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March 08, 2013



It is often overlooked in discussions about immigration that ethnic minorities and indeed parties of the left have a vested interest in the issue, immigrants and ethnic minorities tend to vote for parties of the left. "Racism" is a double edged sword.


The issue w/ the loyalty/ betrayal bit is that it can often be a polite and civil way of being a racist. Norman Tebbit is a champion of this school of obfuscation. He prefers former white commonwealth immigrants, then white christian Poles, and then possibly non-muslim w#gs from the new commonwealth countries, based on loyalty and integration. Ergo the infamous cricket test.

There are some excellent stories of non-white immigrant success (subcontinental troops volunteering for the war) but they are rather more recent than Churchill (and thus more open to being torn apart). Not sure the "stories" approach will help here.

Also, it seems to me that building a national history is often subject to manipulation by the powers that be. Witness Israel, a country heavily invested in this task. Prince Phillip's mother had no problem being made a "righteous gentile". The same honorific hasn't been handed out to say Tunisian or Moroccan Arabs.


I think there's a massive part of the immigrant story/issue/problem/advantage which isn't really being addressed: the widespread assumption, as far as I can see, is that immigrants are monocultural. The "battle" as framed, therefore, is between monocultural immigrants and a monocultural host identity. If this is wrong in the case of the host, which I think most people are becoming happy to admit, why can't we suggest more often that immigrants will be in possession of equally complex identities? In a globalising world, this is going to be inevitable - where not unavoidable. Therefore, when "they" come over, there is every chance already that they share a culture or identity that many of those "native" to the host country also possess.

I dunno. I just want to know where all those sorts of people, like myself, are supposed to fit. Notions of nationality - place of birth etc. - are really not enough. I've always felt an immigrant in the land I was born in, and have - ultimately - come to treasure this feeling. Am I the only one?


I suggest a factor that lends support to anti-immigration is the racism of UK employers who will only recruit East Europeans and who refuse to recruit UK residents (whatever their race or colour).

It is racist because it rests on the assumption that the indigenous population is lazy and that East Europeans work harder and have better attitudes.

Unfortunately, such racist views now permeate DWP, an arm of the UK government, whose views towards unemployed claimants as lazy scroungers is part of the problem. DWP has swallowed hook, like and sinker the racist outlook of employers. Immigration is being used to undermine the British working class.

Racism cuts both ways.


First of all, it's worth noting that while Haidt's formula is attractive, when you dig into the evidence base it looks pretty shaky.

Anyway, that said, a lot of damage has been done by denying the unevenness of the harms/benefits of immigration. And Sunny (and others) would do well to reflect on how much of that damage they are responsible for, in careless use of aggregates that conflict with experience on the ground in some places.

More interesting is the role that immigration played in the Eastleigh by-election. As noted by someone in The Grauniad, it had a high rhetorical presence, even though the area (unlike many others) is basically barely touches by immigration now and even in the last 40 years or so.

Which perhaps brings us back to Haidt and character. But it also brings us back, it seems to me, to the reality that immigration is a lot easier to tolerate when life is going ok, when the economy is growing and services are being provided. Notable as well that UKIP attracted a lot of voters with (problematic) plans for economic growth. Perhaps what we need is less learned helplessness and an actual commitment to prosperity? Then immigration will be something people can come to terms with...


The last time the Britain was invaded was 1066. Your national story is a distortion of the facts.

We entered World War II when Poland was invaded and the some of the defated poles were involved in the Battle of Britian.

The public have never don't wanted mass immigration only the rich and powerful support it, and ignore the population as a whole.

The public will remain opposed to mass immigration and be ignored by the political/economic class. So much for democracy or your stories.

Britain hasn't been invaded since 1066, it is the political/poweful class that has changed the face of Britian regardless of public opposition.

You will not change human nature.

You cannot win the argument.


"We don't think of successful immigrants as immigrants at all, by virtue of the very fact that they have integrated so well. And nor should we."

Indeed - but isn't this idea of integration completely against the fashionable idea of multiculturalism, which underlines how desirable it is not to integrate? Integration and assimilation is the "melting pot", and multiculturalism is the "salad bowl".

I would say that quite a many people have no problem with people of other races, knowing what an ill-defined concept the race is, but they do have a problem with multiculturalism and racial affirmative action, knowing what an ill-defined concept the race is.


