When oh when will we ever be able to talk about immigration (sensibly)?

2 December 2013

I do wish we were never allowed to speak about immigration. That seems the only way to prevent folk from spouting – and writing – rubbish on the subject. But of course there is no conspiracy intent on stifling discussion on immigration. Not even a liberal, metropolitan or elitist conspiracy. Sorry. You can say all the things you think you can’t say. And we know this because many, even most, of them are said all the time. So often, in fact, that they lack novelty.

And we also know that no-one really wants to have a conversation about immigration. Conversation would require some back and forth. It might even allow the possibility someone might change their mind. Just imagine that. A proper conversation doesn’t suppose the outcome before the evidence has been heard. It does not beg questions.

So we don’t have a conversation about immigration because almost all the people calling for a conversation agree with one another. Conversation is just another way of saying immigration should be restricted still further.

But of course no-one is ever allowed to say that.

Almost no-one, not even the relative handful of people truly in favour of open borders, claims there is no downside – or potential downside – to immigration. Most people acknowledge that there are circumstances or places in which it can cause some difficulties. It is not daft to think that population growth can sometimes, in some places, place additional stress on public services. Nor is it reprehensible to think that some immigrants are better placed to thrive in Britain than others or that some are less likely to assimilate or make a valuable contribution to life in this country.

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But it is possible to note that – even, if you prefer, to concede that – and still conclude that the right to move anywhere within the European Union is one of the greatest expansions of human liberty we – that is, Europeans –  have enjoyed in recent decades. It is an achievement that should not be cast aside lightly, far less with great force.

Few people in Westminster seem to think this. Instead we endure the grubby, dispiriting spectacle of politicians competing to see who can seem tougher on immigration. Witness, for instance, Priti Patel writing at ConservativeHome today.

If we object to Romanians and Bulgarians having the right to come and work and live in this country then the proper moment to raise that objection would have been when they applied to join the EU in the first place.

But of course we did not object then because we – that is, all parties – accepted that Britain’s national interest has long been served by expanding EU membership. Perhaps this is a mistaken view, nevertheless it is a widely-shared one. But if we accept that a bigger EU is a desirable outcome then we should be prepared to accept that there might be some areas in which the consequences of that expansion might prove less than wholly desirable. Nevertheless, that is the price paid for the broader advancement of the national interest.

The Romanians and the Bulgarians are members of the club. I see no particular reason why they should not be permitted the same rights and privileges as those we insist upon for our own citizens. If a Briton may move anywhere in the EU why should a Romanian be denied the same privilege? It is a question of fairness and justice.

If they contribute as much to this country as their Polish predecessors we will be well-served by their admission. It is true that more Poles arrived to work in Britain than had been predicted. But so what? They have been of great service. The myth of the immigrant moocher is just that: a myth. (See here and here for example.)

Perhaps the Romanians and Bulgarians will prove less useful but there is, I think, little empirical evidence to suppose this is likely to be the case.

Instead we have a conversation in which it is presumed that immigration is a Very Bad Thing. Rather than a rational discussion about rights and obligations we endure a dismal and drab race to the bottom in which the parties compete to see who can nastier than the other. It fosters an oppressive, dispiriting, stinking atmosphere in which sensible debate becomes almost impossible because, actually, the parties appear to have decided there shouldn’t be a debate at all. Certainly not one in which it might ever be suggested that this country, ageing as it is, might actually benefit from immigration.

But then liberalism seems unfashionable these days. Which is sad not least because it suggests Britain is a more cowed, more angry, more bitter, more pessimistic country than we might like to think it is, could or should be.

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Show comments
  • johnrwalsh

    How does a polish shop ( the picture above) serving polish people enrich our society or our we all going to be forced by EU regulation to eat polish style now .
    As to this writers nonsense about Brits moving anywhere in the EU , its rubbish those who do are over 90% under contract to a major contractor and their wages are the same as in the UK, others are retired with monies of their own , most Brits could not just move to most EU countries as the ones where they would be welcomed are so poor that their wages would be the same as the indigenous people of those countries moving the other way .
    All these myths are just left wing arguments engendered by politicians who have a stake in our continued attachment to this despotic monolith even to the point their useless and irreverent jobs , human rights lawyers , bureaucrats ,petty politicians like nick clegg are guaranteed only by our staying in this corrupt organisation.

    people like the writer who obviously is an immigrant himself ,can be forgiven for being so biased as he has very little knowledge or understanding of this country’s history, other than being taught that his former homeland was an imperial colony in which his grandparents were probably ill treated or some such , but wherever his views reflect the greater indigenous population which the last time i looked is still in the majority, is questionable ?

  • johnrwalsh

    On all matters related to the immigration and the EU

    You can come up with all the most clever but frankly yawn
    worthy arguments we have all heard before about immigrants being the reason for
    our country’s success. That they contribute this and that , and that most come
    here for hard work , they run the NHS they are all angels and
    wonderful multicultural people etc. etc. yawn yawn .

    Except it’s all a load of tosh.

    Crime among the black “Community” so called
    minority since the 1950s has been always been disproportionately higher than
    any other ethnic group ask the police?

    Organised gangs and radicalization in the numerous mosques,
    built and being built across the country have made many areas no go for
    most white indigenous natives , Indian Hindus and seeks .

