Conquest by other means
Robert Henderson lauds Derek Turner’s latest novel
Sea Changes, Derek Turner, Washington Summit Publishers, Washington, ISBN 978-1-59368-002-2, 2nd edition, 2014
The time is somewhere around the present: the place is England. Thirty-seven bodies wash-up on the North-East coast of England. Some have gunshot wounds. All are would-be illegal immigrants. There is one survivor from the group: Ibrahim, an Iraqi. This is the cue for the politically correct mob to go into action, with everything from the-borders-are-racist campaigners to those who pounce on the evidence of gunshot wounds to suggest that some of the illegal immigrants were murdered by the locals.
The novel has two strands. One is of the survivor Ibrahim. He has had the misfortune to spend all his life in uncertain circumstances, living under the Iraq of Saddam Hussein, both before and after the first Gulf War, then through the perpetual chaos following the defeat of Saddam. We follow him on his tortuous journey from Basra to England, during which we gradually learn more of his story, a history which includes working as an enforcer for a notorious Basra gangster. He moves from Basra in Iraq to Syria, across Turkey, then by boat to Greece where he is interned in a centre of asylum seekers before escaping and travelling across Europe then paying to be smuggled across the North Sea to England.
Once in England he finds that being an illegal immigrant is not all that he had hoped for. This is partly his own fault because he fabricates a story which falsely paints him as someone who resisted Saddam and who suffered for it, a lie which is discovered and which takes the gloss off him as a political weapon to be wielded, but he is also disappointed to find that the promised land does not live up to his expectations. The result is Ibrahim’s withdrawal into the cultural cocoon created by other Iraqis in Britain.
The second strand to the novel is the English response to the bodies on a beach. In the surreal world that is modern England the would-be illegal immigrants are considered not as intruders but at best as people who at best have been murdered by the immigration policies of the government which have forced them to take this route to enter England and at worst as innocent victims slaughtered by the unreconstructed English who inhabit non-Metropolitan England.
The pc fox is set running by a late middle-aged farmer by the name of Dan Gowt who lives in the area where the bodies wash up, in the fictional village of Crisby. He is interviewed on television and expresses views which would have passed without remark when he was young, but which are now considered not merely insensitive but positively racist, remarks such as, “The fact is they shouldn’t have been trying to get into England in the first place. It’s a crime that is. It’s just common sense …”
His words make Gowt a media hate figure. He writes a letter to a newspaper explaining his position and seeks a lawyer to sue for libel on his behalf but all to no avail. His explanations to reporters are twisted out of recognition, his letter is not published and his attempt to find a lawyer results in refusal on the grounds that representing him would taint the firm in question.
Gowt finds that many of the people he knows now shun him. His wife and daughter are treated as guilty by association and his windows are smashed by “antiracist” protestors when he goes outside to tackle them with a shotgun. After the last event he calls the police who not only show little interest in investigating the crime, but tell him that he has brought this on himself and his family. The police go as far as to say that he is lucky he has not been investigated for race hatred and hint that he may still be. They also suggest that his licence for his shotgun may be revoked because he had intended to threaten people with it.
Being labelled as a racist affects Gowt’s wife Hatty and his daughter Clarrie. His wife is simply bewildered; his daughter is patronisingly tolerant as she condemns what her father has said whilst blaming his ideas about immigrants on his age. The shocking thing about all this is the fact that Gowt has not been racist in any meaningful sense. All he has done is object to foreigners settling in his country in large numbers and effectively colonising parts of it.
Turner parades a large cast of characters. This could have lead to confusion but to his credit the author keeps control of them by repeatedly providing snapshots of their intervention in the affair. We may not get to know them intimately but we do not need to because it is their symbolic roles in the tragedy that is modern England which is important.
There are the politicians varying from fearful, driven sheep to true believers in the One World creed: the journalists and commentators who perpetuate the received wisdom and last but not least the multifarious interest groups and individuals who represent immigrant interests: the Black Muslim Mecca Morrow, Wayne Smith of the Christian Democrat Reachout, Atrocities against Civilians Scum, the Rural Racism Task Force, Ben Klein, founder of National Anti-Fascist Foundation (NAFF), Dylan Ekinutu-Jones of the Forum for Racial and Ethnic Equality (FREE), Carole Hassan from the Muslim Alliance and the Guatamalean Action Group. Readers will be able to readily spot their counterparts in real life.
The political parties are also thinly disguised versions of those that exist: the Christian Democrats, the Workers Party and the Fair Play Alliance. All are shown not merely as dishonest but either fanatical or cowardly. There is also a party, the National Union, which plays the indispensable role of a Far Right bogeyman. The party has a single MP who is ostentatiously ostracised by all the other MPs who eventually vote to expel him from the Commons.
Then there are more substantial characters such as Albert Norman, columnist of the Sentinel. Norman is a licensed jester, a man of 70 and a relic of an earlier, less tightly controlled era. He serves a useful purpose for the liberal left establishment because they can point to him and say that all voices are being heard. Norman’s tragedy is that he is ultimately irrelevant because the people who agree with him, the ordinary people of England, are powerless.
Norman is the one character who detects the truth about Ibrahim, as well as resolutely refusing to climb on the English-locals-must-have-killed-immigrants bandwagon. His columns are popular but his youngish editor Doug is getting twitchy about their political direction. He asks Norman to tone down his material because he wants to move the Sentinel to a new location in the press marketplace. Norman resists but eventually gives in and re-writes a piece about Ibrahim. Norman’s readers feel cheated by his new blandness and Norman soon realises that his day is done and retires. Opposed to Norman on the media front is John Leyden of The Examiner. Leyden thinks no further than the next self-promoting headline, regardless of the harm he inflicts on others. Just think of the more obnoxious type of Guardian journalist and you get the picture.
Overall Turner paints a picture of an England which has been defeated, at least for the moment. The multi-cultural propaganda has not been completely successful, however, so that part of the population of England has remained regrettably backward in the eyes of the liberal establishment. But even the part which has not been fully conditioned understands the danger of being identified as racist and either keeps mum, or engages in grovelling apologies when the anti-racist hounds start to run. The claustrophobia created by what has become a totalitarian ideology is nicely caught.
There is a degree of exaggeration for the sake of narrative sharpness in the depiction of the limp calamity of the people of England in thrall to a one-dimensional ideology, but sadly the book is an all too plausible representation of what England is now. This is a country in which people can be imprisoned for expressing anger about mass immigration, where a single inappropriate remark can result in the loss of a job, and where the mainstream media go into Witchfinder-General mode when someone does not slavishly endorse the shibboleth of equality.
Those who have read Jean Raspail’s Camp of the Saints will notice some general similarities of structure as well as intent in Sea Changes. There is no harm in that. Indeed, I found Sea Changes a rather better vehicle for warning about the dangers of mass immigration, because it is far less hysterical and blessedly bereft of the intellectual and cultural pretensions of Raspail’s book.
Sea Changes might almost be treated as a documentary of what has gone wrong with English society. Whatever the future brings it will stand as a primer on a particular and decidedly peculiar period of English life. It is worth reading both as a novel and for the important message that it contains.
Robert Henderson is the Quarterly Review’s film critic. Derek Turner is the former editor of QR