

Brits form a surprisingly large chunk of the expat population in most locales. Pilots, engineers, doctors, lawyers, finance guys etc. in the expat community are very often Brit.

Good point.
Britain is probably the worst affected of all countries on earth when it comes to brain drain over the past 500 years.
It has lost such a significant part of its enterprising population - first to Ireland then Caribbean, US, Canada, then Aus and NZ.

The so-called brain drain / resource drain that is bemoaned these days in places like India is very very insignificant in comparison

"Why is there so much negativity about Britain all the time."

It's a personality issue. Anyone can criticize North Korea, but if you criticize the UK, that makes you an insightful hot-shot, with extremely high standards.

"In all honesty, though, Cameron’s efforts to turn Britain into the Quebec (circa 1988) "

A minority of quebeckers constantly threaten to leave Canada while the province hoovers up hundreds of billions in transfer payments from the rest of Canada.

A majority of the British don't want to outsource lawmaking to Brussels while sending a net 5 billion euros a year to the EU every year.

Most of the posts here don't comprehend why Britain is different from the rest of Europe.

There are two aims here, the first is to stop emigrants who move to Britain for legal or illegal employment. Britain and Ireland have far fewer restrictions on this than other European countries. In practice it's common that no identification is required, few checks are performed. So, people who live in non-EU states, but can cross the border to new EU states are in the following situation.... they may stay in another state, but they will likely be caught and found if they try to work. Or, they can go to Britain where they probably won't be. There are existing immigrant population from everywhere you can think of in Britain, and they often what to employ their own kind in their own businesses.

The other target, as Steve Sailer points out is the Roma. Since the Schengen agreement British city centres have filled up with Roma beggars. Even quite small places have organized gangs of them. Again, British law is in practice very lenient, the police move on the beggars but rarely do anything more. Also, because of the power of the politically correct the law is much more lenient on Gypsy's occupying land. In practice it's often impossible to get rid of them legally. The kind of things that Steve mentions in the Daily Mail article happening in France would never happen in Britain.

I doubt the adverts would work unless they very directly targeted the Roma and were plausibly threatening. This has been tried before too. The city of Leicester in 1972 took out newspaper adverts in Uganda to discourage Ugandans from coming. It didn't work then.

I'm British, though I don't live there, I live in Ireland, which is similar.

How about running positive ads for Bulgaria and Romania in the UK, so Brits move there. A few thousand have done it already:

When have conservatives decided Britain doesn't have crushingly high taxes?

Why not the simple messages:

"Taxes are really really really high in Britain."


"Come to Britain and pay taxes, we need the money."

The people they are trying to primarily discourage, Gypsys, live off benefits that are funded by taxes or of untaxed begging (or theft). Telling them that taxes are really high wouldn't work.

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