THE BLOG
05/09/2011 17:52 BST | Updated 04/11/2011 05:12 GMT

Please Can We Have More Immigration?

I want to be a Merry Englander again, not a little one. The more immigrants we have the merrier, say I.

BLUE Mink moving me to tears doing Melting Pot on Top of the Pops; standing in the rain with anti-apartheid campaigners outside Barclays on a Saturday morning; laughing at the humour of West Indies' supporters in the cheap seats at the Oval; nervously spluttering a few words in Spanish at my daughter's wedding to a Venezuelan musician.

It's been a long and winding road. What a shame the destination still, at times, seems a far distant horizon.

Born among dark, Satanic mills, an honest bloke with no criminal record, and never having owned a passport, I reckon my opinion on who should or should not be allowed to come and live in the UK is as relevant as the next person's. Besides, as Günter Grass reminds us, "The job of a citizen is to keep his mouth open."

I wrote recently about working in a factory during student vacations. Putting the world to rights was compulsory, how the lads did on Saturday less so: instant replays were in their infancy. All my work-mates could support their views on politics or economics with examples and/or statistics. Current affairs were not reports of celebrities' infidelities, which were of no interest anyway.

Yesterday I had a long discussion with a friend from northern Europe who has lived in the UK for two years and works in catering. Inquisitive of mind and now fluent in English, he is disappointed by how few people he meets want to engage in dialectics.

"They wave me away, tell me to shut up or change the subject to last night's television."

I think too of the Polish bus driver, who lets passengers off opposite homes down country lanes. Does he not realise that the British don't do that sort of thing?

And, as a father also bereft of a son, I weep for and with Tariq Jahan, whose dignity and bravery lit candles across the world following the hit-and-run murders in Winson Green.

Then there are the cleaners and shop assistants, the nurses and teachers, the students I meet, the kids who walk past my window. This isn't middle England. Like every other place at any given time on the planet, it is the centre of a global neighbourhood.

Meanwhile, another friend has returned to Germany and now works in Hamburg, a city much cleaner than any on our soil. I think she'd had enough of low pay, long hours and the disrespectful treatment of employees.

I love the country of my birth and life, but it seems now to be more and more a sceptic isle, 'set in a sea of junk food', according to the Lonely Planet guide, which also considers it a 'telling indictment' that more Britons vote in TV talent shows than in elections.

It takes courage to move abroad. People migrate because they seek to better themselves in some way, to broaden their understanding, to work hard in pursuit of a decent standard of living. We should welcome them with open arms, for they are the adventurers, the risk-takers, the movers and shakers of tomorrow. And they just might provide a necessary jolt for those sitting on their complacent, self-important, British backsides

I want to be a Merry Englander again, not a little one. The more immigrants we have the merrier, say I.

Marcus's blogs on political and social issues and on education and learning