Thursday, December 23, 2004

The Writing On The Wall

"30somethings lead a baby boom" trumpeted the Times last week, in an upbeat piece celebrating a 4.3% rise in the number of babies born in England and Wales in 2003. At last, a change in the profile of our ageing population ! Maybe we won't have to work till we drop to pay all those index-linked public sector pensions.

But the really important information was half way down the item.

The figures, published yesterday by the Office for National Statistics, show that the proportion of older mothers would be even higher if not for growing numbers of births to immigrants, who tend to start their families much younger. Births to mothers born outside the UK accounted for nearly a fifth of all births in 2003, more than 50 per cent higher than the proportion ten years earlier. The increase was due entirely to a rise in births among immigrant women aged under 35.

The full ONS report is here.

Think about it. In England, one baby in 5 (19.2%) born last year was born to a mother who was not herself born in the United Kingdom. When you consider the number of second and third-generation immigrants (from whatever country) living here, forecasts that the Native Brits will be a minority by the end of the century start to look conservative.

In London, according to the Independent newspaper, 43% of all school children are non-white (note - it's not skin colour but culture which is important - so immigration from Albania, for example, is probably more problematic than immigration from India, a country with which we have many shared cultural links). Given recent large-scale immigration from Eastern Europe, Native British schoolchildren are almost certainly already a minority in London schools.

47.3% of 2003 births in London were to mothers born outside the UK (p74). The NUT will soon have a new minority to worry about.

Way back in the early Eighties when Mrs Thatcher talked about being 'swamped by people of a different culture', she was attacked on the grounds that the number of immigrants was a tiny percentage of the UK population. Nowadays the tone has changed from 'we're a tiny minority' to 'there are a lot of us, so you'd better take us into account'. I don't think that's an unreasonable thing to say - I merely illustrate how the terms of the debate have changed.

There is a politically honourable (though IMHO practically idiotic) position on immigration - namely that any attempt to restrict it is inherently racist, and that anyone who can afford the fare is entitled to live here. For those who take this view, the numbers are irrelevant, although strangely the same rules don't seem to apply, for example, to Jews living in the West Bank.

This may be the view of Her Majesty's Government. But if so they're remarkably shy about articulating it.

Others continue to worry at the numbers. There's a real split on the left between the 'figures are overstated' response (which implies that were they true or understated there WOULD be something to worry about) and the 'it doesn't matter what the figures are' response.

David Aaronovitch criticises the "melange of questionable statistics, assertions dressed as facts and straightforward scapegoating cranked out by Migration Watch UK and its main scribbler, Anthony Browne", and attacks the 'lies, damned lies' of the anti-immigration lobby. Yet when you read the pieces, he doesn't actually rebut anything, presenting the arguments of Migrationwatch as if they are self-evidently incorrect.

In this context an internal Government email is revealing.

"Can we stop saying that Migrationwatch forecasts are wrong . . . Migrationwatch assumptions are often below the Government Actuary's Department high migration variant."

Which brings me onto our old friends the BNP, and the stir created by a recent Searchlight article.

The vast majority of BNP candidates will be in Labour constituencies, an indication of where the fascists’ support is beginning to emerge and solidify. Searchlight has long argued that traditional Conservative voters have been the first to switch to the BNP in local elections, largely as a means to keep Labour out or as an anti-Asian protest, but this vote is soft and returns to the Conservative Party or goes elsewhere in national elections. The BNP support among traditional Labour voters is firmer and is an indication that sections of the working class are breaking with their traditional loyalties. These voters tend to be less embarrassed by the overt racism of the BNP while finding its anti-capitalist rhetoric appealing. It is also clear that many BNP voters, especially the young, have never voted for another party in their lives or have not done so for many years.

I have argued before that New Labour, and the UK left in general, having given up on Clause Four, is implementing the agenda of the 1970s student union, the politics of race, gender, sexuality - none of which have great appeal for the remnants of the British working class.

The coming change in the makeup of the English population is unprecedented. As the Observer said, "It would be the first time in history that a major indigenous population has voluntarily become a minority, rather than through war, famine or disease." I feel that though we may be able to avoid war, famine and disease, the chances of British politics splitting on racial lines are very high, with perhaps Fiji as a model for the future. The only real question is at what percentage level of non-Native Brit population the change to racial politics will occur. Given the large birthrate differentials between immigrants and Native Brits, it's quite possible that it will occur well beyond the point at which political action will be able to prevent minority status occurring. After all, 20% of the new voters in 2021, and half the new voters in London, will have mothers born abroad, and nothing can change that.

So arresting BNP members, Guardian exposes, BBC undercover documentaries, forced multiculturalism in schools are in the long term ineffective. Unless some kind of leftist police state comes into being.

Interesting times for my children. Where's that New Zealand Consulate phone number again ?

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