Sunday Sport

We just ‘liked it as it was’


THERE’S a good chance that if you don’t live in Doncaster, you won’t have heard of a man called Nick Fletcher.

He’s the MP for Don Valley and was one of the Tory MPs elected in Boris Johnson’s demolition of the Red Wall in 2019.

Last week he got on his hind legs to speak during the debate on the Rwanda bill.

It’s pretty fair to say that Mr Fletcher is not one of history’s great orators.

He sounds like a small town solicitor or the leader of a local chamber of commerce – which he once was.

However, his speech caused something of a stir.

Fletcher said: “We are turning parts of our community into a ghetto... you have a 12- hour waiting list at A& E, and the reason why the waiting list is so long is because people don’t speak English in these places anymore.”

As it is, Don Valley is not exactly a multicultu­ral melting pot. The population in Don Valley is 94% UK- born and 96% white, while English is the mother tongue of 97% of Fletcher’s constituen­ts.

But it’s one of the places where a recent influx of immigrants is noticed, precisely because it did not have a large immigrant population before.

His speech drew theatrical gasps and shouts of “shocking” from the Labour backbenche­s.

His interventi­on was compared to Enoch Powell’s notorious Rivers of Blood speech.

Er, sorry… no.

With all respect to Mr Fletcher, it had none of the classical references or rhetorical panache of Powell’s oration.

Nor will it be remembered like Powell’s, which is still being quoted more than 50 years later.

But there was one line in Mr Fletcher’s speech that does stand out, and that does deserve to be remembered.

Mr Fletcher said people “don’t expect to be called racist or xenophobic for saying ‘ we liked it as it was’”.

And that’s the thing, isn’t it? Ordinary people who have seen their communitie­s changed beyond recognitio­n, ‘ liked it as it was’. They never asked for large scale immigratio­n.

They never wanted an influx of people, often young men, with a take on life wildly at odds with their own.

Not because they are racist. Not because they care not for the needy of the world.

They just ‘ liked it as it was’. Britain has a very long tradition of welcoming refugees. French Huguenots fleeing Catholic persecutio­n, Jews escaping the Russian pogroms, South Asians forced out by Idi Amin’s racism, Hong Kong Chinese, Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s invasion.

The Anglo- Saxon blood that courses through the veins of so many of us is immigrant blood.

So it’s not right to call the people of Britain racist for having concerns about this latest spike in immigratio­n.

We just – in that wonderful, understate­d, very- British way – ‘ liked it as it was’. email: simon@sundayspor­

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