Writing Between The Lines: The Problem With Immigrants

CINEMATIC  unSEEN Peek™Still Shot and Extract from Jemima + Johnny.

Jemima + Johnny is a 1966 short film that focuses on the friendship between Johnny, the five year old son of an English nationalist who is anti-immigration and Jemima, the daughter of a freshly migrated Jamaican family.

The pair take a wide-eyed tour of their Notting Hill neighbourhood.

When the children find themselves in a perilous predicament, Johnny’s father is forced to question his racist mindset.

The pioneering colour-blind vision created within a time of de facto patterns of segregation in many British cities was directed by South African Lionel Ngakane, a member of the African National Congress (ANC) exiled to London.

Over fifty years later, it is clear that the utopia desired by Ngakane, many other contemporary immigrants and welcoming indigenous Britons has failed to evolve.

One must ask why their optimism for a multicultural British society that was blind to colour and transcendent of prejudice, bigotry and racism has never truly materialised?

cover_9781849547215_-_Copy (2)

On 15th January 2015, Biteback Publishing announced the release of the book I had spent over a year researching, developing and ghostwriting with a now leading Brexit  economist and our client – The Problem with Immigrants:

Derek Laud explores the triumphs and disappointments shared [by] those who have relocated to the UK. Drawing on his own experience, Laud highlights the misconceptions and prejudices that face those who have chosen to live here. With immigration proving to be one of the key issues in the upcoming General Election, The Problem with Immigrants is a timely look at this controversial topic.”

Having written a GCSE syllabus and accompanying text book on African History in early Europe as my A-Level Communication Studies coursework, I was enthused by the idea of the book when the opportunity to ghost-write was presented to me.

As a writing team we aimed to challenge the widespread misconceptions and prejudices that surrounded immigrants in modern Britain, who too often were figurative or literal punch-bags for politicians, newspapers or prejudiced pub-goers.

I  thoroughly enjoyed working on this intense and extensive project which incorporated a great depth and breadth of research encompassing historic archives, up to the minute economic and social reports and masses of statistical data.

In my teenage years as ever thorough in my research and conscientious of my literary development, I went to great lengths to acquire a copy of David MacRitchie ‘s two volumes of Ancient and Modern Britons which were first published in 1884 and were then out of print.

Years later after tenacious searching I was able to acquire both volumes and at the beginning of the project I revisited the books and a great number of other titles in my home library spanning the prehistoric and contemporary migrant and multicultural stories of Great Britain.

Analysing the scope of subjects and matters required to accurately showcase the historic and contemporary stories of arrival, assimilation and acculturation of the migrant groups I focused on – particularly African, African-Caribbean, Middle Eastern and South American – unearthed many little known facts and long forgotten facets of Britain’s great and diverse encounters and engagement with migrant groups.

The examination of the social, economic and cultural impact of the variant waves of immigration spanning centuries and regions addressed why some ethnic communities were the epitome of success whilst others struggle to thrive.


  • Early 1500sKING JAMES IV OF SCOTLAND’S accounts detailed expenses for his African servants, musicians and guests. Several ‘blak ladies’ were lavished with sartorial luxuries including satin gowns, slippers and ribbons as well as occasional cash gifts.
  • 1500s – CATHERINE OF ARAGON, QUEEN OF ENGLAND (1509-1533) was faithfully served for twenty-six years by Lady of the Bedchamber, Catalina de Cardones, a black woman of Iberian Moorish descent.
  • 1687 – JOHN MOORE, a ‘blacke’ man purchased the freedom of the City of York. The elite honour granted Moore the right to bear arms, graze his animals on York meadows and fish in the cities rivers. He was the only black person on the York rolls.
  • Early 1800s – THE WEST AFRICAN KRU, skilled seafarers and ship labourers from Liberia and Sierra Leone, contributed greatly to Britain’s colonial trade in West Africa, following the abolition of enslavement. As seamen, the Kru were a normal sight in British port cities.
  • 1869 THE SOMALI COMMUNITY was first established in UK when sailors from British Somaliland settled in port cities. They were followed by a second wave who arrived with the British Navy after World War II and a third wave seeking asylum from the civil war began in the 1980s.
  • 1919 – RACE RIOTS swept through port cities including Cardiff, Newport, Glasgow, Liverpool, London and Salford – the final destination of the Manchester Ship Canal. Hostility was underpinned by a misconceived view that black people had risked less during World War I. Many white workers  believed their black counterparts provided cheap labour and therefore ‘stole’ their jobs and killed a number of them.
  • 1991 – DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO (DRC) CITIZENS fleeing political instability were the largest refugee group in the UK.
  • 1999 – DEREK LAUD became the first black Master of Foxhounds in the UK.
  • 2011 – THE CENSUS revealed that Britain’s mixed-heritage population had doubled to 1.2 million in one decade.
  •  2013 – NIGERIANS comprised the British private schools sector’s third fastest growing market segment, spending £300 million annually educating their children at British schools and universities.

