By Hugh Muir
The right will invoke worst-case scenarios but the biggest disaster would be if Britain no longer attracted migrants
In 1887, Captain JCR Colomb, the very Conservative MP for Bow and Bromley in east London, asked a question of fellow countrymen: "What states of the world, other than Great Britain, permit the immigration of destitute aliens without restriction?" Colomb was very much a man of that age – but born into ours, he might have vented his spleen below the line on Mail Online or the Telegraph's website. Can it be, he asked, that "Her Majesty's Government is prevented by any treaty obligations from making such regulations as shall put a stop to the free importation of destitute aliens into the United Kingdom?"
The captain was on to something, and, as described by author Robert Winder in his admirable immigration history Bloody Foreigners, it reeks of familiarity. There followed letters to the Times condemning the foreigners "replacing English workers and driving to despair men, women and children of our blood". Foreigners, Jewish migrants in this case, were blamed for taking jobs and driving up rents, and a society formed: the Association for Preventing the Immigration of Destitute Aliens. MigrationWatch looms like a heavy raincloud now. But it was not the first of its kind....
What most people miss is that when immigration first became a thorny issue in the UK the citizens were more concerned by two things.
1/. White Britons worried about the colour of immigrants, that mixed marriages, or in the modern scenario, mixed sex outside wedlock, would result in the white races becoming minorities,
2/. The influx of alien culture, the 'ghetto' mentality where immigrants preferred to congregate to gether as opposed to mixing and integrating as well as the alien dress which was perceived to be OK for hot countries yet impractical for colder climes.
It is interesting that many who bemoan the new EU immigrants come from backgrounds in which their ancestors were in the same catagory.
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