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Britain needs immigration: Extraordinary open letter from Vince Cable's wife hits back at MoS columnist who wrote of 'alien nation' – and backs husband's mansion tax
Rachel Cable responds to provocative column by Peter Hitchens'Most newcomers are either students or migrants with skills Britain needs'Mansion tax 'would help bridge widening gap between rich and poor
22:42 GMT, 22 December 2012
Vince Cable's wife Rachel wrote an open letter defending Britain's immigration policy and backing her husband's policy of a mansion tax
The wife of Business Secretary Vince
Cable has written an extraordinary open letter defending the UK’s stance
on immigration – and backing her husband’s controversial idea of a
Rachel Cable was responding to a provocative polemic in last week’s Mail on Sunday by Peter Hitchens, who argued that British society was undergoing an irreversible transformation.
Our columnist drew on recently released census data to highlight the decline of the UK’s manufacturing industry, London’s increasing detachment from the rest of the country, the decline of Christianity and marriage and the cultural changes wrought by immigration.
Mrs Cable, writing to this newspaper under her maiden name of Rachel Smith, takes issue with Mr Hitchens for speaking of the impact on society of population growth driven by immigration, and the fact that British Muslims have larger families than British Christians.
‘Most of these newcomers are either students or migrants with skills Britain needs,’ she writes. ‘And there are still 12 times more Christians [in the UK] than Muslims.’
But it is in response to our columnist’s claim that London was ‘rapidly becoming a separate nation, as different from England as Scotland or Wales’, partly driven by an influx of rich foreigners, that Mrs Cable broached one of the most divisive policy debates within the Coalition: wealth taxes.
Responding to Mr Hitchens’s assertion that the capital now plays host to ‘extremes of wealth and poverty not known since Edwardian times’, Mrs Cable says: ‘I deplore the widening gap between rich and poor too. One remedy would be to tax them more efficiently. Have you heard of the Mansion Tax I know a certain politician who advocates it.’
Mr Cable has unsuccessfully tried to persuade his Tory Coalition partners to implement a tax on houses worth more than 2 million.
It has been blocked by David Cameron, who fears it would alienate aspirational voters and the party’s rich backers.
Vince Cable has advocated a tax on homes worth more than 2million – but it has not been backed by his coalition partners in the Conservative party
Mr Hitchens also noted the ‘accelerating disappearance of marriage’, which he called ‘a fortress of private life and individuality’.
Mrs Cable, the Liberal Democrat’s second wife, countered with her personal experience after her divorce 15 years ago, when she was relieved to discover a thriving community of single people.
‘I remember how surprised and comforted I was to discover this,’ she says. ‘There might be more comfort and joy in marriage. But more private life and individuality I don’t think so!’
Mrs Cable also recalls a conversation with Mr Hitchens two years ago, during which they discussed their shared memories of Worthing in the Fifties.
But while Mrs Cable’s memories of the town where her grandmother lived were unhappy, she said she was left with the impression that Mr Hitchens regarded it as ‘the quintessence of happiness and security’.
Addressing Mr Hitchens directly, she writes: ‘Most of us have moved on [from the Worthing of the Fifties]. Please, please, do so too!’