Former British Prime Minister Sir John Major has praised immigrants, saying they exhibit a “very conservative instinct” by coming to Britain to improve their families’ lives. He added that he admired their “guts and drive” in traveling thousands of miles in search of a better life.
The London Evening Standard reports that the former Conservative leader told BBC Radio 4’s Reflections programme that there was a “different social value” place on immigration when he was growing up in Brixton, London in the 1950s.
Sir John said: “They shared my house. They were my neighbours. I played with them as boys.
“I didn’t see people who had come here just to benefit from our social system. I saw people with guts and the drive to travel halfway across the world in many cases to better themselves and their families. And I think that is a very Conservative instinct.”
Immigration levels have increased exponentially since the 1950s, with the previous Labour government letting in record numbers.
Despite Sir John’s comments, the majority of immigrants and descendents of recent immigrants do not vote Conservative. According to pollster Lord Ashcroft, only 16 percent of ethnic minority voters voted Conservative at the last election, with more than two thirds voting Labour.
According to a poll he conducted in 2012, many felt that Labour was more positive about immigration and was more engaged in their communities.
Since immigration first started rising in the 1960s, Labour supported a policy of multiculturalism, which saw newly arrived immigrants establishing separate communities rather than integrating fully into British society.
Speaking in Munich in 2011, current Prime Minister David Cameron said that this policy had failed, saying it had allowed extremism to flourish in some communities. “We have failed to provide a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong. We have even tolerated these segregated communities behaving in ways that run counter to our values,” the Prime Minister said, adding that Britain needs a stronger sense of national identity.
Former Blair advisor Andrew Neather admitted in 2009 that Labour tried to use immigration to radically alter British society and “rub the right’s nose in diversity”.