Sunday, 25 June 2017

The pitfalls of displacement

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In 1968 Conservative British MP Enoch Powell made a hugely controversial address to the Birmingham branch of the Conservative party in which he criticised the British immigration policy. In the speech Powell contended that although many thousands of immigrants wanted to integrate, the majority did not, and that some had vested interests in fostering racial and religious differences with a view to actual domination, initially over fellow immigrants, and then over the rest of the population.

Although Powell always referred to it as the ‘Birmingham speech’ it is more widely known as the ‘rivers of blood’ speech, a title derived from its allusion to a line from Virgil’s Aeneid. Although the actual phrase ‘rivers of blood’ does not appear in the speech itself, Powell did include the line: “As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding, like the Roman, I see the River Tiber foaming with much blood.”

I thought about this last week when we saw the survivors on a London footpath outside the Grenfell Tower after an horrendous fire had destroyed their abodes. Judging by the dress codes and the accents, most of these appeared not to be of conventional British stock. We were told that this apartment building was tenanted by poor people, although situated in an affluent neighbourhood.

Indeed, Amazing Spaces TV star George Clarke agonised that he lived next door, but felt helpless as he witnessed women and children screaming from the top floor windows begging to be rescued.

I wouldn’t want to speculate as to whether these people want to eventually dominate the population of Great Britain, but it did occur to me that most of them would have come to England’s green and pleasant land looking for a better life. Notwithstanding the fire itself, I doubt that many of them will have found Utopia.

Many of the London’s immigrant and refugee population would have travelled from the warmer climes of the Middle East. Some will have fled their homes due to circumstances beyond their control and would probably find the English weather somewhat of a challenge.

The ‘Arab Spring’ might have meant a winter of discontent for many misfortunate migrants.

I’m not sure to what extent Britain encourages immigrants - we know many sneak across the English Channel illegally - but we do, and according to our ruling-party politicians and our entrepreneurial business leaders, not to do so would be disastrous for our economy.

And so to house them we build dubiuos multi-storey apartment buildings in Auckland.

It’s as though we don’t learn from other people’s mistakes.

Given the Powell speech was made nearly 50 years ago it’s surprising just how accurate his predictions have been; perhaps in an ideal world we should all stay put where we were born.

Certainly the Maoris will be wishing that Abel Tasman and James Cook had never taken up sailing; their adventurous endeavours brought disease and a white honky culture that was an anathema to Maoridom and a seabed and foreshore eventually awash with plastic waste.

Conversely of course the Moas would have wished that the Maoris had never left Hawaiiki.

“Remember you are an Englishman, and have consequently won first prize in the lottery of life.” - Cecil Rhodes


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