Metatone - how do you explain the conundrum of Eastleigh, a place with little immigration but strong and vote swinging views on it nonetheless. The winners/ losers argument doesn't seem to work unless it's worries about the future.


I am bemused by the idea conservatism is admirable in some way as you said above. Surely your actually just talking about narrow mindedness and inflexibility, so what is admirable about that?

It is not really clear why people vote for protest parties like UKIP and it is probably a mistake to take them or their boosters at face value. Most of the people who are interviewed about voting for them seem deeply confused to me with a combination of right wing and left wing complaints. Including obvious Racism to a degree, but also unfocussed anger at faceless social change. I still suspect that to some degree the left is at fault for embracing by default Thatcherite economic ideas. Most of the concrete complaints of UKIP voters would be easier to resolve with more traditional social democratic economic policy.

The idea of a National identity is a mirage and a construct. As you point out the UK (and other countries) have always had migration and immigration and going back we all come from east africa with a very good tan.

Hostility to Immigration tends to mask a hostility to the idea of a pluralistic society where we are free to be different. Which is why it is a bad idea to vote for any party like UKIP however upset you are about anything at all. Which arbitrary norm are we supposed to embrace to "fit in" with society? Who decides what is an authentic English man? Is it Enock Powell who we should ape or Tom Paine? Or John Lillburne? Or Nye Bevan expanding the list to the welsh. Nationalism tends to extremism and is based on Tribalistic emotions so cannot appeal to me: The Educated Man is a citizen of the world.

john malpas

You are too glib.
People want to live with their own kind. Whether in Kenya or England.
People dont want spurious argument to prevent them having what they want.
Nor do people want the aggressive repressive police force which forbids any real dissent.


There is also a class dimension to migration. Most governments support the migration of capital - transnational companies and their senior staff - but oppose the migration of labour. This arrangement maximises profit for transnational companies, hence the support from governments.

Ralph Musgrave

I’d have no difficulty demolishing every single one of Chris’s points. But I’ll concentrate on item No 3.

He says that the desire to maintain the national character is an “admirable instinct”. But his next sentence reads “How do we combat this?”. Absolutely bizarre. Do we take it that the new definition of the word “admirable” is “something that should be combatted”?

And presumably the desire by Tibetans to preserve their culture, identity, way of life and “national character” is equally to be deplored. Oh no - hang on – in the eyes of racist lefties, it’s one rule for people with white faces and a different set of rules for people with brow faces. I forgot. Silly me.

Under item No 3, Chris also trots out the old canard that we are a nation of immigrants. Complete nonsense. The sheer number of immigrants that have arrived in the last two decades vastly outnumbers (as a proportion of the total population) any previous immigration episode (e.g. Norman conquest, Danish invaders, Huguenots, etc.)


Ralph, you say, no doubt corrrectly, that "The sheer number of immigrants that have arrived in the last two decades vastly outnumbers (as a proportion of the total population) any previous immigration episode (e.g. Norman conquest, Danish invaders, Huguenots, etc.)

Fair point, though I think Chris was thinking of the cumulative effect of immigration. But you have to concede that the recent waves of immigranta have been less violent and intent on regime change than the Romans, Danes, Normans and Dutch.


Ralph seems to think migration in to the UK is the equivalent of being occupied by a Totalitarian Communist state; john malpas mentions Kenya where Tribalism produces periodic out breaks of communal murder, which is what is at the hart of fears about immigration no tribalism is bad here or in Kenya; dilberto trots out the Paranoid conspiracy theory that it is a left wing plot to rig elections etc. Having a rational debate about migration is hard when people base their ideas on hyperbole and irrational emotional reactions!


People like Ralph need to get out more. Look around, all races are mingling, having sex, relationships and children. It cannot be stopped nor should it. Universalistic ethics demand this.

john b

This arrangement maximises profit for transnational companies, hence the support from governments.

No, an arrangement where both capital and labour were free to migrate would maximise profits for MNCs.

But people-of-conservative-disposition notice and care about immigration (for a range of reasons), whereas they don't notice or care about capital mobility (even though many of its consequences should be an anathema to people-of-conservative-disposition). So government are only able reliably to provide their corporate sponsors with the latter, rather than the combination of both that they would prefer.

john b

(first para is a quote. I hate the way this blog strips HTML)


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