We met up with old friends at the weekend. It did not end well.
The conversation eventually turned to immigration. With the growing flight of capital from the UK, with spending being cut, with unemployment already high and with significant pressures on housing and infrastructure generally, I take the view that it is not only unjustifiable but immoral to permit any further immigration other than for purely humanitarian purposes. I do not accept the argument that bodies such as the NHS would cease to function without immigration. There is something profoundly wrong with a society that has contrived to make the noble profession of caring for the sick so unattractive to a whole generation of the indigenous population: which of our politicians has even considered addressing the underlying structural arrangements that have made immigration preferable to training those in need of work?
Nor can I accept the justification for the supposed joys of multiculturalism which, taken to its logical conclusion, reduces cultural experience to the ubiquity of an Arndale Centre and is every bit as corrosive on a country’s uniqueness as an Arndale Centre is to a town’s individuality. Our own culture is being deliberately and divisively subsumed, not by immigrants themselves but by the acts of politicians seeking to exploit the resultant divisions. How else, for example, to explain the introduction of Sharia courts to the UK? Justice in a large part of the world derives from the great tradition of English law (now somewhat marred by the mountains of ill-considered legislation introduced over the last 14 years) and it beggars belief that we have quietly sanctioned a parallel legal system that, amongst other things, condones the subjugation and barbaric treatment of women. How on earth is that possible in what was once regarded as the mother of all democracies?
Lack of consultation and sleight of hand characterise what passes for any debate about immigration and its ramifications. The issue has been constructed in such a way that any criticism of immigration policy inevitably attracts Pavlovian accusations of racism or fascism or solidarity with the BNP or, more likely, all three. The sensitivities of the pro-immigration faction have been tuned to such a degree that that few issues touching upon the immigrant population, no matter how tangential they might be, are safe from the threat of misrepresentation or pre-judgement.
This manipulation of the agenda is pursued to a remarkably coercive degree, effectively inhibiting freedom of speech to critics of immigration policy and further diminishing what now passes for democracy in this country. A low point was undoubtedly reached with the treatment meted out to Codie Stott by teaching staff and the police. That a country which took a courageous and costly moral stand against fascism in the middle of the 20th century should now feel it appropriate to arrest a 14 year-old schoolgirl in the given circumstances seems to me to be a betrayal of the values that once marked us out as a decent and just society. That appals me.
Our friends thought differently. Sadly, this meant that we didn’t get as far as the bottle of ironic Mateus Rosé because they left in the belief that I was denying their right to freedom of speech. They were wrong: I was exercising my right to outrage that anybody could avoid condemning state-sanctioned bullying of a child.
There is a timely postscript to my comments on the appeasement that facilitates multiculturalism. One of the methods regularly employed against critics of the policy and its effects on British culture is to point out that Britons are mongrels with a diverse cultural heritage. It’s a good argument but it fails to recognise that we have evolved certain long-standing traits and traditions that continue to unite most of us and create our singular identity in the world. We may not be able to name those characteristics immediately when asked but we know them by their absence; fair play, decency, privacy, respect and a particular sense of humour come to mind.
Yesterday, we heard the outcome of an attack on a ceremony that particularly unites us. On Armistice Day, Emdadur Choudhury burnt poppies and displayed placards advocating anti-British sentiments. Charged for offences against the Public Order Act, he was found to have exceeded the limits of free speech and could have been fined £1000. Instead, he received a fine of just £50, less than a typical parking fine. Emdadur Choudhury has been rightly condemned by all sections of the community but we should reserve our real contempt for the mechanisms of the state that place so little value on our way of life. For those who care about the traditions and the behavioural mores of British culture, we all need to start feeling a lot more outrage.