Tensions between Roma migrants and communities in Sheffield have risen this week, and the city’s most prominent MPs have voiced their concerns. Yesterday, Sebastian noted David Blunkett’s warning about the possibility of riots unless migrants change their behaviour. Today, Nick Clegg has echoed Blunkett by calling for migrants to moderate their ‘intimidating’ and ‘offensive’ ways.
It is, of course, easier to say such things than to act on them; but it would be churlish not to accept that metropolitan Britain is beginning to talk more openly – and even honestly – about some of the deleterious social and cultural effects of immigration. The man who broke the silence on this taboo is the Oxford economist Paul Collier, whose latest book, Exodus, is essential reading. He has been speaking to Melanie McDonagh. Here is a snippet from their discussion, written up in this week’s Spectator:
‘For him the important consideration isn’t the amount of revenue that migrants add but the effect of large-scale migration on things like trust and generosity in the host society. The issue is whether too much diversity — and he insists he’s talking about culture, not race — takes away our fellow feeling for each other. His broad conclusion is that migration does diminish levels of trust in the host society. Does that affect the indigenous poor more than the middle classes? ‘In the sense that the poor benefit most from generosity, which too much diversity undermines,’ he says, ‘yes.’’’