I love London. To be honest I never thought I would. I’ve always lived in a small town, on an estate backing onto fields, where I rarely saw a face a colour other than white. But here I’m surrounded by peoples and cultures from all over the world: around the corner there is a shop owned by two guys from turkey; a little bit on from that is a pub run by an Italian with a woolly hat, and so on. I love the feeling of being surrounded by such diversity.
But I’m concerned that it’s becoming increasingly acceptable to question immigration. We know the economy relies, in large part, on the flow of people in and out of the country, yet the right is stirring up fear. Almost every day, I hear tosh about migrants taking British jobs. Well, perhaps they are, but that’s only because there are just as many people leaving the country as there are coming in.
The Tories want a cap on immigration, but why? There have always been immigrants into this country, be they Jews fleeing persecution, Irish fleeing famine,
Jamacans aboard the MV Empire Windrush, or Polish people seeking a better life. The people who were already here have never suffered due to their presence, but our culture has been enriched by it. Thus, given too that the number of people coming in is roughly matched by the number going out, the fear of immigrants can be expressed simply in one word: xenophobia.
Of course, the Tories don’t like this: they fool themselves that, as Iain Duncan-smith put it, ”it isn’t racist to worry about immigration”. IDS was wrong, as both are born of the fear of the Other, of difference. They worry that our culture will somehow be diluted by immigration, but instead it is enriched. Brown got into seriously hot water for calling a woman a bigot when he thought his mic was off;* while it shows him to be a bit of a hypocrite, in the car brown was speaking the truth. That woman is a bigot, for her fear is irrational and panders to the most base of instincts.
I hope the tide changes back. I hope people realise sometime soon that immigration is good, and diversity is something to be cherished. I hope they realise that to utter the words ”I’m not racist, but…’ is a hypocrisy. And I hope middle class Tories stop talking about the immigration ‘problem’ around their dining tables while fooling themselves that they are still progressive and tolerant.
*I bet you any money Sky deliberately left that microphone on to frame him, by the way.