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Mar 07 2013

Turn Right To Leave London

The problem with right-wing immigration ideas is that they recognise a problem (AKA uncontrolled immigration) and then completely go off the rails with solutions and fears that mainly appeal to a certain kind of person. Graeme Archer unfortunately is at the helm of this piece of tabloid hack journalism meant to fear monger it’s way through the readers.

In this case the kind of person is the sort who isn’t racist but thinks white people leaving London to be replaced by a sea of also white but not British people is a terrifying dystopian future filled with weird sausages and polka music.

Imagine if Glasgow disappeared. Not overnight and not physically, but imagine if everyone who lived there decided to leave, in the space of 10 years. Argyle Street, in the city centre – empty. Byres Road, next to the university – derelict. The Crow Road – abandoned (except, perhaps – if this were an exciting new BBC drama – for an old Iain Banks novel, rain-damaged pages flapping in a gutter, symbol of the great evacuation). All those tenements, riverside apartments, suburban villas, all lying vacant. You’d sort of notice, wouldn’t you? You’d expect people to talk about it, at least.

Except you know. Glasgow isn’t the size of London which is a massive city. And this is flogging the notion that these areas are completely inhabited like a residential zone of Sim City where the power stopped working.

If your geographic history differs from mine, and you’ve no mental image of Glasgow to play with, consider, instead, Sheffield, or Nottingham, or Belfast. All cities of about 600,000 people. Imagine if everyone who lived there upped and left.

Not the opening scenes of a dystopic science fiction screenplay, but the unfictional, real London, whose white British population has declined by roughly the population of those cities in the 10 years between the last two census surveys. “White British” (as opposed to Eastern European) citizens now make up less than half of London’s population. This is a change of profound significance, by any historical benchmark.

I am sorry? When black and asian people suddenly own houses does that make it dystopian?

These people didn’t vanish, they moved out and indeed had other people move in to live in the same houses. I am sorry? The Telegraph seems to have misjudged what centre right means and landed in “Far Right”. Apparently 60% of London being “British” means fuck all if you aren’t pale eh?

It’s a change of profound significance only if you are some wanker who thinks the colour of your skin means something deep and profound. Then you clearly are the same sort of idiot who thinks the red ones go faster.

We have an ugly phrase to describe the phenomenon – I used it a fortnight ago, in a piece about the Tories’ attempts to woo votes from ethnic minorities (a term whose meaning has changed: in London, at least, we’re all “minorities” now). The departure of people from London’s hitherto majority grouping is called “white flight”.

Oh noes! How dare the Conservative party try and not be super racist and make concessions.

And fuck a duck! In order to be an “ethnic” minority you have to rule out all the white people who aren’t “British” and then rule out all the British people who aren’t white. Then take all the people ruled out of this and add them to the “problem”. 60% of London is BRITISH. B R I T I S H. In order to actually fulfill the fears of Mr. Archer you would have to deduct 25% of the London’s population.

It’s tempting to be caustic about the current, undoubtedly brief, spasm of media interest in the phenomenon. No one seemed to mind as inner London became more and more multicultural: that was what made it so “vibrant”, after all. Only as the profile of the suburbs changes (Enfield’s white population has dropped by nearly 25 percentage points in 10 years, for example) is it worth any serious attention: the BBC website carried a piece just this week.

Why? Wait… has the population dropped or has it dropped by percentages.

Has the White population remained stable while immigrants have increased causing white people (White british people sir!) to fall in percentages?

To read the BBC article, by the home editor Mark Easton, there is nothing to worry about. Indeed, the historic shift of London, from a city of white Britons to a mixture of minorities, is a cause for celebration, and not just because of that oft‑lauded “vibrancy”.

White Anglo-Saxons mate. If you are going to be racist don’t pretend to be fighting for the 2000 year old culturally and ethnically “extinct” populace and rather for the more recent invaders of Anglo-Saxons, Vikings and Normans. You aren’t Boudicca.

“Vibrancy” means “multiculturalism” which is the notion that you can have a society that doesn’t run roughshod over anything that is different and so has a diverse mix of culture that everyone can partake in and enjoy.

Fundamentally, none of this is strictly about “race”, but rather the cultural constructs we layer on to genetics. There are good and bad neighbours of every hue, of course. But the scale of white flight demands more than issuing congratulations to the second and third generation children of immigrants, who’ve done well in life and moved from Zone 2 to Zone 5 of the Central or Northern Underground lines. It’s also absurd to assume that the grandchildren of cockneys are moving still further out, just because their houses have increased in value.

I bet this is what racists sound like in their heads.

In simple English? I am not racist but I think white people are being driven out by minorities rather than grasping an aging population of baby boomers..

Take Bethnal Green. The people leaving Dagenham now are themselves displaced Eastenders. The borough they first left behind would be unrecognisable to their grandparents, with a mayor whose election was supported by an Islamist group with unpleasant (to put matters mildly) views.