Aspects of the book were in hindsight an expansion of my Hidden Voices™ media brand.

I conducted numerous intimate interviews with Case Study subjects within their sumptuous homes, cramped offices, private clubs and over the telephone. They all shared their life stories and British experiences shaped by their ethnic origins honestly.

I learned a great deal about how different global cultures and social traits impact upon the immigrant outcome as both an individual and as a group.

As a ghost-writer I also had to enter the spirit of the client’s vision and create content in a style, voice and perspective that were at one with the public persona of the Author who is a well known broadcaster, national newspaper writer and TV personality.

Derek Laud‘s writing style which has regularly graced the pages and online portals of The Daily Telegraph, The Independent on Sunday, the Mail on Sunday and The Sun fused seamlessly with my own and that of my fellow ghost-writer.

“Laud’s is an important voice, telling the other story of immigration to the UK the story of alchemy between peoples, transformation, love and the making and remaking of Great Britain. –Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

The words project from the page and infuse the mind of their reader as engagingly as Derek’s many eloquent and elegant appearances on British television programmes such as The Alan Titchmarsh Show, BBC Question Time, The Graham Norton Show and Newsnight and with as much wit and panache as his 2005 star turn on the reality show Big Brother.

During the research and development stages of the project, Derek’s unique and potent place within British political and corporate circles as a Conservative lobbyist, political advisor and  aide and speechwriter to British Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and John Major added an unparalleled perspective and piquant accord to the architecture of the narrative and drafting of the manuscript.

2015 unSEEN Peek™ – EVERYONE IS AN IMMIGRANT – Derek Laud on London Real

Three years later, the topic of Immigration remains as controversial in Great Britain if not more so than it was in 2015.

The results of the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum on 23rd June 2016, saw 51.9% of the participating UK electorate vote to leave the EU (turnout was 72.2%). 

During the book commissioning process in 2014, Derek appraised that many of the economic and social issues that Britain was facing from high unemployment and overcrowded schools to housing shortages and the hard-pressed NHS were being pinned on immigration with migrants wrongfully being scapegoated as benefit scroungers adding little if any value to the British economy and society.

Indeed, many voters shared this erroneous view that was fanned by right-wing Leave campaigners.

After his final European Council summit as Prime Minister, a shell-shocked David Cameron informed reporters:

“I think people recognised the strength of the economic case for staying, but there was a very great concern about the movement of people and immigration, and I think that is coupled with a concern about the issues of sovereignty and the absence of control there has been.”

On 29 March 2017, the UK government invoked Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union and is due to leave the EU on 29 March 2019.

In October 2017, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said of Brexit:

“You could feel blue-collar, urban, traditional Labour opinion going viral for Leave. They were stirred up by an image of immigration which made them angry and made them throw a bit of a tantrum…

…Lincolnshire folk if you like said ‘Oh, they are coming to pinch our jobs’. Well, they wouldn’t do the jobs themselves anyway so it was a slightly artificial anger.”

Time will tell the wisdom or folly of the vote made by the British people for and upon their best interests.

There will be positive avenues of progress for trade with the Commonwealth as much as frustrations regarding the freedom of movement and rising price of continental goods and services a generation of Britons have perhaps taken for granted or not considered as luxuries.

The problem with Immigration that will soon become apparent to many is that without it being the bug bear, real issues within our communities, society and nation will have to be honestly appraised and remedies correctly identified and implemented.

