There was a fascinating piece on BBC1's Breakfast this morning. It was called "The Changing Face of Britain" with Mark Easton, the BBC's Home Affairs editor.
They showed a composite picture representing the "face of Britain" in the 1960s. It was a white bloke. This was based on extensive research based on population figures.
As we all breathed in deeply, they then showed the composite "face of Britain" today. It was....er...another white bloke. It fact, this 2007 white bloke looked almost identical to the 1960 white bloke. Mark Easton helpfully pointed out that the 2007 bloke's jaw was a bit bigger.
Mark pointed out that only 7 out of every 100 people in this country are from an ethnic community. He said that most people don't encounter people from ethnic communities in their everyday life. A large majority of ethnic people are concentrated in the cities, particularly London where they make up 40% of the population.
It was also interesting to hear from him that most immigration into this country is from Ireland. I was not aware of this. I looked for some details about this on the web. I did find this statement at the Office of National Statistics:
In 1997 there were over 440 thousand Irish nationals living in the United Kingdom, more than the total of all the other European Union (EU) nationals living here. Of those UK nationals living in other EU countries, about a third were living in Germany, with the Irish Republic being the next most common country.
I have heard some rather extreme right-wing people complaining about Poles coming to this country. Poland is of course in the EU. The 443,000 Irish people (oldish figures - 1997) here dwarf the amount of Poles recently arrived (49,000 in 2005).
Also, if you take Ireland out of the equation, more or less the same amount of UK citizens live elsewhere in the EU as citizens of other EU countries live here - 322,000 versus 362,000 for 1997, which is the most recent year for which I can find figures.
I did find this piece in The Times which said that in 2005 "68,000 people from the 'Old Commonwealth' - Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa - came to Britain intending to stay for at least a year..." That's quite a large chunk of our annual immigration which seems to get ignored.