James GRAY   Conservative MP for North Wiltshire

A human being is a human being. Young or old, male or female, rich or poor, white, black or indifferent. We are all one humanity, and racism, sexism, ageism or any other ‘ism’ including snobbery and inverted snobbery are anathema to me. People should treat other people with grace and courtesy no matter who they may be.

“A man’s a man for all that,” as Robbie Burns said. Yet what he did not say is: ”A person, irrespective of their race or ethnicity, their religious beliefs, their sexual orientation or lack of one, their material or intellectual assets……” you get the kind of thing I mean. Sometimes we are so desperately keen to show that we are not racist nor snobbish that we fall over ourselves in the opposite direction into absurd and self-regarding political correctness. I, for example, happen to believe that men and women are different; that that there is nothing wrong with standing up for Britain and British people (of all races) and that we celebrate Christmas in a Christian country because that was when Christ was born.

We can respect people of all kinds without self-righteously thrusting down their throats that that is what we are doing. To do so reflects more on ourselves than on the person to whom we are showing due respect despite or because of their race or ethnicity.

So I fully subscribe to the view that our British infrastructure is already over-stretched. We are, for example, the most densely packed country in Europe after Malta, I think. We do not have room, jobs, school places, housing, to welcome the world’s poor to our doors. It is right and proper that we restrict immigration to those people who we want to come here. And there are plenty of them. Large parts of the NHS, long-term care, catering, building, agriculture, would collapse were it not for overseas workers of all kinds in this country. And there are, I think 4.8 million Brits similarly working overseas.  I welcome immigration. But it must be in categories that we set. We simply cannot allow the 520 million people across the EU who currently have a perfect right to come here, to do so.

So I wholly support much of what the Home Secretary had to say about immigration at the Party Conference last week. Of course we have to find ways of getting it under control; it is perfectly reasonable to say that we prefer British people to be carrying out British jobs where that can be done. It would be absurd not to do so. But to interpret that perfectly reasonable patriotic vision with Xenophobia or racism is to fall into precisely the politically correct trap which I describe.

I am in no sense a racist, a sexist, nor a xenophobe. But I am clear that we in Britain should be the ones who decide who else should come to join us on these little islands. Let us encourage immigration where it is needed. But let us control it. And if mad or bad people choose to use that determination as camouflage to espouse racism, then they must be stopped, and they must be punished for it. Racism, after all, is already against the law. And quite right too.

Patriotism is a love of one’s country. Nationalism is a hatred of everyone else’s.