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Modern England: a triumph of immigration and integration.

6 May 2014

1:30 PM

6 May 2014

1:30 PM

In a better, more sensible, world David Cameron would make a virtue of the opportunity UKIP has given him. He would appreciate that defending his party’s record is actually an opportunity for a counter-attack. UKIP complain – loudly – that 4,000 people arrive in the United Kingdom from the EU each and every week. This, they suggest, is awful and Something Must Be Done to limit the number of people coming to the United Kingdom.

The Conservative party appears, in its dark heart, to share this concern. It suspects the Kippers might have at least half a point. There’s something nauseous about all this immigration, isn’t there? No wonder the party is hemmed-in, unable to find a response to UKIP that is both sensible and persuasive.

Better, then, to attack. Better – better by far – to turn the argument on its head. Better to suggest, nay to shout, that UKIP’s accusation is proof this government is working and proof that Britain is working. What better compliment can a country be paid than to find itself deluged by applications to live and work within its borders? Britain’s immigration problem is a sign of success, not failure.

We should be worried by a lack of immigrants not by a supposed surfeit of new citizens. Because that would say something much worse about Britain. It would suggest a clapped-out country lacking both the energy and the people needed to renew – and retool – itself for the future. A country that offers little to people from foreign lands is liable to be a country that offers little to its native-born citizens. Britain, by contrast, is an open society open to the world. It is one of this country’s greatest strengths even, you might say, one of its chief glories.

Today’s Policy Exchange report (PDF here) on the changing face of England and Wales is a case in point. It is a startlingly cheery document that undermines, nay refutes, many of the darker claims about the impact of immigration on England.

Sometimes we become so obsessed with grievous wrongs that we forget that what’s in the papers is, almost by definition, unusual. We are right to be appalled – and worried – by honour killings, forced marriages and the rejection of what might broadly be dubbed British cultural mores just as we are right to be concerned by low rates of economic participation or educational achievement in some “communities”. None of these concerns should be dismissed as irrelevant. They are not.


Nevertheless, nor are they the whole picture. Far from it. The broader picture is different and much more encouraging. It suggests, above all, that concerns about immigrants’ integration into the mainstream of British society are greatly exaggerated. Not utterly without foundation, I admit, but considerably overcooked.

Policy Exchange’s report on Black and Ethnic Minority citizens in England and Wales reveals a picture of a country largely at ease with itself. A changing country, certainly, but a relaxed and liberal one too. This is the reality that rarely makes the headlines. The quiet people of England are speaking and though you must listen carefully to hear them they’re saying We’re all right, Jack.

Consider this: 90% of people in England and Wales think their local area is a place in which people from wildly different backgrounds get on well with one another. Sure, plenty of voters say they are concerned by immigration and race relations but most of them, most of the time and in most places, think this more a problem for the country as a whole than it is for their local area. The difference between the personal and the abstract is often severe but rarely more so than here.

There are now more mixed-race Britons than there are Britons of Pakistan-heritage. In England and Wales only 5% of pensioners belong to BME groups but 25% of children under the age of 5 do. This is, quite obviously, an enormous change and it’s evident that mixed-race Britain is, in large part, the future.

But, on the evidence of Policy Exchange’s detailed report, concerns about integration are, on the whole (though with obvious high-profile exceptions) misplaced. More than half of BME citizens consider being British extremely important (ie, they have given being so an importance of 8 or more on a scale of 1 to 10). On the whole, BME voters place greater trust in democracy, parliament and politics than white voters and rates of civic engagement – as measured by volunteering – are now almost as high amongst BME citizens as amongst white Britons. If this is a crisis of alienation, it is a crisis we can cope with.

Similarly, the report suggests that, on the whole, the education gap is being closed. BME schoolchildren are now more likely to go on to higher education than white English and Welsh kids. Pakistani-British children are only marginally more likely to qualify for free school meals than white English and Welsh children.

They are increasingly likely to speak English at home too. In 1997 English was the main language in 15% of Pakistani-British households. By 2010 45% of such families were speaking English. We should expect that figure to grow still higher. Moreover, there is almost universal proficiency in English amongst second-generation immigrants.

The BME population of England and Wales has doubled in recent years. It will increase still further. And you know what? So what? The scale of the change in the very look of England and Wales – especially in London, Birmingham and Manchester – is remarkable but so too is the manner in which this change has been met: with, on the whole, a relaxed and tolerant shrug.