As Derek Laud asked before beginning his book:

Is the problem really Immigrants?



written for The Problem With Immigrants

Chapter 3. The West Indian Community

Edward Johnston - Use Granted

Mr Edward Johnston




Edward Johnston was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica until the age of eight when political instability forced his family to migrate. “Jamaica became politically unstable because of Michael Manley’s friendship with Fidel Castro. We weren’t allowed to have or move US dollars, so bank accounts were being frozen and it was quite a scary time. Everybody thought we were going to go Communist.”

Many prosperous Jamaican families fled the island for Canada, the USA and the UK; the Johnstons left Jamaica in 1977 and lived in the Bahamas for one year and then Miami for five before returning to Jamaica when the Jamaican Labour Party government came into power and the family patriarch could request their return for commercial reasons.

Johnston is the great grandson of Charles Edward Johnston, the enterprising banana grower who in 1929 formed the Jamaica Banana Producers (JBP), a cooperative that empowered Jamaican growers to successfully compete with the exploitative United Fruit Company. The organisation went on to become a publically listed company, vertically integrated from plantations to supermarket shelves.

JBP was a powerful player within the export industry until exiting the market in 2007 during the international trade Banana War.

Johnston decided to follow the route of his paternal line, rather than the medical path of his maternal family. “I did think about which direction I was going to go in. I was always my father’s son and felt proud to be a fourth generation working in the Johnston business.”

He returned to Florida to gain a BA in Agricultural Management.

In 1992 he acquired a UK student visa and went on to complete a post graduate degree in Shipping from the University of Cardiff, before joining JBP‘s London office as a shipping manager. Johnston has been based in the capital since 1992, when he fell in love with the city and a Spanish national.

After marrying he became a naturalised EU citizen and permanent UK resident; a status he could also have gained via his employment status.

“I moved to Miami for a year and a half to experiment, to see if I could stand Miami life; I didn’t like it, so moved back to London and haven’t left since then.”

In 1998, Johnston began an MBA at City University underwritten by JBP. A fateful encounter with a lacklustre Jamaican patty inspired the business plan required as part of the course. It in turn became the blueprint for Johnston’s successful company Jamaican Patties Ltd, whose flagship brand Port Royal Patties is a now a market leader. The brand is sold across the UK in leading supermarkets Asda, Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s, as well as via Ocado and wholesale to the catering industry.


patty royal

Despite his impressive business background, Johnston faced the same hurdles less established Caribbean entrepreneurs encounter when engaging with UK financial institutions:

“I was able to get a personal loan of £25,000 which I had to guarantee myself.”

He was also tenacious enough to secure two commercial investors in Jamaica and a DTI grant of £25,000, equivalent to 20% of his investment in plant equipment. The pressure Johnston faced was intense; “It was nerve-wracking, at one point we were burning £12,000 per month. We broke even in the second year. We achieved that magic number between a good sale price and the volume of sales.”

Dubbed “The WICKEDEST patties in the worldPort Royal patties give an authentic taste of home to the UK’s Jamaican migrant community and the superior quality British tourists have experienced during Jamaican holidays. Despite supermarket buyers agreeing that Port Royal had the best tasting patties at the time it did not always translate into contracts.

Achieving industry accreditation and finding favour with the Leyton branch of Asda which then championed the products to be stocked in 12 other stores, allowed a breakthrough which lead to the brand being stocked in over 100 Tesco branches and other stores.

Supermarkets are notoriously tough in negotiating contracts and squeezing supplier margins, pitting competitors against each other in a survival of the shrewdest strategy in which the ultimate winner is the store’s profit and loss account.

“We are always looking at ways to reduce our costs without reducing our quality. Everybody is going through the same thing.”

Port Royal launched a premium line of patties for wholesale to higher-end restaurants and has many other gourmet diversifications in development. Exports to Germany, Sweden and Switzerland foretell expansion success throughout the EU market in the longer term.



Johnston is appreciative of his British passport:

“It opens doors for me. If I only had a Jamaican passport I would find it difficult to travel, to open bank accounts and to do certain things. I also have an American passport. I feel more comfortable in Britain nowadays, especially London than I do in Jamaica. I’ve been here so long and I like the way things work.”

