David Cameron: immigration has led to ‘discomfort and disjointedness’
Discomfort and disjointedness? Maybe that’s the case in Witney, the Prime Minister’s constituency; or even around Chequers at the foot of the Chiltern Hills, where he has his country residence. But in many towns and cities the length and breadth of the country, you’d be hard-pressed to know this was England. Immigration has led not so much to discomfort and disjointedness, as suffering, strife and sectarianism.
The speech is widely trailed as the Prime Minister’s ‘most forthright speech on the issue since he became Prime Minister’. Perhaps His Grace is racist, or bigoted, or immoderate, or unreasonable, or all of these, for he finds it somewhat less than forthright and more than a little discursive.
Is it really adequate to refer to ‘Muslim ghettos’ as ‘disjointedness’, when we have cultural and social apartheid and some areas virtually run by Hizb ut-Tahrir? Is it ‘disjointed’ to have mosques promote a conscious rejection of western values? Is it merely ‘disjointed’ that in many places the prevailing attitude is that sporting a flowing Arab robe symbolises your religiosity while your piety is linked to the length of your beard?
And how do you tell people who are afraid to venture out of their homes that they live in area of ‘discomfort’? How can you say to young girls who are systematically groomed, raped and murdered by Asian men that they have suffered ‘discomfort’?
Mr Cameron reminds us that between 1997 and 2009, 2.2million more people came to live in this country than left to live abroad. He says: “That’s the largest influx of people Britain has ever had, and it has placed real pressures on communities up and down the country. Not just pressures on schools, housing and healthcare – though those have been serious – but social pressures too.”
Labour may well be to blame for this, and for allowing extremist parties such as the BNP to flourish by dismissing legitimate concerns about mass immigration as ‘racist’. But the Prime Minister’s plan to cut annual net immigration from around 200,000 per annum to around 50,000 is too little, too late. Not least because a few years later these 50,000 will have had families and we are back up to 200,000 anyway.
Or is it racist to point out that immigrants have babies?
Or is it just the word ‘breed’ that causes difficulty?
The Prime Minister calls for a ‘sober’ debate, which is ‘clear-headed about not only the benefits of immigration but also its impact on our public services, communities and society’.
And so His Grace is happy to make his ‘sober’ and ‘clear-headed’ contribution.
Immigration has been and can be of enormous economic and social value to the UK: we are enriched by many aspects of diversity. But our communities are diverse not only in ethnic terms, but also in their religious understandings and traditions, and also in their cultures and languages. The arrival of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants is the principal cause of the higher proportion of multi-faith parishes, and these are exemplified by the existence of ‘parallel lives’ which weaken community cohesion. There is no singularity of culture or religion, or unifying notion of morality or truth, and this complex pluralism demands a politics which grasps the inherent tensions and potential volatilities – religiously, culturally, economically and socially. Immigration and the advent of other religions, coupled with the process of secularisation, have forced change. We cannot wind back the clock: we are where we are.
But the Prime Minister's pledge to cut the numbers entering Britain to tens of thousands, rather than hundreds of thousands, is not deliverable. Yes, you can halt those coming from the sub-continent; those who fought with us through two world wars to defend our way of life against German tyranny. But those who are members of the EU are free to come and go as they please. And they do more coming than going. Our borders are open to all who dwell within the European Union, and to all who manage to swim or smuggle themselves into it: when they reach the shores of Lampedusa, they are in Dover.
We can agree that ‘for too long, immigration has been too high’, but 50,000 per annum is still too high. Try teaching a group of 30 children in which 20 of them speak no English, and among them are represented eight different languages. Is it any wonder that the other 10 ‘white, working class’ children never achieve their potential? Try getting an appointment with a doctor or a dentist in some areas (not to mention a local authority house), only to find that the world and his dog is in the queue before you.
What welfare benefits does the Prime Minister believe he can withhold from EU immigrants that will not transgress their human rights? What discrimination does he believe he can manifest that will not fall foul of Labour’s equality and diversity legislation? Unless the Prime Minister intends to scrap the Human Rights Act, he will find some of his ‘zero-tolerance’ rhetoric will fall foul of the courts.
Not all, of course. He is quite right to reiterate the imperative of zero-toleration of some religio-cultural practices like forced marriages, which he promises to ‘stamp out’. But he needs to also to stamp out ‘assisted’ marriages, for in some communities the ‘assistance’ is nothing but bulling, intimidation and coercion, which, in some sad cases, results in an ‘honour killing’. He is right that ‘cultural sensitivity’ cannot be allowed to stop the Government from acting. But Human Rights and equality and diversity legislation certainly will.
Community is forged through commonality. When there is no compulsion upon immigrants even to learn English (for that is to discriminate), there can be no integration. Where there is no integration, there is suspicion. And that suspicion leads to fear and unrest. This is not a new phenomenon, and neither is it exclusively black or brown versus white: in some areas, the civil war has been and is between Muslims and Sikhs, perpetuating the conflicts of the Moughal Empire. A cut from 200,000 to 50,000 will do nothing to address the cause of this 'discomfort'. The damage has already been imported and actively perpetuated through state-induced multiculturalism.
The Prime Minister boldly promises: ‘But with us, our borders will be under control and immigration will be at levels our country can manage. No ifs, no buts. That’s a promise we made to the British people. And it’s a promise we are keeping.’
His Grace does not mean to be obtuse, but in what sense and to what extent are our borders under our control when they are part of the EU’s acquis? How can the Prime Minister promise, ‘no ifs, no buts’, to limit immigration when we are treaty-bound to permit the free movement of peoples? How can he promise to restrict immigration when it is not his promise to proffer?
England and the United Kingdom have changed, and changed forever. We are an island which is over-stretched, over-burdened and overcrowded. We have no sovereign control of our borders in the way that Australia, New Zealand or Canada do, for we signed it away long ago. We are now simply reaping what our politicians have sown.
And still they go on sowing.