    The actions of the young Muslim men in 2005 and Woolwich
    last year are not isolated incidents, the security services stop many of the
    atrocities happening every year, as they do investigating grooming gangs of Asian

    its common sense that if you fill a country up with
    continuous immigration from abroad wherever be the EU or anywhere else and at
    the same time have an indigenous population who find it impossible in most
    areas to get employment, then the reason might be something to do with
    immigrants taking the jobs at a lower pay rate, also business are there to make
    a profit so of course they welcome cheap labour amongst those who actually do
    come to work.

    Most British businesses are racially prejudice anyway and
    welcome the influx of white east Europeans with talents such as plumbers and
    chefs and waiters, talents rarely found in third world migrants, who usually
    open their own businesses and fill the country up with endless burger and kebab
    joints, self-serving halal shops or taking menial jobs such as traffic wardens
    and cleaners, sometimes as many as fifty in one street in most inner city

    The EU who presides over all this is clearly undemocratic
    and corrupt due to the fact that being Europeans, historically having a
    different system of law and morally than Britain; they historical have always
    taken the view that if something is unregulated it is illegal

    whereas English common law, which has for 900 years
    guaranteed our freedoms and rights as Britons, starts from the premise
    that all is legal unless expressly forbidden .Innocent until proven guilty, etc.

    Which is why most Britain complain about the endless petty
    regulation of every aspect of our lives and the regulation of business
    transactions and commerce stifling trade and imposing fines on anybody who
    trades outside the EU

    Undemocratic because of its appalling treatment of Ireland
    and Greece and its refusal to recognize their respective referendum results
    telling them to go do it again and come back with the correct result.

    Britain invented modern democracy while these people were
    still in the grips of absolute monarchs and despots Britain invented habeas
    corpus and trial by jury, Common law which from the highest to lowest person in
    the land included the king/queen are subject to if the break it.

    Why do we suppose that now, Europeans have anything to teach
    us about freedom and democracy, immigration and human rights.

  • Nat Turner

    Facebook hosts terrorists organization,

    The Boeremag (farmer force) have just been
    jailed for treason,

    following a plot to bomb, then, President

    igniting a race war where Black South
    Africans and Asians would be driven out of the country and a racist regime

    They previously detonated 9 bombs resulting
    in loss of life,

    including the bombing of a mosque and
    Buddhist temple.

    A support page for such people is not in
    the interest of any

    of the people of South Africa,

    Please let Facebook know that.

  • cristo52

    And just how much does the English government spend each year (and over the years) on maintaining the artificial border in Ireland? What if it took that money and put into education or health. How would that chance things?

  • Linda Breeze

    Just because I am descended from the Scots and Europe does not mean I dislike being part of Europe. I just do not like European Union’s policies. I would love to be part of Europe if I can do reforms and make sure UK is not affected.

  • Andrew Morton

    Not too worry UKiP, when Scotland votes Yes we’ll be thrown out of the EU and then you can deport all those scrounging, violent, alcoholic Scots back where they came from. That’ll get the numbers down.

  • Denis_Cooper

    I’ll try again for a third time, but with different words … in March there was a YouGov opinion poll in which people were asked:

    “What should be the maximum allowed level of annual immigration?”

    About 19% of respondents chose the option “zero”, while about 6% chose the other extreme of “no limit”.

    In between those two extremes, about 27% chose a maximum of 50,000 a year, about 14% chose a maximum of 100,000 a year, about 6% chose a maximum of 150,000 a year, about 4% chose a maximum of 200,000 a year, about 6% chose a maximum of 250,000 a year, about 3% chose a maximum of 300,000 a year, and so on down so that hardly one chose any number above 600,000 a year, apart from that outlier of 6% who said “no limit”.

    The median response was about 70,000 a year, in other word half of respondents thought that 70,000 a year would be too high while the other half thought it would be too low.

    There is absolutely no reason why we should not have an official referendum designed along the same lines as that opinion poll, except of course that the 6% who think that should be no limit on immigration wouldn’t want the rest of the population to ever be asked: they have no interest in democracy, and just want to impose their own extreme views on everybody else.

  • Denis_Cooper

    Oh dear, dissenting comment vaporised – and you said you wanted a conversation?

    • Denis_Cooper

      And vaporised again.

      What’s the problem?

      Does the idea of asking the people frighten you?

    • Kennybhoy

      Tell me about it!

  • Denis_Cooper

    Well, let’s not just have a “sensible” conversation, let’s have a proper debate leading to an official referendum in which the existing body of citizens could say how many immigrants they would like to be settled here and become new citizens sharing their national homeland with the same rights and duties as themselves.

    That would, I suggest, be the democratic way to proceed: ask the citizens and let them decide, not leave it to Alan Massie and the politicians to decide.

    Of course it could not be a normal kind of referendum with simple “yes” and “no” alternative answers, it would have to a referendum like the opinion poll mentioned here back in March:

    in which respondents were asked to choose from a range of numbers for the maximum number of immigrants that should be allowed each year.

    And median response was about 70,000 a year.

  • Ricky Strong

    Well it depends on how you define sensible. On his last appearance on QT Farage made a sensible remark about the free movement of people and was slated (again) for scaremongering.
    And off topic, but some of the remarks David Starkey has made about homosexuality and attitudes towards it have been for my money some the most sensible I have heard yet. However there are many who would swipe such views aside for daring to hold an opinion that goes against the grain.
    The fact that we need a debate about what constitutes a sensible debate first is half the reason why nothing is ever solved in this over-pc country.

