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Is it time to emigrate?
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.