Britain is experiencing a little turbulence

A long view of the problems of modern migration

The World Today
2 minute READ

Robert Winder

Author of ‘Bloody Foreigners and former literary editor of, The Independent and deputy editor of Granta

When Nigel Farage and his crop of UKIP MEPs turned their backs on a chamber-orchestra performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at the summer opening of the European Parliament, even sympathisers winced.

As political point scoring went, presenting so loutish a cold shoulder to a masterpiece of western music showed a jarring lack of courtesy, especially since those involved were not, it seemed, planning to reject the attached salary.

It was a sorry protest in that it showed a brazen disregard not merely for ‘EU regulations’ but for one of the grand peaks of European culture. So far as Britain is concerned, people – and ideas – have been drifting from Europe since the passing of the Ice Age. Not all were nice; not all were brilliant; not all were welcome. But Britain’s population is a rich old stew of Iberian, Celtic, Roman, Anglo-Saxon, Danish and Norman folk – even before we include the more varied migrations of the past hundred years.

Subscribe to read all issues

Articles from the current issue are free to read by all, the archive is exclusive to magazine subscribers and our members. Subscribe or become a member to view articles from the archive.