  • elainesk

    Alex Massie,Can you please not reflect this last paragraph to include Scots….if you know anything about your fellow Scots you will know we don’t share the same hatred as our neighbours regards our immigrants and I feel insulted that you drag us into it.

    • Alexandrovich

      “… we don’t share the same hatred as our neighbours regards our immigrants.”
      Perhaps not but it would appear that you save that hatred for your neighbours.

    • Denis_Cooper


      Have a look at page 4 of this recent Sunday Times YouGov poll:

      In response to the responses to the question:

      “Generally speaking, do you think immigration has been good or bad for the British economy?”

      For all the country, “TOTAL GOOD” was 31% and “TOTAL BAD” was 57%, while for Scotland the corresponding figures were 28% and 55%.

      Not much evidence there that Massie should exclude his fellow Scots from his last paragraph.

    • Martin Jennerson

      You still haven’t got over your hatred for your Irish Catholic immigrants – and they only arrived 200 years ago.

      Really is the most pompous rubbish to pretend Scottish are far more welcoming than the rest of the British Isles – you just haven’t received the same swamping yet that’s all

    • Kennybhoy

      Utter caca!

  • Venharis

    It’s all a “soft kill” policy by the Globalists and Race Baiting is
    but one of their running scams. Their aim is to destroy the middle class
    in the Western World and then take us down the road to a Fascist
    Euthanasia program. They have started with the fluoride in the water and
    poison vaccines and GMO’s that sterilize rats after the third
    generation in laboratory tests confirmed over and over again. If you
    want to take a peek down the rabbit hole tune in to Alex Jones at
    infowars(dot)com…. Their ultimate goal is 99% World De-Population and
    man-machine integration and immortality see – 2045(dot)com. And YOU are
    not in their plans…

  • Hugh

    I think when people say they are “never allowed” to talk about immigration they possibly mean not that they are legally banned from doing so, but that they can’t do so without being accused of being bigoted, racist or, er, “grubby”, to choose a random euphemism.

    A “conversation” doesn’t just allow for the possibility that someone might change their mind (how has your thinking evolved lately?) but also ideally would see both parties able to disagree without suggesting a deficiency in the other’s moral character for doing so.

  • andyrwebman

    A fairly argued point, which deserves a reasonable response.

    Yes, the right of free movement around the EU is a wonderful thing in some senses. However, the pragmatic truth is that it has turned out to have undesirable consequences – one of which is that people migrate from sparsely populated countries to overcrowded ones, when the reverse would be the logical thing to do.

    Also, we are not yet sufficiently culturally similar for this to happen without friction – large numbers of people moving into a country create ghettos. Some have habits which the native people find disgusting.

    There is the economic impact of unskilled people moving to a country with a minimum wage law. In such a country, jobs based on unskilled labour will be scarce due to competition from countries who pay their workers less, and moving unskilled people there exascerbates unemployment – even if those who come are hard working people who would be a benefit to a country with a labour shortage.

    Finally, there is the issue of people with a tradition of large families moving into a country with a recent habit of small ones – and the issue of population stability.

    The concept of free movement is clearly desirable, but merely decreeing that it should be so doesn’t make it workable.

  • Martin Jennerson

    “Rather than a rational discussion about rights and obligations”

    Reducing the topic to rights and obligations would provide clear and simple rational so that thickies lie you Massie can have a conversation that you feel comfortable with. However it would be a completely POINTLESS conversation as the topic obviously also concerns human emotion, society and behaviour and so can’t be reduced to the simplistic moral framework your tiny little brain so desperately desires..

  • Jabez Foodbotham

    Immigration is a topic that where real concerns have been obscured by polite euphemisms since the very word itself became common political and media currency some 60 years ago. The term immigration was then introduced as a polite substitute for coloured immigration which was the real issue as it was termed at the time. The substitution was so successful in a backfiring kind of way that terms like immigrant communities or areas are synonymous with concentrations of non-white people to this day–they do not refer to people who have turned up from France or Australia.
    Thus immigration and immigrant are now loaded words that carry more meaning than those who are agin it are prepared to openly state in today’s political climate, and for those who take a more lofty view, like Mr. Massie, a meaning that they affect to ignore.
    For Bulgarians and Romanians you can safely read Balkan Roma or gypsies.

  • Bonkim

    Nothing illiberal in not wanting Britain an already overcrowded country becoming even more so and that many new immigrants are coming from cultures that breed like rabbits and make native born Britons an endangered species in these isles. Many from cultures that have not advanced much beyond the middle-ages in social organisation or 20th and 21st century social awqkenng.

    Beyond the immediate prospects of an overpopulated and impoverished Britain, think of global population explosion and fast depletion of resources, also that economic potential difference drives huge population transfers across the Globe – and ask the question – will Britain ( a country with 75% dependency index) be able to assimilate the scale of immigration seen in recent years from Africa, Asia, and even Eastern Europe without degenerating into a corrupt third world country. The core British values that have maintained some form of cohesion despite the huge influx of Commonwealth citizens in the 1960s, and 70s are under threat from EU citizens under EU protection not compelled to adapt and change in Britain.

  • Peter Crawford

    It’s like wife-swapping. As a matter of “fairness” you get to roar around in my Ferrari while I get a few goes in your Nissan Micra. Nobody wants to live in Bulgaria,you stupid fool. There is no equivalence.

    Message to Bulgars: Stay home, stay home where the buffalo roam.

