Annette is a language and drama teacher with a master's degree in education.
Thinking about British culture, most people will probably have visions of pubs, football, jacket potatoes and baked beans. It might not be an entirely wrong assumption. According to the book, 1 227 QI Facts, Britons eat 97% of the world's baked beans. There is however more to the British culture than baked beans and pubs.
Britain has a rich culture of architecture, literature, theatre, cinema and history. The British also love animals and it has been joked that the queen is only really happy when she is around her horses and corgis.
Until 1948 immigration was slow, but after World War Two Britain couldn't find enough people from European countries to assist them with rebuilding a war-torn Britain. The day marked as the beginning of mass immigration to the UK is believed to be 22 June 1948 when the Empire Windrush docked in London delivering hundreds of West Indian men.
Now, sixty-plus years later, Britain finds itself having to deal with a massive immigration dilemma and many angry Britons who are opposing the immigration policy and the constant influx of foreigners to the country.
Different Cultures in Britain
Immigrants to Britain come from all over the world. Some are from countries who have a lot in common with Britain and they find it easier to fit into the British culture. There are however many people from cultures that are very different from the British culture.
People who come from America, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa have language, many times religion and basic western culture in common with Britain, while people from Asian countries might find there are very little commonalities.
Until 2005 the biggest immigrant groups came from Ireland, India and Pakistan with South Africa, Italy and Kenya having the fewest. This picture changed rapidly in the last couple of years with more and more European countries joining the EU (European Union). The largest group of immigrants now comes from Poland. Once Brexit is complete this will change.
While there seems to be a belief that many immigrants can't speak English, percentage-wise it is a very small group.
The following is an extract from an article published by the Guardian on 30 January 2013
The language data was also taken as evidence that immigrants may have a greater sense of belonging than government ministers, keen to cut net migration, have suggested.
The census revealed that 13% of the population was born abroad, but only 138,000 people, less than 0.5% of the population, could speak no English at all and in total only 1.6% of residents could speak it not well or not at all.
This contradicts a statement by Eric Pickles, the communities secretary, who said in a recent speech that the UK was in an "incomprehensible situation where no one can speak English as their main language in 5% of our households" and this was "terrible for community relations".
Due to changes in the immigration law, it is now impossible for immigrants from outside the EU to get a visa without proving their English proficiency. Visa applicants need to take a proficiency test before they can apply for a visa.
Immigrants Working In Britain
Immigration topics in forums and online newspapers attract an array of comments from Britons and foreigners. There is definitely a feeling among some British people that the immigrants take all the jobs. The building industry employs many Polish people and one poster felt that is why the young British children can't find jobs.
According to a study done by the Immigration Policy Institute immigrants from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the EU-countries have the highest rate of employment while those from Pakistan, Bangladesh and the rest of Africa find it more difficult to get employed.
Immigration Statics for the UK
- Statistics-net-migration-statistics | Migration Watch UK
Migration Watch UK is an independent and non-political body established in October 2001.
What Is British Culture?
When this question was posed to a variety of British people the answers were as diverse as the group. Some believed being born in Britain made you British, while others felt embracing specific British traditions such as football, British food, the English language, the royal family, festive days and the religion of the country is what defines being British.
One person replied that the idea of a multi-cultural Britain is ludicrous and that immigrants and asylum seekers are more than welcome as long as they embrace the British culture. He, however, apart from mentioning fish and chips and afternoon tea, failed to explain what British culture is.
Freedom of speech, freedom of movement, democracy, tolerance, respect and politeness were also mentioned.
Another interesting comment was that when everybody in the country can speak the queen's English, stop living in separate ethnic communities and are proud to be British, there will be no more judging by skin colour and it will be the end of political correctness.
Research carried out for BBC News Online suggest that the majority of UK residents, of all ethnic backgrounds, support the idea of one national identity. Seventy-eight percent of people—including a majority along all ethnic groups—think that anyone living in the UK who is not familiar with the British way of life should have to attend citizenship classes.
Is There Evidence that Immigrants Embrace the British Culture?
