Theresa May has come in for fierce criticism for her comments on immigration in a speech yesterday to the Conservative Party conference.
The home secretary said that the UK “does not need” large numbers of foreign arrivals, and that they force down wages.
Mrs May is right. It is patently true that mass immigration has left south east England, already one of the most densely populated regions on Earth, struggling to cope.
Railways, roads and the Tube are permanently congested, and house prices are so high that an entire generation of British society has been shut out of home ownership, save an elite that can rely on significant financial help from their parents.
But Mrs May touched on another huge problem that flows from mass immigration: it makes it harder to create a “cohesive society”. This, also, is obviously true.
Consider the case of the British jihadists, who have travelled to places such as Syria to inflict murder and mayhem, or who are planning terrorism in their very own country.
They are mostly young men who were born in Britain to first or second generation immigrants, yet have reached adulthood hating the UK, despite its affluence and freedoms.
This is a major failure of multiculturalism, and the society-wide failure to insist that immigrants who settle in this nation must accept a basic level of integration into the country and its ways. This failure was rooted in the fear that such requirements would be deemed racist. Mrs May is right to ignore the accusations of racism that she will also face.
It is important, too, that she nailed the implicit lie in the statement that Britain is a country of immigrants. Looked at over millennia, that is true of every island or land mass, but as Mrs May says, there has been “remarkable population stability” here compared to newer countries such as the US.
Compassion and limited entry for some refugees must not become an open door policy that rips apart the already fragile fabric of the UK.