  • smiler

    Any party that imposes mass immigration without manifesto or the wish or consent of the public to achieve political,social and economic change within a democracy is wrong .
    Any problems that did exist should have been dealt with at the time with long term planning not a quick fix with mass immigration.If it was a quick fix it hasn’t worked,the tap is still running and the face of Britain has changed forever, in our larger cities to an undreamt of degree .The quick fix has brought about complications in social cohesion and structure ,stressing community services ,communities and now everyday life is being altered with ever increasing surveillance to fight home grown crime and terrorism.
    The answer to the “when will be able to talk about immigration sensibly “question is never…..the public aren’t asked the question.In fact the law of the land has been turned on the public to stifle debate to promote multi-culturalism.It was a bad idea,it hasn’t worked ,it will only get worse and personally the pride I once had has now gone.

  • David Webb

    Alex Massie you of the worthless CBE, who propagandises for mass immigration while being hailed as some kind of Churchillian Tory – we shouldn’t be part of the EU anyhow, so the EU right to movement wouldn’t apply after our exit. Immigration and welfarism are two sides of the same coin – the Poles pinned many on benefits.

    We don’t need the immigrants. We don’t need their crime. And we don’t need multiculturalism. How come the looney left causes of the 1980s have now gone mainstream, so that Alan Massie can write screeds for the Spectator on the need for national suicide?

  • NewImprovedPretendName

    “But of course there is no conspiracy intent on stifling discussion on immigration. Not even a liberal, metropolitan or elitist conspiracy. Sorry. You can say all the things you think you can’t say. And we know this because many, even most, of them are said all the time. So often, in fact, that they lack novelty.”

    This made me laugh, and of course there’s a grain of truth here. Yet if it’s true, then why oh why is there so much euphemism around? Why can’t people say “oops, we’re a bit scared of being pickpocketed by gypsies” rather than complaining about the “strain that Romanians and Bulgarians will put on local services”? Why not “we see a certain type of Islamist making statements more extreme than the speeches of Oswald Mosley and we are quite worried at how popular they appear to be” rather than have a Labour Party “admission” that they let in too many Poles. What on earth have the Poles to do with anything? Outside a few areas of the country, nobody minds if there are more Poles, less Poles, whatever. They behave well, work hard and are entitled to be here or not to be here. But for sure, the Labour Party shouldn’t be responding to anti-Muslim feeling by having a go at the Poles, that’s insane.

  • Daniel Maris

    All you have to do, Massie, to regain just a smidgeon of credibility on this subject, is to tell us if there is any level of mass immigration (not net migration) that you would find unacceptable and if you acknowledge that the huge population increase we are experiencing is a direct result of mass immigration.

  • Daniel Maris

    “Most people acknowledge that there are circumstances or places in which it can cause some difficulties.” – “with the possible exception of the Borders which is where I hail from and where there are no immigrants, except for the occasional packman coming over the hill”.

  • Roger Hudson

    The current fears about Bulgaria and Romania seems to be less about incoming workers and more because a lot of Sinti and Roma might take the opportunity to leave the countries which treat them badly and move West.
    The EU has just not got to grips with the problems of East European undeveloped minorities, a long way from culture of Brussels.

  • crosscop

    “Sorry. You can say all the things you think you can’t say. ”
    Tell that to the BNP member who was arrested and convicted for commenting on last years Net Immigration figures that “It looks like the government’s policy is whites out and darkies in.”

    • NewImprovedPretendName

      Er, but if he was, then you have just laid yourself open to the same fate by repeating the comment. Have you been arrested yet?

  • andagain

    The parties reflect the public. And the public, on the whole, doesn’t like foreigners. But doesn’t want to admit it.

    So that is what the parties reflect.

  • sarahsmith232

    not read the whole thing but had to comment on something.
    He wrote that UCL found in 2009 that immigrants were not taking social housing. And so just how exactly would they have managed to find that out? During the Labour years councils were told not to make any note of ethnicity or nationality. UCL were not in a position to know, no one was, Labour made sure they weren’t. So those claims are bogus.
    Also, Massie is obviously not paying attention. ‘Cause if he was he’d know UCL has conducted more research. They found that non-EU immigrants have taken out more than they put in, over a 16yr period just a little, tiny bit more, that would be £104 billion more out of the system than they put in.
    If you watched the BBC you would have seen the professor that conducted the research being interviewed and believed that he meant immigrants have contributed more. Blink and you’ll miss the brief sentence which ‘fesses up to the fact that that’s not the case with the non-EU lot. The BBC has been parroting out the lines ever since ‘they put in more that they take out, UCL has proved it’.
    Maybe Massie is one the BBC’s sheep victims, hasn’t been paying close enough attention, but read the report, they’re taking out more, they cost a fortune. Whole thing’s like a sick joke.

  • James Allen

    “But of course we did not object then because we – that is, all parties –
    accepted that Britain’s national interest has long been served by
    expanding EU membership.”

    Really… all parties? I think you may have forgotten one…

  • Kennybhoy

    ” Sorry. You can say all the things you think you can’t say. And we know this because many, even most, of them are said all the time.”

    A relatively recent development Maister M and one that applies only to politicians and commentators such as yourself. Ordinary folk can only speak freely behind the anonymity of the internet. Any public employee, for example, who publicly expressed such views risks very serious consequences.

    • Daniel Maris

      That is very true.

  • Druth

    “When oh when will we ever be able to talk about immigration (sensibly)?”

    It’s worth remarking that thanks to Mr Massie and his colleagues in the metro bubble, for upwards of thirty years, we weren’t allowed to discuss immigration at all in our ‘free democracy’.