It is, unfortunately, true that certain groups of people tend to segregate themselves from the wider British culture by holding onto ethnic communities. It is within these communities that you will also find those who cannot speak English. As mentioned previously, this is such a small group, that it is difficult to see that they can make a big difference to the British culture.
Christmas time is most probably the biggest evidence of an integrated Britain. You will see Christmas trees and gifts in most houses in Britain, regardless of the culture or religion of the people. Many Asian families who are not traditionally Christian enjoy the festive time with the rest of Britain. Gifts are bought, houses are decorated and large traditional meals are cooked on Christmas day.
Not too long ago, a prominent borough used the large Asian community as the reason they didn't display any Christmas lights during the festive period. It later surfaced that the Asian community had no objection to the Christmas lights, it was rather the council who saw a way out to not spend money on decorations.
When a well-known London university announced that they are planning to remove the bars from campus as it offends their Muslim students, it was Muslims from the community who spoke out against it. According to them, it is the responsibility of the Muslim students to stay away from the bar. A Muslim community leader further said that it is actions such as these that anger the British students (as pubs and bars are part of the British culture and tradition) and make them negative about the Muslim students.
Who Is to Blame?
From this evidence, it is quite clear that many immigrants are eager to embrace the British culture. The group who are reluctant to integrate seems to be too small to make a real significant difference, at the moment.
Is political correctness taken too far and are people in positions of power assuming too much? Are there groups who are demanding changes to the status quo of the country that will change the British culture?
When an ethnic minority becomes demanding to change certain aspects within a country to suit them, it will become dangerous.
At the moment there doesn't seem to be any evidence of this.
Is Britain's Culture in Danger?
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2013 Annette Hendley
Annette Hendley (author) from London, United Kingdom on April 07, 2020:
I agree. Culture is fluid and positive influences and changes are necessary for progression and change.
C Bonnar on April 07, 2020:
Just because immigration will have an impact on so called British culture doesn't mean it will be bad. There has been immigration to these islands for years and it has shaped the so called British culture.
Annette Hendley (author) from London, United Kingdom on July 28, 2017:
Thanks. Yes we have to be careful who we listen to. Some people only see negatives.
Annette Hendley (author) from London, United Kingdom on September 08, 2015:
I think what you mention about not all who try to enter are really refugees is definitely a concern. I can very well believe that illegal immigrants will try to use the opportunity to enter countries on the pretence of being refugees. What is happening at the moment is really a situation that needs to be handled very carefully.
diogenes from UK and Mexico on September 08, 2015:
Annette: My recent research has been sobering and suggests that as many as between 1% and 3% of those from war-torn or failed states throughout Africa and Middle East may try to leave for Europe or other countries.
These would be percentages from 1.5 BILLION people. It means between 15 million and 45 million mainly economic migrants would be clamouring to be let-in to First World nations (etc). Relatively few are - and will be - asylum seekers. This is in the main pretence to be allowed to relocate. Immigrants have found to lie about anything to help their cause, including their names, country of origin and reasons for leaving.
If I was Angela Merkel I would not be sleeping very well; her political career hangs in the balance I am sure.
This article will stay current and join many more!
Annette Hendley (author) from London, United Kingdom on September 08, 2015:
I have sympathy with those who have to make these decisions. You cannot look past those who are really suffering, but on the other hand you cannot do anything that would be detrimental to the citizens of your country. London is already too over-populated as it is.
days leaper on September 07, 2015:
Is the open door policy an oversight or based on greed? Lets face it the mercheants are better off politicians run governments and think they will benefit from taxes, influential to governments is industry, easier to exploit a foreigner, and doctors; an overburdened nhs needs funding -an oversight, so they have an excuse to close more and more of this economical deadweight, but not fast enough for unemployment to rise too quickly. Religion losing it's congregation, may see people going back to find some solidarity, refind that missing community spirit, whilst the threat of ISLstate looms as the media is there to keep reminding us as democracy is being run like the political equivalent of "too many cooks spoil the broth" and more people means more reading papers, buying wares etc. The economy is being put before any kind of home stability.
Chants of we're not animals let us in, followed the "Whose afraid of the big bad wolf!" (ie. 'we won WWII lets go to sleep on these laurels'. Whilst packs of hungry wolves demand to be let in by the three little pigs! Some dad kills his son by taking him on a terror cruise to somewhere uninvited, and it's supposed to be our fault? Come on, what is this chaos?
