Michael Fallon
Michael Fallon, the UK defence secretary, complained that the country is "swamped" with immigrantsReuters

Good on Michael Fallon for saying Britain is swamped with immigrants. It's heartening to hear a senior politician finally say what so many are afraid to let leave their lips.

This country is swamped with immigrants. They're flooding the NHS with nurses, GPs and cleaning staff. There's a tidal wave of them in the leisure industry, making sure we've got coffees and pastries in the morning and that our hotel rooms are serviced by the evening.

They've inundated Britain's farmland to pluck the fruit from our fields and put them on our plates. They've surged into our sport to kick balls around for our entertainment. They've besieged our trades, giving us more competition and choice when choosing electricians, plumbers and builders.

They've engulfed our country with different cultures and festivals and cuisine so we can travel the world without even leaving our borders.

Fallon may have intended it as a dog whistle to the former Tories slithering over to Ukip. But we should instead take it as a positive message about our country and celebrate it.

We should ask why we're not just swamped, but drowning in a sea of immigrants. Our troubled economy relies so much on them. And it will do so even more in the future because we're an ageing society that's top-heavy with the retired.

As the academic research shows, they pay more into the system than they take out of it in benefits and services.

If we want to have any taxpayer-funded public services in the future, we should be shovelling heaps of migrants in, not fostering a climate of suspicion, fear and hatred towards them. Least of all should we close our borders, as many would like.

There's also irony in the comments by Fallon, defence secretary of the UK. The British Army is more than happy to swamp itself in the blood of immigrants by sacrificing the lives of them and their children in the advancement of the government's foreign policy.

British forces have now left Afghanistan after 13 years of a difficult, violent and tragic conflict in which 453 of the country's servicemen and women have died, not to mention the thousands of Afghan civilians and members of other nations' armed forces.

The first British soldier to die was Private Jonathan Kitulagoda, 23, in January, 2004, in a Kabul suicide bomb attack. The last was Rakesh Chauhan, 29, in April 2014, a victim of a helicopter crash. Both men have names that reveal an ancestry in which recent forebears have immigrated to the UK.

We're happy to send immigrants, their children and their grandchildren off to die under the British flag and to have stained the sands of Afghanistan with their blood. But many British citizens wouldn't have even let them be here in the first place.

This exemplifies the ultimate contradiction in many Britons' attitudes to immigrants. We want their money, their skills, even their blood. We want them to serve us drinks in Pret, to service our boilers and to die for us in foreign lands. But we don't want them here as neighbours in our communities.

British Army leaves Afghanistan
British soldiers carry their gear after arriving in KandaharAFP

Well you can't have it both ways.

There are problems with immigration. The provision and allocation of key services. Making sure communities integrate into society and that any cultural practices that don't fit within a liberal democracy and human rights – like, for example, female genital mutilation – are bleached.

But life in the UK without a large amount of immigrants is a bland life. And a considerably more difficult one too.

Fallon's comments expose the Conservative government's plan to tug on many voters' immigration fears so they can win the 2015 general election. Those of us who believe in the power of immigration to improve Britain should take the fight to the government on its own terms.

Yes, we are swamped with immigrants - and we could do with a lot more swamping.