It’s ironic that one of the biggest stories today was how the BBC allowed itself to be a party to some unbridled bigotry during its flagship discussion programme, Question Time. I saw the offending segment early this morning and have read a lot of critical reactions to it. However, I think this piece by Owen Jones ‘The BBC normalised racism last night’ summarized the situation well.
A part of me wondered how much of this kind of attitude I would see up-close when I went walking today. But, where I strolled, against the wind, is an area that has long been a host for immigrants, and its streets reflect well the idea of London as cosmopolitan. Now, I’m not naive and think that the fact that many places on London streets host businesses that are clearly not British in their origin, whether as reflected in their language (say, Arabic, Polish, Hindi, or Gaelic) or nature (hooka bar, Indian restaurant, adverts for Polish construction workers, etc.) makes everyone happy. It’s long been the case that talk about Britain being ‘swamped’ by immigrant has rippled through the Union, sometimes fiercely, sometimes backed by violence, sometimes on the fringes, but increasingly in the mainstream.
The assessment of views is complex and an Oxford University study this year spells that out https://migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/resources/briefings/uk-public-opinion-toward-immigration-overall-attitudes-and-level-of-concern/. But, this point in the study summarized things well:
‘Remain voters are, on average, more socially liberal and pro-immigration while leave voters are more socially conservative and anti-immigration. It is now also well established that older people tend to be less favourable towards immigration and more likely to have voted for Britain to leave the EU, while those with more education are more pro-immigration and more likely to have voted remain’.
Familiar sight on a London street: businesses that reflect little that is deemed British
It’s beyond ironic that the current Home Secretary, Priti Patel, who’s just outlined a policy to restrict immigration based on points, is the child of immigrants who were expelled from Uganda in the 1960s, and whom she admits might not have been allowed in under the scheme she’s proposed.