When I started writing this post last week, I accepted that by the time I next write a blog post, we will no longer count as an EU state. Time to reminisce, I thought, about the good times, because, unlike Boris, who is a Europhobe, I have many good memories of the things the EU did for me. And then came that awful news. I now edit that blog, remove all the daft humour, in the shadow of the death of Jo Cox and the disgusting UKIP poster, which misuses a tragic picture of Syrian refugees.
The outcome has become a side-show. The forces unleashed by the campaigns are the issue now and it will get worse if we have Michael Gove or Boris Johnson as our next xenophobic prime minister. Boris, as PM, won’t reduce the number of foreigners living in our country. Presumably, we will then wait for the ‘strong man,’ to rid us of them. Sound familiar? The man who murdered Jo Cox presumably sees himself as the strong man – as did the Norway murderer Anders Behring and the Orlando killer, or Heinrich Himmler. Behring’s biggest worry at his trial, was that he would be pronounced insane.
It is all so far from the golden time of migration, when 1880 to 1914, the UK accepted 3.2 million refugees from Eastern Europe and Russia. We don’t know the exact number. 3.2 million is the number who entered the country through the port of Hull. 2 million of those trans-migrated to the USA, Canada, South Africa etc. mainly through Liverpool. Hull Paragon Station still has the specially built platform, from which the trans-migrants left for Merseyside. Many of the 1.2 million who remained in the UK, settled in Hull. They had run out of money, didn’t read or speak enough English to realise they were not in America yet, or just liked England and the English. The list of those men and women, who made Hull a powerful UK city, is impressive. Maureen Lipman and Gwyneth Paltrow are descendants of just two of those families – one remained in Hull, the other continued to the USA. We owe this information to the tireless work of WISE (Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery), which is part of Hull University, and studies the history of migration out of commitment to historical facts.
Why can we no longer find that charity and kindness? We have more than the average Hull family had, in the 1890s. I have met some of the 10 000 Jewish children who, 1937-39, arrived in England through the Kindertransport. Their lives were saved by charities. The British Government removed immigration controls. Everything else was down to personal kindnesses of ordinary men and women, who adopted a child for ever. The stories of their lives in England, is one of massive contribution to our country. Dr. Stern and Dr. Meerapfel accompanied me through my childhood as our family doctors.
The Polish pilots who, in 1939 got out in time, and formed their own squadron within the RAF, are another group I enjoyed keeping company with. One was my boss for a while. I remember thinking as a 20 year old, ‘I want to be like him when I’m fifty.’ The 50 000 French nationals currently living in London, the same number of first language English speakers in Berlin, the 320 000 Irish nationals in the UK. The list goes on. Are they no longer welcome, no longer our friends? Where are we going to draw the welcome/unwelcome line? I’d like to know!
Michael Howard fought a general election on a race ticket, and I’m proud to say he lost. Oswald Mosley’s fascist rallies in Hull and East London were booed down by protesters. That’s the England I’m proud of.
England is a sad place now, and it’s not the fault of the foreigners. Let us hope Jo Cox is ultimately a wake-up call to the nation. An even bigger tragedy would be if she died for nothing and her memory is erased by a bunch of power-hungry Eton toffs.