Farage says Britain’s becoming “unrecognisable”. But the British public says our sense of belonging is increasing.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage was dog-whistling for all he was worth at his party’s spring conference this week:

“In scores of our cities and market towns, this country, in a short space of time, has, frankly, become unrecognisable. Whether it is the impact on local schools and hospitals, whether it is the fact that in many parts of England you don’t hear English spoken any more, this is not the kind of community we want to leave to our children and grandchildren.”

His words were eerily reminiscent of William Hague’s insidious “foreign land” speech in 2001. And his party’s slogan – ‘Love Britain, Vote Ukip’ – was previously used by the BNP.

There can be no doubt to whom Farage’s words are designed to appeal. But, regardless of what liberals like us think, is he right? Have the British people got to a point where we no longer recognise our country?

Well, you’ll have your views just as Farage clearly has his. But when we look at surveys which ask this question, it seems there’s not much evidence to back up the Ukip view. Here’s Bobby Duffy from the Ipsos MORI Social Research Institute, writing for the Demos publication, Mapping Integration^:

… we may expect to have seen declines in measures of social cohesion as the minority population has grown – but we don’t.

Large, robust surveys show levels of belonging to neighbourhoods, local areas and Britain have all increased in recent years. For example, our sense of belonging to our neighbourhoods increased from 70 per cent to 78 per cent between 2003 and 2011 and belonging to Britain increased from 85 per cent to 89 per cent over the same period.

There are differences between minority and majority groups, with those of Asian ethnic origin slightly more likely to say they feel they belong, while Black groups are slightly lower – but there are no huge differences in levels or in trends. Analysis shows that minority views on this are dynamic, as with other values: recent immigrants are less likely to feel they belong, but longer-term immigrants actually have a greater sense of belonging than native residents.

And it’s the same with perceptions of whether people from different backgrounds get on well together and whether people respect ethnic differences. Both of these measures see high levels of agreement, and each have been on the up, with, for example, 86 per cent agreeing that different backgrounds get on well together in 2011, and just about all ethnic groups showing an increase.

That’s not to say there aren’t concerns among the wider public – where questions of British identity are linked directly to immigration we find the public more likely to think Britain is divided, or that their neighbourhood ‘doesn’t feel like Britain any more’, or even that ‘we’re in danger of being swamped’. However, this probably says a lot more about the impact the public feels immigration has on their own jobs, wages and housing (as well, of course, as persistent scare-mongering in the media) – regardless of the clear facts that immigration is good for the economy.

Here’s Bobby Duffy’s spot-on conclusion:

This mixed and contingent attitudinal picture on integration perhaps reflects our shaky sense of identity and what we’re expecting minorities to integrate into. The largest single answer to survey questions that ask what we understand by the ‘British way of life’ is ‘don’t know’. And when prompted with a list of what makes us proud, it tends to be objective factors like our history and the NHS. Our values are an odd mix of civic behaviours
(respect for the law) and character traits (sense of humour). The eclectic opening ceremony at the London Olympics could have been based on a checklist from survey responses.

But one common feature throughout most of these questions on how we define ourselves is the emphasis we place
on our tolerance of difference. This, combined with relatively strong pride in our identity but weak understanding of its basis, helps explain some of the contradictions and nuances in our views. Our attitudes to integration, majority and minority alike, are a very British compromise.

^ Hat-tip to Sunder Katwala from British Future for drawing this section to my attention.

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.

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47 Comments

  • “… we may expect to have seen declines in measures of social cohesion as the minority population has grown – but we don’t”

    The English people are very tolerant and will, by and large, “grin and bear it”. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean they agree with what has been happening to them.

  • It is true that there are indeed areas where my own grandparents lived which have a very different population now. Thankfully we are on the whole tolerant of these changes. In the future I think that Britain will become like Malaysia, with different laws applicable to different religious groups. Seems to work well enough, although there are some restrictions on non-Muslims, such as not being permitted to own businesses above a certain size. I guess that our children and grandchildren will learn to adapt and survive, or indeed will convert to Islam if that is what it takes to survive. Not quite the future that my grandparents’ generation fought for against the Nazi ideology, however the world moves on and we must accept that change does happen. Either that, or perish the thought – join UKIP! I think I prefer the tolerance path.

