It is now just over 40 years ago that Enoch Powell gave his infamous 'rivers of blood' speech in which he made certain knowledge claims about what would happen if the Conservative government did not tightened up U.K.'s immigration policy . One such claim was a projected figure for the number of Commonwealth immigrants that would be living in the UK in the year 2000: "...it must be in the region of 5-7 million." The census figures for 2001 show the figure to be 4 and a half million. Coincidence? Rationally justified? Brilliant guesswork?
In his new book, Reflections on the Revolution in Europe (the link gives a review in the Guardian), the writer Chris Caldwell reflects on the nature of immigration in Europe over the last century. We heard a BBC Radio Five Live interview with Caldwell, in which he claims to have evidence to support the idea that when two cultures come together, like the western European and Islamic, the one that has no strict principles or set moral rules which all its citizens follow (the Western culture) usually changes in the face of the culture that sets a code of behaviour for all its people. In short, the argument seems to be that the European cultures have been too insecure in their moral, political and social values and this has made the assimilation of immigrants increasingly difficult over the years.
Is this change necessarily a bad thing? Should we actively encourage the change? How do we overcome our cultural insecurities? What is the status of 'Britishness'? Is their a coherent and stable entity that can be called the 'British national identity' or European identity?