Ed West

Christmas markets without armed police are now a thing of the past

Christmas markets without armed police are now a thing of the past
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I love the Christmas season, so friendly and wholesome and filled with evocative memories – but don't the machine guns and anti-terror bollards seem to go up earlier each year? Look at the touching festive scenes in Manchesterand Edinburghand we'll see the police and barriers across the country from Liverpool to LincolnIt's not quite Bedford Falls is it?

I've noticed these 'diversity bollards' popping up everywhere, without a word spoken about it; a few weeks ago I spotted them at Hyde Park Corner opposite the Duke of Wellington's house. How would one explain that to Old Nosey? Well, Britain has nuclear warheads that could literally obliterate any country that threatened us, but we now have medieval style walls within our city to stop threats from religious extremists. No, not those kind, it's a long story.

Does anyone in a position of power believe this is going to get better and these security measures will ever be taken down? If not, perhaps they should explain to us why, how they led us down this route, and what they intend to do about it.

Last week, buried under the ho-ha about President Trump's latest unbelievably stupid social media pronunciation, PEW released statistics suggesting that Britain will be 16.7 per cent Muslim by mid-century. The highly-respected research group also stated that the current figure is already 6.3 per cent, when it was assumed it was still hovering somewhere around the 5 per cent. In 2001, it was 3.07 per cent, a decade before that 1.86 per cent; back in 1961, it was 0.1 per cent.

Sixteen per cent is Pew's medium prediction, the outer estimates being 9.7 and 17.2 per cent. The lower figure is based on the extremely unlikely scenario that all Muslim immigration is shut off, something which is simply inconceivable in the current climate – and will become more politically impossible as the Muslim population increases. After all, doing something like that would only make people feel discriminated against, and we already have 23,000 angry jihadis in the country. So anything that appears Islamophobic will simply lead to more terrorism. And because extremism is fuelled by segregation, as the Muslim population grows then that number will grow exponentially, and the European Intifada will continue.

No free society can maintain its liberal traditions with that sort of internal threat, so as the problem deteriorates the surveillance state will expand. We will be faced with the decision about whether to allow the government to monitor people's internet activity, because the alternative would be asking serious questions about immigration and multiculturalism. The next step will be technology that can monitor individual movement's via CCTV. Inevitably, as lives are saved, we will accept it. Soon, I imagine, it will be routine to have armed police outside heretical mosques, synagogues and maybe even churches. We'll just accept it as being part and parcel of city life.

We're never getting our Christmas markets back – indeed I imagine western Europeans will soon flock to the former eastern bloc to feel the real spirit of an old-fashioned Christmas.

Even Pew's low estimate will mean a society in many ways unrecognisable. There will not only be the heightened terrorism threat. Our politics will become much more marked by ethno-religious lines; identity issues will produce frauds and charlatans who appeal to people's hearts and make them feel they are on their side. But that's the reality of multi-racial democracies, as America has shown us.

In fact, there is good reason to believe we may be heading for the upper figure; if Jeremy Corbyn becomes PM, and with him leading the opinion polls by 8 per cent that has to be a possibility, there is a chance his government will ease restrictions on migration from the developing world. A considerable number of his MPs will have majorities that depend on the Muslim vote, and those people who claim to represent that vote, and can get people to the polling station, favour loosening migration. In particular marriage is used as a way of getting family members British residency.

And even the middle, most likely figure of 16 per cent is going to produce social unrest. Secularisation is not going to come to the rescue, since even when people stop attending churches or mosques religion still functions as an anchor of identity (almost none of the paramilitaries in Northern Ireland were religious). Intermarriage is not going to save this situation, any more than it did in Bosnia. No government anti-extremism project is going to make a difference, nor any hate crime legislation. Forced integration has never worked and never will. By mid-century this country may well have the sort of political violence we've recently seen in Ulster. Indeed it may be worse, and we're passing on this completely self-inflicted problem to our children and grandchildren all because people in positions of power were too scared of saying something unpopular.