30 October, 2010
To pass or repass with or without horses and carts
As an afterthought, dear old Jel asserts the right to international freedom of movement and reminds us that before about 1900 there were few if any formal restrictions on movement in Europe. This is a fairly standard claim resorted to by the Righteous Left to justify open borders but they always omit one vital qualification, namely that in them thar days of yore very few people actually did migrate across national borders.
It wasn't that freedom of international movement was particularly welcomed or regarded as a "right", it was simply that actively restricting it was not a practical necessity. When continuing levels of immigration sufficiently high to worry the natives began with the arrival of Jews emigrating from Eastern Europe around the end of the 19th century, the UK government acted to impose restrictions.
It's easy to magnanimously grant a right or freedom in the expectation that it will not be taken up. If only one bedraggled African a year pitched up on these shores claiming that his enemies back home were being unpleasant to him, we could all bask in the glow of our vicarious generosity and decency, parading each such "victim" through the streets in a gilded palanquin on his way to a state-funded life of well-deserved luxury. But when modern communications make it practicable for hundreds of thousands if not millions of the deserving international poor and oppressed to turn up, we may need to do a rethink.
In short, Jeremy lad, your observation is a perfectly valid one. But it's totally irrelevant.
Oh, that title. It comes from a restrictive covenant on a house in Manchester in which we once lived. The plot of land on which it was built was part of a larger parcel the owner of which wished to preserve his access options to. And so a strip of land at the back of the house was set aside along which the long-dead original owner of the site, his successors or nominees could "pass or repass with or without horses and carts" at any time. The right was never to my knowledge exercised during our time there. But if the buggers had been riding up and down every few minutes day and night...
But then again, maybe not.
Very in keeping with the 10:10 theme.