  • Steve Bradley 2nd Mar '14 - 1:21pm

    Anyone know what Farage’s view is on the Spanish coastal villages rendered almost unrecognisable by the large number of English ex-pats who’ve retired there, & the English-speaking services sector that has grown up around them ?

  • “In the future I think that Britain will become like Malaysia, with different laws applicable to different religious groups.”

    What!!!? That would be disastrous. English Law is the culmination of centuries of development.

    “Seems to work well enough, although there are some restrictions on non-Muslims, such as not being permitted to own businesses above a certain size. I guess that our children and grandchildren will learn to adapt and survive, or indeed will convert to Islam if that is what it takes to survive.”

    This is a wind-up, right? Tell me it is?

  • “Here’s Bobby Duffy’s spot-on conclusion:” But Bob Duffy’s contributing piece is not THE conclusion, is it?
    The actual conclusion, written by David Goodhart includes this :
    “The actual integration story in Britain is varied. On the one hand there is a story of declining discrimination, an increase in mixed race children, upwardly mobile minorities and unselfconsciously mixed suburbs. But elsewhere there is also a story of white (and brown) exit and parallel lives—and what Robert Putnam has called ‘hunkering down’ – especially in parts of the north of England.”

    Not quite the spin you are trying to portray ?

  • “This is a wind-up, right? Tell me it is?”

    He must be Joe King.

  • It looks like a wind up to me. Actually in the UK different laws do apply to different people, you can actually opt into a court of your own volition and you’re then legally bound by the decisions it makes. It’s effectively a form of arbitration and of course can’t take the place of criminal law nor order criminal acts. This happens quite a lot with Jewish courts in London.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7233040.stm

  • jedibeeftrix 2nd Mar '14 - 2:06pm

    “In the future I think that Britain will become like Malaysia, with different laws applicable to different religious groups.”

    sounds horrific, no thanks.

  • “UKIP have a contempt for all that is best about the UK, and are woefully ignorant about our history, traditions and culture.”

    I suppose UKIP would predictably counter argue (and in some cases have said in the past) saying that it’s others who have contempt for the UK. At their conference this week, Nigel Farage voiced concern about hearing other languages being spoken in certain places, etc.

  • @Joe King
    You are indeed Joe King. But I fell for it…

    @M
    While this does happen, I don’t think this is a good thing. I think the law should be equal for everyone.

    @ Jedibeeftrix
    Totally agree.

  • We already have Sharia ‘councils’, introduced by Labour in 2008, and so my scenario has started already. I was wondering whether the coalition would revert to the idea of one law for everybody and abolish them but evidently not. In addition there have been Sharia Bonds introduced recently, which of course would have to be administered under Sharia Law principles. So our financial and investment system will become increasingly Sharia compliant over the coming years. London is the only financial centre outside Islamic countries where these Sharia Bonds are being traded.

    You may think that I am just winding you up, look around it is happening already.

  • “You may think that I am just winding you up, look around it is happening already.”

    A thoroughly bad thing it is too. It should be stopped.

  • RC ‘A thoroughly bad thing it is too. It should be stopped.’

    How can it be stopped? The demographic changes are on the side of Islam and the further spreading of Sharia Law into wider areas of British life. Anybody who buys or sells Sharia Bonds will be bound by Sharia Law in London, whether they are Muslims or not. It is happening already.

    The Muslim population of the UK increases by 80% per decade, the overall population by 7% per decade. If this continues and I see no reason to think that it will not, simple maths calculation shows that there will be a Muslim majority in the UK by around mid century. In other words a baby born today will live the latter half of their life under a Muslim majority, and will very probably have to comply in some way or other, to a greater or lesser extent with Sharia Law.

