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on 26 April 2007
Ex Tory MP George Walden like writing letters. Which is a good thing too, since he currently does it for the Times Literary Supplement.

But even the most dedicated correspondent would be daunted by the thought of writing a 200 page letter - but that's exactly what Walden did, during a brief holiday he spent in France. You can discover just what he had to say in Time to Emigrate?

Walden was scribbling to his son, who'd just dropped the bombshell that he and his wife were thinking of emigrating. Their young son had been viciously beaten by a thug just yards from their front door. As the boy emerged from his coma, his thankful parents started to wonder just how safe their "safe" part of North London truly was.

George's letter starts off as a candid response to that suggestion - but evolves into a critical and pessimistic appraisal of modern Britain - and exactly where it's going.

Response to Time to Emigrate? has varied wildly. Some people think it's splendid stuff. Other people have labelled it a bitter rant by a bigoted old Tory. I don't think either of those views are even close to the truth. Walden's letter is just that - a letter he wrote to his son. There's no political manifesto here. The book's puffed-up pomposity is softened by some genuine introspection from George Walden. Unlike many other extended editorials, you genuinely get the feeling that Walden didn't quite know which side of the fence he'd end up on when he started writing Time to Emigrate? I think that's why there's a question mark at the end of the title.

The major controversy of the book concerns the target for most of Walden's criticism. Immigrants. Not the immigrants themselves - Walden's book is forthright about his views, but never crosses into racism. It's more critical about the long term effects immigration is having on our small little island. It's not the immigrants he has a problem with. It's the establishment that is letting them in in such enormous numbers.

He compares it to the alcoholic's "elephant in the living room." A big, enormous thing that everybody pretends not to notice. Political correctness has stifled any real discussion of the issues - issues that deeply effect the British economy and led to events like 7/7's devastating suicide bombings.

I won't tell you where George Walden takes the book. It's worth the afternoon or so it'll take you to read it to reach your own conclusion. One thing's for sure. You'll be wondering about the emigration question by the time you've finished it.

Is it a masterpiece? Far from it. George Walden's 'book' is just an extended letter and for that reason, many will find it opinionated and rambling. Not all of his 'facts' are entirely accurate. But that's actually part of the book's charm. What you're reading is nothing more than a loving father's genuine advice and opinion to his son. He approaches the emigration question with no previous agenda - and that makes the conclusion he reaches just that bit more compelling.
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on 13 November 2006
Time to Emigrate? Is not a measured argument for or against leaving Britain. This is an emotional lament by a writer who is saddened by the way his country has changed, largely, for the worse. The underlying energy of the writing is unquestionably angry. But the tone is `post Christmas dinner' avuncular where the sherry proceeds to let out all the disgraceful family secrets in a gentle, opinionated and straightforward manner. It is the heartfelt nature of the advice, observations and opinions that make reading this book akin to overhearing an outrageously candid, politically incorrect and immensely entertaining conversation on a topic of deadly seriousness.

My only complaint is that the pace slows down towards the end of the book as the complexity of the issue is overwhelmed by the writer's obvious personal wish that his son not leave. For that same reason, the book does not come to a simple conclusion. Perhaps this is correct as the decision is, ultimately, a personal one but with thousands of UK nationals leaving daily, this book is certainly food for thought.
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on 16 November 2006
I clicked 5 stars and it says somewhere that this means that I love the book. I am not sure love is the right word for what one feels about a chillingly lucid summary of the state of Britain today, setting out painful and mostly unspoken truths. In any case, I could not put it down. I see several columnists were inspired by the issues raised by Walden; I hope they will also comment on it. We tend to see the world as it appeared to us yesterday - which is why this work is so significant. It helps its readers to catch up with the present.
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on 9 November 2006
I found this book extremely touching, not easy to achieve with such a sensitive subject. The book is written as comment and advice from a father to his grown son (himself now the father of two young children) as he considers leaving the UK for good. The subject of emigrating is seen as a serious option among his son's friends as a way out of their economic and moral trap: can they really offer their children their best possible future by staying in Britain? It is a tough call, it means that the older man will no longer be part of his son's live, that he will probably miss his grandchildren growing up, but he concedes that he really can't see this young family achieving their dreams by staying. The book also covers immigrants into Britain, the rise of terrorism, and the social cost of a stretched education system. Some readers might find his views too candid but who hasn't imagined what it might be like to cash in their chips for a better life?
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on 4 September 2007
This book is written in the form of a long letter the format of which I found got in the way of the content but after a while this is forgotten. The book is made up of, presumably, true anecdotes from the authors life displaying the decay of modern Britain; and quite scary they are too, statistics are sprinkled throughout where they shed light on his assertions.
His son lived on the edge of what sounded like a complete dump and experiences unpleasant things at the hands of the inhabitants therein. The cost of living is so high that he realises even though he is a lecturer he will never make big bucks. The author (his father) tots up how much it would cost to send all his 9 grand children to private school, a cool million, the future looks bleak. The book ends with the son emigrating to Canada.
The message I took from the book is look after your own because the organs government (police, education & health) won't be there for you.
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on 3 January 2011
I really enjoyed this book, although I am aware of the pitfalls of modern UK life, this book brought a new perspective to my opinions. Its a fascinating read, although at the end you probably will want to emigrate. Having lived in London for over five years myself I fully identified with it & in my own way emigrated (but sadly just to a different part of the UK). This is 100% not a racist book, it simply tells the truth of what is happening to our country - if only this author could get back into politics - a vote winner!!
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VINE VOICEon 23 December 2006
Walden's book is definitely worth a read - and I mean by every person in Britain - even though it's not without its faults. He manages, in the first half of the book especially, to brilliantly articulate the thoughts that millions of us have but find difficult to express, for one reason or another. He will have you nodding your head till it's at the point of falling off. He covers pretty much all of the arguments - and there are dozens - against mass immigration and does it in a reasonable, eminently sensible manner. I would have liked more on the influence of the EU though, which he barely mentions.