Thanks for your hub. They banned mine! Best Wishes
Jesica Alba on July 23, 2015:
Great! We will be connecting to this enormous post on our site. Continue the good writing. http://www.facebook.com/sloughimmigrationsolicitor
Annette Hendley (author) from London, United Kingdom on October 29, 2014:
Thanks for your comment Bob. The logistical problems of immigration are real and will have to be addressed rather sooner than later. I do agree with you.
diogenes from UK and Mexico on October 29, 2014:
Whether they be saints or sinners; professionals or labourers, English speakers or not, Britain just has no more space to cram people in, We have nearly 700 per square mile now: our roads are a misery, there is insufficient housing, the NHS can't handle the patient load. And violence threatens in many cities with the worst imbalance. Stay home, with all due respect, we can't accommodate you!!
Good article by the way
Annette Hendley (author) from London, United Kingdom on October 30, 2013:
At least you have lots of space in the States. Britain might just sink if it becomes any fuller.
Thanks for your comment and it is good to know I'm not alone in my restlessness.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 30, 2013:
We have so many problems here in the States; it was kind of nice to read about UK problems for a change. :) Just kidding....I suspect this problem is common for a few countries; it's certainly in the news here in the U.S.
I like the first line of your profile; you had me smiling because I've said the same thing many times about me. :)
Annette Hendley (author) from London, United Kingdom on March 24, 2013:
Thank you Gary. It is not an easy task for any government to make these kind of decisions.
Gary on March 24, 2013:
A very interesting and highly debatable topic, it will be interesting to see how the powers to be handle the situation.
Annette Hendley (author) from London, United Kingdom on March 02, 2013:
Thanks for your comment. You are right most immigrants try to integrate and make their own way. You will unfortunately always have opportunists whose main goal is to take advantage of the benefits of a country without contributing.
pramodgokhale from Pune( India) on March 02, 2013:
If it is endangering British culture then they can regulate immigration or selectively ban for some categories.immigrants arrive from any country ,they come with their cultural bonds and for that generation, it is difficult cut the roots.
If immigrants assimilate in new homeland then that is benefit for that country. Indian immigrants wherever they migrate they work well , set up tier own business and contributed to local economy.
If immigrants involve in anti national activities or fundamentalists group promote terrorism , then any sovereign nation has to take tough measures to contain them.
I think EU is still generous in granting visas and asylum to DPs
thank you for highlighting problems of immigration and host countries.
Annette Hendley (author) from London, United Kingdom on February 25, 2013:
We have some political parties who feel it would better for Britain to leave the EU and control immigration in that way and there are others who have a problem with the asylum seekers. I am glad I'm not the government who needs to decide on this, and as you say it is not only here. Thanks for you insightful comment.
Lisa Stover from Pittsburgh PA on February 24, 2013:
Immigration seems to be a big concern for many countries right now. I wonder how they will handle it, and how our politicians will decide on these issues here at home. As always, well written and informative.
Annette Hendley (author) from London, United Kingdom on February 24, 2013:
Thanks for the lovely comment Laura. I am grateful to Lisa for taking the initiative and I hope we can grow the group. Melting-pot is a good description for the immigration dilemma and America, Australia and Britain must be the countries with the biggest immigrant groups. I hope you get a chance to to visit the UK. I live in greater London but still get excited going into central London. There is such a vibe -don't think I will ever get tired of London.
Laura Tykarski from Pittsburgh PA on February 24, 2013:
Annette this is one of the better hubs I've read in the past several weeks I am really glad that I've had an opportunity to read your work and Lisa's as we may not have stumbled across one another without our additional cyber contact-point lol. I may be prejudiced because Britain and Australia are two of my must see places before I die. Living in a country that technically is made up of immigrants (unless you are Native-American) it was interesting to see how Britain is addressing the melting-pot. For the most part it seems that it has brought more pluses then minuses . Believe me if I make it to Britain it won't be for the beans or the pubs we have plenty of both here in the good ole U.S.A.