Culture is at the heart of the immigration debate, and the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, has rekindled what started with the revelations about Labour's imported millions last year.
Nobody could figure out why we have had the huge numbers of migrants from cultures that could hardly be more dissimilar to our own, to add to the dole queues and housing waiting lists; and store up problems for tomorrow in non-integrating migrant enclaves. Then earlier this year we discovered courtesy of Andrew Neather -- Blair's former adviser -- that it was to dilute the mass of ordinary folk, simply because we are not well disposed to whatever out-dated utopia they still envisage for us all.
The Government covered its tracks by scrapping counting in or out of the country non-EU nationals, and then by not enabling the Home Office or the DWP to cross-check immigration status and benefit claims and NI numbers; and has now fobbed us off with its 'points system' that does not alter how the vast majority of migrants are processed -- particularly those allowed to enter not through any work criteria, but by 'family reunion' and the like.
The huge numbers from undeveloped-world backwaters in sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian subcontinent are not merely of little or no use to the economy, but a serious drain on it. It's known that some migrant sub-groups such as Bengalis and Somalis have adult male unemployment rates unchanged at above 50% even in boom times. They are not integrating. They form enclaves that at best integrate only at the margin; and which easily grow beyond the critical mass needed to be self-sustaining. They grow by 'chain-migration' facilitated by a near non-policy on immigration that in no aspect works in practice. The result is that the majority of new housing now is required for migrants, and the majority of births are to migrants.
Of course, some migrant groups -- not least some Muslim groups -- indeed do progressively integrate into the host community; but you need only a tiny minority of zealots and a minority of passive supporters to produce gathering strife. We know from surveys that we have more than enough individuals in both of those categories. The Home Office has produced internal reports sounding the alarm here. We well know the nature of the problem from Northern Ireland. Future internal conflict through Muslim fanaticism is not unlikely to make 'The Troubles' look like a little noisy-neighbours dispute. And ordinary people are already thinking about this: just listen to the conversation in pubs.
Lord Carey and Frank Field are right that we need not only to get migration rates back to the levels they were pre-Blair, but also that we must assess those who seek to come here, and those who once here seek permanent residence, to take into account cultural differences.
Just as there needs to be profiling of international air passengers, we will have to junk concerns about judging people.
We need to ask: 'Are you going to become one of us'?
And that question will have to be rhetorical in many cases.