    How can we as Liberals stop this? Indeed is it not more Liberal to simply allow the natural course of population dynamics, and the associated religious beliefs and religious laws to take precedence when the numbers dictate?

    In other words, if Muslims are in the majority, then democratic principles apply, and they would be free to vote to introduce Sharia Law for everybody.

  • “Simple maths” are, as usual, deceiving, because reality is not simple.

    http://blogs.channel4.com/factcheck/factcheck-will-britain-have-a-muslim-majority-by-2050/13690

    Moreover, the assumption that *all* Muslims live, or want to live, under one or another form of Islamic religious law is flawed and false.

  • Tony Greaves 2nd Mar '14 - 7:31pm

    A lot of simplistic rubbish on some of the comments here.

    As for population trends, it’s generally true that immigrants maintain the habits of the places they come from, for a generation, then adapt to the habits of the host population. That is evidently happening here amongst Muslim families of South Asian origins.

    Tony

  • When my grandmother was born 60% of the parish spoke only Welsh, 30% spoke Welsh & English (generally the younger, more educated, and those whose work brought them into contact with ….. the) 10% who spoke English – generally business/retired folk from England who had bought country retreats.

    By the time she died 70% spoke only English.

    I wonder if Mr Farage would have got worked up about that?

  • David-1 The website that you link to only describes one of several factors involved. Total fertility rate is only one factor. Other factors include the age at which a woman has her children. Many indigenous women are leaving it until their 30s or even 40s and then have only one. Another factor is immigration.

    The website you cite has not answered those very significant factors. I think that it is best to ignore it. It also does not mention conversions to Islam, which due to the factors already mentioned are likely to increase in coming decades.

    Year Muslim population (thousands)
    1981 553
    1991 950
    2001 1600
    2011 2869
    2021 5136
    2031 9193
    2041 16455
    2051 29454
    2061 52722
    2071 94373

    The UK Muslim population increased by the following percentages:
    1981 to 1991 72%
    1991 to 2001 68%
    2001 to 2011 79%

    The extrapolations above are based on 79% increase per decade. It indicates just under 30 million in 2051 and about 53 million in 2061. In other words about half the UK population by around mid century, or a few years thereafter. If the theory stated in your linked article was correct, how is it that the percentage increase per decade has increased itself? i.e. the two most recent figures are 68% and 79%, an increase of 11 percentage points. The extrapolation is an under estimate if that rate of change were to be also factored in.

    Source:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_in_the_United_Kingdom

  • Galen Milne 2nd Mar '14 - 8:02pm

    I agree with Tony Greaves. As the architect of community politics Liberal Party style he knows the real answer is to get on the doorsteps, engage the public, and communicate the message clearly and positively.

  • Farage, the public schoolboy who got into trouble for singing Nazi songs, is being given a free ride by the media.

    Some think he is useful to boost the right wing in the Tory Party.
    Some because they think that a boost for UKIP will cut the number of seats the Tories win at a General Election.

    What Farage says is usually nonsense, and it is a shame to see some of it repeated here by people that he probably would regard as “useful idiots.”.

  • The table in Joe King’s comment is not helpful to a rational discussion. If he had published a similar table of Jewish population decline in the UK it would have been just as unhelpful – although I bet LDV would have had the lobby on to them like a ton of bricks, demanding withdrawal and goodness knows what else.

    If you want an indication of the impact of the population of British Islam it is useful to know that the five local authorities with the largest percentage British Muslim populations they were in 2011 –
    London Borough of Tower Hamlets 34.5%
    London Borough of Newham 32.0%
    Blackburn with Darwen 27.4%
    City of Bradford 24.7%
    Luton. 24.6%
    No surprises there.
    Although it may surprise some people to know that the vast majority of local authorities have a British Muslim population of less than. 1%

    Farage’s sub-Powellite attention seeking speech Is nonsense .
    joe King’s table of numbers is equally unhelpful. Selective use of statistics.

