Under Labour 3.2 million foreign citizens arrived in Britain, about 80% from outside the EU, whilst nearly one million (941,000) British citizens left. The immigration figures show 300,000 from the new EU member states although the Labour Force Statistics (which include those here for less than a year) give about 500,000. Net immigration from the EU15 was 300,000 over the same period. Illegal immigration is additional — estimated at between 600,000 and 1.1 million. Foreign immigrants continue to arrive at almost one per minute — the overwhelming majority from outside the EU.
Given the fact that the current population of the United Kingdom is a little over 61 million, the demographic shift that has taken place since 1997 is quite significant, and that shift will likely continue for many years to come no matter what changes in immigration policy take place in the near future.
The press release issued by MigrationWatch UK places the responsibility for the mass immigration at the time of the release of the study at the doorstep of 10 Downing Street:
The report shows that in the years before Blair’s government net immigration was running at around 50,000 a year, but in 1997 the floodgates were opened and numbers quadrupled with the result that over three million migrants came to Britain and stayed here plus, perhaps, a further one million who came and stayed illegally. At the same time nearly a million British citizens left the country.
This is in sharp contrast to Labour’s 1997 election manifesto which declared that “Every country must have firm control over immigration and Britain is no exception.”
"This has been a clear failure of democracy due in large part to the left’s deliberate tactic of stifling reasoned debate with accusations of racism," said Sir Andrew [Green, former British diplomat and founding chairman of MigrationWatch UK]. "In the years to come immigration will be seen as Labour’s great betrayal."
The implications behind such statistics are staggering: Approximately 6.5 percent of the current population residing in the United Kingdom has come to that nation by immigration — legal and illegal—in the past 14 years. The impact of this shift on the future of the UK is magnified by the flight of British citizens abroad during the same time period. MigrationWatch endeavored to put the immigration tidal wave in perspective:
But when you consider that three million extra people on this island equates to the creation of three cities the size of Birmingham, seven the size of Manchester or 20 the size of Harrogate with all that that means for the pressure on our roads, railways, housing, infrastructure, the environment, schools, hospitals and the general quality of life[,] it gives some idea of the scale of what Labour has bequeathed to us all.
According to the report, the overwhelming response of the people of the United Kingdom to this influx from abroad is a desire to see it reduced:
In February 2010 the Department for Communities and Local Government published its “Citizenship Survey.” This was a major exercise based on a sample of 10,000 adults in England and Wales and an additional sample of 5,000 adults from minority ethnic groups. It found that 77% thought that immigration should be reduced, including 53% of all ethnic minority groups and that only 5% thought it should be increased. 51% thought it should be reduced “by a lot,” including 25% of all ethnic groups.
As Sir Anthony Green pointed out, any attempt at a rational discussion of immigration policy is usually tarred by the Left with accusations of racism. However, the study demonstrates that the desire for reducing the rate of immigration enjoys widespread support, including among minority ethnic groups. Furthermore, as the MigrationWatch report notes, the United Kingdom had a policy in place that allowed for a sensible rate of immigration; at 50,000 immigrants per year (a rate roughly equivalent to approximately 250,000 people entering the United States in the same time period), the UK already had a very generous policy in the years prior to the immigration explosion under Prime Minister Blair and the Labour Party.
A nation is not simply an agglomeration of people heaped up to benefit a ruling political elite; furthermore, a nation is not (contrary to the views of the neoconservatives) an “idea.” Immigration is a normal part of the life of any nation — and so is emigration, for that matter; but it must occur at a rate which permits assimilation of immigrants into the nation. If the rate exceeds the capacity for assimilation and integration, both the nation as a whole and the new immigrants are harmed by an influx of those who are not yet able to fully participating in the history, language, and broader culture of their new home.
Patrick Buchanan wrote an article in 2006 for The American Conservative that explains the true character of a nation, and the harm that is done by a misunderstanding of what constitutes nationhood:
An economic union like the European Union is not a nation. An economy is not a country. An economic system should strengthen the bonds of national union, but the nation is of a higher order than the construct of any economist. A nation is organic; a nation is alive. A constitution does not create a nation. A nation writes a constitution that is the birth certificate of the nation already born in the hearts of its people.
"'Nation' — as suggested by its Latin root nascere, to be born — intrinsically implies a link by blood,” wrote Peter Brimelow in National Review in 1992. “A nation in a real sense is an extended family. The merging process through which all nations pass is not merely cultural, but to a considerable extent biological through intermarriage.”
Brimelow describes a nation as an “ethno-cultural community — an interlacing of ethnicity and culture,” that “speaks one language.”...
To be a nation, a people must believe they are a nation and that they share a common ancestry, history, and destiny. Whatever ethnic group to which we may belong, we Americans must see ourselves as of a unique and common nationality — in order to remain a nation.
It is no crime for the people of the United Kingdom to desire to keep their nation. The question for the UK is whether or not their political elite share that desire.
Photo of Tony Blair: AP Images