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Coffee House

Britain: the country of Mohammed

17 August 2012

5:00 PM

17 August 2012

5:00 PM

With apologies to his Royal Highness, the most popular boy’s name isn’t Harry –  in spite of what you will have read in the papers this week. It’s Mohammed, under various spellings. The Guardian hasn’t even worked this out, in spite of its pretty data table. Table 6 on the ONS results shows: some 8,018 baby Mohammeds came kicking and screaming into the world last year, well clear of Harry (7,523) and Oliver (7,007) Harry had his turn, and John was the most popular name for decades. We are now living in the age of Mohammed, a name that has been growing (on average) for 5 per cent a year. Here’s the trajectory.

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Does this matter? Not to me. Muslims are about 5 per cent of the UK population, they tend to have larger families and tend not to call their kids names like Xeus and Conan. So the Mohammed phenomenon, whereby it’s now the no1 name in quite a few European countries, cannot really be seen as some kind of Islamic hegemony. And who is the most famous Mohammed in Britain? Our new national hero, the Somali-born Mo Farah. When he held up the Union flag after winning his second gold, did many people think it was an incongruous sight?

Britain is, in my view, the most tolerant nation on earth and has adjusted very quickly to what was, over the Labour years, the biggest immigration influx in recorded history. Our political class has not adjusted as well, and seems unable to talk plainly about immigration. For example: the demographic implications of mass immigration are compounded by the expected higher birth rate. Failure to discuss immigration then means failure to provide enough school places now. And failure to discuss housing policy, places for GP surgeries etc. Yet all too often, politicians confuse concerns about all of this with racism. As I wrote for the Daily Telegraph, racism is dying a death in modern Britain. We are the country whose national dish is vindaloo, a country where Mohammed is the most popular boy’s name and the most popular sporting hero.

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