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Immigration Policy and the “Crisis of British Values”

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It is widely believed that there is a lack of common values in contemporary Britain. One influential explanation is that immigration has created an ethnically “diverse” society with a multiplicity of values that have displaced the common culture. This article argues to the contrary that it is immigration policy that departs from an earlier consensus on British values. The article looks at the disagreement within the British elite over the measures adopted to deter asylum-seekers and argues that, in their effect on individual liberty and universal welfare provision, these measures indicate that a significant part of the political class has abandoned the post-war political consensus over what constituted British identity. Not only is the disagreement over the key values that make up British identity located at the heart of the establishment, rather than between native and immigrant, but it is the official deterrence of immigration which most clearly expresses the lack of consensus.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Regent's Park College, University of Oxford, UK

Publication date: September 1, 2006

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