Perhaps my mixed heritage provides me with a different perspective on the topic of immigration. My father’s family is from Jamaica, originally Nigeria, and my mother’s family is from England. I am, therefore, ethnically half Afro-Caribbean and half English. Most liberals would defend my father’s family in their right to self-determination, whether in Jamaica or in Africa. Why, then, do they not afford my mother’s family the same privilege? Surely, all countries should be able to have a conversation about national security, borders and immigration levels. Not only is it in their best interest, but it is also the job of any government – to protect the national security and borders of the nation because, without them, we do not have a country.
However, the Left has done a great job of toxifying the topic of immigration. Anyone who broaches the subject is instantly labelled a racist, a xenophobe or a bigot. This is not by accident; it is a political policy. The Labour Party is on record saying they wanted to “rub the Right’s nose in diversity and render their arguments out of date” Labour decided to brand Tories racists to “deter them from criticising the covert initiative.”
This isn’t a problem unique to Labour, though. The Conservatives have exacerbated the problem over the past decade, continuously promising to cap/cut/control immigration in their manifestos. It could be argued that the primary reason the Tories gained an 80-seat majority in the last election was to give Boris Johnson a mandate to “get Brexit done” and regain our national sovereignty. Why they squandered it is anyone’s guess.
Open borders do not work for many reasons.
The strain on public institutions such as schools, hospitals, social care and welfare is obvious and has been covered more extensively elsewhere. It is true that cheap foreign labour is pricing Englishmen out of work, but the liberal response is to mock the working classes by sneering and mimicking, “they’re coming over here, stealing our jobs.” How does the UK economy benefit from a dozen Eastern European migrants holed up in a one-bedroom flat, working all hours in manual labour and sending the money back home to their motherland? The average Englishman cannot compete.
The more immediate problem is the breakdown of social cohesion, culture, and values. Back to my original point, I would defend to the hilt my father’s family’s right to protect their Jamaican culture. I do not see why the liberal Left find it so offensive that I would do the same for my mother’s family’s English culture. In fact, the biggest surprise to me in this debate so far has been the number of people who have insisted there is no English culture.
The English language, including the written works of the King James Bible, William Shakespeare and the Book of Common Prayer – three of the most popular and most commonly read books in the world. English architecture, from Pugin’s Palace of Westminster and the Elizabeth Tower to Wren’s Hampton Court Palace and St Paul’s Cathedral. English food, from a good old English breakfast fry-up to a Sunday roast. English entertainment, ranging from the Royal Ballet to Punch n Judy.
English culture is extensive, varied and beautiful. Our heritage promotes tourism all year round, with people visiting our stately homes and museums. We exported a love of beer, tea, and fish & chips around the world, just as much as our tales of Goldilocks and my childhood favourite, Robin Hood. I didn’t even mention sport, technology, science and religion. To suggest the English have no culture is dishonest and purposefully provocative, if not self-denigration.
As a retort, many on the Left show their racist colours with arguments such as “but the English didn’t invent tea” or “St George wasn’t born in England”. No one is suggesting they did/were. My argument is that it doesn’t matter.
My issue here isn’t exclusively with the Left, either. There are many on the far-Right – “ethnonats” – who would say I have no business in this debate, as I am not English. This seems to be a flawed pure-bloody argument. If ethnicity is rooted in tradition, ancestry, language, history, culture, nationality and religion, then I can attest I am English on all accounts. Then comes the argument that ethnicity is genetic, in which case my DNA test shows I am both English and Afro-Caribbean, 52 percent and 48 percent, respectively – those magic Brexit numbers again. But what the “far-Right” really cares about is skin colour. That’s when we get into the territory of racism. There is an argument to be made that English is a nationality, a culture, and an ethnicity, but I argue against anyone who claims to be English, one has to be white. There is nuance in all things.
Why is any of this important? If we don’t protect our culture, our heritage and our values, if we don’t promote them as important to us, we will lose them. An argument can be made in favour of immigration, but even so, one should acknowledge that incoming immigrants should be expected to integrate into their chosen society. Newcomers should assimilate, not attempt to override. If I moved to Qatar, I would assume that I couldn’t drink alcohol in most places. If I moved to Japan, I would expect to bow when I met a stranger. If someone moves to England, they should be expected to queue for entry to a busy venue. Minor, trivial examples, but the point is clear. If one is moving to England, one should embrace English culture and speak English. There is nothing racist about that expectation.
The recent census data from the Office for National Statistics clearly shows that the English and Christians are the only demographics shrinking in numbers. Every other culture, ethnicity and religion is on the rise. If England is to remain predominantly English and Christian, then something has to be done. There is nothing to suggest England cannot become a multi-racial society, but I would argue it is detrimental to aim for multiculturalism, and there is a difference. There needs to be a primary culture to unite people, and in England, that should be the English culture.
Now, on to Enoch Powell. I do not agree with everything Enoch Powell said. I would struggle to find a single politician I do agree with entirely. But I think there is much to be learnt from his Birmingham speech. Political opponents have tarnished his name, but that does not negate the fact that he had a lot to say on this matter. Powell served this country most of his adult life in the armed forces or the Houses of Parliament. He was a mainstream politician with a tremendous amount of public support. He was an intellectual who spoke multiple languages, including Urdu – which he learnt to better engage with his Pakistani constituents. He was a public servant. Powell’s Birmingham speech (known commonly as “Rivers of Blood” is often commented on as being beyond the pale, but it made a lot of sense.
Raheem Kassam hit the nail on the head in his critically acclaimed book Enoch was Right.