Claims that immigration is a danger to British culture were
dismissed at a conference in London last week to mark the end of
Community Care’s Right to Refuge campaign.
Peter Hitchens, the Mail on Sunday columnist, told the
conference it was wrong to assume that people concerned about
asylum seekers were ill-informed and needed to be educated.
“There is a reason to be worried about large-scale immigration,”
Hitchens said, adding that immigration threatened “British
But Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, a writer and columnist with
Community Care who arrived in Britain from Uganda in the
1970s, told Hitchens that he would share more with her culture than
he would with that of British “pub thugs”.
Hitchens refused to be drawn on questions from Alibhai-Brown on
the differences between her culture and his and what it was about
her that “horrified him”.
Alibhai-Brown said she had never seen the level of hostility
towards asylum seekers as was apparent now.
Speaking at the conference, the new chief executive of the
Refugee Council, Maeve Sherlock, praised the Right to Refuge
In her first public speech in the post, Sherlock said she wanted
to congratulate Community Care for “giving energy to the
issue” – in contrast to much of the coverage in other areas of the
media. “I encourage you to object to an outrageous headlines every
time you read one,” she said.
Sherlock emphasised that failure to meet the requirements to
stay in this country did not make an asylum seeker bogus, a
description often used in some sections of the press. “Are people
who get turned down for loans called bogus loan seekers?” she
She said the powerful stories about refugees and what had
happened to them were often not heard and urged her colleagues in
the refugee sector to tell these stories in order to change
She said that “even the tiniest shift makes a difference, when
faced with the wall of public hostility”.