"I don't mind if you don't like my manners. I don't like them myself. They're pretty bad. I grieve over them long winter evenings."
Over the last six months I've done quite a few posts on immigration.
I first got into it through investigating news stories about the strain mass immigration is imposing on our public services. In particular, I looked at Slough, a town I know well having grown up there, and which has readily accepted previous waves of immigrants for well over 80 years (eg see here).
The more I investigated the facts, the more shocked I became. I had no idea there had been such an influx: an estimated 2.7m in decade, three-quarters of whom headed for London and the South East. I had no idea the strain on public services and housing was quite so great. And I had no idea the evidence of net economic benefit was quite so flimsy (see this blog for round-up of the facts).
It became clear why people like Sir Andrew Green have been so agitated. This Labour government has lost control over our borders and gives precious little indication it knows how to get a grip. Indeed, for most of the last decade it's firmly denied there's any problem at all.
Something needs to be done, and as a first step we need to discuss it openly.
But there's the problem: it's so very difficult to discuss any of this without having people wonder if you're a closet BNP supporter.
Indeed, it's even worse than that- reading back what I've written I sometimes wonder if I might be a closet BNP supporter.
I certainly think we should not allow mass immigration on anything like the scale we've see recently. The costs in terms of both economics and social cohesion are just too great. But does that put me in the BNP?
To be honest I'm not quite sure what they believe, and I have no great desire to find out. But I do know I wouldn't be up for "facilitated repatriation".
Moreover, we live in a globalised (ugh!) world, and I believe Britain does benefit significantly from some immigration (if only to balance the mass "brain drain" exodus of native born Brits).
It's a question of balance. Which is why I favour an Oz style points system with an annual limit, kept under review and openly debated. I don't want it simply left to the commissars and our clothead politicos.
Is that racist? Inflammatory?
So why do I keep getting flak when I blog about it?
My conclusion is that I must be using the wrong tone. When writing about migration I need to be a lot more careful about the way I do it- less of the usual flippancy, and much more gravitas.
I need to improve my manners.
I will try to do better.
PS That OECD report about our brain drain is pretty unsettling: "Britain is experiencing the worst "brain drain" of any country as highly qualified professionals settle abroad... Record numbers of Britons are leaving - many of them doctors, teachers and engineers - in the biggest exodus for almost 50 years. There are now 3.247 million British-born people living abroad, of whom more than 1.1 million are highly-skilled university graduates." What can it mean?
PPS Yes, Bogart and Bacall look ludicrously stylised today. But Chandler's Philip Marlowe is still the best PI you'll find down any mean street in any novel. If you like that kind of thing.