Southampton - Gateway to the World

1 April 2015

 The city of Southampton, as one of the major maritime ports on the south coast, has long played host to significant transitory immigrant communities, a number of whom chose to stay and make a life here.

If we look back at the history of Southampton, as far back as the mid-17th century and the influx of Huguenots fleeing oppression in continental Europe, we have observed a resolute acceptance of those from overseas in need of support and in search of a better life. As global politics has swirled around us we have taken into our communities a remarkable mix of peoples.

In the 19th century, one of Hampshire’s famous sons, Viscount Palmerston reached out the hand of friendship, to rescue from imprisonment, a combined legion of Poles and Hungarians, imprisoned in Turkey. A number of these refugees went on to settle themselves in the city with generous support from local benefactors in the form of the “Literary Society of the Friends of Poland”. The 20th century saw further incomers; with immigrants from across the world settling in our “ditches”. These communities, focused around East Street and Main Street, added a distinctive cosmopolitan colour to turn of the century Southampton.

Let us also not forget the tremendous debt of gratitude we owe those brave men and women who, fleeing Nazi persecution, arrived in this country and joined the war effort, most famously as fighter pilots. A number of these servicemen chose to make their home in Southampton adding to our Polish community. The excellent Polish social club origins date from this time.

Fast forward to the early 2000s and we again bear witness to the challenges to accept an influx of people from the emerging economies in Eastern Europe, who come to us seeking to build upon their newfound freedom and to build a better life for themselves and their children. Since 2001 the population of non-British white people registered via census has swelled. It is estimated that 1 in 10 of our population is of Eastern European origin.

This influx has brought with it challenges, including management of local services such as healthcare and schooling at a time of central government imposed austerity. A diversity of language and religion is a feature of many communities and many schoolyards and Southampton is a microcosm of this alongside our fellow south coast port city of Portsmouth. Whilst acknowledging these challenges we in the Green Party relish and recognise the strength in diversity inherent in a multicultural city. We welcome the valuable addition to our local communities of businesses that employ local people and the economic value that a youthful and hardworking community brings to the city.

The Green Party begins and ends with the central notion of the importance of community. We place people and community at the heart of our economics and at the heart of our thinking. The economy must be made to work for its people, all its people and not just big business and privileged few. That means valuing all of our people regardless of race, sexuality, wealth or power and indeed religion or country of origin not based on what separates us but on the basis of what collectively enriches us. The rich and powerful throughout history have sought to divide those they seek to rule understanding that disunited we the people are weak. If we speak however with one voice in our common interests we can shake the establishment to its foundations and create real change for the common good.

It was heartening to view this in action over recent weeks both in the form of the coming together of local communities to protect local community assets like our libraries, Sure Start centres and walk in health centres. This same community spirit was also much in evidence in the heartening rejection of the "Immigration Street" TV project and the negative agenda being projected onto our streets.

At the election we have a number of fundamental choices to make that will shape the direction and debate within this country for the next five years. One of these choices is which kind of a community we wish to be and how we wish to be perceived. On the one hand we have the view championed by UKIP and pandered to by the major political parties. On the other we have the Green Party and our progressive allies who believe in an inclusive rather than exclusive community, strong of spirit and confident in its complex identify.

We finish this article with a message* to one of our recently established communities in the city, our Polish community. It is hoped you will join us on May 7th in shaping a better Southampton and a better country.


Wielu z Was zdaje sobie sprawę z nadchodzących wyborów ogólnokrajowych, w których albo sami macie prawo głosu albo macie przyjaciela lub kolegę, który weźmie w nich udział udział. Te wybory, w których głównymi zagadnieniami będą przyszły dobrobyt ekonomiczny oraz stosunki z Unią Europejską, to punkt zwrotny dla Wielkiej Brytanii.

My w Partii Zielonych, wspólnie z naszymi siostrzanymi partiami w strukturach Unii Europejskiej, wierzymy w inną ekonomię polityczną niż partie głównego nurtu. Wspieramy ekonomię polegającą na poczuciu wspólnoty, która dostarcza dóbr dla większości, a nie tylko dla wybranych; ekonomię, która stawia zwyczajnych ludzi i społeczności jako centralny punkt dla naszego rozumienia wspólnego dobrobytu.

Pragniemy, aby nasi europejscy sąsiedzi stali się integralnymi i wartościowymi członkami naszych społeczności. Southampton jest tętniącym życiem, wielokulturowym miastem między innymi dzięki statusowi uniwersytetu oraz swemu morskiemu charakterowi. Doceniamy jego kulturalną i ekonomiczną siłę i oferujemy Wam zestaw projektów mających na celu wparcie wszystkich mieszkańców. Te propozycje to między innymi domy z przystępnym czynszem, darmowa edukacja dostępna dla każdego oraz światowej klasy NHS.

Proszę zagłosujcie na nas 7 Maja!

Wybory Lokalne

Możesz głosować w wyborach do lokalnego parlamentu, jeżeli dokonałeś rejestracji oraz:

  • ukończyłeś 18 lat w dniu wyborów
  • jesteś Brytyjczykiem, Irlandczykiem albo członkiem Brytyjskiej Wspólnoty Narodów lub obywatelem Unii Europejskiej mieszkającym w Wielkiej Brytanii

Wybory krajowe

Aby zagłosować w wyborach ogólnokrajowych musisz dokonać rejestracji oraz:

  • mieć ukończone 18 lat w dniu wyborów
  • być obywatelem Brytyjskim, obywatelem Brytyjskiej Wspólnoty Narodów albo Irlandii Północnej

 We thank profusely members of the local Polish community for help with the translation.

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