Of course there are, as I say, difficulties. Of course there are hideous cases of criminality that quite reasonably hog the headlines. And sure, UKIP are pushing the boundaries of respectable debate and, sure, they will do well in the European elections and, sure, this will provoke much comment and rightly so. But none of this should detract from bigger, more telling, trends which point to an England – especially a metropolitan England – largely indifferent to race, colour or creed. People are just people.

It is, when you think of it, a considerable achievement and one that should be celebrated more often by members and supporters of all mainstream parties. Britain, it turns out, is a land of opportunity and modern England is, in many respects, an admirable triumph of liberalism.

It’s also the future and therefore something that offers the Tory party a choice: it can react against the future or it can embrace it while preserving, nay insisting upon, the best of the past. But that is fodder for another post.

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Show comments
  • Penny Henry


  • Steve Cheney

    It is amazing how many people find the fact that our nation is attractive so distressing. We’ve spent centuries building a reputation as THE country where people can come and not expect to be persecuted for their race or religion, and as a result, we have gained great minds from all over the world, and nurtured them so that they can improve not only our lot, but their home country’s lot as well.

    Yet I see people saying, with apparently seriousness, that we have been too generous, and that we should be reining in our state and welfare and NHS and all manner of things so that the immigrants will stop coming here; in other words, that if we want our country to stay nice, we have to make it less nice.

    I can’t be the only one thinking that that’s completely absurd, right?

    Movement of people has increased. Why wouldn’t it? Since days of yore, we have yearned to travel and to spread out. Over time, technology has made that easier and cheaper. In 2014, it’s pretty easy for any Brit that wants to go live in another country to do so, and while some prefer to sit at home complaining about how popular their country is as a destination, others are taking advantage of the age they live in.

    Whatever you think of immigration, it is ultimately a product of greater freedom. People have always wanted to go to other countries; now we can, so we do.

    Unfortunately, I think some people are completely willing to believe that anything involving foreigners is worse than anything involving “their own kind”. Crime involving foreigners is an evil that must be purged, even though the same crime involving natives barely warrants a headline. Thugs who beat people up are the masters of a sinister plot to take over Britain if they are Muslims (or “of Muslim appearance”), but just stupid prats if they are white kids beating people up out of boredom. Psychotic murders killing in the name of an alien religion spur hatred of that religion; yet we know, if we think about it, that had they claimed to be killing in the name of OUR god, we’d just regard them as nutters and not give their motives much thought beyond that. People talk about deportation as a standard result of law breaking in another land – why? What’s the point? Do we imagine that we won’t get just as many people back if other nations adopt the same mentality? Or do we secretly suspect that foreigners are just more criminal than us? That certainly seems to be the tenor of a lot of the anti-immigrant rhetoric, though they don’t dare own it.

    Ugh. That’s the nasty bit out of the way. I’d say that, as time goes on, half the people who hold irrational prejudices about migrants will realise that greater movement of people – like gay snogging – is something that was always going to happen if people had the freedom to do it, and that any attempt to wait it out or turn back the tide is ultimately futile. The other half will die of old age. And so on and so on, for generations. We’re getting there. This insane notion that a nation can or should be defined by people’s skin colour for any reason other than that people who lived there couldn’t get out and shag different-coloured people particularly easily is gradually being overwhelmed by the evidence – not just in the present, but by growing awareness that we were going off and making mulattos pretty much every chance we got! – and the people who rage against it get fewer and more ridiculous in their rants every day.

    This has nothing to do with socialism – someone’s bound to say it so I’ll just rebut it now. People are still people, even when we become “cocoa-skinned robots”. We’ll still be buying pointless stuff just to show each other how much we can afford to spend, you don’t need to worry. We’re apes, we like our shiny things, and any attempt to put a stop to them will be, um, put a stop to. All that’s happening is that the utterly pointless association between capitalism and people being easily pigeonholed is falling away. The half-Korean half-Eskimo second-boyfriend of your transsexual son will have the same basic needs as your über-Caucasian grandmother did when he was boffing jazz negroes and quaffing absinthe. It’s you that’s weird.

  • The Elderking

    It’s hard to believe someone can write this rubbish when you see the no-go Islamic areas, the honour violence, racist child grooming, terrorist attacks, FGM, religious hatred, drug trade, riots, knife and gun crime and massive spending on security, overwhelmed schools, hospitals and housing together with massive welfare spending.

    As another commentor said , Massie doesn’t live amongst this – I lived in Tower Hamlets for 7 years and witnessed a hammer attack, my wife was stoned, I was attacked in Mile End, two friends were hospitalised simply for walking in a “Muslim area”, myself and other customers at the Cruising Association at Limehouse dock were stoned, members of the local rowing club were attacked, a child stabbed on Westferry Rd with the attacker hiding in a “mosque” and the police would not go in.

