Allison Pearson, Telegraph (London), January 8, 2014
How did you react to Nick Clegg’s admission that the UK has accepted around 1,500 Syrian refugees? Was it: a) This country’s full, send the scroungers back? Or b) Good, but why only 1,500? That seems a very small number given the appalling situation those poor souls are in.
I know my country or, at least, I still believe in the basic decency of its people, and I would bet my new Christmas Dreamland electric blanket that the majority of Britons would say b).
The present anger about immigration is not directed against desperate asylum seekers or even immigrants themselves. As BBC political editor Nick Robinson pointed out in his refreshingly forthright BBC2 programme, The Truth About Immigration, it’s largely the result of uncontrolled mass immigration over the past decade and the failure of the BBC and the political class to permit an open debate about what it was fair or reasonable for this island to absorb.
Public anger is about child benefit being paid to 45,000 children in Poland when our own sisters and daughters and friends have had their child benefit taken away. It’s about maternity units in East Anglia where midwives report unsupervised women going into labour in the corridors because no one thought to plan for the large number of Eastern European babies.
It’s the outrageous official denials that any such problems exist. It’s the primary school in Leicester where a teacher I know doesn’t have a single white child in her class. (Ghetto anyone?) It’s self-styled “Muslim Patrol” vigilante groups in east London terrorising a couple for “holding hands” and telling a woman she would be punished in “hellfire” because of the way she is dressed. It’s universities capitulating to pressure to segregate male and female students to please certain Islamic speakers. It’s the uphill battle to deport the hate preacher who inspired the swivel-eyed fanatics who cut down Drummer Lee Rigby.
It’s the grievous failure to expand public services to cope. It’s A&E departments in crisis because many new arrivals come from a system where there are no GPs, so they head straight for the hospital with a boil or a bad tummy. It’s Steve, a skilled plasterer I know, who has struggled to find work and pay the mortgage on his family’s semi because he can’t compete with Polish labourers who live six to a room and send their wages home.
It’s Nativity plays being replaced by ersatz multicultural fairy-fests lest non-Christian children and parents be offended, which they aren’t because, unlike the metropolitan liberal elite, they are rather keen on religion and tradition and the Queen, God save her.
It’s watching open-mouthed as Channel 4 televises a debate on the burka with a studio audience full of women–and, quite possibly, bearded blokes–covered head to toe in black, like a parliament of crows. And it’s the sole white man on the panel trying in vain to speak up for women’s rights. Poor bugger looked like he’d woken up in Hitchcock’s The Birds and was about to be pecked to death.
It’s a blamelessly average town like Luton suddenly popping up every week on the local news as a centre of gang violence. It’s the fresh-faced BBC reporter not allowed to make any connection whatsoever between residents from “war-torn Somalia” and the mounting body count. Obviously, there’s a perfectly simple explanation for the sudden carnage: Luton’s old age pensioners have overdosed on statins and decided to run amok with a machete. Yes, that must be it.
Have I left anything out? Oh, yes, sorry. It’s daring to suggest that any of the above might be a bit worrying or quite scary, actually, or not in keeping with values we hold dear, and immediately being called a Little Englander, or xenophobic, or “racist”. And it’s the way that hissed epithet is used to silence legitimate concerns, especially when the UK has treated its immigrants a damn sight better than comparable European nations.
Remember what happened to Gillian Duffy, a 65-year-old Labour voter, who challenged Gordon Brown about immigration and crime back in 2010? Our then prime minister was appalled to have his politically correct person violated by some “bigoted woman”. Social historians might care to note that the Westminster village has remained homogenous (white, middle-class, English-speaking). It’s the Mrs Duffys and their poor, provincial communities who have to cope with unprecedented change inflicted on them by London-based multicultural enthusiasts.
Let us also recall the remarks of Sir Nicholas Kenyon, former controller of BBC Radio 3, who said the Last Night of the Proms was “dangerously English” and made it more “inclusive”. Try to imagine the directors of the Paris Opera describing it as “dangerously” French. It would never happen.
Dripping with condescension, Sir Nicholas typifies a BBC breed which regards patriotism as a kind of disease still rife among the lower orders who have not been inoculated against love of country by claret and visits to foreign museums. I encountered the same type when I did teacher training in the Eighties. For our lecturers, indigenous traditions were a jingoistic embarrassment. By contrast, we were told to encourage immigrant children to celebrate their own identity, which was preferable to being dangerously British. This was bewildering to my pupils. “Please, Miss, we’re English, we like ice‑skating,” wailed one Muslim girl after I had read the class another short story about a snake.
Given all of the above, it was no shock this week to see the British Social Attitudes Survey reveal that more than 75 per cent of British people want to see a cut in immigration. Study the small print and another startling statistic jumps out: 60 per cent of first- and second-generation settlers want a cut in the numbers. Even the immigrants are sick of immigration.
Is the Sikh businessman who explained to Nick Robinson that Brits can’t get jobs, but Eastern Europeans can, a racist? How about the lovely elderly lady in Sheffield who said that she was fed up of the recently arrived Roma. “It’s as if we’ve been overtaken–sofas dumped outside, rubbish, people urinating in the street.” Her neighbour, of Pakistani origin, was in agreement.
Goodness, it was strange to hear those voices, for so long disdained and disregarded by the BBC, being given a chance to speak. Many said they liked what immigration had contributed; most thought it had gone too far. People are inclined to overestimate the number of immigrants, said Nick Robinson. And whose fault is that? Blame cowardly politicians and the media who wouldn’t touch the subject for fear of summoning the avenging ghost of Enoch Powell.
How could this censorship of such a crucial issue have been allowed to happen? Consider the journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, who wrote this week that the BBC “has a duty to moderate our national conversation”. George Orwell would have loved that slippery use of “moderate”. Or “suppress”, as it’s also known. For Alibhai-Brown, and the impeccably liberal folk who run the BBC, you are free to express any view, so long as it’s the same as theirs. If you’re a lady in Sheffield who is fed up with Roma peeing in her petunias, you can shut up, you nasty old bigot.
The BBC’s job is to faithfully report life in Britain as it is experienced by all licence-payers, not as it is lived in a bien-pensant corner of north London. The failure to provide proper coverage of immigration, and to offer an outlet for mixed feelings, has ended up encouraging the very racism it was intended to crush. Treated with contempt by their self-styled moral superiors, the British people, a pretty tolerant and accommodating lot by and large, have had enough.
Why didn’t the BBC ask its licence payers for their views on mass immigration? Because we would have given the wrong answer, stupid.