    • Jambo25

      Massie cannot both be in the “metro bubble” and some kind of Borders hick, according to Jupiter. I would have thought the 2 things were mutually exclusive.

      • Kennybhoy

        Hi Jambo!

        Were you at the game yesterday? :-)

        But seriously man. The two are not mutually exclusive.

        • Jambo25

          How? is there some kind of “metro bubble” splinter cell living in Newtown St Boswells that the rest of upright Borders folk don’t know about?

          As for the game. Nah, I wasn’t there. I saw it coming. I’d prophesied 0-6. That’s what it should have been had ‘the Gollum’ not made his usual cock-up with the penalty.

        • Jambo25

          Daniel Maris, MikeF and Kennybhoy. Either Massie spends his time in the Borders in which case he’s probably have to earn his “metro-bubble” certificate by extension college course or he splits his time between the Borders and Edinburgh (Which both he and I do.) : in which case we probably do know the consequences of immigration and having a mixed population.

          • Kennybhoy

            Stop digging man…

            • Jambo25

              Nah, I genuinely like Massie’s writing. Compared to some of the real right wing fruitcakes on here he writes lucidly and intelligently. I gave a couple of longer replies which seem to have vanished. Don’t know why as nothing about either could be construed as being in any way insulting, racist etc. I’ll try and write them in again in an hour or so.

              • Kennybhoy

                His writing or his opinions? Do not misunderstand, I have defended Maister M on several occasions hereabouts.

                Regarding the moderation. Tell me about it! The mods seem to be in league with a white supremacist loon to censor me today! lol Only about one out of three post have gotten through…?

                • Jambo25

                  Seriously. There wasn’t anything in either posting which was in the least way controversial, insulting etc.

              • Kennybhoy

                Oh look! A post got through!

      • Druth

        ” I would have thought the 2 things were mutually exclusive.”

        Not at all. One is a matter of of Geography. The other is a matter of being in with the right people and knowing the right line to take with the peasants.

        • Kennybhoy

          Indeed. Very well put.

        • Jambo25


          • Daniel Maris

            I think it is invalid. It’s invalid in the same way that Billy Bragg can no longer be taken seriously as the honest workers’ balladeer and proponent of multiculturalismn – when he’s fled London for the delights of the Dorset countryside.

            It’s invalid in the same way that it’s invalid for Mehdi Hassan to pose as an advocate of equality while referring to Kaffirs as being like cattle.

            If Massie is so keen on mass immigration for the rest of us, he should go live somewhere that is fully experiencing its effects e.g. Newham or Southall or even Boston in Lincolnshire.

          • Alexandrovich

            No, he’s not ‘sanguine about immigration’, he thinks it’s a price worth paying just to rub our noses in it. ‘Conversation’ about it? More like disingenuous crap from Scotland’s very own Uriah Heep. Conversation? When over the years all we’ve had from Mr. Massie is him telling us we’re small-minded little Englanders. Oh yeah, very conversational.

      • Daniel Maris

        Yes, he can. He can be in the bubble for his career and then enjoy the unspoilt delights of the Borders (recently on TV) where immigration is effectively zero. One suspects that even when he is in London, he is not experiencing the full range of mass immigration.

      • MikeF

        “Massie cannot both be in the “metro bubble” and some kind of Borders hick”.
        Oh yes he can – thanks to things called trains and cars which allow you to get from one place to the other on the same day and internet communications which allow to you to submit the same blithe copy to the publications you work for irrespective of what the view from your window happens to be at the time. It’s really quite easy.

  • Jupiter

    What would you know about immigration, Massie? Hiding in the Scottish borders where there aren’t any immigrants doesn’t qualify you to spout off about it.

    • Charles Massie

      Here is a Massie in America who came from Massie emmigrants, you all think there are too many dark skinned fellows in the old father land? Give up your bold-faced pride the Kingdom of God is near. And, to answer your probable questions, yes the only reason I read the winded article was because I like the pleasing sound of the author’s name.

  • Druth

    Have a look at the list of articles on the main pages where you will see, by the number of comments, that unless the title includes a reference to the EU, immigration, UKIP or Islam then no one is reading it.

    Where people are posting comments then you will see that these are uniformly opposed to what has been written in the article.

    • Kennybhoy

      Aye but we here in the Coffee House live within an echo chamber of the like minded. Just like the Westminster and media villages…

    • NewImprovedPretendName

      That’s because the number of comments/hits helps to determine whether opinion writers survive the next cull, whenever that is, and so you would be an idiot either (a) not to write the occasional article with the EU, immigration, UKIP or Islam in the title or (b) not to write something in it that will inflame opinion in some way. The Telegraph seems much more brutal than the Speccie in this way, but Massie needs to earn his bread like everyone else.

      • Alexandrovich

        What, like a whore does you mean?

        • Ben Kelly

          Please oh please let him be in the next cull.

        • NewImprovedPretendName

          Precisely. (I was going to say “hole in one” and then stopped myself once I realised the innuendo …)

      • Druth

        Yes, exactly the point I am making, Mr Massie acts as a mouth piece for the establishment and writes this rubbish because he’s a paid up Spectator troll.

