Is anyone really surprised to discover that Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, the 23-year-old Detroit bomber, was involved in radical Islamic politics while a student in London? For the sad truth is that we now live in a country where we appear to be more concerned with defending the rights of radical extremists to express themselves than protecting the rights of ordinary, law-abiding citizens to live in peace and security.
In Dagenham, where I was brought up, there is a very real danger that a white working-class electorate, alienated by far-reaching social change and largely ignored by the mainstream parties, could vote for a BNP Member of Parliament. This would be a tragedy in our long history of parliamentary democracy.
Yet we play into the hands of the far Right if we do not seriously address the concerns that have led to some otherwise decent people supporting modern-day fascism.
There are two aspects to this debate, but they are related. The sheer numbers of migrants from within Europe and elsewhere put the resources of Britain under enormous pressure, but also threaten the very ethos or DNA of our nation.