    I could go on. And on…..

    Massie, get your head out of your backside, wake up and smell the coffee.

    Our country has been Balkanised and the native Britons subjected to a cultural and, soon to be, racial genocide.

    And we were never asked..

    • Steve Cheney

      “And we were never asked..”

      I see a lot of people saying this online – not in person, because they have more shame, perhaps – and I always want to ask: where, pray, did you get the idea that other people’s freedom of movement was something that YOU should be consulted about?

      I ask because I’ve only been alive for thirty years, so maybe things were different way back. But certainly during those three decades, it has never been said to me “you have a right to be consulted about whether people are allowed to come to your country”. Not even once.

      So I find it strange that so many people believe that they have that right, when as far as I can tell, no one has ever told them that they do, and for at least thirty years, the whole of our culture has made it pretty clear that they don’t.

  • M2

    As a migrant myself, I think a lot of energy has been spent on celebrating diversity and not enough on integration. The left keep on pushing for sectional interests and the right has no response in fear of being called racists. I admire the optimism but it just does not match my day-to-day experience

    • Steve Cheney

      The thing is, integration to the point that it’s actually beneficial – i.e. being able to speak the language, abiding by our laws etc. – doesn’t actually need to be promoted that much. These things are obviously useful, and when, for example, the government offered free English language courses to migrants, they were always massively over-subscribed. (Then the Coalition cut them back to only be available to the unemployed, turning a popular scheme into a negative incentive against work, because they are imbeciles and have no idea how to run a country.)

      Of course, many of those who talk about integration aren’t talking about that at all. They’ll cite people speaking their first language amongst themselves in public – the bastards! – to advocate the sort of insidious xenophobic “cricket exam” version of integration – where people are expected to prove a commitment to our culture that no British native would ever put up with. Indeed, demanding that someone not wear a certain item of clothing, or that they speak the Queen’s English, is really anti-British. Yes, things like the burqa are not part of our culture; but the fact that we allow things that aren’t part of our culture IS part of our culture – it’s the part that has made us so attractive as a nation.

      The first kind of integration sells itself – it helps people make it in Britain, and that’s what they want to do. The second kind is oppressive, the product of nostalgia for an age that simply never was.

      Diversity doesn’t need to be promoted – it exists, it is everywhere. “Promotion” and “celebration” are euphemistic terms for “telling miserable old Tebbit types to shut up”. There have always been prodnoses and curtain-twitchers who see someone dressed a bit differently or eating food they’re not familiar with and getting up in arms about it. What has made Britain a great nation is that we nod and smile at those people and then make absolutely sure that they aren’t given the power to ruin anybody’s fun. And it’s worked fine for years and I don’t see why it would stop.

  • Druth

    ” a metropolitan England – largely indifferent to race, colour or creed …”

    The usual socialist dream. The dream which has historically killed millions without ever coming close to being realised. An evil idea which will never work because fundamentally it’s a tyranny against our humanity.

    In this case, even if you were to convince the seventh century back thinkers to abandon their creed (good luck with that), there’s only one way that you a going to stop me being British. No-one is interested in becoming your socialist drone and yet you continue to force this on us when there can only ever be one outcome here.

  • Steve Lawrence

    Just change the name to New Paki-land and be done with it, although this might offend some of the noble Africans who have seen fit to grace the nation with their presence.

  • gkchesterton

    A snapshot of the “Triumph” of immigration and multiculturalism (Straight from the ONS, but table 8.1 in the PE report has the same picture) that might explain why some retrograde knuckledraggers might be slightly less than enthustiastic about immigration:

    Unemployment feb 2014 (%):
    White: 6,4
    Mixed: 14,1
    Indian: 7,6
    Pakistani: 17,0
    Bangladeshi: 18,6
    Chinese: 6,7

    Black/African/Car: 15,9
    Other: 10,9
    It might also explain what Alex bemoans in his other article: Why Tories have a hard time getting minority votes.

    • mohdanga

      Yes, all true, but don’t you know that higher unemployment amongst minorities is evidence of ‘institutional racism’….or is it ‘systemic racism’….or ‘white privilege’…or ‘bigotry’….or ‘xenophobia’…….

  • gkchesterton

    “What better compliment can a country be paid than to find itself deluged by applications to live and work within its borders?”

    It is certainly a nice compliment in many ways, but it says very little about the pros and cons of actually taking in immigrants.

    • mohdanga

      Yet the majority of these so-called ‘contributing’ immigrants are on some sort of social assistance.

