Reading this headline "Two million quit Britain in 'talent drain' " in yesterday's Daily Telegraph, my first reaction was "and look at what we've got in exchange". However, I then began to think about the number of people that I knew whose families have left this country.
I already aware that one of our bell-ringers had his son & daughter-in-law in Boston Mass. They were both doctors and had had difficulty finding suitable NHS posts in the UK, resulting in their deciding to emigrate.
Then in the course of my daily walk, I spoke to an elderly widow who lives about a dozen doors further down the street, and enquired about her Christmas. She told me that as all her family were now abroad, the neighbours had kindly invited her in for Christmas Day. But she said that her American granddaughter would be coming over to stay with her for a few months as part of her university studies, and then she would be going back with her for a long holiday. Surprisingly, I was told something very similar by a bell-ringer at another local tower recently. Here, another widow said that this wasn't a good time of the year for travel, but she would be going to visit her family in Seattle in the spring for a month or so.
These were just three of the people that I knew with family abroad, Then I recalled that a member of my Retired Staff Association has adult children in the US, Malaysia and Australia and is constantly travelling between them, and that another member had at last got an Australian residence permit to join his son in Perth. Thinking about the Computer Club, I remembered that one member had mentioned a son in New Zealand, whilst another has family in Beijing (although I doubt that this is permanent).
But this is not all, I am also aware of a number of acquaintances who have grandchildren at Universities abroad, As one grandparent said to me, "He'll be looking for a job in the world market, so his aim was to find a University that is recognised world-wide". Apparently, Vancouver is the top place to study Oceanography. So even at that stage their grandson is thinking of leaving Britain.
Then yesterday, before I had read the Telegraph article, we had been discussing holidays with our younger daughter and she mentioned that they were considering visiting one of her husband's cousins in Australia this year. The reason? Her husband's employers are currently evaluating the pros and cons of a subsidiary in Australia and if it goes ahead, they would have the opportunity of moving there.. So they want to see if they like the country and in particular find out how their education system compares with that here.
The important thing about all these people who have emigrated is that they are all professionals such as doctors, scientists and engineers, the very people that the country can least afford to loose. But when even members of the younger generation are suggesting that they will be seeking employment in the world market and are tailoring their education accordingly, it seems to me that the country has a major problem. The politicians should be very concerned about what is happening as the people who are leaving are those we most need to help this country get back to its former glory.
Meanwhile I must remember to get the address of my erstwhile colleague in Australia so that I can find out what hoops he had to go through to get his residence permit, just in case!
Alastair Campbell New Hereditary Peer
8 minutes ago