Except the Mayor of Tower Hamlets (Lutfur Rahman) has proven to be more left wing than labour and thus unlikely to be in cahoots with far right extremists. The fact remains that any links have proven to tenuous at best.

And things tend to be unrecognisable to one’s grandparents by dint of progress.

Hate crimes disfigure its streets: in an ironic reversal of one reason for the East End’s fame – that it was where indigenous, working-class Londoners faced down home-grown fascists – the streets of Bethnal Green and Whitechapel are now scenes of increasingly violent attacks on gay people. The BBC doesn’t talk about this, oddly, or wonder why the Eastenders’ movement is always away from their original homes: there are plenty of expensive properties in E2. (In 2001, I moved to Bow, from Harlow: my neighbours in Essex thought I was mad, for reasons unconnected with relative property prices.)

Er… You mean the skinhead far right attacks on ethnic minorities are now being reversed with attacks on gays?

The violent attacks on gays have always occurred. Do you not remember Matthew Shepard? Gay Bashing has always been a problem and the fact of the matter is that we often forget that white youths are just as likely to go out bashing as “asians” are. And honestly? The way to fight this is to confront the abusers and punish them. Not to claim that it’s because of non-white people.

Discernment is required: nobody decent is arguing for a return to the homogeneity of Call the Midwife’s Poplar. Finally, politicians have admitted that to notice the scale of the immigration engineered by the last Labour government doesn’t make one racist. But neither is it wrong to discuss the cultural changes that large-scale immigration can cause. Six hundred thousand Londoners have left. They didn’t all sell ex-council houses in Barking, in order to purchase five-bedroom cliff-top villas in sunny Leigh-on-Sea.

No… I don’t think 600,000 white people left so much as the Immigrant population of the UK has grown due to the UK being a falling population due to the Baby Boomers reaching the age of retirement (and by the same corollary, the age where they start dying) and so requiring an influx of immigrants to make up the jobs.

No there are issues with multi-culturalism and it has to do with excessive and frankly bizarre pandering to Fundamentalist Muslim ideas. There is multiculturalism and then there is allowing bad ideas through because we cannot differentiate between what we think is good and what isn’t.

The Cultural Changes? Like what? Our improvements to food? Music? Art? Language?

When Mr. Archer uses the term “Culture” he means “Melanin Level”.

6 comments

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  1. 1
    TGAP Dad

    Wow. You have those in Britain, too? Jan Brewer would be right at home with the English Tories.

  2. 2
    DumbDrunkAndRacist

    Hello Mr Archer, I’ve found your missing people. They’re here in Australia.

    Sooo.. the population of non-white Brits in London increased and some white Brits moved out of London to other towns and cities. And …???

    Congratulations England on having so few social issues that reporters are forced to chase down stories like this

  3. 3
    embertine

    The BBC doesn’t talk about this

    The BBC has had five articles in the last two weeks about Muslim attacks on gays in Tower Hamlets, and about white flight from the East End. So I call bullshit on the idea that no-one is talking about this. The difference is that Auntie, whatever her flaws, is not exclusively managed for the benefit of upper middle class white people, like the Telegraph is.

  4. 4
    Gareth

    The thing with London is, its been experiencing a process of migration from the inner areas for the edges in a big way since the 1930s (peak population was 9 million in 1929 with current boundaries), so it was shrinking back when it was physically smaller and still called The County of London (indeed the process itself was observed on a smaller scale as soon as the first passenger railways were build in the 1800s).
    By the beginning of the 1990s this trend had reversed, partly because those myopic suburban cul-de-sac housing developments were no longer significantly cheaper, and partly because living conditions had improved in the inner city areas (less crime etc).
    The only thing different about the last decade is that half a million Polish people have moved in, who due to the wierd way the UK census treats ethnicity, ‘white other’ rather than ‘white British’, and are therefore secretly Bangladeshi in disguise.
    A constant flux if inward and outward migration in cities is a necessary part of urban renewal.

    The Glasgow reference is odd, as Glasgow actually has an Urban population of 1.7 million, just that the Scottish government didn’t have the same fetish of creating ‘Metropolitan Counties’ (which seems to be a uniquely English phenomenon, other European countries just created a new layer of intermunicipal governance when dealing with the challenge of urban sprawl).
    So the real analogy Graeme Archer is trying to make is “imagine 600,000 Glaswegian moved to the burbs”, wait, that already happened, for the city of Glasgow (not the whole urban area) once had a population of 1.1 million in the 1950s.
    Just goes to show that not only is he ignorant of urban geography, but also of British history.

    ——
    Had some trouble posting with my usual login, as I’m apparently an impostor, so apologies if this got submitted more than once.

  5. 5
    beats by dre

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