Looking very much into the future, what will the predicted demographic shifts in the British population do to London?
I have isolated London simply because it is ‘my’ city, or at least the one in which I live. My home city of Bristol has been spared the Islamisation process up to now, and that may not change, given Bristol’s fortunate isolation. What happens in London furthermore, often sets the trend for other large cities in England, so it’s worth focusing on.
As I type, London is divided into different sub-regions, each with a vastly different identity and standard of living. The most obvious of these divisions is the simple contrast between the Eastern and Western halves of the city.
In West London, where I live, the cost of housing is far above the English average. The neighbourhoods are less diverse than is typical of other major cities, and few areas have a concentrated population of Muslims. Overall, the residential areas are safe, and gang-violence is rare.
Over in the East, the reverse is true. The housing can be astonishingly cheap, and the urban areas are some of the most diverse in Europe. Tower Hamlets, a borough coterminous with the ‘old East End’, has an ethnic-minority majority, largely formed of Bangladeshi Muslims. In Newham and Hackney too, ethnic minority populations are dominant, numerically and culturally.
This division is often extreme. To compare the atmosphere of say, Richmond-Upon-Thames, with the streets of Newham is like considering two different civilisations. One rich, white, cheerful and safe, and the other, poor, diverse, depressed and dangerous.
Regarding all this, some important questions present themselves, including the following –
Given the inevitability of a clash between these two contrasting standards of living, which half of London will ultimately enforce its identity on the other?
And if neither manages this, will London eventually become a partitioned city like Bradford, with a poor Islamic East, separated from a salubrious rich West?
The 2011 census shocked many. It shouldn’t have. Anyone who lives in London barely raised an eyebrow. London is cosmopolitan in the extreme. And rightly so.
I adore the mix of peoples where I live. I associate everyday with Spaniards, Colombians, Lebanese, Chinese, and Polish people. It’s rare I talk to someone whose native language is English.
This is wonderful. To be offended by it is to be offended by the world. I wouldn’t trade London for Cumbria or Wales in a million years. I know that Nick Griffin resides in Welshpool these days – and he’s welcome to do so, but he and his party have no right to try and enforce that homogeneity on the rest of us.
Perhaps it’s because I’m of Latin appearance that the BNP don’t thrill me. But despite my own reasons, who would really endorse a party in whose world the half-black Ryan Giggs isn’t ‘really’ Welsh and the Jewish Stephen Fry isn’t ‘really’ English? Who would even dare suggest the former in a Welsh pub?
But then ‘immigration’ as a word has a neutral value. One cannot say ‘Immigration is a good thing’, unless one knows what kind of immigration one is endorsing.
Few would argue that immigration from any source is a good thing, or at least they wouldn’t when talking of the area they themselves live.
A Swedish family of 4 moving next door to you raises the price of your home. A Pakistani family of 8 moving next door to you lowers it.
Let’s not pretend we don’t understand why.
London is becoming less and less English, both in the East and West. London is becoming like the world. The immigrants of the Western world are moving to the West of the city, and the immigrants of the East to the Eastern half.
The unity of London is not something one should lazily count on. Belfast today is officially one city, but in reality, there are strict borders between faith communities still in place. Could London become like this?
Quite possibly. I don’t believe that the Western half of London will ever give way to the East. More likely is that the wealthy West will buy up the properties of the East-End and renovate them, pricing the locals out, as happened with Canary Wharf.
But in general don’t bet against the idea that London could be partitioned. It isn’t a mad thought anymore.