The Sunday Times, Uncategorized

September 23rd, 2007

Too late to speak the truth about immigration

In our repressive world of thoughtcrime and guiltspeak, it now takes great courage to tell the truth, even when it’s obvious. Fortunately there are a few brave people prepared to do it, and Julie Spence, the chief constable of Cambridgeshire, is one of them. Last week she courageously said the unsayable and pointed out that the large numbers of recent immigrants are causing serious problems in her manor.

Dangerous crime, such as drink driving, human trafficking, credit card fraud and knife crime, has gone up substantially and her officers are now having to deal with people speaking nearly 100 different foreign languages. The cost in translation fees for Cambridgeshire is close to £1m a year.

Some people might discount the claims made by Spence and her detailed report into the impact of immigration on her force as a crude way of getting more money out of the government. Others might say that the police all too often use their resources badly anyway, and what’s needed is probably better management rather than more money. But all that is beside the point. What she has made clear is blindingly obvious – a large and sudden influx of immigrants, whatever advantages they might bring, will inevitably come at very great cost, in many different ways. What’s true of Cambridgeshire is true of the country as a whole, and not just in policing. How strange it is, and how late, that it is beginning to be possible to say such a thing without being denounced as a neo-Nazi.

The Labour government, in its 10 years of office, has allowed more than a million new people from all over the world to settle in this country. That is little short of a social revolution. Twenty-five per cent of babies born here have at least one foreign-born parent. Several large cities will have a nonwhite majority within a few years. We have seen almost uncontrolled immigration – Labour has lost control of our borders.

Whatever the positive results of this astonishing change, there are some very spectacular negative ones. Big city hospitals are weighed down with masses of new patients who don’t speak English, or who won’t see male doctors or who cannot get GPs and clog up casualty departments. Local authorities, as in the notable case of Slough, find they have large numbers of immigrants for whom they cannot get extra money to meet the new costs of housing, social care, welfare and so on.

As for schools, I cannot understand why nobody makes the obvious point that standards in schools are bound to suffer when many tens of different languages are spoken among the schoolchildren; how can any child progress in reading, writing and talking English, and being acculturated as an English-speaking Briton, when the rest of the class don’t speak it?

At our local school in west London there are more than 90 mother tongues, and a high proportion of recent immigrants or asylum seekers – dislocated, confused and homesick as they must be. It is a perfect recipe for collapsing standards in education, which is what we’ve got.

If the broken society means anything, it means one in which the civil bonds between individuals, their families, their neighbours and their institutions are seriously damaged. It’s perfectly obvious that multiculturalism was bound to sever the ties that bind; too much diversity means not enough solidarity, and a broken society, as we have seen, and will see more. The babel and bedlam of Damilola Taylor’s estate in Peckham is a terrible example.

Even Trevor Phillips has now spoken of sleepwalking to segregation and even his own outfit, the Commission for Racial Equality (soon to become the Commission for Equality and Human Rights), published a grim and angry report last week about a “fracturing” society, growing ethnic segregation and growing extremism.

It’s good that such people recognise it, but it is absolutely maddening that they, who contributed so much to it themselves, don’t understand their own responsibility for it. It was also quite sickening to hear Liam Byrne, the minister for borders and immigration, cravenly welcoming Spence’s comments last week: “It’s because we want to hear voices like Julie Spence’s,” he said, “that I set up the Migrant Impacts Forum.” It is “vital”, he said, “to consider the social impact of immigration when making migration decisions.”

Indeed it is vital, and was vital 10 years ago, and 30 years ago, when all governments, especially his, failed to do so. And it’s laughable for him to talk about some damned “forum” on the impact of “migrants”; some proper research should have been devoted to it in 1997.

Of the complex problems caused by mass immigration one of the easiest to see and to quantify is in housing. We all know there is a housing crisis and a terrible shortage of affordable homes. On Newsnight last week Sir Andrew Green of Migrationwatch UK pointed out – and his figures, based always on government figures, are not challenged even by Whitehall – that we will have to build 200 houses a day for the next 20 years to meet predicted housing needs.

Apparently this came as a surprise to the presenter Jeremy Paxman. Liam Byrne then pointed out that Gordon Brown has promised to build 3m new homes. What did not emerge in the programme is that one-third of all new households are being formed by immigrants and, therefore, 1m of Brown’s promised 3m will have to go to immigrants.

Nor is the government very keen to quantify the net benefit to the economy made by immigrants. They may swell productivity but they also swell the population, and will also need schools and hospitals and housing, and care in their old age. According to Migrationwatch, the net effect of immigrant labour on GDP is £1 per week per person.

It is shocking that this massive, historic change was forced upon us without consultation and without our consent.

Who wanted it? Who is responsible for it? And why? In casting about for an answer, perhaps it’s worth considering the Mori survey into black and ethnic minority attitudes to voting and to politics at the 2005 general election. Of those who voted, 58% chose Labour, 10% Conservative. I hope that isn’t a thoughtcrime.