  • JohnTilley
    Of what relevance is your set of percentages of Muslims in a selection of local authority areas? What is more helpful is to know how that percentage has changed as a function of time. People worry about the future, what the future holds for their children and grandchildren. A single snapshot of figures that you provide is not giving a feel for the pace of change.

    If we as a party are unwilling or unable to even look at the relevant figures, as you and David-1 are both guilty of, then how on earth are we to take on Farage and his arguments? If we behave like ostriches with our heads in the sand, and ignore the approaching UKIP juggernaut then we should expect to be flattened.

    What I think we need to do as I suggested in my earlier comment, is to accept that Islam is becoming an increasingly important part of the future of Britain. Then attempt to come to some sort of compromise with it, for example to put in place that there should be separate laws for Muslims and for non-Muslims, as per the example of Malaysia.

    If we fail to plan for the future, through being in denial, then the future will hold nasty surprises. If we open our eyes at an early stage we may have some possibility of steering it in a more positive and hopeful direction.

  • “The extrapolations above are based on 79% increase per decade.”

    This is just Islamophobic drivel. The birth-rate in the Muslim community may currently be somewhat higher than in the UK as a whole, but a 79% per decade increase equates to nearly a factor of 6 every generation. In other words, every couple would have to have 12 children. The estimate of the real fertility rate quoted in that Channel 4 article is 3, not 12.

    So where is this 80% increase going to come from?

    Immigration? You think 13 million Muslims are going to come into the country in the 2040s?

    Conversion? What’s the current percentage of Muslims identified as “White British” in the census? 0.5%!

    This is simple innumeracy, not simple maths.

  • Chris Manners 2nd Mar '14 - 9:52pm

    “In other words, if Muslims are in the majority, then democratic principles apply, and they would be free to vote to introduce Sharia Law for everybody.”

    Any evidence that all British Muslims want Sharia Law for everybody?

    “the two most recent figures are 68% and 79%, an increase of 11 percentage points. ”

    And the third most recent was 72%- it went down then went up again.

  • Chris Manners 2nd Mar '14 - 9:52pm

    “In other words, if Muslims are in the majority, then democratic principles apply, and they would be free to vote to introduce Sharia Law for everybody.”

    Any evidence that all British Muslims want Sharia Law for everybody?

    “the two most recent figures are 68% and 79%, an increase of 11 percentage points. ”

    And the third most recent was 72%- it went down then went up again.

  • Chris Manners 2nd Mar '14 - 9:52pm

    “In other words, if Muslims are in the majority, then democratic principles apply, and they would be free to vote to introduce Sharia Law for everybody.”

    Any evidence that all British Muslims want Sharia Law for everybody?

    “the two most recent figures are 68% and 79%, an increase of 11 percentage points. ”

    And the third most recent was 72%- it went down then went up again.

  • @Joe King
    I remember being slightly amused at the ensuing fuss when the then Archbishop of Canterbury talked about Sharia Law in civil issues in 2008. There have been Jewish Courts in London for a great many years perhaps even centuries. The Beth Din cover civil issues where all parties agree to them doing so but in no way supersede the Civil Courts and have no criminal jurisdiction. I would foresee this being the model used rather than a strict criminal interpretation of Sharia in the UK.

    As Tony Greaves quite rightly points just quoting numbers of Muslims would not mean that they would all wish to live in a Theocracy governed by Sharia any more than a country with a majority of Roman Catholics (for example Italy with almost 90%) would ban contraception or abortion both of which are against the teaching of their religion.

  • It is not the ‘tiny minority’ of Muslims in the UK who want Sharia, it is 40%. It is usually the more radical that are vocal and politically active. This 40% section is likely to dominate the 60%.

    http://www.christiantelegraph.com/issue11776.html

    ‘A survey of Muslim students at 30 universities throughout Britain has found that 32 per cent believe that killing in the name of Islam is acceptable and that 40 per cent want Sharia law established in the UK’

  • Joe King, a time series can be skewed by selecting for example from what point you decide to start your calculations. You chose 1981. You could have chosen 1860, the date of the first Mosque in the UK (it was in Cardiff). That would have changed your “extrapolations”. Or you could have chosen1889 the date of the irst mosque in England.

