The Corner

Names, births and cohesion

Muhammed (or a variant thereof) is now the second most popular baby name in the UK. But as Fraser Nelson points out, this isn’t an indicator of anything disastrous yet. Moreover, Fraser sees optimism here:

A more important point is that foreign-born Britons make up about 8% of the population but 20% of mothers – keeping up Britain’s flagging birth rates.

The most important point is that Britain is far more at ease with this than the Netherlands or Germany. The level of cohesion in Britain is striking: we have mass immigration, but no far-right party in mainstream politics. As John O’Sullivan has pointed out, we were the original multi-ethnic state with an empire bound by unifying culture of Britishness. And we’ve never needed a “British day” to prove the point.

I’m not so sure I agree. That unifying culture was essentially abolished in the 60s and 70s, although it took time for the abolition to trickle down. The faux culture of the BritPop era that began with Tony Blair becoming leader of the Labour Party and ended with the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, was an organic attempt to recreate a Britishness artifically. It didn’t work. The resilience of British values has so far impeded the creation of a significant far-right party, but to an extent so did the absorption of those with pretty extreme views within a broad-church Conservative Party. It gave those people status and even local office without reflecting the views at the national level (the same was true of Stalinists and Trotskyites in the Labour Party – and there are still MPs who represent those strands of thought despite Tony Blair). David Cameron’s attempts to repudiate connections with those extreme views may backfire into the creation of an extra-Party group that reaches critical mass. They haven’t yet, thank goodness, but increasing dissatisfaction among the grassroots with Cameron’s leadership might provoke that. There’s an old adage about people and tents that applies here.