There has recently been built in Merton in south London a ‘mega mosque’ that has inevitably become the focus of much controversy. In his book The British Dream, David Goodhart, director of the centre-left think tank Demos, takes the mosque as symbolic of the unacceptable change that immigration has wrought upon the nation. The mosque, he writes, ‘replaced an Express Dairies bottling plant which provided a few hundred jobs for local people and lots of milk bottles — an icon of an earlier, more homogenised age’.
There was, in fact, a seven-year gap between the closing of the dairy in 1992 and building work beginning on the mosque. In those seven years the abandoned dairy was, according to local accounts, turned into a crack den. So, one story we could tell is that of economic forces closing down an unprofitable dairy, with the loss of a several hundred…
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