        • NewImprovedPretendName

          But surely one person’s trolling is another person’s point of view. I don’t really mind being disagreed with …

  • Pootles

    Well, now you’ve put the kitten among the pigeons here on the Speccie comments site! And I’m one of the pigeons! Yes, all that you say is reasonable and perfectly acceptable as one standpoint. But there are, of course, problems with the EU ‘club’ – and the big, big problem is that it is a profoundly undemocratic institution, one that affects UK citizens, yet is beyond the direct control, or even influence, of UK citizens. And I don’t think many people would choose to join a club where they did not get a vote for the committee running it, on behalf of its members.
    The second pigeon point I’d like to raise is in relation to how much immigrants benefit the UK; well, England really, as that’s where almost all immigrants head for. For me, the economic argument has very little weight (and it is one of those arguments, like Scotland’s positive/negative contribution to the UK treasury, that one can produce all sorts of statistics on). Instead, my concern is that the native peoples of the UK, and, in particular, the people who made England what it is/was, will become a minority in their own homeland. With all the likely disadvantages that will bring.

    • tommy5dollar

      How exactly do you define natives? My ancestors came over with William the Conqueror in 1066, am I a native or an immigrant?

      • Pootles

        Well, you are rather lucky that you can trace your family back that far – are you very posh? There are lots of different ways of defining ‘native’ in the UK context. One way could be by DNA, with nearly three quaters of people in Englan being descendent from people who walked into what would become the British isles after the last ice age. That’s one way, but not one that I’m bothered with. Another way, for someone in England, would be the peoples who have, since, say, the reign of Athelstan, actually created the England that is familiar to most of us – for example, created the characteristic landscapes of rural England; been responsible for the built landscape of pre-Industrial and Industrial England; created the remarkably flexible English language and all its associated literary heritage; created a parliament that eventually gave us Parliamentary Democracy; in other words, the peoples who, over the last 1,000 years plus made our homeland. It is a unique homeland, and if we continue to import vast numbers of people at the current rate then the peoples of England will take on a quite different cast, and if England continues to exist, it will be on quite a different path from that which it has been on.

        • tommy5dollar

          I come from a posh ancestry, bastarded several times over.

          Those who created England over the past 1,000 years? You mean the constant flood of immigrants? England is a country that prospered due to being a place where people could flee with new ideas and set up business. The Polish represent the best of this tradition.

          • Druth

            Why not do us a favour and go and live in Poland?

          • Pootles

            ‘The constant flood of immigrants?’ ‘Flood’. Really? Let’s take the Huguenots. Between 1685 (the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes) until the end of the century, some 40,000 Huguenot settled in England, which represented 0.7% of England’s population of 6 million. The next ‘flood’ of immigrants comes from the 1870s until the 1900s, with Jews escaping persecution in Tsarist Russia, and, to a lesser extent, in places like Romania. Some 350,000 Jews immigrated into England, which represented 1.1% of England’s population of 31 million in 1901. So, the two periods of ‘mass’ imigration into England from the 11th to the 20th Century only changed the population by less than 1%, and just over 1%. Do you regard that as a flood? And how does that relate to the change in the English population between 2001 and 2011? In 2001 the ‘White British’ population of England was around 90% of the population, by 2011 it was 80%.

            • Kennybhoy

              Ouch! :-)

              • Pootles

                I wonder if the chap will reply?

            • Wessex Man

              If someone could just butt into your mutual admiration Society, I took part in Scotland’s DNA a couple of years ago and there’s nothing in my DNA except Anglo-Saxon. Scotland’s DNA showed a large concentration of my DNA in the Forest of Wychwood area in Oxfordshire which is where my family came from 200 years ago. It also showed the very same DNA in heavy concentrations in the Edinburgh areas of Scotland.

              You never really know if you are related to someone so show a bit of sympathy to all comers.

              • Pootles

                How jolly nice for you, old fellow. You’ll see from my earlier reply to ‘tommy5dollar’ that I don’t put too much store by the DNA business, so I’m not quite sure just what you’re getting at. My point is more in relation to ‘all comers’ – how many were you thinking of, and just what would you say is the optimum population for England, and where would you like ‘all comers’ to come from – Somalia, Central African Republic, Bangladesh, anywhere else?
                As for my DNA, I’ve never had it ‘done’, as it were, but, at a guess, I’d say all sorts from the post Ice Age lot to a bit of Anglo-Saxon.

                • Wessex Man

                  how jolly nice of you to reply in such a condescending pompous way.

                  My point is that I’m descendant of the third mass wave of immigrants to these shores, there always have been and always will be immigrants. It’s not their fault that Blair and Brown allowed it in such numbers in the mistaklen belief they would always vote Labour and the Tories and Lib/dems are terrified of stopping it for fear of being branded racist and un-european.

                  If immigrants welcome and embrace the majority way of life in this country they probably feel a little sick reading racist drivel like yours.

                  I feel sorry for you that you don’t want to know where you came form but guess it’s not far from any stone.

                • Pootles

                  If you look, you will see that nowhere, but nowhere, have I ‘blamed’ immigrants for coming to the UK – you’ve added that in yourself. My objection is, indeed, to our ‘leaders’, of all parties, and not just around the question of immigration. Which part of my posts enable you to say that I’m talking ‘racist drivel’ ? As for where I come from, I can trace my family back to the early 17th Century, and they came from Derbyshire, Lancashire, County Durham, and, probably, Scotland. DNA testing won’t tell me much more.
                  I see that you make no attempt to answer my questions regarding where you would like ‘all comers’ to hail from, nor do you say what you think the optimum population of the UK, or England, should be – 80 million, 90 million, more?

