Danegeld was an Anglo-Saxon term from the early Middle Ages for payoffs to Viking raiders and today we wonder whether immigration is good for the economy or causing irreparable harm.
The truth is it all depends on whether the immigrants spend their wages in the UK or send money home.
If, for example, a UK homeowner raises a loan for a new roof or extension, and the wages paid to the building workers are spent in local hotels, shops and pubs, this in turn provides more work for local staff who also spend locally.
Economic activity is good for the UK regardless of where the workers are originally from, so long as most of their wages are spent in the UK.
However far too many east European workers are sleeping on camp beds in dormitories provided by their gang masters.
Here, workers alternate between working and sleeping in a shared bunk. Like everyone else they dream of the comforts of home.
On the packed return flights workers’ pockets bulge with English cash which buys so much more in countries with a lower cost of living.
Indeed being able to earn in a wealthy country and spend in a poorer one is the best of both worlds.
Immigration only really works when foreigners, both male and female integrate by marrying into local families and become part of the local community.
If earnings are spent here it helps the economy but any money sent abroad is an outflow of wealth which will never return.
In Viking times raiders would land on England’s undefended shores to rape and plunder, looting churches and carrying off children to a life of slavery.
The politicians of the day came up with the idea of paying the Vikings off with Danegeld.
In return for help loading their ships with priceless ornaments and irreplaceable jewels and tapestries, the visitors agreed not to burn the churches down and rape the women.
In 1997 Labour’s Tony Blair encouraged immigrants to come to these shores.
Now Tory David Cameron is haggling over the amount of Danegeld to pay.
The only English king to be awarded with the title of ‘The Great’ was Alfred.
His view was to drive the foreigners into the sea by sword and fire.
Of course that isn’t an option today, but England, once free of the EU, would be able to immediately halt the Danegelders and introduce a policy of sensible immigration.
One which would be of use to the British people and not the bureaucrats of Brussels.