A nation of immigrants?

Posted on: 21 February 2014 by Gareth Hargreaves

This Intelligence Squared debate asks whether mass immigration will boost or damage our economy, culture and sense of nationhood

Immigration - a dog whistle call to all little Englanders and a topic that is trotted out on the pages of the Daily Mail and Daily Express with clockwork regularity. The much anticipated flood of Romanian and Bulgarian migrants harbingered by Nigel Farage among others, failed to materialise when curbs were removed on 1st January 2014.

There is clearly concern among sections of the UK population as to what is the acceptable level of immigration. Our collective history is made of successive periods of immigration, which have substanially enriched our economy and culture; from the Romans to the Angles, Saxons and Jutes, to Vikings, Normans and Huguenots (French Protestants), and in more recent history Germans, Russian Jews and various countries of the Empire - this is who we are as Britons. Should we not be rolling out the welcome mat?

This debate explores the depth of feeling behind the influx of foreigners arriving on our shores?

Are they as some commentators would have you believe simply here for the benefits system and free healthcare, or are valuable asset to society and business?

This debate is from the Intelligence Squared series.

Speakers for the motion

David AaronovitchDavid Aaronovitch

Times columnist and author


Ken LivingstoneKen Livingstone

Former Mayor of London (2000 – 2008) who promoted London as an international, multicultural city


Susie SymesSusie Symes

Economist, formerly at the Treasury and the European Commission, and chair of 19 Princelet Street, Europe’s first museum of immigration



Speakers against the motion

Nigel FarageNigel Farage

Leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) which calls for an end to mass, uncontrolled immigration


David GoodhartDavid Goodhart

Director of the think tank Demos, former editor of Prospect Magazine and author of The British Dream, a controversial book about immigration


Harriet SergeantHarriet Sergeant

Journalist, author, research fellow of the think tank Centre for Policy Studies, and author of Among the Hoods: My Years with a Teenage Gang




Jonathan FreedlandJonathan Freedland

Guardian columnist, author and broadcaster




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