Alex Massie

Why won’t immigrants assimilate?

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Some readers don't think it's fair or reasonable for people living in rural areas to talk about immigration. Fair enough, though it's not as though I've always lived in the countryside. Anyway, some country dwellers don't much like immigrants either. Here's a note from a Dordogne correspondent:

I live in the countryside and have pretty strong views on some immigrants. I'd like some of them to hop back over to the other side of the channel seeing they can't be bothered to learn French or even be polite enough to say Bonjour (or even Bonn Jaw) when they go into shops etc. l think many of them think they are in Kenya c.1925 not France

I met a hopeless woman in Intermarché the other day who wanted custard powder and was rudely shouting at the poor assistant about it (in English, obviously, which is why the assistant grabbed me to translate) and she said she lived here but spoke no French - I said she'd soon learn, early days yet etc etc and asked how long she'd been here... 13 years.

Most of them don't work or employ fellow English people as electricians, roofers and so on (their only qualification being a common language natch) and then they are surprised nothing works and they have no redress  when someone gets electrocuted or falls off the roof they end up in court for travail au noir and so on.

They don't like us (French people), or how we do things (they moan all the time) but as they love cheap wine and can buy the Daily Mail in town and shop for baked beans in English shops and associate with fellow expats the rest doesn't matter....

As it happens, I think immigrant should aspire to assimilate and that most, indeed the great majority, of them will actually do so. That is, they will in Britain. There's obviously less incentive for them to do so in south-west France or Spain since a) they can club together in ex-pat ghettoes and b) they've retired overseas and are basically just waiting to die in the sunshine. So there's no real incentive for them to do very much to assimilate.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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