“Back in the Fifties and Sixties, it was expected of immigrants to adopt British customs and values: the terrible concept of multiculturalism hadn’t taken root.
“However, today we welcome people who, for example, bring with them a hostile interpretation of Islam and have no real wish to integrate: in many cases, they despise our way of life. Furthermore, even some members of the indigenous Muslim community have been radicalised over the past 15 years.
“Islam is becoming more conservative and less amenable to assimilation. The West is becoming more liberal. We run the risk of becoming a country with a large (and growing) disaffected minority that shares little of our commitment to freedom of religion, freedom of speech, sexual equality and democracy.”
Rod Liddle in the Daily Express, 10 March 2005
Labour’s flawed policy on immigration is a time bomb for Britain
By Rod Liddle
Daily Express, 10 March 2005
The debate about immigration has been warped and corrupted by the melodramatic and calculatedly offensive contribution of one famous failed politician: Enoch Powell.
It is now 37 years since Powell made a speech in which he warned that within a generation the “black man” would have the “whip hand” over the white man.
“Like the Roman, I seem to see the River Tiber foaming with much blood, ” he added, an allusion to Virgil’s Aeneid which I suspect was lost upon most of those who provided his ideological constituency.
Let’s put Enoch to rest.
Whatever his apologists (of whom there are still a few) say to the contrary, Powell was a racist and his speech in Birmingham that day was nakedly, rabble-rousingly racist in intent and execution. After all, this is the man who a decade or so before had called for Britain to “re-conquer” India.
An early exponent of monetarism, Powell was in favour of unrestricted free trade and by extension the free movement of labour – except when it involved black or Asian people coming to Britain. Well, he was wrong.
More than a generation hence, the black man does not have the whip hand over the white man.
And there have been no rivers of blood.
Ironically, Powell’s most lasting contribution has been to effectively stifle the debate about immigration. Today, the word “racist” has as good as lost any meaning: it is an insult hurled with, if you will excuse the pun, a total lack of discrimination.
Dare to suggest that, in the main, African countries are ruled by governments that are corrupt, vicious or incompetent, and usually all three, and you will be called a racist (as I once was by Clare Short), despite the palpable truth of the assertion.
Venture that the Government’s plan to allow into the country an estimated 5.1 million immigrants over the next decade or so is dangerous and costly and will diminish our quality of life and before you’ve finished the sentence, someone, somewhere, will be calling you a racist.
As the rock star Tom Petty once said, rather mystifyingly: “I ain’t no racist. I don’t even drive a car.” Me too. But I do worry about what 5.1 million more people – that’s the equivalent of five cities the size of Newcastle – will mean for this country.
Most of the newcomers will settle in the South-east of England, which is already one of the most densely populated regions in Europe. The strain upon our infrastructure – our choked transport networks, our crowded schools, our cramped housing – will be immense.
And there will be a disproportionate burden upon our already beleaguered National Health Service: immigrants bring with them a far higher prevalence of costly, chronic diseases such as tuberculosis and Aids.
Immigrants of whatever origin, and for whatever reason, are also more likely to commit crime.
They tend to have larger families and to be in receipt of benefits.
Then there is our quality of life.
It is no coincidence that the countries with the highest quality of living within the developed world are also those with the lowest population densities – Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, Norway, the US.
We humans work best in small and manageable communities – and once again, the denser the population, the greater the proportion of criminals per person.
And where shall we house this multitude of newcomers? Where is the room to build? In the film I made, Professor David Coleman puts it most succinctly: of course, you can concrete over southern England. There are cities larger than London, after all.
But what will it do for our quality of life? And, he asks, should people not be allowed to worry about whether they can talk to their next-door neighbour in the same language and share a set of common values and aspirations with him or her?
This last point is the most controversial and the most difficult to deal with. Earlier immigrants came from countries that had been steeped in a sense of Britishness, be they the Asians from East Africa or the African Caribbean immigrants from the West Indies.
In other words, they came from the former colonies: there was little problem, then, by way of integration or assimilation.
Back in the Fifties and Sixties, it was expected of immigrants to adopt British customs and values: the terrible concept of multiculturalism hadn’t taken root.
However, today we welcome people who, for example, bring with them a hostile interpretation of Islam and have no real wish to integrate: in many cases, they despise our way of life. Furthermore, even some members of the indigenous Muslim community have been radicalised over the past 15 years.
Islam is becoming more conservative and less amenable to assimilation. The West is becoming more liberal. We run the risk of becoming a country with a large (and growing) disaffected minority that shares little of our commitment to freedom of religion, freedom of speech, sexual equality and democracy.
We’ve recently instituted a voluntary citizenship ceremony for immigrants. Well intentioned but they do not, and could not, demand newcomers subscribe to certain philosophical tenets.
Of course you may still think that, all this notwithstanding, we should still allow into Britain an unlimited number of immigrants and not worry about either the implications or the cost; that there is a moral imperative to do so. It’s a noble argument but we shouldn’t pretend that there won’t be adverse consequences, nor be howled down as racist when we say as much.