  • A personal view

    Could it be that, in general, the true current and predicted percentages of Black and Ethnic Minority citizens living in ENGLAND is being understated by including Scotland and Wales (where the proportion of BMEs is much lower) in the calculations?

    Also, might it be that many of those who profess themselves ‘relaxed’ about immigration, do not actually live in the areas where the majority of immigrants settle i.e. “London, Birmingham and Manchester” (and only parts of those cities, at that)?

    Thus they do not suffer the effects of over-demand on their local schools, NHS and other public services, which causes such concern about immigration amongst those who do?


    Also it is extremely dangerous to invite 4m from 3rd World & ?1m from E Europe into a racially homogeneous island against the wishes of the natives, particularly for the immigrants.
    Marr in ‘A History of Modern Britain’ refers to a poll that 68% agreed with Powell’s speech as delivered rather than as subsequently portrayed.
    The governments that did this have been trying the patience & testing the courage of decent patriotic people without any justification – NO ELECTORAL MANDATE!
    72% think correctly that EU will not offer us an acceptable deal (indeed on ‘free movement’ can’t) so we will vote to leave in 2017 & put a stop to the current source of the problem – immigration from EU we are LEGALLY POWERLESS TO STOP as an EX-SOVEREIGN nation. This in fact will mean the departure of all EU citizens apart from those that are married to British citizens or who have some other claim – a welcome fall in the population that should ensure the country has a sustainable future,
    Also if the Ukip vote in the Euros goes from 30%(YOUGOV) to 40% is their any democratic basis for our remaining in the EU?


    1/4 of children under 5 BME – yes but when did we vote for that? or, as one ideologue on the Tube said to me, is that a ‘RACIST QUESTION’?
    1/4 of the population non-native purely in the course of time yet no British government (nor indeed any government in western Europe) has ever sought an electoral mandate for inviting 3rd World immigration.
    Mr Massie seizes on this completely illegitimate change as the ‘future’.

    Readers should view YOUTUBE ‘Churchill’s Funeral – I Vow to thee my Country’ to see what England was like in 1965. No one has ever asked the relatives of the 900000 men whose relatives died in WW1 (that includes me) or the relatives of the several hundred thousand who died in WW2 (including a WREN commemorated on Harpenden War Memorial) whether they want any immigration from the 3rd World or anywhere else.
    The people who did this were trading on the inertia of the natives. With 37% saying Ukip has best immigration policy compared to 17% for Tories & Ukip about to win Euro elections (30% – could it go up to 40%?) we are inert no more.


    I wouldn’t object if the same thing was happening in the countries the migrants were coming from. They are not multicultural, so how do they know what it feels like to be English and have your cultural identity replaced? I suppose if we look at Uganda and Zimbabwe, multiculturalism never really caught on there. They did not celebrate diversity and were enriched by White Europeans or Asians form the Indian sub continent. I suspect the author of this article is like all liberals, only concerned about what happens in the UK, unless of course its human rights, then its extended to the whole world even though only we signed the thing.

  • Hippograd

    I congratulate Comrade Massie on his wise and judicious summary of the situation. Here is a particularly fine example of Comrade Massie’s application of neo-Marxist dialectic to the race-paradise of the People’s Democratic Republic of Britanistan:

    Similarly, the report suggests that, on the whole, the education gap is being closed. BME schoolchildren are now more likely to go on to higher education than white English and Welsh kids.

    You see, racist bigots and other scum? The gap is “closing” because “BME schoolchildren are now more likely to go on to higher education”. Comrade Massie, I salute you!

    But that is fodder for another post.

    Can’t wait.

    • GraveDave

      Looks like they’ve pre censored my reply to this.

    • GraveDave

      Similarly, the report suggests that, on the whole, the education gap is being closed. BME schoolchildren are now more likely to go on to higher education than white English and Welsh kids.

      If by BMEs you mean Indians, I’d agree. But overall British whites are still out performing British Blacks. It was also found in American studies that poor whites outperformed blacks from higher socio economic groups. So who’s saying what and what are we really to believe.

  • Denis_Cooper

    You’re on to a loser here. Repeating wornout, threadbare and flimsy arguments in favour of mass immigration is not going to make the British people want it, they’ve heard all those arguments before and already decided that they only want gross immigration in the tens of thousands a year, with strict controls on both quantity and quality. What it will do is make it clearer to the public that those leading the Tory party do want it, just as much as those leading the other two old parties, and are just pretending to want to control immigration for cynical electoral purposes.

