If the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, is to bebelieved, the anger felt by many people regarding immigration is so great thatviolence could result.
The right-wing Conservative MP Enoch Powell pulled a similarverbal stunt in 1968 in his “rivers of blood” speech – and the whiteriot never materialised.
So why Lord Carey has been revisiting Powell’s discreditedtheme is a mystery. What is not in dispute is that the UK’s population may top70 million by 2033.
Yet, by accident or design, Lord Carey has managed to linkthe rise in population with immigration, an association that is both poorlythought-out and dangerous.
As Joan Smith argues in the Independent today, perhaps LordCarey and his cohorts should be looking towards promoting the benefits of contraceptionin order to control population growth. After all, we in the West are always keento extol the virtues of birth control in discussions about family size in developing nations.
But Lord Carey sorties even further into la-la land when hetalks about giving preference to Christian immigrants.
As it happens, most immigrants in modern Britain do comefrom nominally Christian countries, whether they are from eastern Europe, the whiteCommonwealth or, in lesser numbers these days, the Caribbean.
What Lord Carey has forgotten is that the UK has moved onfrom being the god-fearing, old-maid-cycling-to-church society of yore to onethat is increasingly defined by agnosticism and atheism.
The real threat to Christianity is not from immigrants butfrom within. Increasingly, UK citizens do not define themselves as Christian,and many who do use the term use it loosely because they might havebeen christened or baptised at an early age before they could make up their minds for themselves.
What we can do without, as we head towards a general election, is an out-of-touch former archbishop making sweeping statements that send thedebate in the wrong direction. Moreover, they are a poor advert for Christianity.