Everyone knows these old lines: “Thigh bone connected to the hip bone// Hip bone connected to the back bone// Back bone connected to the shoulder bone…” and so on.
The message is that things are interconnected and it’s often ill-advised to analyse them in isolation. When this sage observation is applied to the human skeleton, few would fail to grasp its truth.
It becomes more complicated when one ponders something as multifarious, divisive and emotive as mass immigration. Yet if there’s one issue that demands serious, dispassionate commentary, that’s it.
After all, only about a billion people of the 7.3 billion inhabiting the world live in the West. I’m speculating here, but it’s possible that the West is where at least half of the remaining six-odd billion would like to live.
If even 10 per cent of them get their wish, the West would no longer be Western in any other than the geographical sense. Britain, Germany and France can’t each accept 100 million new arrivals, nor the US 200 million.
Thus immigration needs to be curtailed as a matter of simple arithmetic. Nor can it be regarded as a natural right, for, if it were so regarded, it would be wrong to curtail it.
The issue then boils down not to the advisability of restrictions but how, to whom and in what numbers they should be applied. That’s where all those metaphorical bones come together.
They fall into several groups, social, cultural, political and economic. Merging the first two groups together, one would have to start from a premise that doesn’t seem to be as self-evident as it should be.
Every civilised nation has its own character, which is worth keeping more or less intact. A few minor tweaks here and there are both desirable and inevitable, but a drastic change can have unpredictable and in all likelihood devastating effects.
Immigration provides one such tweak, and it’s to be welcomed as long as the tweak remains minor. Speaking of the city I know best, London, perhaps some 10 to 15 per cent of immigrant population would make it more interesting and no less English.
A major city with an entirely homogeneous population is dull in all sorts of ways. Subsumed in a population that’s 85 to 90 per cent native, the immigrants would have a great incentive to adapt, while still being able to add more spice to the city.
However, at present it’s native Englishmen who are getting subsumed. The last time I looked there were only 40 per cent of them, and the proportion is diminishing.
As a result, one can walk through the centre of London and seldom (in some areas, never) hear native English spoken. This situation is deplorable, or at least seen as such by anyone who loves England.
In some cities of the Midlands and North things are even worse. Clearly, though some immigration is good, we’ve had too much of it.
Immigration has often been promoted for nefarious political reasons, either immediate or indirect. The immediate ones have been laid bare by some mandarins and other fruits in the Blair government, such as Peter Mandelson.
They opened the door to immigration from Asia and Africa because they knew they’d be importing Labour voters. Also, by signalling the obligatory multi-culti virtue, they strengthened their support among voters who take multi-culti virtue seriously.
Their ploy is as cynical as it’s easy to understand. But they have even deeper reasons to wish to dilute the core populace.
For it’s mainly the native element that preserves and passes on the cultural, social and political traditions of a country. And modern political elites have nothing to lose and all to gain from suppressing those, for they’d never be political elites in a world where such traditions held sway.
Other political reasons are specific to the EU. That awful contrivance heavily depends on eradicating national identities, turning Europe into a melting pot and providing a model for the rest of the world to follow.
That goal too can be achieved by flooding native populations with vast groups alien, ideally hostile, to them. That explains the now notorious million Muslims hospitably accommodated in Germany over the past few years, and as many again arriving in other European countries.
This is accompanied by propaganda of the uncountable benefits conferred by new arrivals. It’s so deafening that one would expect EU members to fight one another for the privilege of attracting as many migrants as possible.
So much more surprising it is then to see that, quite the opposite, they’re trying to palm migrants off to one another. In fact, the on-going conflict between France and Italy is partly caused by France blocking the border and keeping at bay the masses huddled in Italy.
Then there’s the economy, and here all the bones really come together. Migrants are seen in some circles as a drain on national resources, and they may be just that. But not always and not everywhere.
For example, it was a chronic shortage of manpower in a booming German economy that made the country admit a huge wave of Turkish workers in the ‘60s. The German government laboured under the widely shared misapprehension that some mythical tap exists that can turn immigration on and off.
But the Turks stayed, and their number grew regardless of the fluctuating economic situation. Today there are over four million people of Turkish descent in Germany, and, in her less virile economy, they create more problems than they solve.
They tend to be less educated than other ethnic groups, the unemployment rate among them is higher than the average, and more of them receive social benefits. Nor is the problem specific to Germany and her Turks.
Such is the most visible economic aspect of immigration. Some others are less obvious.
Officially, there are 3.5 million foreigners currently employed in Britain. Since many new arrivals operate in the cash-and-carry sector of the economy, I wouldn’t be surprised if the actual number of migrants in work were twice as high.
Most of the jobs they take are manual, not to say menial, as anyone will know who has ever employed a plumber, house cleaner, a live-in nurse or a builder.
Now some 1.5 million people are listed as unemployed in Britain, most of them native-born, but that statistic is misleading. For calculated here are only those who are able and willing to work but can’t find jobs. Yet over 4,000,000 families with no pensioners derive more than half their income from welfare.
Juxtaposing these statistics, one can see that native Britons could do most of the jobs taken by migrants. Could – but won’t.
I can’t say I blame them. Why work if you don’t have to?
Sociologists will tell you that there are two possible inducements to work: survival and advancement. And of the two, the first one is much more powerful.
Our welfare state removes that strong stimulus, providing a living that would take some education and skills to better, not to mention hard work. Yet those unattractive jobs still need to be done, and it’s migrants who take up the slack.
Hence those who say it’s the welfare state that attracts migrants are right, but not necessarily the way they mean it. They’d be hard-pressed to explain why so many migrants risk life and limb trying to get to Britain from France.
Are our social benefits higher or easier to get than in France? Hardly. What’s easier to get here is work, which is a compliment to British labour laws and general economic flexibility.
Rolling back the welfare state would therefore cut immigration by the ricochet of encouraging Britons to become waiters, dish washers or even house servants, jobs they despise at the moment.
Conversely, keeping things as they are won’t stop immigration, Brexit or no Brexit. Brexit will only enable us to decide how many and what kind of immigrants to admit – not necessarily to reduce their numbers.
Such are the bare bones of a very complex problem, one that may lend itself to simple solutions, but not to simplistic ones. Because the thigh bone is indeed connected to the hip bone, and the hip bone…