    Your “extrapolations” are based on just three decades but range into the future until 2071, six decades. If you had taken three decades at a particular point in the growth of Methodism in the UK, you could no doubt produce a table that would seem to indicate that the entire population had become Methodist by 1900. I have not done the arithmetic but I hope you will understand the point I am making.

    You talk about “indigenous women”. It does not seem to occur to you that some indigenous women might be Muslm. Or that some “indigenous women” might convert to Islam. You do not consider that people might leave their faith and convert to another faith or become agnostic. You also talk about migration as if Muslims only migrate into the UK but never emigrate. You ignore the facts that in recent years a large number of immigrants to this country have been Polish Roman Catholics not Muslims. What you say about sharia seems to be based on myth and ignorance.

    You say –“a baby born today will live the latter half of their life under a Muslim majority,”. This is simply nonsense. I provided you with a table based on the facts of the five local authorities with the largest Muslim populations. Not one local authority area is anywhere near having a Muslim majority. As I said earlier the vast majority of places have less than 1% Muslim population.

    I do not know if you really believe what you have written or if you are engaged in some sort of simplistic scare-mongering. Either way, your table of “extrapolations” does not stand up to examination.

  • JoeKing

    Thanks for the link to the Christian Telegraph website, which I can only assume is God’s answer to theonion.com.

  • “Your “extrapolations” are based on just three decades but range into the future until 2071, six decades.”

    The thing is, it’s perfectly clear that the increase in the Muslim population of the UK during those three decades was mainly due to immigration, not to demographic factors and certainly not to conversion.

    To extrapolate on the assumption that the Muslim population will continue to grow at the same rate exponentially is ludicrous. Obviously, immigration isn’t going to grow exponentially. In the current hysterical environment, it’s unlikely to grow at all.

    So the likely future growth in the Muslim population up to 2050 will be more like a million or so a decade, perhaps throwing in an extra million or two of organic growth. So ten per cent of the total population at the end of that time seems a very reasonable guess.

    Trying to stir up fear and resentment on the basis of completely bogus figures is a joke in very poor taste.

  • I have been pointing out the sort of data that is driving members of the public to vote for UKIP. This data is readily available by a quick search with Google, it is not hidden or obscure or difficult to access via a paywall etc.

    Regular commenters here, who usually post intelligent and perceptive comments seem to be in denial, or are arguing about trivial side issues. Yes it is true that some indigenous women convert to Islam. It would be long winded for me to write out the argument in full including that proviso. I think that most people understand the overall meaning.

    Yes it is also true that the percentage increase went down then up over the three decades. The key point that it has been around 70% increase give or take a few percentage points for three decades. It was higher under Labour than under Thatcher or John Major, and maybe it will drop down a bit under Cameron. Even so it is around 10 times higher growth than the general population over three decades.

    I am rather disappointed by the comments of our members. Yes of course we can argue about details. These do not detract from the central argument that attracts voters to UKIP. The argument that there will be a Muslim majority in the UK within the lifetime of their children or grandchildren. We can argue the details of whether it will occur in 2055, 2065 or 2075. The fact is, that if the trends of the past three decades continue, then it will happen in a relatively few decades.

    Unfortunately we are the ones who are in denial. We want to deny the facts. We want to believe that Islam will become cuddly and secular, despite the facts. If we continue to deny the facts how are we to counter the arguments of UKIP? It is not possible. We will be the ones who lose credibility, not UKIP. I want to turn around our poll rating, UKIP are consistently ahead of us now. We must seriously ask ourselves why that is so, and please STOP being in denial. That is my plea to members.

  • Mack (Not a Lib Dem) 3rd Mar '14 - 8:43am

    Joe King

    All of your predictions seemed to be predicated on the assumption that all Muslims will remain committed to Islam. It’s just as likely that more and more Muslims will follow the trend away from religion and become secular just like the majority of the British.

