A matter of arithmetic - or racist scaremongering?

'Be warned: we intend to out-birth white Britons, who will end up as rare as red squirrels'
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Never trust a journalist, especially one who comes across as a soulmate within minutes. There I was last Saturday, emerging from a delicious afternoon nap, when the phone rang. It was a reporter from a newspaper, wanting to talk about the foolish panic generated in the United States recently by the US Census Bureau issuing figures revealing that "white" people were now in a minority in some states (including Hawaii, which I never knew had whites in a majority in the first place), and that California was going the same way, mainly because the immigrant Hispanic population had grown markedly.

Never trust a journalist, especially one who comes across as a soulmate within minutes. There I was last Saturday, emerging from a delicious afternoon nap, when the phone rang. It was a reporter from a newspaper, wanting to talk about the foolish panic generated in the United States recently by the US Census Bureau issuing figures revealing that "white" people were now in a minority in some states (including Hawaii, which I never knew had whites in a majority in the first place), and that California was going the same way, mainly because the immigrant Hispanic population had grown markedly.

For committed Wasps (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants), even those of Spanish heritage don't count as white. Some of this panic was then wafted over here, and we had a few silly comments about how it could well happen in Britain, too. The journalist and I agreed that a) that was utterly improbable, and b) in any case, it was racist to talk in such terms; after all, the Nazis, militant Serbs and the Hutus used exactly the same scare tactics to create an emotional groundswell of fear and prejudice as they went about their barbaric business.

Imagine my shock, then, when I opened the newspaper to find not only a crass headline - "The last days of a white world" - but a deliberately alarmist piece that will have served only to comfort those who have always abhorred our presence here. I felt the heat of this hatred this Monday when I argued on the Today programme with Norman Tebbitt, who could not accept that someone with my name could possibly claim to belong to his island. I was born elsewhere, he coldly reminded me.

There are others who do truly believe that, in the dead of the night, we people of colour are busy fulfilling the objectives of a major, planned breeding programme. Some un-named demographer claims that "it is a matter of pure arithmetic" that non-Europeans (who are just over 5.5 per cent of the population) will become the majority.

So be warned: we intend to out-birth white Britons, who will end up as rare as red squirrels. I can just see it. The editor of every paper will be a Patel, and 10 Downing Street will house the outlandish and curly-haired family of Prime Minister Delroy Raggamuffin. Buckingham Palace will be a mosque, and William's grandchildren will be forced to rote-learn the Koran. All utter rubbish, of course. As more black and Asian Britons join the middle classes, their birth-rates fall.

But let us assume that said faint-hearted demographer is right, and that Britain will have vastly more people of Asian, Chinese, Balkan, African, Caribbean and other backgrounds. So what? This is already true of London. In areas such as Newham and Southall, Wasps are indeed the "ethnic minority", a fact that some find troubling. But on the whole, I do not observe white Londoners creeping about laden with deep sorrow. Most have never had it so good in terms of choice, whether one is talking about food or lovers. And in the past few years, this diversity has started to define London and to make the capital one of the most amazing cities in the world. A survey carried out in March this year by the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry found that business leaders put cultural diversity at the top of their list of what made London better than other European cities.

The poison of racism remains, and imperial attitudes are not hard to find, yet the English, particularly in large cities (and I do mean the English - just compare what we have here to the nearly all-white Edinburgh and Dublin), have embraced this diversity with uncharacteristic passion. I think it would be churlish to deny this good life to those who inhabit the white heartlands, but they will be able to share its benefits only if there are many more of us.

There is a more serious point to be made here. If there are going to be proportionately more young black and Asian Britons in the population in the next two decades (and that is a real forecast, not a fantasy one), it is equally true that their economic activity will be essential to support an ageing population, the majority of which will be white.

Are we grumbling about this demographic time-bomb and the burden to come? Do we sit around panicking about the pressures this will create for us? No, because most of us feel British, part of a nation, citizens with basic obligations to one another, regardless of colour. That is why so many of us are angry with the hacks and researchers responsible for this manufactured discontent and apprehension about fecund "ethnic minorities" and the rightful white inhabitants of this land. Perhaps in a hundred years time, such people and ideas will have become extinct. Now there's a prediction worth taking seriously.

* y.alibhai-brown@independent.co.uk

Comments