    • Sapporo

      You have to wonder why, when even 2nd and 3rd generation migrants demand reduced immigration, the political elite and their media friends still want more and more.

  • LewisDuckworth

    101 Reasons not to buy The Spectator:

    Number 1 = Alex Massie

    • transponder

      He’s not that bad. Nick Cohen is generally wronger.

  • LewisDuckworth

    “Policy Exchange’s report on Black and Ethnic Minority citizens in England and Wales reveals a picture of a country largely at ease with itself.”

    Talk about standing truth on its head … This takes the biscuit.

  • LewisDuckworth

    Alex Massie is stupid enough to believe that most immigrants never grow old and rarely are ill and heavy users of the NHS … He needs to visit a typical Birmingham hospital

    • Flintshire Ian

      I live in a white rural enclave (as the troll “Shorne” pointed out to me yesterday in his bizarre, but subsequently edited reply to my post on the Conservative Party and ethnic minorities) and I ‘m happy.

  • MrJones

    If it’s so great why don’t the political class live in the middle of it and send their kids to the schools.

  • Liz

    White men have considerably more to gain from immigration and are considerably more insulated from the erosion of British values than white women.

    • cartimandua

      But their health and well being is being eroded by being in competition with the rest of the world for jobs. Its not” just” low skilled jobs either.

  • Agrippina

    Integration and speak the lang, what nonsense, this is on the Islamic Shari’a Council website … ‘By April 2002, the Council had dealt with almost four thousand five hundred cases presented to it. The majority of these cases concern divorce, where the wife has obtained a British divorce which is not accepted by the husband, who considers such a divorce to be unacceptable with no bearing upon his right as a husband. As a result, the wife does not feel completely free to enter into another marriage before obtaining an Islamic Talaq’.

    ‘Feelings of llienation are felt by many muslims’, the spelling on the site is shocking, apart from the ‘a’ missing from alienation, ‘shepherd’ is spelt sheppard and so on.

    They are carving out a little bit of muslim land, right here in blighty & no-one appears to mind that it is incompatible with Eng law, and at odds with our culture.

  • Gregory Mason

    What utter rubbish.

  • Donafugata

    On Channel 4 News tonight, a report saying that by 2050 one third will be non-white.

    In an interview someone who calls himself Awate was asked if he thought himself British. No, he didn’t, he’s a Muslim from Eritrea ( the next most unappealing people after Somalis, in my experience)

    According to Awate Britain took his country apart, it took Africa apart and it took the world apart so the UK owes the rest of the world anything it wants.

    He simply confirmed my suspicion that he was living here to take revenge.
    I know what I’d do with his type.

    • cartimandua

      Why on earth is he here at all?

      • William Haworth

        To destroy us. Duh.

      • Donafugata

        Because Britain owes him and the rest of the world, in his words,
        ” anything it wants”

        He made it perfectly clear that he’s here to get paid back and to turn the UK into a Muslim state.

        • cartimandua

          That doesn’t explain why anyone let him in. No doubt he claimed asylum and left all the womenfolk back home to their fate.
          We need out of asylum conventions and we need to be able to chuck out people who as ungrateful and anti British as that.

  • Martin Jennerson

    “But none of this should detract from bigger, more telling, trends which
    point to an England – especially a metropolitan England – largely
    indifferent to race, colour or creed. People are just people.”

    Nonsense. People have a strong sense of ethnic identity, you can’t just wish that away. Delusional.

  • Conway

    What better compliment can a country be paid than to find itself deluged by applications to live and work within its borders? Britain’s immigration problem is a sign of success, not failure.” And left is right, up is down, good is bad. There are housing shortages, unemployment, lack of school places and overstretch in the NHS, all of which are due to an uncontrolled immigration policy. Clearly that is not a success at all.

  • Conway

    The Conservative party appears, in its dark heart, to share this
    concern. It suspects the Kippers might have at least half a point.
    ” More to the point, the electorate shares this concern and knows that UKIP has more than half a point. If the Conservative party really did share this concern it would do something about it – or at least admit that nothing can be done while we’re in the EU.

  • Tim Reed

    Interesting, isn’t it – all these pro-immigration stories being churned out at the moment.

  • Bill_der_Berg

    If a British family sells up in the UK and moves to France because they like the country, that is a compliment. If a French businessman moves to England because he does not like the high level of taxation there, that is less of a compliment because he may well return home if tax rates are lowered.

    Motive is everything.

  • echo34

    Getting so bored with the speccy. Anyone recommend a site where comments are moderated sensibly, unbiased articles, you know conversation for grown ups?

    • Kaine

      Comment is Free.