On the minus side, I think he eulogises France too much - this is a country which also has a massive third world population and is likely to become the first Islamic state in Europe. So maybe not such a good place to move to; he pretty much ignores this. I also found his criticism of David Cameron, who he obviously has a personal bee with, rather excessive. Surely a Tory PM, no matter who he is, would be more likely to stop the rot than a Labour premier? Walden also changes his mind a lot, sometimes on the same page. While I suppose this demonstrates a healthy brain, it can be slightly bamboozling. This is illustrated when, after 200 pages of slagging Britain off, he comes to the conclusion that maybe people should stay here after all. Bizarre! But Walden is good enough to admit that he has a capricious mind which is why he didn't make a very good politican.

Lastly, I have to say that he is guilty of what so many other anti immigration folk have been - he chooses to distance himself from Enoch Powell, in the hope of appearing 'untainted'. Yet Enoch predicted everything that has come to pass, including the likes of books like this! Walden should study him more, but he doesn't appear to want to try. The pieces of information he gives on Enoch are utterly disengenous and perniciously chosen. Shame on you, Mr Walden, when most of your book is excellent.
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on 12 February 2013
A well written and fact packed book about whether the time is right to leave the UK. Mr Walden has a very depressed view of life in Britain and thats whilst living a comfortable life in a pleasant area. He certainly doesn't see much to hold hard working, decent folk who do not thrive on appalling weather and crime here. If you are thinking of emmigrating then this is an interesting read.
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on 10 March 2010
He's right, of course, immigration has been very badly handled and the result is that Britain is seriously changed and much that was good has been lost.

But he protests too much. There is too little balance or subtlety to his argument. The occasional superficially positive remark is made without example or embellishment and through metaphorically gritted teeth. Even these are offset by lapses into remarks to the effect that nothing in Britain was ever any good anyway. There are no solutions on offer (unless you count emigration, but he doesn't seem to rate Canada either). You end up with the feeling that he is just and an old man who hates everyone and everything.

Because of this, he undermines his own argument. Three stars for grasping the nettle, but the book could be so much better and I don't think it will do any good in its present form.
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on 28 October 2007
Conservative blogger Iain Dale once characterised George Walden as a "pub bore". Having read this inane piece of tripe I'm inclined to agree with him.

Walden is so absurdly blinkered and London-centric he describes England's second-largest city as a "provincial town", and considers most of the North of England, where millions of English people live, to be one giant Sahara desert. He talks of visiting the North (or taking a "provincial detour" as he puts it) as if it was a country like Nigeria or Rwanda. This is a man who orders pie and chips in a Stoke restaurant and states, without evident irony, that he is "slumming it". That is pretty much the extent of his incisive analysis of the state of a large chunk of the English nation.

Oh, and he suggests that the bits of England he doesn't like, i.e. most of it, should be given away to the Chinese. I think he was only half joking.

His description of a Manchester publican who prepared him a rather fine cocktail was toe-curlingly patronising. Much of this book, in fact, comes across as toe-curlingly patronising to anyone who either lives north of Watford or hasn't led the privileged life Walden himself has.

What is bizarre about this supposedly "patriotic" tract is that Walden doesn't seem to like England as it EVER existed. Far from harking back to a Golden Age, he would clearly prefer a version of England (well London anyway, as he doesn't care about the rest) that was more like France, the country in which he now lives. He is simply a cultural and intellectual snob of the sort that, as George Orwell observed, hates his own country.

What's especially disappointing is that he does make some exceedingly good points in places, but the overall tone of his writing is so obnoxious you're less inclined to take them on board.

True English patriots would do well to save their money. Snooty ex-pat bores, on the other hand, will probably appreciate it.
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