David Cameron got a warm pat on the back from the French National Front last week for “breaking the taboo on immigration”.
Trying to drag back drifters who have been lost by some osmosis to UKIP, he laid it on the line. No more scrounging, show the door to illegal immigrants, a rolling up of the “red carpet”.
I wonder if most immigrants notice a red carpet rolled out for them when they arrive in this modern Britain?
Where they are condemned and crudely labelled by right-wing politicians cashing in a growing nationalist sentiment.
Where the very notion of supporting the needy and poor is openly attacked as a scam by politicians, who would still be ripping-off the taxpayers themselves if only they hadn’t been caught.
Where they see growing support for UKIP, which wants to segregate communities, discourage multiculturalism and freeze immigration.
This rancour vented at immigrants is sparked by a very base kind of rage fuelled by absence and void. Absence of thought, absence of fact, a void without empathy or even the most basic human spirit.
The right-wing of the Conservative party with its clumsier neighbours, UKIP, the English Defence League, the BNP and others, are out for blood, filled with a passionate intensity.
From the economic closet emerges ghastly revelation after ghastly revelation. And with these a terrifying possibility becomes a reality: that austerity is failing to achieve anything but extend the gulf between the richest and the poorest.
And so the age-old process of scapegoating begins.
A grim fairy tale is spreading, plaguing the peaceful dreams of good Britons. A horror story of a quarter of a million ravenous Romanians and Hungarians, gypsies, beggars and pickpockets, waiting in the slips, ready to surge on Britain and slobber all over our pleasant land.
With a twisted satisfaction, the increasingly nationalistic public swallows down a potent cocktail of hateful media stories and gross generalisations, getting higher and higher on that cheap thrill, rage, without ever questioning its truth.
Stories about gangs of bearded Muslim men plotting to capture and rape good white girls. Of Romani gypsies living the high life in welfare mansions. Of pernicious plagues of Eastern Europeans, Turks, Algerians and Afghans coming just to leech our welfare state.
It’s a vicious character assassination; a conspiracy in fact. The truth is neither here nor there. Hatred is a dull force without point or direction, on which the truth acts as resistance not momentum.
Such as the fact that the proportion of native working-age Brits claiming the dole (16.6%) is two and a half times that in the immigrant population (6.6%), a figure which doesn’t reflect how many are doing so after years, or even decades, of making national insurance contributions.
Half of foreign-born people living in the UK have since become British citizens, therefore have the same rights as the natives.
And at its peak in 2010 net migration from all countries was 252,000, an addition of 0.4% to the population.
The area of Nottingham I live in is overwhelmingly populated by immigrants, and the high street reflects that with its Afro-Caribbean barbers, international food stores, Halal meat, Indian clothing, Portuguese cafes, Caribbean food markets and African shops.
It might be a rag-bag, but for me it has a certain scrappy appeal compared to the chain-streets you find mass-produced in every town. Which have become just a dull selection of the same retail chains, directed by utilitarian boardrooms accountable only to indifferent shareholders and grasping funds expecting money for nothing and as limited exposure to risk as possible.
If anything there’s a resourcefulness, an enterprising energy about the immigrant population here that this nation of former shopkeepers has lost.
And there are glimpses of humanity around here that are inspiring, (or sickening depending on your perspective). The kaleidoscope of faces from all over Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Europe. Living, sometimes in tension, sometimes not, but almost entirely wanting the same things as any human: health, peace, opportunity, life, maybe even a flicker of happiness during the long grind.
Yet still this atavistic dread remains, whipped up by a right-wing media that profits from spreading unease and tension. A fear that Britain is under siege from a savage horde of delinquents, scroungers and infidels.
When it looks like it, smells like it, and sounds like it, you can call that what it is: racism.
It is based on the assumption that foreigners have more sordid morals, fewer means, and a lesser intelligence than white Britons. It stems from a confidence in total genetic and cultural supremacy, and it fucking stinks.
It’s laughable to think that white Britons are more virtuous than any other race, especially in the week that Mick and Miread Philpott are convicted of killing their six children. And it’s absolutely outrageous to suggest that morals can’t be found elsewhere in the world, as many do.
I’ve travelled a fair bit myself, and from Mexico to Poland, Cambodia to Mongolia, I’ve met beautiful, kind people everywhere; and bad people too. Where you come from dictates your morality about as much as your star sign does.
Britons, like all people, are capable of many wonderful qualities, of which warmth and tolerance are two of the most beautiful of all.
EDL top-dog Stephen Lennon, AKA Tommy Robinson, AKA Paul Harris, leads the group that spits venom at Muslims in the street while chanting the slogan “No Surrender”. But all the while he has an electronic tag around his ankle.
Why? Because the man who leads a crusade against “barbarity” in Britain is a convicted criminal who has done time for assault and drug crimes, and in January was busted using a friend’s passport to illegally enter the US.
To be preached at by a criminal and his army of hate-filled disciples must be one of the most galling experiences imaginable. If Stephen Lennon is being held up as a benchmark of British morals, then please let me get out now.
And the loveable Boris Johnson, his existence itself the product of immigration and multi-cultural breeding, wants only the “talented” foreigners who aren’t going to “leech off the system”. Those, he implies in his own merry-go-round sort of way, are the minority, the cream.
Such statements are just the tip of a diabolical iceberg lurking beneath the surface of the British character, the expression of racism without wanting to spell it out.
We live in a world in which 61 million children are currently going without an education, and will never have one. This tragic fact is its own cause, a dreadful cycle of those destined to lose the lottery of life for generations.
But when they try to break to vicious spiral by the only desperate way they can, to move to a privileged country like Britain which can afford to take them, they are hated and despised as vermin and scroungers. Without any knowledge for the hell many have escaped, they are judged on arrival and heaped with disdain for having the audacity to attempt to make a better life for their children.
Look at life with a different kind of eye, and the misery of it all becomes clear. When you realise that countries themselves don’t really exist. When you realise that humans have 99.9% genes in common but dwell on the 0.1%.
A map has forests but no trees; oceans but no water. But it has lines that carry weight in the physical world, despite only living in the imaginations of men. In our need to separate ourselves, we give more status to the false than the physical.
Here we are on our tiny blue dot. Drifting silently in the infinity of a universe we can’t explain; loathing each other over of the mind-bogglingly small movements of humanity that occur when a few people shuffle from one corner to another in the hope of a better life.
What a strange state of madness this is, this disease in human minds. This terrible symptom is all that shows: our sad divided world.