Monday, 3 March 2014

Quote of the day: On London (and UKIP)


From a quite brilliant article by Alex Massie:

And of course in many respects Farage is right. Britain, and London especially, really is an unrecognisable place these days. It’s just that most of the changes have been for the better, not the worse. There is little comparison between London 2014 and London 1974. The latter was a tired and failing place, the clapped-out capital of a clapped-out country.

Forty years later and London, remarkably, is once again one of the world’s greatest cities. A place, as it has always been, for Britons to seek their future but also a global city in which what you did before you reached these shores  - and where you came from – matters vastly less than what you do now you’re here. A city, in fact, that rejects the idea of inevitable decline. A city that has the kind of dynamic optimism we more commonly associate with the United States than with little old Britain.

We want to spread that excitement, optimism and change across the rest of the nation. And we don't achieve that by stopping people moving around, by enforcing petty language rules or by playing cynically to xenophobia by talking about being "uncomfortable" around foreigners.

Moreover, if the rest of England wants to succeed it needs to be more like London and less like the land  Nigel Farage's grumpy old bloke party wants.



Greg Burrows said...

Some evenings not all, at Lidl or Asda you are lucky if you hear English spoken, I have come to the point I can not even recognise where people come from, there are so many languages spoken, I have worked and lived in Camberwell and Brixton in the late ninties up to 2003 and have never found this there. I have lived in Dewsbury since 1984,I can not understand why people from far flung places choose to come to Dewsbury, must be the charity shops, Nigel must hear the same from many other's.

asquith said...

Surely you would hear English, even if it wasn't native speakers talking. If a Cambodian talks to an Iranian in London (or for that matter in Cambodia), he won't be using the language of (almost all white) Poland or Slovakia, he'll be using English. Once I was one of two white Britons in a room whose other occupants were Eastern Europeans, British Asians and some non-European immigrants. Of course we spoke English and almost everyone was able to participate in the conversation, with the others being helped to learn

Not an unmixed blessing, and nor is immigration. I am not for totally open borders myself because, given the levels of inequality in the world, that would lead to far more people coming into this country than I consider feasible. And there will be the concerns over integration.

There is also, I think, difference between genuine diversity and people of one immigrant group living in a community just as monocultural as rural England, such as the miniature Pakistans that can be found. Better to have a real mix of people from far and wide who love the place that some were born and bred in, and others have made their own.

The other thing is, I don't think Pickles is right to simply demand that people learn English as if it were some personal failing or refusal that made them not do so. In fact most are desperate to learn but lack the opportunity, which is why ESOL will do more than hectoring people.