“Both of my parents are mixed, very mixed.” Johnston’s lineage which includes antecedents of African, English, Lebanese, North Indian, Portuguese Jewish and Scottish descent is in synergy with the multicultural facets of Britain’s diverse society.

In Jamaica I wasn’t considered a “Black man”. In Miami people would think I was Cuban or something and totally get me all wrong. In London I just got along better socially because it’s more international and open-minded. America can be very closed-minded. You can have mixed race couples here a lot easier and nobody would bat an eyelid. In America they still will, it is not as integrated.”

Johnston’s blond-haired and blue-eyed son, whose mother is White British is even more representative of the changing face of Britain: the mixed-ethnic population doubled between the 2001 and 2011 UK Censuses.


Since Edward Johnston shared his story of business-building and integration into Great Britain with me for The Problem With Immigrants and I wrote the Case Study above, he has realised his goal to forward-integrate Port Royal Patties into the restaurant sector.

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Along with a small group of partners, Johnston researched, developed and launched Rudie’s, a restaurant based in Dalston. This district of London dubbed “The Coolest Place in England” has long been diversely multicultural and is now a gentrifying hipster heartland.

In under three years, Rudie’s has carved its own distinctive market niche as an authentic and sophisticated taste of Jamaica with an edgy street style based on the British Rude Boy subculture and fused with distinctive London Foodie sophistication.

Johnston continues to innovate patty products and expand the enjoyment of this culinary cornerstone of Jamaican culture with delicious ideas and pleasurable experiences: he is the man with both the golden crust (USP) and as a result a Midas touch (GNP) to his new nation, Great Britain.

© W. O. Adeyemi/ AFRICA: Seen & Heard Ltd and africaseenheard.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to W. O. Adeyemi, AFRICA: Seen & Heard and africaseenheard.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


GAIN – Deeper insight into Derek Laud’s life, career and thoughts on Immigration and UK Politics:

VIEW – Jemima + Johnny (Full Film) https://player.bfi.org.uk/free/film/watch-jemima-johnny-1966-online

DISCOVER – 10 Great Black British films http://www.bfi.org.uk/news-opinion/news-bfi/lists/10-great-black-british-films

WATCH – Ten Bob in Winter: An early classic of Black British cinema about the intriguing social dynamics that arise as a ten shilling note is passed around the black community: https://player.bfi.org.uk/free/film/watch-ten-bob-in-winter-1963-online

LEARN the history of Mixed Race Britons between 1940 and 1965

HEAR – PAST PREJUDICEThe plot of ska band Madness’s 1980 song “Embarrassment” addressed changing views on miscegnation: the shame and rejection the teenage sister of  band member Lee Thompson faced for carrying a black male’s child. Although initially disowned by her family, Lee’s sister and her mixed race daughter were in time accepted by their family. 

ANALYSE the SKINHEAD subculture. It was originally a mixed marriage between Jamaican immigrant and Cockney working class cultures before birthing a toxic breed of mainstream racism: 

STUDY – Twenty-first Century Miscegnation – An Ethnic Assimilation Trend:  The Melting Pot Generation: How Britain became more relaxed on race (Link to Full Report): http://www.britishfuture.org/articles/reports/new-report-the-melting-pot-generation/

APPRECIATEHarris Elliot & Dean Chalkey in Conversation on Britain’s Unique Rude Boy Sartorialism & Subculture:  

BE AWARE of the issue of African women being tricked into prostitution and sex trafficked into the United Kingdom and other countries world wide:

LISTEN to Baroness Stroud, The Legatum Institute CEO  explain in the House of Lords on 20th March 2018 why British security collaboration with the EU to tackle modern slavery and human trafficking is essential:

ACTIVATE – 7 Ways to Join the Fight Against Human Trafficking: ttps://www.themuse.com/advice/take-action-7-ways-to-join-the-fight-against-human-trafficking

CONSIDER support of Lord Dubs’ amendment on regulations which allow unaccompanied children to seek asylum with their families:

SUPPORT Bristol’s Mayor Marvin Rees and Deputy Mayor Asher Craig in their Stepping Up programme aimed at reducing the employment and leadership inequality experienced by Black and Minority Ethnic communities:

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