                • Wessex Man

                  I would rather had liked it to have stayed around the 50 million that it once was, no hang on a minute let’s say 49,999,999 idiot.

                • Pootles

                  Can’t argue with that. So, that sounds as if you don’t really want any further immigration at all.
                  Why are you so very cross?

                • Linda Breeze

                  You will be suprised that you are descended from European countries and Turks. I mean Turks in the Ottoman Empire.

                • Pootles

                  Yes, I expect so. If one goes far back enough we’re all from the same starting point – or perhaps two starting points, depending on the latest theory. But, as you can see from my posts, I’m not too bothered about DNA, more about sense of place, shared history and culture, that sort of angle. Oh, and, of course, England, and the other UK countries, are European.

                • Linda Breeze

                  Yes, sense of place, shared history and culture matters more to us. As far as our ancient history is concerned, it is hard to accept Romanians and Bulgarians etc as they never played a part in our ancient history. They are like aliens to us if you know what I mean. It was a shock to find out a lot of us are descended from the Turks of the Ottoman Empire. That explains a lot of dark black hair etc. Turks were a very huge population at the time so it was difficult not to breed from them.

              • Linda Breeze

                I came from an ancient family in Oxfordshire. The reason that you have Scotland’s DNA like me is that we are both descended from Robert the Bruce I believe. I am descended from other branches of Scots who have royal connections as well.

            • Daniel Maris

              It was Tommy this and Tommy that, and now you’ve pointed out it was all Tommy Rot, he’s gorn.

          • Pootles

            Now, come along, old sprout, don’t go all quiet – respond to my comment on your ‘floods’ of immigrants that have characterised England’s history.

            • tommy5dollar

              Sorry, I wasn’t ignoring you but I do unfortunately have other things to do from time to time.

              In the aftermath of the potato famine it was commonly acknowledged that there were Irish in London than English, although they’re perhaps viewed as an exception?

              And although no one knows the exact figures, it’s speculated that the Normans and French that came over may have been around 5% of the total population.

              I’m still not convinced we’ve established what your definition of native is? The “natives” that existed pre-Norman times have had their genepool so diluted over the years that short of DNA testing there is no way of telling. We all have Norman ancestors, most of us have Irish ancestors too.

              As for your figures from the Census… they fail to take into account “White British” moving overseas. I’ve heard that there are more British citizens now living in the EU than EU citizens living in Britain.

              • Pootles

                Thank you for replying. I think there’s a typo in your sentence about the post-famine Irish in London, but I’d be interested to see you references if you meant ‘there were more Irish than English in London’. You seem to be rather taken with the DNA business, so I’ll refer you to what my original post said – i.e. the native peoples of the UK. In that respect, I talked about those who had walked here after the last ice age. Of course, there were no such entities as England, Ireland, or indeed, Britain, then, so the DNA origin of the majority of us is dominated by that group of initial inhabitants. As for 5% Normans ? 5 is correct, but it is most likely to have been 0.5%. The Norman invasion and occupation was essentially an elite replacement exercise (plus repression), and around 8,000 ‘Normans’ (including Bretons etc) settled in England. The population of England was around one a half million, so, you, see 0.5%. So, hardly another ‘flood’ of immigrants.
                As for my definition of ‘native’ in relation to England, I thought I was reasonably clear in terms of my basic approach in reply to your first comment – have another look.
                The figures of UK citizens in the EU are probably around 2.2 million (with 1 million, mostly retirees, in Spain). But there are around 7.5 million non-UK citizens in the UK (Not all, of course, are EU citizens).
                Yes, ‘White British’ are leaving the UK for all sorts of reasons, one of which is probably unease at mass immigration, particularly from areas of the world that are culturally and religiously very incompatible with UK norms.
                Now, I’ve answered your points, but you still haven’t provided evidence of the ‘floods’ of immigrants from the 11th to the early 20th Century that so fashioned England.

                • Ben Kelly

                  Overall Anglo Saxons are about 5% of British DNA, Vikings a bit less than that and Normans under 1% as you say. This differers regionally but overall this is the case. The rest of British DNA goes back ten thousand years; few people seem to know this. All based on modern research from studying the genome. The British are an ancient people. It breaks through several cherished myths 1. The English, Scottish and Welsh are not as genetically different as once thought as they, for the most part, are related to the original hunter gatherers of the island. 2. The English are not simply Ango-Saxon genetically, infact they are far less so than we thought. The whole ‘nation of immigrants’ is a lie, now debunked but still taught in schools.
                  I’m not some kind of eugenicist. It doesn’t even apply fully to me as I’m a quarter Egyptian too, on top of British DNA. It is just a fact, the way it is, we are not a nation of immigrants, Britons are a real people, and immigration shouldn’t be promoted on falsehoods.

                  IN short, what Pootles said…

              • GentlemanPugilist

                Ireland was part of the United Kingdom, i.e. the same nation state. Therefore Irish immigrants were no more foreign than a Welshman who moves to England.

                I recommend you read Migration Watch’s debunking of these disingenuous little ‘facts’ that are repeated in the media:


                ‘More people have now migrated to the UK in a single year (2010) than did so in the entire period from 1066 to 1950, excluding wartime.

