In a way, making "xenophobia" and "racism" taboos was one of the ideological and political breakthroughs of the 20th Century.
Ironically, one of Hitler's greatest legacies was to make accusations of "xenophobia" or "racism" almost as bad as being called a "paedophile".
But, this has also created a real problem in public debate. It means that almost no-one (maybe actually no-one) is willing to admit any xenophobic or racist thoughts of feelings of any kind. Even to themselves.
And yet, humans are instinctively tribal. The history of homo-sapiens is characterised by one group of human ganging up on, de-humanising and beating the shit out of another group. Thankfully, feelings of humanity, empathy and compassion also plough deeps furrows in our instincts and behaviour. But clearly, feelings of suspicion, fear and anger towards people who can be perceived of as being members of a different group is natural.
I am aware that I experience these to some extent, and I'm as wet a liberal as you'll find! I like to think I also feel more inclusive instincts, and that those instinct I feel more strongly than the excluding ones.
When a person invests their time and energy in the non-zero-sum arrangement that is "the economy", that economy doesn't care whether that person has arrived via a Ferry in Dover or via the birth canal of a British woman. And if "the economy" does care, it probably prefers the adult immigrant as the costs of their childhood education and health care are already paid for. (It is the country and the economy that they have left that is likely to lose out the most in this situation.) With regard to immigrant impact on public services, it makes sense to distribute new arrivals evenly so as not to create geographic pinch points. Moreover, there may be some lag in the economic pay-off of new arrivals. But this lag will almost certainly be shorter for an adult immigrant than it will be for a British born baby. And yet, it doesn't feel like that does it? A British born baby seems to have the right to be here, to be a part of our group so all is well. The economic migrant on the other hand...?
But as savvypaul points out this makes no economic or rational sense. Rational economics strikes back with those sneaky tricks of data and analysis!
In fact, when Mr. Farage told us that Britain and it's public services were at "Breaking Point", we should all have been waiting for him to make a speech about birth control and contraception, as natural population growth (births) accounts for 50% of the increase in human beings on our oh-so-creaking island. But that speech never came of course. Instead, Nigel seemed to focus exclusively on the other 50% of population growth. I would suggest that is because, like the rest of us, Mr. Farage experiences xenophobic instincts. (In fact I can't think of another reason why he, or me or anyone distinguishes between immigrant population growth and natural population growth.) Nigel may experience those instincts more strongly, or maybe is less consciously aware of them, or may self-deceive himself into considering them to be a form of ultra-patriotism, but I don't think there's anything unusual in the fact of his experiencing them. I also don't doubt that Nigel Farage feels humanity and empathy and compassion as well. Just like the rest of us do. We're all multi faceted.
I'm imagining that many reading this are finding it difficult to accept the suggestion that Nigel Farage, or me, or anyone, or you, is capable of xenophobic instincts. That's the problem. How can we safeguard ourselves against xenophobia or racism if it's such a taboo we're in collective denial about it and how they might be acting on us? How can we cluster our behaviours around the better angels of our nature if we can't be vigilant for the worse ones?
"One whos head is so far up ones own arse that they are wearing ones arse as a hat"