  • Alexander Matthews 3rd Mar '14 - 10:00am

    OK, as Malaysia – a country I love – has been rolled out here, so I think we should clarify that right now Malaysia is not a happy place in terms of the socio-economic and cultural tensions experienced there. Several ethnic groups are actively discriminated against in Law and many others have their rights restricted based purely on their heritage. I am going to assume that when Malaysia was mentioned, it was done so in a purposefully ironic way that was trying to drive home a point. However, the irony of British people using Malaysia as an example of cultural inequality when many of the problems that country faces are a direct result of our influence is may be one that was not intended. Still, that does not mean it is not an important issue to note; in fact, I would assert that it is a key point to note because it highlights how the social dynamics and history of Malaysia are vastly different to those of Britain – especially in terms of migration and immigration.

    Next, Sharia Law and the Jewish courts have been thrown about, as well. Well, it should be noted that the Jewish courts are run in a similar way to most other forms of arbitration, where all parties can ‘agree’ (as Liberals, we like people agreeing to things, as opposed to forcing them into it) to submit to another form of legally binding dispute resolution that follows it own procedure, subject to several key previsions being in place. These ‘courts’, however, are not legal entities in the sense that traditional courts are. They are also subject to our courts should serious impropriety and unfairness occur. Should something similar happen with Sharia Law, where parties can agree to be subject to a form of alternative dispute resolution (arbitration) based on the procedures they see to be more fitting for their dispute, then we should respect that, so long as any serious unfairness or procedural impropriety is subject to the Law of the Land.

    The thing we need to remember about all of this is that anyone who binds themselves to these alternative forms of dispute resolution did so willingly. This is how the situation differs to that of places such as Malaysia, where individuals are forced in law to accept certain forms of legal discrimination based on their ethnic background. There is no opt-in/opt-out clause.

    As for Sharia Bonds, well, that was simply capitalism in action; at the time, several Middle Eastern states had a lot of money to burn and London wanted a bite of the action. What better way is there to persuade foreign investors to invest in a place than for that place to show tolerance and recognition of their cultural practices?

    We are seeing a similar thing now that the focus has shifted to China, with Chinese businesses and citizens being given preferential immigration and investment rights.

    Finally, I think we need to deal with the general paranoia about Muslim communities growing in the UK. First, this fear is the tragic child of the War on Terror that has placed the focus of the last two decades (following the Cold War) on the Middle East (note, the War on Terror existed prior to 9-11, just under a different name). Now, in order to look at the results of the War on Terror in detail, we need to ask what the true goals of that war were! I would suggest that it was basically one larger piece of the USA’s plan to encircle China with military bases, as well as a play to try and block China out of the region in order to prevent them gaining access to the resources (AKA oil) in the area. Now that those resources are drying up, the focus is shifting towards East Europe and the countries surrounding Russia. Sadly, I feel that the recent problems we have seen there (which have been around for a long time, but only recently received the focus they diverse) are just the start of what is going to be a much bigger issue in the years to come.

    Why is this important? Well, because the War on Terror’s results are not a direct consequence of its actual impacts, but its perceived impacts. If focus starts to shift away from that region, so will the regard it receives and with it, its influence. Things, such as Sharia Bonds, are not a result of some rise of the Muslim powers enforcing their will on us, but simply a result of the recognition that region received when it was beneficial for us to provide such regard. The fears, such as the 40% Muslim population, are also merely a result of the perceived impacts of the War on Terror making it convenient for certain media groups and individuals to whip up a bit of hysteria. If the focus is no longer on that region, it will no longer remain convenient to whip up such hysteria about the area and as such these stories, too, will stop being relevant.

    So, when the Lib Dems do not allow ourselves to be drawn into the latest media fuel paranoia story, it is not because we are burying our heads in the sand, it is because we are making a holistic assessment of the situation and ensuring that we keep our focus on the real issues. When people have fears – especially unfounded ones – it does not help to just accept those fears as correct. It helps even less to deal with those fears at the expense of real issues (immigration being an all too tragic example of this problem).