                In fact, in the nearly 900 years between 1066 and 1950 just a quarter of a million people migrated to what is now the UK, mainly Jews and Huguenots, excluding the Irish of course who were for a long period a part of the same country.[17]’

                Furthermore, if you can trace your ancestry back as far as 1066 then you’re doing very well. Assuming three generations per century, you’d be going back something like thirty generations. Now, as I’m sure you’re aware, the number of ancestors doubles with each generation, i.e. 2 parents ( call that the 1st generation), 4 grandparents (2nd generation), 8 great-grandparents (3rd), 16 great-great-grandparents (4th), and so on. Going back 23 generations results in 8,388,608 ancestors and that’d be roughly 1200s, more than the entire population of England back then (interbreeding it the reason for that).

                Over that 1,000 years all our blood mingled, and we’re a family – a nation IS ultimately like a large family.

          • Daniel Maris

            You lot were definitely the invader, a foreigner who used thugs (aka as knights), near genocide in many areas, theft, castle dungeons and cultural oppression to enforce your will. The fact is that the English character survived the assault. However, there is no doubt you were perceived as an alien force, and that continued for hundreds of years.

            • tommy5dollar

              Of course. But the things we consider the “English character” owes as much to the Normans (if not more) as to our ancestors who resided here before.

              • Daniel Maris

                Bull. You lot were an elite. But you never conquered the English character in the way the Islamic invaders – a similar minority with similar methods – conquered say the Egyptian character over time. Perhaps you were too stupid to achieve a similar result.

              • Ben Kelly

                This is not backed up by historical evidence. The Normans were an aristocratic ruling elite who did not mix much with the people they ruled. Barely affecting British DNA, so not breeding with the the people they ruled, and certainly not mixing much culturally. Certainly owe FAR more to the Anglo-Saxons culturally, even the Romans, than the Normans.

          • gerontius

            What constant “flood” of immigrants?
            A few hundred normans and half doesn’t huguenots doesn’t really constitute a flood does it,

          • andyrwebman

            It sodesn’t follow that an unlimited number of people is always good, however – you will run out of space eventually, and it’s already starting to feel crowded.

      • andyrwebman

        That’s true of all of us. It should be noted how disruptive that was for the native populaiton at the time. You and I are descended from the ones who didn’t lose out, not the ones who were dispossessed starved to death or were slaughtered.

        And I don’t think you want to be in the position of those who lose out

      • johnrwalsh

        You personally are a fool making such a statement as if you had read history you would know that the Normans where originally Vikings that the country was half Saxon and half viking with a smattering of jute Celts and angles who were in the minority , within two generations the former Normans identified themselves as English having interbred with Saxons, no more serious immigration to this country has happened since English became the invented and national language of all o its people including the french speaking former Angle-vines.

        In a study of genetic inheritance conducted in 2007 concluded that the genetic makeup of the country had not changed ( despite the Huguenots and others) in over 900 years

        So you my friend are a member of indigenous population even if a foolish one

    • Kennybhoy

      “Well, now you’ve put the kitten among the pigeons here on the Speccie comments site!”

      Oh aye! Our Maister M is INfamous for trolling his own blog! :-)

      “Yes, all that you say is reasonable and perfectly acceptable as one standpoint.”

      Indeed. The trademark condescension aside this is one of his better efforts.

      “For me, the economic argument has very little weight (and it is one of those arguments, like Scotland’s positive/negative contribution to the UK treasury, that one can produce all sorts of statistics on).”

      A kindred spirit!

      My own opinion is that It isn’t immigration per se which is the problem. Rather it is immigration combined with the prevailing pc/multiculturalist philosophy and the existance of the welfare state. Absent assimilation mass immigration is a species of colonization.

      “Instead, my concern is that the native peoples of the UK, and, in particular, the people who made England what it is/was, will become a minority in their own homeland.”

      It won’t come to that man. Long before it reaches that stage the there will be a backlash. God save us all from the monsters from our own Id….

  • itdoesntaddup

    Perhaps the Romanians and Bulgarians will prove less useful but there
    is, I think, little empirical evidence to suppose this is likely to be
    the case.

    Sir, you jest.

    • tommy5dollar

      Precisely his point. The poorer the country immigrants come from the harder-working and more useful they tend to be.

      • itdoesntaddup

        There are reasons why those countries have the lowest per capita GDP in the EU – and it isn’t because they tend to be hard working.

        • tommy5dollar

          Nope, it’s mainly due to the Russians and socialism, I’d imagine.

          • Daniel Maris

            Can’t all be down to Russians and Socialism as the Czech Republic and Slovenia both do better on GDP per capita than Greece, Portugal, Malta and Cyprus, which were never under communist control.

            I just googled on this issue. It’s an interesting subject – of why eastern Europe is so much poorer than W. Europe. There seems to have been a critical juncture at the Black Death, when peasants in the west became freer while those in the east became more bonded. Slave societies rarely make for healthy, wealthy and wise societies.

            I think the evidence also is that the west, more or less untouched by Islam (except for Iberia), enjoyed the benefits of the Roman Empire in terms of the road system, the legal and cultural traditions and trade.

      • andyrwebman

        This would be true if we had a labour shortage – but we don’t. We’re a highly mechanised country with a minimum wage, so extra unskilled labour means more unemployment for the unskilled. It results in the individual labourer being less in demand.

        As they can’t compete on dropping their wages, they compete instead on working harder for a given wage. So harder working people coming in might seem better to those at the top, but for those at the bottom the fight to get a job becomes harder, with a guarantee that more of them will lose out.

        History backs this up – ironically, one of the best times to be a labourer in England was after the Black Death, when there were so few left to work in the fields and the labourer could demand more pay for a day’s work.

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