This week, the most recent tranche of knowledge from the UK’s 2021 census was revealed, together with figures on race and ethnicity. It was promptly met with a volley of incendiary responses, freely giving the eagerness with which some had evidently been ready to weaponise the outcomes.
Nigel Farage, former chief of the UK Independence occasion, recorded a hasty video from a union-jack-draped automobile seat, during which he mentioned that “London, Birmingham and Manchester are all now minority-white cities”, and “only 46 per cent [of Britons] now identify as Christian . . . a massive change in the identity of this country that is taking place through immigration”.
Conservative commentator Douglas Murray, who has beforehand described London as having “become a foreign country”, echoed Farage in blaming the declining numbers of British Christians on immigration. Others talked of rising segregation and “no-go areas” on social media.
But virtually all of those claims are unfaithful, as even a cursory have a look at the information reveals.
First, there’s the truth that London (54 per cent white) and Manchester (57 per cent) are usually not minority white in any respect, and Birmingham (49 per cent) solely makes it underneath the wire by a hair’s breadth. Farage and co should have been wanting solely at those that establish as each British and white.
But if figuring out as British is the important thing, why depend solely white Britons? (I feel we all know the reply.) We have knowledge on the share of individuals in every area which have a British id. In London, it’s 78 per cent — and black and mixed-race Londoners usually tend to establish as British than the white inhabitants.
The faith declare is much more risible. The argument is that “mass immigration” has hastened Christianity’s decline in Britain. Yet that decline has been pushed overwhelmingly by white Britons, lower than half of whom now say they’re Christian, down from 69 per cent in 2011, a lack of about 7mn.
If preserving the Christian religion is essential to “saving” Britain, then we must always look to the nation’s black inhabitants. Seventy-two per cent of this demographic are Christian, half one million greater than in 2011. The non-British white neighborhood can also be price analyzing — 60 per cent are Christian, with one million added for the reason that final census.
One may also ask why this appears to matter a lot. As far again as 1995, lower than a 3rd of Britons thought being Christian was an necessary a part of being British. By 2020, that had fallen to twenty per cent. The final time I set foot in a church, apart from Christmas, Easter, weddings and funerals, was once I went to Doncaster’s “iconic” nightclub Camelots, a former Presbyterian chapel behind whose stained-glass home windows many sins have been dedicated. In trendy Britain, I believe a drunken evening out offers a stronger supply of shared nationwide expertise than attending church on a Sunday.
Finally, we come to the warnings over “segregation” and “no-go areas”, which once more show unfounded. While Christianity ranks low on the checklist of issues Britons say one requires to be really British, talking the language ranks highest. But drill right down to even essentially the most monoethnic of Britain’s non-white neighbourhoods, and a transparent majority converse fluent English in each single one.
Segregation is certainly one of many phrases UK tradition warriors have imported from the US and now apply liberally however incorrectly on this aspect of the Atlantic. Racial segregation was legally mandated within the US south for the very best a part of a century underneath Jim Crow, and the coverage of “redlining” — or denying monetary providers on racial grounds — quietly prolonged comparable practices. This has left an extended shadow, with one in 40 US neighbourhoods nonetheless extremely segregated, in comparison with fewer than one in 1,000 in Britain.
There is, although, one level on which I’ll concede: these commentators are proper in implying that they’re a part of a minority group going through terminal decline. In 2006, solely 10 per cent of Britons thought that to be really British you needed to be white. By 2020, that determine had fallen to three per cent.