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November 22, 2007



Immigration can be a way of shoring up this love.

You on the juice, Chris?

Surreptitious Evil

I would disagree in small part - there is actually a significant clash of some values between the post-Enlightenment Protestant nature of what is generally held up as British culture and the still-heavily-Catholic culture of our Polish plumbers. And possibly a greater one between them and what British culture, in modern practice has decayed to. It might not be as obvious - you don't see many Poles in burkas, for a start, but ... (well, actually, how would you know?)

This didn't apply to Matt's example of the fleeing-from-Catholic-persecution Hugenots.


The question is simply whether immigrants are willing to accept the framework of liberal democracy which entails things such as the separation of powers, the rule of law, all people equal under the one law, and freedom of speech (which isn’t the same as freedom to slander people)? Not everyone living under this system will have the same political views or cultural outlook, but they must accept the system of liberal democracy as the one under which the UK functions. Do Polish immigrants have a problem with this? I’m not specifically aware of such problems, but they may exist. Do Muslim immigrants have a problem with this? Some, but not necessarily all (that’s an important bit), quite clearly do, hence violent protests over silly cartoons or idiotic suggestions that Sharia law be applied in some way.

I don’t wish to suggest that such views are restricted solely to Muslims because I have no proof of that, and it also seems unlikely, it is simply that the most visible signs of such a clash between liberal democracy and totalitarianism are currently coming from Muslims in Britain.

The most perverse and paradoxical part of this issue is perhaps that those who have a problem with liberal democracy are attracted to Britain by the very benefits and freedoms that are delivered by liberal democracy.


Polish plumbers? If you want to make this sort of generalisation maybe you'd like to consider the higher incidence of homophobia (for whatever cultural reason) and racism (because there is almost zero non-white imigration) in Poland? Are those liberal values?

Matt Munro

Because banning just muslim immigrants would be racist, and probably illegal, you don't need to read the Guardian to see that. There is no moral or economic case for unamanged migration. The left have lost this argument.

Bob B

By the data, a prevailing consensus and to the perennial irritation of many other UK regions, the London region has the most vibrant and buoyant economy in Britain. In terms of per capita GDP at PPP exchange rates, inner London is the most affluent sub-region in Europe by a margin. The curious fact is that: "One in three people living in London was born abroad and at least another 10,000 foreign-born citizens are settling in the capital each month. Figures released today show that out of a total Greater London population of 7.4 million, about five million were born in Britain."

Btw in case anyone wants to make an issue about it, my birth certificate confirms that I was born in Lambeth, London, a long time ago:


Rohan- A similar argument could go, "The Soviet Union in the 1930's was anti-capitalist thus Ayn Rand was anti-capitalist. America should have locked her out"

If the values part of immigration is such a concern, why is there not more effort to identify and import more people with the right values? From my own personal experience, the UK doesn't seem to be trying very hard.

Besides, do young Brits really have such great liberal values?

Matthew Sinclair


It isn't necessarily an issue of Muslims and non-Muslims. That's just how the values issues play out now thanks largely to large amounts of immigration from Pakistan and a small group of other countries.

You're right that immigrants from other countries, such as Poland, do not create the same clash of values. I'd see the best ways of filtering as EU vs. non-EU and high-skilled vs. non-high skilled.

As for immigration shoring up liberal values. That could possibly work at the right scale. All of the examples you're talking about (apart from the rather spurious Carribean one) are for numerically tiny groups of immigrants. Mass immigration is a different thing and has different dynamics.

All of your logic struggles against the sheer scale of immigration's contribution to the non-state threat to free-speech. None of your examples seem remotely significant in comparison. Not to mention other values such as non-sectarian politics and gender equality.

Mark Brinkley

I guess this all boils down to: "Should Turkey be allowed to join the EU?"

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