Still scorching weather, getting used to it. Just as well for there is not a lot we can do about it! The country – long white roads – makes me wonder if I am about to meet Hardy’s Henchard on the way to sell his wife at the fair, thence to become the Mayor of Casterbridge with all the terrible repercussions that follow.
We have had some kindly walkers join the team Benyon, for which we are profoundly grateful. We choose not to mention you all by name for where would the compliments end?
Friends warned me about the heat and that was kind. But when I was a young officer I spent a year in the Sultan of Muscat’s armed
Forces and so I know something about the sun. In fact I drink so much water I resemble a bladder on legs. We walk through endless vast fields and the end of the New Forest past a place where Sir Walter Tyrell shot at a stag and killed King William by accident, I can imagine him saying “sorreee” when he saw what he had done!
We face relentless challenges of having literally to crawl through tiny holes in wire fences illicitly raised by mean farmers and allowed to block footpaths by idle local government officers. Kipling’s poem “there is no road through the wood” was spot on and this is what we are going through today! There are no other walkers. Hampshire Authority is the worse, Wiltshire much better.
A Difficult Conversation
Any debate about immigration is marinated in emotion and the fear that one participant will accuse the other of bigotry and racism. Then the virtue- signalling trolls on Facebook start chanting abuse and label the accused as sheer evil.
But the issue will not go away. Please can we all grow up? There is a vital question that needs to be asked: which people do we not want to allow into the country? For if there are people we do want here, of course there must be those we don’t. If we can agree that the world and his wife cannot all live here, then this is a conversation we must hold – and soon.
Facing the Facts
The trouble is that the conversation has been hijacked by wicked, racist people who simply hate those from different backgrounds and ethnicities. None of us wants to encourage such people. But unless we can find the courage to hold a mature, dispassionate debate on immigration, then our mistakes will go on finding us out. For example, take Angela Merkel’s disastrous error in indiscriminately allowing 1.5 million migrants into Germany, all at once. We now learn that Germany has already suffered a double-digit rise in violent sex crimes, and that 90 per cent of this rise can be attributed to young male migrants.
Then we find that in four years, 411,000 Romanians have entered the UK and a distressing number have ended up in our jails. The Liberals were mistaken years ago when they forecast that just a few brain surgeons would arrive. What about the pressure on our schools, hospitals and housing, and the downward pressure on the wages of the lowest-paid – apparently one of the main reasons people voted Brexit? I don’t blame the Romanians for coming here given that the average weekly wage in Bucharest is roughly a quarter of what it is in the UK, but I just wonder if allowing nearly half a million to enter the country in a very short period was the best idea our politicians have ever had?
Some years ago, merely to hint that this might happen would result in an accusation of racism. But is it wise to shut down debate instead of addressing the problem? Should we presume – without any evidence – that the delicate mix of our peaceful society will not change for the worse? And is it right for all this to happen without the host community even being consulted? The peaceful character of a country does not remain constant by an immutable law of nature. Societies do not remain in harmony, no matter who arrives to live in them. This is an idiotic presumption for which the public is unwillingly paying right across our northern cities as well as in continental Europe.
There are two major factors here: speed and character. Speed matters, for if you bring in people too fast, there is almost no chance of their integration within a foreseeable timeframe. To test this, just ask in any of our northern cities where an individual ethnic community is living and you will get directions. Integration is not happening: segregation is.
It’s even harder to discuss the identity of migrants than the speed of immigration, because some groups are easier to integrate than others.
Another tough question that needs to be asked is this: when we accept refugees from countries locked in vicious civil wars or from lawless regimes, to what extent will they alter the character of our cities?
Politicians – particularly those of the Blair and Brown governments – have done all they can to limit the population’s ability to express discontent at the indiscriminate immigration imposed on our communities. They have ignored votes in the ballot box and spurned manifesto pledges. And when the electorate voted for Brexit, the establishment and the political class continued to berate the public for its ignorance and bigotry.
It’s easy to do this if you live away from the centres of our northern cities. Tony Blair’s six luxury homes are sited in the west end of London and rural Buckinghamshire. He only ever met migrants in carefully planned photo opportunities. Of course, for Gordon Brown one such photo opportunity went gloriously wrong when he met the hapless Gillian Duffy, who expressed mild concern at the number of EU migrants. Brown was heard to proclaim in a live mic that she was a “bigoted woman”.
So where do we go from here? Moderate voters hope that the hordes of immigrants will integrate somehow and soon. But integration takes a good deal of time. Second, if our leaders read history, they would realise that our relatively peaceful societies are an astonishing blip in the world history of our bloody, war-torn planet. We are hugely lucky to live at such a time. So we should be very careful in carrying out irreversible experiments that will compromise our future, and we must develop carefully thought-out remedies for when our experiments go awry.
Above all, we should desire to hand over our good fortune to the next generation. That, at least, is within our nation’s gift.