Thursday, September 08, 2005
Immigration is one of those political topics that always seem to generate more heat than light. So it was interesting to see some data rather than bigotry for a change. This Wednesday, the BBC published a report it had commissioned from the IPPR, based on data from the 2001 census, which examined the foreign-born population (whether naturalised or not) resident in the UK.
One's attitudes to immigration tend to be governed by whether one is a drawbridge up or drawbridge down person. If you prefer not to see some cherished myths demolished, look away now.
Among the findings in the BBC's Born Abroad survey are some interesting factoids:
- 7.53% (4.3 million) of Britain's 2001 population had been born abroad.
- Far more of these immigrants live in London or south-east England than anywhere else. Greater London alone accounts for 1.8 million of the 4.3 million people who were born abroad.
- The place in the UK with the highest proportion of residents born abroad (about 52%) was Wembley. The place with the smallest proportion (0.63%) was Glasgow Easterhouse.
- The foreign country supplying the largest number of UK residents born abroad was the Republic of Ireland.
- Germany came an astounding fourth (ahead of the Caribbean), the result of a large number of British children being born to service personnel stationed in Germany since 1945.
- The USA came sixth in the list, ahead of Bangladesh.
We know from the work of Prof Richard Florida on the 'creative class' that towns and cities that embrace an ethnically diverse population tend to perform better economically. We also know that more cosmopolitan cultures are politically more (small 'l') liberal.
If I were a budding Liberal Democrat candidate, I would be scrutinising the detailed district-by-district figures, together with data on where graduates and undergraduates live, for some clues about the future good prospects for parliamentary gains over the next few years.
If so, I'm in.