I’m 50% with Dr Alf because I remember this sort of thing from my childhood and from the experiences of my late father in 1957 when he was quietly sitting in the White Lion pub in Baldock having undertaken a day’s work as an Italian immigrant and ex POW who had repaired war damage from as far north as Bassingham in Lincolnshire to as far South as Bromley in Kent.
In those days, you did unpleasant work which the indigenous population did not want to do such as making bricks for the council houses which Harold MacMillan had promised to build for the working classes or work on farms and in factories.
At the time, the accusation leveled at this immigrant group was that “they are taking our jobs” and ate food that was too full of olive oil and garlic and that they worked too hard.
In my late father’s case, these thoughts as he quietly drank his half pint of Light and Bitter were expressed in a torrent of racial abuse which did not move him to do anything but watch the man shouting at him and the assembled drinkers who made no attempt to stop the man from speaking so loudly. The tirade reached a crescendo and then the man picked up a bar stool and rushed headlong at where my father was sitting. Again the people in the bar did nothing and the publican studiously polished glasses and optics whilst pretending to look the other way. My father was very fast in those days, he dodged the bar stool, sidestepped as it shattered into pieces on the bar like a scene in a Western film without Stetson hats and loaded revolvers. The man bearing what was left of the bar stool rushed forward again ready to strike with the remaining leg and my father then struck him with one punch(an earlier version of the “cluncking fist”). The man remained unconscious for a full 33 minutes, my father finished his drink left the pub and went home.
He was never troubled again but at the time not one person came to his aid which I think says it all. The prejudices that he and other waves of immigrants faced in their respective times never went away but remained hidden as post war prosperity raised “all boats”.
With Globalisation, automation, cybernetics and falling worker productivity people saw certain jobs as beneath themselves but not beneath migrant labour who were tolerated as long as they kept themselves to themselves.
Now because of the engineered banking crisis, there are not enough jobs of the type that people want to do to be shared out so the old animosities and hatreds have re-emerged and this time a man has died in Harlow for no greater crime than speaking in Polish to a fellow Pole in a underpoliced shopping centre full of feral youths.
The Brexit vote allowed some of these latent animosities to surface but if anyone imagines that the UK is a tolerant society even now, is ignoring the reality which is hidden behind genteel words rather than being expressed as it is in America by men in white robes and hoods performing Nazi salutes.
The issue of Muslims and non assimilation and their desire to dress differently and demand Global Caliphates, Sharia Law and special treatment is irksome and will result in civil insurrection if it is allowed to continue so yes Angela Merkel and German economic policies which treated much of Europe as vassal states have made the feelings, which were always there ,resurface,,triggered by the Brexit Vote, the Banking crisis and sell-off of former UK businesses to foreign buyers resulting in major job
John, your story of your late dad reminds me of the prejudice towards Italian vineyard workers in the seventies in Western Australia.
I was working in Sydney at the time, and flew out to Perth for the weekend to look up an old school friend. I heard him join in with the anti-Italian banter and asked him later about his problem with the Italian immigrants. He hesitated and then replied, ”Well, they work to hard don’t they…’.