Mass uncontrolled immigration, argues Jack Wharton, represents more of a danger to the social cohesiveness of a nation than the economic benefits it brings
Margaret Thatcher once said, on the subject of immigration, ‘you’ve got to allay people’s fears about numbers.’ I agree. There is nothing inherently wrong with immigration per se: in fact I believe that immigration, in its essence, is a beneficial thing, not only for the economy but also for the culture of a country.
But our current policy of uncontrolled mass immigration, on a level never before seen anywhere in the history of the world, is a dangerous folly. Those who argue for unlimited free movement across all borders make the fundamental mistake of ignoring the reason those borders exist in the first place.
Countries are so much more than boundaries on a map, to be crossed at will. We can see this in the parts of the world where the boundaries of states were simplistically drawn – as if it were ever that simple. These countries are inherently unstable, and often unsuccessful, because, crucially, they lack a common identity around which people can gather.
A nation is a group of people on a shared almost moral mission. Nations form because of a feeling of sameness, which, contrary to the prejudices of most of the metropolitan Left, they do not, and we therefore must not, conflate with race or ethnicity. Sameness is not about colour: it’s about language, institutions, culture, history and a sense of shared purpose and shared endeavour.
It is about a shared aspiration and direction for your children, yourself and your country. It is the explanation for how we in Britain feel closer to the people of New Zealand and Australia, half a world away, than we do our our geographical neighbours a few miles across the Channel.
This feeling of sameness is tangible and important because it legitimises the rule of law. People within this group consent to the idea that their actions can and will be restrained, legitimately, by other members of that nation – most often through a political process. Members of a nation, on the whole, will submit to the rule of law, even though they may object to individual laws.
The race, creed or religion of immigrants matters very little to this sense of shared common identity and destiny. But when immigration occurs at its current pace, so fast that newcomers cannot be effectively absorbed into our common identity of shared values, language and culture, you create parallel lives with parallel cultures in parallel communities.
As a result, that sense of shared identity, that comprises true nationhood, fractures. People no longer see politics, Parliament or the rule of law as legitimate. Apathy rules as institutions and deference break down, with morality soon to follow suit. Rather than ideas, political discourse is dominated by emotion and identity, with a large minority disenfranchised.
We fight the European Union because it threatens to destroy the British state. But we must also oppose a policy of uncontrolled mass immigration because it undermines the foundations of the nation. For without both of these components working in harmony, history tells us that any society will be condemned to a slow and painful decline.