There’s a letter, indeed the featured one, bold type ‘n’ all, in today’s Times.
On-line (though not in print) the correspondence is sub-headed:
The metropolitan liberal elite show contempt for the population of rural England and the democratic choice some of them have made
It is all a response to a piece by David Aaronovitch. As far as Malcolm’s comprehension goes, Aaronovitch was presenting the “modernist” case, particularly in one respect:
Prime Minister’s Questions … had begun with a warning about the almost imminent collapse of A&E services in England and bad unemployment figures across the UK. Yet of the six Conservative MPs who stood to ask questions, no less than five were talking about when to have a referendum on Europe. They might as well have been in Caracas.
But they are all MPs and all honourable men, I thought, so this difference in perception is probably mutual. Where they sit for in Essex, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire or Wiltshire, the EU may indeed be more important than it is to me in London. On questions such as immigration, perhaps my metropolitan attitude seems as peculiar to them as their parochialism does to me.
And it suddenly occurred to me that this difference in perception helps to explain the divided nature of Boris Johnson. When he is being touted (as periodically he is) by right-wing Tories as an acceptable successor to the backsliding Cameron, Boris can appear something of a shire hero. But when he’s actually talking seriously about the future of Britain, he’s a full member of the metropolitan elite.
Yes, Malcolm thinks he has a grasp on that.
So here comes Michael Patterson of Swineshead, Lincs:
Sir, David Aaronovitch seems shocked by the realisation that, outside London and the great cities and university towns, there exists an England that does not buy into the cosy liberal certainties of “an outward-looking, open-minded polity” (“Unshackle London from the backward shires”, Opinion, May 16).
He cites Boston, Lincolnshire, where the immigrant population — virtually all from EU countries — is now about 10 per cent. An unremarkable proportion in a capital city perhaps, but in this traditional market town a change that has come about within ten years, putting enormous pressure on housing, schools, the NHS and policing.
Mr Patterson suggests whom to blame:
[Aaronovitch] is largely right to suggest that these immigrants are filling agricultural jobs that locals are no longer willing to do. He seems to view the latter’s interests as unimportant in comparison with an immigration policy that is bringing about a radical change in the character of British society without the explicit support of the people.
Hold your horse, Mike!
That’s not the whole story, at all, at all.
The essential fault, if there is one, lies with agribusiness, and — at one remove — its unwholesome dependency on the big supermarket chains. Which makes us consumers and our demand for cheap food — at two removes — also culpable.
The economics mean that the whole food-chain relies on the gang-masters. Let’s hat-tip another Tory, worthy in one respect: the MP for Boston and Skegness is Mark Simmonds, Mr Patterson’s elected representative. Simmonds may feel a hunted man with the UKIP surge on his patch; but he deserves respect for his extended campaign to make gang-masters fully responsible.
Malcolm feels a letter to The Times coming on. Like all his other great thoughts, it will likely go unpublished.
He would wish to express sympathy to Lincolnshire folk threatened by alien incursions.
In his North Norfolk youth he recalls similar griefs being expressed.
Even after thirty years in the neighbourhood, one particular social out-cast was regularly denounced as a “furrener” [Sc. “foreigner”]. He was a yeller-belly, an incomer from Lincolnshire, one of the scab-labourers brought in by the local farmers to break the farm-workers’ strike of April 1923.
What goes around, comes around.