Governance of Britain

Thus when the Duke of Edinburgh commented to a student during the Royal Visit to China that if he stayed there much longer he would become “slitty-eyed” all hell broke out in the British press.  The Duke was accused of insulting his hosts: the Mirror had a banner headline labelling the Duke as the “Great Wally of China” and so on.  In fact the Chinese wondered what the fuss was about: they refer to us as “round eyes” or “big noses” being obvious differences from themselves.

This media reaction was an example not only of “transference” but an illustration of what is termed “political correctness” a concept which pervades Anglo-Saxon countries like a disorientating gas causing decent people to doubt the truth of what they see with their own eyes, allowing others to rubbish their deepest sense of belonging in their own country, usually in the name of race equality.

Nowhere has this PC gas had more baleful effects than on immigration control, or rather the lack of it.  Besides egalitarianism, the other two basic causes of our discontent, administrative incompetence and confusion in our foreign relations, have played major roles in creating the current immigration crisis – which, let me assure you, is frightening people like the awful economic crisis of 1976-79 did – a sense of things spinning out of control.

The first government concerns about Commonwealth non-European immigration were expressed in the Churchill Cabinet of 1953, but as it was Coronation Year it was not thought tactful to raise the matter further and the subject was not pursued.  In 1961 nevertheless the number of immigrants predominantly from the former Indian Empire had reached 160,000 in one year and the MacMillan Government passed the 1962 Commonwealth Immigration Act, limiting the numbers to about 5,000 voucher holders, numbers which swelled by 50,000 when dependents were added.

But here is the extraordinary thing.  India and Pakistan had long thrown off their allegiance to the Crown, i.e. to the present Queen, but the Act whose purpose was to control immigration from these countries was made to cover those countries like Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Jamaica who had not done so.

Maximum offence was given to people from those countries in order to foster the illusion in some minds and thus confusion of policy making that the Commonwealth was the British Empire reincarnated and all parts of this fantasy be treated in the same way.

In fact even when the Empire did exist, free movement was never a general, let alone a universal, principle.  In 1922 for instance, the Colonial White Paper of the day declared that immigration into Kenya (by Europeans) would not be allowed to “disturb the native population, whose interests are paramount!”  One can see the irony for the British native population today of this policy enunciated 84 years ago for a distant land then under British control.

Is there any evidence that the Indian or Pakistani government would have been mortally offended if the 1962 Act had completely stopped their citizens’ immigration to Britain.  There is not.  No, this was the first example of PC “transference” put into our legislation and it has established a precedent of terrible consequences.

This has been combined with extraordinary incompetence, one might even say deliberate incompetence in the Foreign and Commonwealth office.  In the run up to Kenyan independence in 1963, inhabitants of that territory were formally citizens of the UK and Colonies and were expected to become citizens of the newly independent territory, as in all former British colonies.

But for reasons which have never been explained, the newly established High Commission (i.e. the FCO) handed out British passports to Indian Asian settlers in Kenya, to people having no family links to the UK but to whom the Indian government extended an invitation to emigrate to India if they so wished.

In due course, the Kenyatta government pursued an Africanisation policy which caused the Kenya Asians to emigrate to Britain on the strength of their British passports, which in turn caused the (Labour) government to pass, amidst much acrimony in leftwing circles, the 1968 Act restricting a right which the FCO had had no business extending in the first place.

At that time however and subsequently up to 1995 the numbers coming into and leaving the country were recorded so the numbers actually staying in the country could still be accurately estimated.

From 1992 on there was some argument about the requirement to show a valid passport on entry from certain EU countries, notably Germany, on the grounds that after the passage of the Single European Act in 1986 and its consolidation with the EEC and Euratom treaties in the 1992 Maastricht treaty, free movement of peoples in the EU was guaranteed.

This argument seemed to strike the Major government with surprise, although as the joint authors of the only English language version of the Maastricht treaty available when the bill passed through parliament, and also of a summary circulated to all MPs, my wife Gill and I were not surprised.

« previous page next page »

Top| Home