Gerald Warner: More immigration puts public tolerance at a tipping point

Picture: PA

Picture: PA

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IMMIGRATION – Ooh! You said a rude word… Not any more. The “I- word” has broken the sound barrier constructed by the Progressive Consensus.

The British public will no longer allow itself to be silenced by the political class on the topic that is now its greatest concern.

Future historians will be baffled to comprehend how the demographic revolution – or rather imposition – of the past half century was implemented. Since the engineering of population movement has always been the most controversial activity imaginable, normally provoking war, the apparent acquiescence of the British public, long known for its sturdy outspokenness and sense of identity, in the drastic reconfiguring of society will appear inexplicable. The obvious question will be: was the population initially favourable to immigration? Hardly. When Enoch Powell made his speech warning against uncontrolled immigration in 1968, the polls recorded 74 per cent of the public in agreement with him.

So, what happened? What happened was the emergence of guided democracy under a new liberal political coalition. The cross-party consensus had tested the water by abolishing capital punishment against the wishes of the public; that emboldened it to extend the dictatorship of the consensus by imposing immigration. Edward Heath’s sacking of Powell was an iconic moment in developing this system of soft totalitarianism. Free speech was eroded, nominally by a succession of “race relations” laws, effectively by the demonisation of all contradictory opinions. The BBC, the print media, modish “opinion formers” all conspired to stifle debate on an issue of critical national importance. To query unrestricted immigration was “racialist”, later modified to “racist”; ­society was induced to police itself.

Under New Labour the onslaught was intensified. As Andrew Neather, former speech writer to Tony Blair, revealed in 2009: “It didn’t just happen: the deliberate policy of ministers… was to open up the UK to mass migration… the policy was intended – even if this wasn’t its main purpose – to rub the Right’s nose in diversity and render their arguments out of date.” Again, historians will marvel at the frivolity of so irresponsible an approach to such an important issue. So far from rendering “the Right’s” arguments out of date, the migratory flood New Labour encouraged has brought them to the top of the political agenda. Under New Labour “net” immigration quadrupled as three million legal, and probably one million illegal, migrants entered Britain, while one million Britons left.

The weasel term “net” immigration is a favoured device of those whose interest it is to sweep immigration statistics under the carpet. The presumption is that the departures are homebound Polish plumbers; the reality is that many are native-born Britons, further aggravating the demographic imbalance. Today, 12 per cent of the population were born outside the UK; in 2011, 25.5 per cent of births in England and Wales were to mothers born overseas and in London the figure was 56.7 per cent. The lower figures for Scotland are seen as a reproach by Scottish ministers who avow their commitment to increase immigration. Send for the sanity inspector.

For decades, politicians were banned from discussing immigration: any attempt at debate was denounced as “playing the race card”. Bogus asylum seekers were awarded benefits and houses, allowed to indulge in endless spurious legal appeals at taxpayers’ expense and, when the last legal resort was exhausted, still not deported. As EU migrants became the focus of concern, the “racist” charge could hardly be sustained when those being objected to were white-skinned, so “xenophobic” was substituted in the liberal lexicon of knee-jerk abuse.

Now it has emerged that, even before next January’s open-doors deadline, there has already been a 35 per cent increase in immigration from Romania and Bulgaria since last April. To the dismay of the liberal consensus, the public is not dancing in the streets to celebrate this increase in diversity; instead, it looks like a tipping point in public tolerance, not just of immigration but of the political class. This is partly fuelled by awareness that there are already 2,400 Eastern European immigrants enriching our culture in venues such as Wormwood Scrubs, at an annual cost of £90m.

The politicians are making noises about controlling immigration; of course they will do nothing, beyond inanities such as sending out vans with posters advising illegal immigrants to return home. We would not even be talking about it but for the advent of Ukip, the first party to break the consensus and give the public a voice. Among Ukip voters, Europe is down at fifth place in their list of concerns: immigration and homosexual marriage share first place. Such unenlightened attitudes are enough to make a BBC executive on a six-figure salary choke. There is a bad time coming for the progressive consensus. «

Twitter: @GeraldWarner1

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