  • “Yes of course we can argue about details. These do not detract from the central argument that attracts voters to UKIP. The argument that there will be a Muslim majority in the UK within the lifetime of their children or grandchildren.”

    It’s not a question of arguing about details. Your “central argument” is bogus, because it’s based on a completely fallacious extrapolation of statistics.

    The point is that the Muslim population will not grow by 79% per decade in the future, or anything remotely like that, for the reasons explained to you above.

  • Simon Banks 3rd Mar '14 - 9:42pm

    Theresa 1 – what has “been happening to them”? Is there a nudge and a wink involved here? I can think of all sorts of changes in Britain, some caused by the British (of whatever ethnicity) and some not, some good, some bad. Your comment suggests a fear of some shadowy Other. I’d just like that other honestly identified so we can have a rational discussion.

    Joe -do you think most Muslims in Britain want Sharia Law to rule the country? I’m pretty sure they don’t. As for internal rules of a community freely entered into, as long as they don’t contradict the law of the land, what’s the problem? Catholics, Quakers, Orthodox Jews and many others have their own community rules . If people want to stick to Islamic banking, for example, and avoid other forms of finance, I see no problem. Some aspects of traditional Islamic practice do contradict the law of the land and it seems to me our stand on this is clear – while acknowledging the right of groups of people to challenge the justness of the law as, for example, Quakers have done over conscription.

  • @Joe King “How can it be stopped? The demographic changes are on the side of Islam and the further spreading of Sharia Law into wider areas of British life”

    So I take it you basically agree with Nigel Farage “In scores of our cities and market towns, this country, in a short space of time, has, frankly, become unrecognisable.” but only differ in your judgement in that Nigel says “this is not the kind of community we want to leave to our children and grandchildren.” whereas you say “bring it on!”.

    I think from your various comments such as “I guess that our children and grandchildren will learn to adapt and survive, or indeed will convert to Islam if that is what it takes to survive. Not quite the future that my grandparents’ generation fought for against the Nazi ideology, however the world moves on and we must accept that change does happen.” you seem to be implying that creeping Islamification is the new totalitarianism – in which case it is right and proper, as a liberal, to oppose it!

    As for your extrapolations, I agree with others in questioning the basis for them. I think you are being blinded a bit by the large numbers of recent immigrants and hence there is a high level of first generation immigrants and their children. The first generation will on the whole cling to the customs of their ‘home’, however from my own experience and observations based on that experience, the key issue is the rate of assimilation – we are already seeing conflict between generations where first generation parents try and adhere to “the old ways” but their children have had their eye’s opened through growing up in Britain and so want something different. We can expect this to continue with each subsequent generation. So I suggest the people actually fighting the loosing battle are the religious and cultural hardliners, Which possess some interesting questions when we start to talk about devolution….

  • I.m from leicester. What I’ve noticed is that when you get large numbers of migrants they tend to settle in the same areas and form mini communities. Rather than integrate they maintain great chunks of their culture and language, whilst taking on bits and pieces of local identity. It’s a bit like how you end up with Little Italy or Chinatown. However, I have also noticed that in strongly religious communities there is a tendency to reinforce cultural norms in a somewhat strict manner. But this is not as simple as singling out religions. In my experience, there’s a tendency to over endow community leaders with a gift of representation they do not actually have and that this means that what is sometimes seen as sensitivity to local communities can undermind natural changes within those communities.

  • Something is happening to the demographics of Britain. Nobody can deny that. I do not particularly care who points it out, whether Nigel Farage, Nick Griffin or Tommy Robinson. If it is happening then it is happening and it is no use shooting the messenger.

    As Liberals, my concern is to try to understand the scope and pace of the change, and to try to work out in a timely manner what our response should be. Should we try to steer the change in the direction of the Malaysian model? Or maybe the partition of India model? Or the Attaturk model example of Turkey? Do we expect Democracy to survive a Muslim majority or not?

