David Cameron carefully called human beings a “swarm”. Like a tedious, shock-stirring hate columnist might call people drowning in the sea “cockroaches”, there was only one purpose – to turn them into not-people. If they are a swarm, if they are a they, then they are a mass, not individuals, not people with families and stories and lives. They are insects.
If you asked me to describe my country nowadays, I’d say it’s somewhere that’s unfriendly, unwelcoming, insular, like an alleycat crouched snarling over the corpse of a dead rat, determined to cling on to the scraps it’s got and to hell with everything else. People in London might claim it’s the most diverse city in the universe, blah de blah, but we like rich “diversity” – we just don’t like people from elsewhere if they might have needs rather than pump in dirty money.
But this is what we want. We have government by focus group, and focus groups are made up of the man and woman in the street, and I’ve met the man and woman in the street, and the man and woman in the street are cunts. We don’t want our precious beautiful perfect soil to be tainted by human beings fleeing terrible poverty, war, death and destruction in their homelands. Sure, it’s terrible for them and all that, but we’d rather look the other way and pretend they don’t really exist. Could we shunt them a bit further away from Calais, so they don’t spoil our nice holidays so much? Can we stop them getting in boats on the Mediterranean? Shut down the borders. Build a huge wall. Stop them coming. Look the other way. This isn’t a humanitarian crisis; it’s about our right to a nice life, which is apparently under threat by showing a scrap of compassion to other people, people like us, who just happened to be born under different circumstances.
You feel almost apologetic nowadays, some kind of ridiculous bleeding heart, if you talk about immigration this way. You feel like you have to justify why you think it’s a good idea not to treat people like insects, why everyone should have the right for a good life, even if that means that the quality of ours might suffer a little to accommodate people who’ve got nowhere else to go. You think, is it me? Am I wrong? Is it just me who doesn’t mind if we help people who need help, because it’s the right thing to do? When did we stop doing things because it’s the right thing to do? But it seems so hopelessly outdated.
We chose this. Time and again, Britain has decided to make itself less and less welcoming to visitors, be they refugees, economic migrants or world-renowned artists. We don’t want you here: that’s the message that comes across, in speech and in policy. But it’s not just David Cameron and his party. There’s a points system in place that means there’s a huge skills shortage. It was a “red line” for the Coalition deal: the Liberal Democrats might bleat about an anti-immigration policy now, but they had five years of chauffeur-driven luxury and nice shiny offices by letting it happen. Labour had a “Controls on Immigration” mug for sale during the election. Ukip have thrived on back-of-a-fag-packet Little Britain racism. It’s a broad consensus. People don’t like immigration, therefore we must do something about it. Something; anything.
It starts with language like “swarm” and calls to bring in the army. Bring in the army to deal with people, many of whom are fleeing conflict at home. Run away from guns to be faced by more guns. Look for hope and help, be met with contempt. This is Britain, and you’re not welcome. We don’t like you and we don’t want you here. Why don’t you just not bother?