58 of 75 people found the following review helpful
A brilliant history of immigration into Britain,
This review is from: Bloody Foreigners: The Story of Immigration to Britain (Paperback)A most impressive book, and beautifully written. Winder traces the story of immigrants into Britain - he deals mainly with England - from pre-Celtic times to the present. As the sources become more plentiful, so the book gathers momentum, and by the time he reaches the time of the Huguenot immigrants in the 17th century, it really begins to sparkle. As he moves from one wave of immigrants to the next, the story - until very recent times - is always the same: initially there is some popular resentment, but, often sooner rather than later, they have been accepted, do well and contribute enormously to the economy and quality of life in these islands. Many people will be aware of the variety of immigrants who have come to these shores; but this is a thorough and systematic account, based on a formidable amount of reading. It could have been a dry catalogue, but the story is captivatingly told: each time Winder explains the circumstances which caused a particular group to arrive, and innumerable stories of individuals are given with great verve and vividness: Huguenots from France; Dutchmen who came with William III; Germans who came with the Hanoverians and who continued to come in the 19th century; black people who originally came as servants and slaves; Italians who left a repressive and over-populated homeland; Irishmen who escaped the famine to work in the factories and on the canals and railways during the Industrial Revolution; Jews who fled from anti-Semitism in Russia and Germany; the Lascars from Asia who manned so many British ships; Greek and Turkish Cypriots who came in large numbers from their war-torn island; men from all over the Empire who had fought for Britain in the First World War; Poles during the Second World War; the Chinese from Hong Kong before the gates were shut to them by the Act of 1997 just before the territory was given up to China; Kenya and Uganda Asians whom Kenyatta and Idi Amin were throwing out. And there were of course the West Indians who came in large numbers during the time when all imperial subjects were given the right of free entry into Britain by the 1948 Nationality Act. That is where the trouble started: the numbers were now such that governments became alarmed, and much of the last third of the book catalogues the desperate but unavailing attempts of governments to stem the flow: from the Commonwealth Immigration Act of 1962 through to the chicaneries, incompetence and bureaucratic insensitivities of what Winder calls "the Asylum madness" from 1996 onwards. Winder leaves it an open question whether the government led or followed public opinion, though he leaves no doubt about the way a hostile public opinion was fanned by the press. It is in any case a disgraceful story, mitigated only by the fact that it was occasionally restrained by impulses of decency, which were also to be found in sections of public opinion. The huge increase in the number of people wanting to come to Britain undoubtedly created genuine problems, but, to give just a few of many examples, few people were aware that the immigrant population was contributing more in tax than it was receiving in benefit; that certain groups like the Indians were producing in proportion more professionals and successful businessmen than did the white population; and that a largely young group of immigrants for whose education Britain had not had to pay would contribute towards supporting the increasing number of pensioners. Winder's indignation about the sour attitudes towards the immigrants - not to mention the many race riots and racially motivated murders - is in no doubt; but he recognizes countervailing sentiments both inside and outside government. The fact remains that Britain remained a magnet for immigration even though the migrants knew what difficulties they would have to face. There are great many shrewd psychological and sociological comments throughout the book, and it ends with a superb and thoughtful chapter of reflections on what a multi-ethnic Britain could and should be like and what indeed in many ways is taking shape already: a Britain in which the question of "ethnic identity" dissolves and the people of Britain can "cohere around a lucid set of individual rights, so that the group to which any man, woman or child belongs is incidental rather than decisive."
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 14 Aug 2008 23:52:30 BDT
Last edited by the author on 15 Aug 2008 00:30:25 BDT
J. B. Montgomery says:
"Winder leaves it an open question whether the government led or followed public opinion"
In this context "led" means, of course, "ignored", or more accurately "defied".
The fact is that all previous waves of immigrants were limited and fully integrated; there were only around 30,000 black and ethnically Asian people in Britain in 1945, now there are more of them than there are Welshmen or Ulstermen. I'm not going to go into whether this is a good or bad thing, but in countries (including the Irish Republic) where 80% of the citizenry even today can trace their ancestry back some 12,000 years to paleolithic settlers in Cheddar Gorge (the remaining 20% are of largely Nordic stock--Vikings, Danes and Normans who setlled here about a minimum of 950 years ago) this is a massive and unprecendented demographic bombshell.
Britain's stability in comparison to continental Europe owes a lot to the relative isolation which allowed it to be discerning about who did and did not come in from abroad and subsequent natural evolution of its institutions. Mass unintegrated waves of migrants generally destabilise and destroy the states of their hosts--this convention stretches right back to the time of the Romans or even the Jews who sacked Jericho. More recently we have the examples of European immigration to the Americas and Antipodes; most recently we have Han Chinese immigration to Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang and, of course, Tibet. Attempts to create heterogenous states out of the resulting ethnic and cultural mix generally results in their fracturing; see Czechoslovakia, the USSR and Yugoslavia.
Before we open the floodgates, as the author suggests, shouldn't we perhaps take a step back and consider whether we really want to permanently and irrevocably change the historic and cultural landscape of the Kingdom without any kind of a democratic mandate to do so?
In reply to an earlier post on 24 Apr 2010 05:13:24 BDT
HP Sauce says:
lol, the "Nordic stock" (only one group of people use that term btw, wouldn't want to make an assumption about you though) did not settle here - they raped and pillaged. They forced their way here, the locals had no choice. I think the current crop are going about it a lot more nicely, don't you?
And America doesn't seem too destabilised now. Give the rest time, eh?
In reply to an earlier post on 22 Dec 2010 17:45:59 GMT
Last edited by the author on 22 Dec 2010 17:51:34 GMT
Lol! To which group do "you" refer to when you say "Only one group uses that term" (regarding the term "Nordic stock"). One that I know very well were the lecturers at university, when I was studying Archaeology, and, to a lesser extent, the Anthropology lecturers in my first year, when I was studying anthropology as a subsidiary subject. It seems to me that "you" are making very pointed assumptions about J.E. Montgomery. Your knowledge regarding history is lamentable: "they raped and pillaged. They forced their way here, and the locals had no choice". To whom do you refer? The Celts forcing their way in on the people of the "Beaker Culture"? The Romans forcing their way into Albion as Celtic Britain was know, before the Romans re-named it Britannia? The Anglo-Saxons forcing their way upon the (still existing) Celtic Peoples? The Normans becoming the new overlords of the Anglo-Saxons? However, even the most recent of these events was nearly 1,000 years ago. Regarding "the current crop" ask those who became victims or the relatives of the victims of 7/7; if they think the fanatical elements of the "current crop" are any better. The fact remains that in Britain as in most of Europe, (except in the Balkans where there are many mixed cultures) we have had a set of basically stable, fully developed cultures for well over a millennium in western Europe. That is rapidly changing. Nobody asked for this change to occur; to quote you again: "The locals had no choice." The politicians simply decided for the population without any consultation with the electorate what-so-ever, in the thoroughly undemocratic manner for which they are now very well known, and massively disliked. Nobody wants to lose their culture, or have it changed in any significant way; do you? The problem isn't due to any people, or peoples, but instead to the politicians, who since 1945 have lost most of what sense of honour and common sense, which they had previously possessed. I won't make any assumptions about you, but: what a sauce!
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