An Economist reviewer is unimpressed with a book that fails to applaud free migration…
It is possible that Britain will prove unable to cope with greater diversity in the future, but one cannot help noticing that the most diverse part of the country—London, which is less than 50% white British—is also by far the richest. It is also rather livelier than the lily-white counties that surround it.
“Lily-white” is an unpleasant term to use, given its exclusionist associations. It is also wrong. Luton, Chelmsford, Cambridge and Oxford, among others, contain significant ethnic minority populations.
“Livelier”, meanwhile, is baffling. To what does it refer? Underground parties in Shoreditch? Film premieres at the West End? Derby day at Stamford Bridge? Rioting? It is true that London is a site of almost unprecedented cultural variety and change, and if one is attracted by such features one should hasten there, but I detect an implicit scorn for places that do not reflect such diversification, and for people who fail to desire it.
For some, there is comfort in familiarity, and disorientation in environments that change at pace and beyond their control. For some, also, there is pleasure in that which is quiet and unobtrusive rather than loud and kaleidoscopic. If the author wishes to provide a list of the artistic, technological and humanitarian achievements that make the cultural landscape of the capital so blatantly superior to those of the home counties I will be intrigued. Otherwise, I think this is the presumptuous elevation of a prejudice to the level of fact.
There is a strain of attitudinal conservatism among the British peoples that faces attack on two fronts: from the left, where it seen as an obstacle in the path of internationalism, and from the right, where it is viewed as tediously retrograde for its failure to give way to the march of globalisation. Its survival is a feat of quiet obduracy.