Norwich is a fairly tolerant city, and for hundreds of years has had the reputation of accommodating immigrants, regardless of their colour or creed , except when they were persecuting the Jews who lived there in the twelfth century, and throwing them down wells - but that's another story. It was all the more unusual then, that the English Defence League should decide to hold a march through the city last Saturday. The police were out in force, as were hundreds of anti-EDL protesters, and in the end the march was completely swamped by the sheer number of normal people who turned out to protest against it.
It's easy to caricature the English Defence League as a moronic bunch of badly tattooed swivel-eyed fascists and football hooligans - which is what most of them undoubtedly are - but I think we'd be in great danger if we demonised everybody who had concerns about immigration, rightly or wrongly, as being in cahoots with them. The one thing that they've done is to tap into the sense of white working-class unease and the perception that nobody speaks up for them any more. There's too many bloody immigrants jumping to the front of the housing queues, taking all our jobs, wanting to bring in all these laws...not actually true, of course, but the fact is that these stories persist among a section of our society who see themselves as a forgotten underclass at the bottom of the the ladder.
We choose to ignore history at our peril; the persecutions against the Norwich Jews in the twelfth century grew out of views just like those, as has every other persecution, from Russia to Rwanda. Once the spark of hatred catches, it spreads like wildfire.
Whether the English Defence League like it or not, immigration won't stop, and the benefits of other cultures - European, African, Asian, Muslim, whatever - on our own will make English culture stronger. That's always been the case, and it always will be.
Now I'm going for a curry.