Saturday 21 October 2023

Britain has changed beyond all recognition


What is now the United Kingdom has experienced waves of migration since time began. The Beaker people were replaced by the Celts, who were in turn pushed westwards by the Angles Saxons, Vikings and Normans. We would not be what we are today if it had not been for these peoples, so there is no point regretting it.

But that is not to say that a Celt living in what is now East Anglia did not regret that his home was colonised by Angles and Saxons and that he had to leave it. Likewise, it is not to say that a Pict living in the modern-day Moray did not regret the arrival of the Scoti from Ireland. Within a short time, there were no more Picts.

From the point of view of the original inhabitants the colonisation of North America was a disaster. That is not to say that there was any way to avoid it. Someone at some point was bound to sail across either the Atlantic or the Pacific. People in Europe or Asia would have settled in North and South America eventually even if the ships sailed by Columbus had sunk.

But if we compare the colonisation of North America with the rates of migration taking place today there is something very striking.

The colonisation of what is the USA began incredibly slowly. In 1610 there were only 350 Europeans. We don’t know exactly how many Native Americans there were. Estimate range from 3.8 million to as high as 18 million. By the time of the Salem Witch Trials in the 1690s the total European population was still under 200,000. 

When the United States declared itself independent it had a total population of 2,148,076. At this point it occupied only 13 colonies along the Atlantic and most Native Americans living in the West would have had only sporadic contact with European traders and trappers.

In 1840 the non-native American population of the USA had reached 17,063,353. It had taken two hundred and thirty years.

Compare this with the UK. In 1939 there were around 7000 people from ethnic minorities living in the UK. There were around 70,000 other foreign-born people. In 1950 the UK population was still 99.9% white British.

But the Census of 2021 for England and Wales (Scotland is not yet fully available) shows that there are 15.3 million people in the UK whose ancestors were not here in 1950. 11 million people living in the UK are from ethnic minorities.

The UK is in the equivalent position of the USA in 1680. It is approximately 70 years since large numbers of people began to arrive here from overseas. But in 1680 the non-native American population of the USA was 151,507 while in the UK it is 15.3 million.

The Native American population of the USA today is around 9 million or 2.9% of the USA population of nearly 332 million. Very few Native Americans live in the places where they first encountered Europeans. They have been pushed westwards many onto reservations or wiped out.

There is no question that what happened when Europeans arrived in North America was colonisation. There is no question also that it was generally bad for Native Americans. The Native Americans caught European diseases, were victims of oppression, racism and wars. But there is also no question that what happened in the USA in terms of change in demographics was incredibly slow compared to what is happening in the UK today.

Whether it is possible to call what has happened here since 1950 colonisation is debatable. There isn’t any particular country that is colonising the UK or ruling it. We are not part of an empire. But then the migrants who went to the USA prior to independence also came from a number of countries. Not all forms of colonisation involve empires or being ruled. Britain was colonised by Celts. It doesn’t mean that there was a Celtic empire or rule from Gaul.

But whatever you call it the result will the same. If rates of migration continue at their present rate quite soon the original inhabitants of Britain will be outnumbered just as formerly the Native Americans were outnumbered or the Picts and the Celts.

Looked at from a point of view two or three hundred years from now I can easily imagine a British citizen reflecting on the people who lived in Britain until 1950 and saying that it was a good thing how people from all over the world came together to form a new Britain just as it was a good thing that the Romans then the Angles and the Saxons came to supersede the Ancient Britons. If they hadn’t, we’d all still be speaking Welsh, driving around in chariots and ruled by druids.

Perhaps it will be a good thing for us to go the way of the Celts. There is no way of knowing what the future brings and there is probably no way of stopping it anyway.

But let’s be clear what is happening in the UK is the equivalent of the Beaker people being replaced by the Celts and the Celts being replaced by the Angles and the Saxons. It’s great if you are an Angle or a Saxon, just as it is great if you are a descendant of the Pilgrim Fathers, but it is not so great if you are descendant of one of the Native Americans who met Europeans at Jamestown for the first time in 1607. It’s not so great because your ancestor probably died of flu or smallpox and if he didn’t, he was pushed onto a reservation.

You don’t need to be an expert in demographic trends to see what is happening. The UK has been importing people at one hundred times the rate of the USA in the past 70 years compared to 1610-1680. What’s more the rate of demographic change in the UK is continually increasing. It has massively increased in the past decade.

To illustrate. There were almost no Muslims in Britain in 1950. By 1961 there 50,000. By 1991 there were 950,000, but by 2011 there were 2,706,000 and 2021 3,868,133. There had been an increase of more than a million in a decade. More Muslims live in the UK than Lebanon and almost as many as live in Palestine.

It isn’t necessary to be unpleasant about any British citizen to be concerned about the changes that are taking place to the demographics of the United Kingdom. I am willing to believe that limited migration is beneficial. But what we have is unlimited migration and it is going to change everything.

At what point were the Native Americans outnumbered? When did they lose control over most of the land they had inhabited? Not until the 1890s or a little later. It took the USA nearly 300 years. Here rather less.

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