EDITORIAL: Foreign bosses pay Britain a compliment

EDITORIAL: Foreign bosses pay Britain a compliment - Immigration has a very bad name in this country. As a nation, we do not reveal our attractive side when dealing with those people who would come here to live and work. The debate about immigration into

by RUFUS OLINS, Editor-in-chief and MATTHEW GWYTHER, Editor
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Immigration has a very bad name in this country. As a nation, we do not reveal our attractive side when dealing with those people who would come here to live and work. The debate about immigration into Britain usually degenerates into protest about 'hordes' of asylum seekers - usually 'bogus' - swamping us. It misses the point that many of them are highly qualified, resourceful and entrepreneurial.

This month, our feature 'Fresh Blood' looks at this subject from a different, and we hope more enlightened, angle. We've considered those immigrants who are fortunate enough to arrive Business Class at Heathrow rather than through the Channel Tunnel, clinging to the bottom of freight wagons. We ask, why is the UK such an attractive place for bosses from abroad to come and work at the moment?

It's not just high-profile individuals like Luc Vandevelde at M&S, Ben Verwaayen at BT and Sven Goran Eriksson imported, apparently as a last resort, to do jobs that the indigenous cadre of senior managers were running a mile from. There are literally thousands of them - 246 out of 832 directors of the FTSE-150 are non-Brits, according to the headhunter Spencer Stuart.

These people are not the sort welcomed in the 19th century by the Americans, with their entreaty: 'Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.' They're not coming here because they are forced to but because they think the UK is a good place to work and do business in.

It's easy sometimes to forget to count one's blessings. For all our problems with crumbling transport infrastructure, the NHS and education system under constant pressure, the UK remains attractive when looked at objectively by outsiders. Who would want, for example, to be German at the moment?

With five and a half million people unemployed, a stalled economy and severe structural problems, Germany has many problems to overcome before it can get back on the road to recovery.

- This may be the last editorial that we write together. Since Rufus re-launched the magazine in April 1999, he has seen through exactly three years of issues and editorials. It has been tremendous fun - stimulating and satisfying. And although his enthusiasm for the title remains undimmed, he now has other demands on his time from other magazines in Haymarket's management division.

So Matthew will write the editorials from now on - except perhaps for the holiday season - and the joint byline picture will return to the files.

This is not the end of the partnership. Rufus will continue to oversee each issue of MT, while Matthew charts its daily course.

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