Changing UK Demographics & London’s Latin Americans

Do you think that Britain – and particularly London – is already too over-crowded or that there is still room for plenty more? The ‘Daily Mail’ newspaper has gloomily predicted that the country’s population will double by 2081 to about 109 million. It has also emphasised that over half the people emigrating from the UK are British citizens going to Australia or New Zealand (32%), Spain or France (24%) and the USA (8%). The Government’s own calculations of 77 million inhabitants (2051) and 91 million (2081) have not entirely convinced those who recall the reassurances that ‘only 13,000’ would arrive from Poland and the seven other new East European EU members after May 1st 2004.  The official Home Office position ( disputed by‘MigrationWatchUK’) is that the pressures on the education system and the  National Health Service (NHS) arising from continuing immigration are balanced by the extra £6 billion added to national production figures. Despite all the concerns  expressed about ‘disappearing British traditions’ there is no prospect for a long while yet that the UK’s ‘Anglo-Saxon’ population (still over 90% of the total) will find itself in a minority. The Indian community comprises 1.8%,  Pakistani 1.3% and Carribean 1%.

This contrasts completely with the situation in the USA. There the population will grow from the current 296 million to 438 million by 2050. Of these, 41 million will be of Asian origin (9%), 59 million Afro-American (13.4%) and 128 million Latinos (29% compared to 14% now). The most significant statistic relates to the white ‘non-Hispanics’, who will drop from 67% (199 million) to 47% (despite increasing to 207 million) within 42 years. The UK’s Latin Americans, though of course far fewer than in the USA, have similarly become a vibrant feature of the economic & social scene.

According to recent research, there are around 1 million British citizens of Latin American origin, located principally in London, followed by Oxford, Cambridge, Manchester, Bristol, Milton Keynes, Liverpool and Edinburgh. This does not include the many others here as students, visitors, on working visas or seeking residency. Home Office data indicates that from 2006-7 over 500,000 Latin Americans were admitted to the UK as tourists, for business purposes or to follow courses. The largest contingents were from Brasil (182,000), Mexico (119,000),Colombia (38,500), Venezuela (27,800) and Chile (26,600). During the same period, an additional 2625 were granted permanent settlement.  Colombia (880); Brasil (850); Mexico (220); Peru (200); Venezuela (145); Chile (105).

In the USA, the ‘Latino vote’ was a key target of the Obama presidential campaign,
just as the Republicans relied heavily on their traditional support from the country’s ‘red-necks’ (conservative farmers in the mid-west). The 12 – 14 million Hispanic ‘indocumentados’ (like their counterparts in Britain) live in fear of being thrown out, separated from their families and never being allowed back in again. Though they favoured Obama, organisations such as the Los Angeles –based ‘Hermandad Mexicana’ pointed out that he echoed McCain when talking about ‘securing the frontier’ with Mexico. In their view, the fight for immigrant rights and against discrimination in Europe (including the UK) is the same as theirs.

Filed under: Society | Posted on September 19th, 2008 by Colin D Gordon

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