    I cannot predict with accuracy the precise date when there will be a Muslim majority in Britain. However I have pointed out that over the last three decades, decade by decade there has been around a 70% increase in their numbers per decade, give or take a few percentage points. This is fairly consistently of the order of 10 times the increase of the overall population. If this continues then there WILL be a Muslim majority some time in the future. It is not possible to argue otherwise based on these figures. It will very probably occur in the latter half of this century. Please let us not get sidetracked into arguing the fine details of whether it will happen on one particular year or another.

    Yes of course a proportion of the Muslim population become secular and westernised. That is fine, and they are not what concerns me. This is NOT about race, and indeed conversely people of any race can convert to Islam. The concern is that the radical elements are the ones with the political clout. They are the ones who are organised and vociferous. They are the ones with the major influence over the Muslim communities, ‘moderate’ Muslims do not have much scriptural support for their moderate stance. They have some difficulty arguing the case for moderation.

    My further worry is that too many people are living in some sort of denial regarding what is happening, and examples of such denialists have contributed their comments here. It is not possible to solve anything at all by ignoring it or pretending that it is not happening.

    One thing is certain: Liberalism and Islam are mutually exclusive. Do we care that our grandchildren will very probably be living in a non-Liberal society? Or do we not care about that? Do we shrug our shoulders and say to ourselves that our grandchildren will have to work out for themselves how to survive the latter half of this century in Britain? They may find it easier to convert to Islam rather than to live as Dhimmi second class citizens. Does that bother us at all?

    If we would much prefer that our grandchildren live in a Liberal society, what must we do, with some urgency, to ensure that there will be a Liberal future for Britain into their future?

  • Joe King,
    I would ask you very politely to consider your last comment carefully. Where do you draw the line between lehitimate comment and incitement to religious hatred?

  • This from Powell’s notorious speech:

    “But while, to the immigrant, entry to this country was admission to privileges and opportunities eagerly sought, the impact upon the existing population was very different. For reasons which they could not comprehend, and in pursuance of a decision by default, on which they were never consulted, they found themselves made strangers in their own country. They found their wives unable to obtain hospital beds in childbirth, their children unable to obtain school places, their homes and neighbourhoods changed beyond recognition, their plans and prospects for the future defeated; at work they found that employers hesitated to apply to the immigrant worker the standards of discipline and competence required of the native-born worker”

  • @Joe King 4th Mar ’14 – 7:19am – Thanks for the thoughtful response.

  • JohnTilley, I am not advocating violence or hatred towards anybody. What we urgently need to find is a way for different cultural norms to coexist side by side in Britain, and for some sorts of generally accepted policies for such a dialogue of engagement. Particularly this will become more important in the next several decades during the transition to a Muslim majority.

    I started my set of comments by suggesting the Malaysian model. It does have disadvantages. I have Malaysian friends of Buddhist backgrounds. They have come to the UK because they do not like to live in Malaysia as second class citizens. They had to pay an extra tax because they are not Muslims, and they cannot do certain things which Muslim Malaysians can do.

    If any such debate is closed down by the accusations of religious hatred, then nothing at all can be solved. We need to be positive not negative.

    I have the impression that Liberalism and Democracy are not compatible with Islam. Would anybody wish to take up the challenge to argue that they are?

  • @David “This from Powell’s notorious speech………..”

    Enoch Powell was a racist. That speech was all a figment of his imagination. None of it will ever happen.

  • But, Theresa-1, Farage can and does argue these points from the Powell speech: that (1) there was no consultation on increased immigration under the ’97 Labour Government (2) crises of capacity in both schools and hospitals are driven to an extent by increased demand arising at least in part by immigration (3) there are significant sections of significant cities where White British and use of English are a minority (5) that immigrants have filled jobs which Britons could (though not necessarily *would*) have taken in their absence and (5) racial discrimination lawsuits are increasingly commonplace in workplace discipline scenarios.

    One can see why it is a seductive argument to older, angry, less-skilled white men (see an interesting analysis in today’s Guardian of who the UKIP voters really are). Countering such arguments with statistics does not seem to get us very far….

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