VOTERS in Australia and Britain have had their fill of out-of-control multiculturalism.
AT first blush, Julia Gillard's volte-face over immigration would seem to be as unlikely as Osama bin Laden singing the Star Spangled Banner or Richard Dawkins taking holy orders.
Here is a politician with a solid pedigree on the "anti-racist" Left rejecting former prime minister Kevin Rudd's call for a "Big Australia" formed by continuing large-scale immigration.
Instead, Gillard has said she understands the anxieties of folk in western Sydney, western Melbourne or the Gold Coast growth corridor in Queensland.
As for the boats of asylum-seekers, Gillard has made clear she wants to be even more effective in stopping them in order to protect "our sanctuary" and "the Australian way".
In other words, Gillard is signalling that she sympathises with the concern that large-scale immigration and multiculturalism are threatening Australia's core values and identity, a position the Left denounces as bigotry.
Consequently, Gillard's remarks have produced predictable cries of "racism" and "dog-whistling". So why has the new Labor leader ventured into this particular cultural minefield? The explanation is that something tumultuous is happening, not just in Australia but in Britain too, something so unusual that people are stumbling around in a state of stunned disorientation.
It is that politicians are at last actually taking seriously what their electorates are saying to them about immigration and multiculturalism. This is that they will no longer put up with a policy which threatens to destroy their country's values and way of life, and will vote accordingly.
In Britain even more than in Australia - where at least John Howard or Tony Abbott have tackled such issues - race and culture have long been totally taboo. No debate has been possible about whether mass immigration might be a bad thing for communities or the country as a whole.
Even to question this has been to invite instant denunciation as a racist from the dominant left-wing intelligentsia, for whom anti-racism has long been their signature creed.
The Conservative leader and now Prime Minister, David Cameron, who is driven by the need to bury the label of "the nasty party" that was hung round the Tories' neck, was accordingly too nervous even to mention immigration during the recent election campaign, even though it was at the very top of the list of voters' concerns.
But Cameron didn't win the election, and is now forced to govern in a coalition with the left-wing LibDems. His failure to talk about immigration is said to be the reason why he failed to win an election that was thought impossible for him to lose.
Nothing concentrates the political mind so well as the spectre of defeat. And so now in both Britain and Australia a political sea change is taking place.
In both countries, voters are stating unequivocally that they have seen through all the spin about multiculturalism, all the false arguments about the alleged economic advantages of mass immigration, all the bullying and name-calling about racism.
They look at their neighbourhoods and realise that their culture and national identity are being replaced by something entirely new. No one has ever asked them for their consent to this. And they are simply not going to take it any more.
In Britain, the public services are buckling under the sheer weight of the numbers coming into the country.
More explosive is the cultural transformation, particularly by the large influx and expansion of Muslims who, rather than accommodating themselves to British society, expect it to accommodate itself to them.
So Britain is being steadily Islamised, with more than 1700 mosques, the development of a parallel jurisdiction of sharia law in Muslim enclaves, banks offering sharia financing, extremists given free rein on campuses and relentless pressure to suppress and censor any criticism of Islam or the Muslim community.
In parts of Australia too there are similar worries about the growth of the Muslim community, the pressure not to criticise any aggression it may display and the simultaneous onslaught upon Australian values by the likes of [Muslim cleric] Sheik Hilaly.
Listening to such concerns pays electoral dividends, as shown by Abbott, who has made such headway by defending the traditional values and national integrity of Australia as an entirely justifiable and moral position.
So Gillard is now humming the same tune, saying she sympathises with voters' desire for strong management of Australia's borders, and pledging "sustainable population" increase with the "right kind of immigrant".
A similar political convulsion is occurring in Britain. The Conservative Home Secretary, Theresa May, has promised to put a cap on immigration, a pledge that was in the Conservative manifesto but rarely mentioned during the election campaign.
Even more striking is the abrupt change of tune among several contenders for the leadership of the defeated British Labour Party. While front-runner David Miliband is sticking with its open-door immigration policy, his younger brother Ed has said "we never had an answer for the people who were worried about it".
Former Labour health secretary Andy Burnham claims the party has been "in denial" about the issue, which was "the biggest doorstep issue in constituencies where Labour lost".
Most jaw-dropping of all, former education secretary and hard man of the Left Ed Balls has said high levels of immigration under Labour had affected the pay and conditions of "too many people", and has called for better protection for British workers if the European Union expands any further.
Such death-bed conversions are of course driven by cynical political considerations. Nevertheless, they are levering open an ideological fixation which has not just sunk democratic politics into disrepute but driven culture and morality in both Britain and Australia off the rails altogether.
For the doctrines of anti-racism and multiculturalism have not ended intolerance, prejudice or discrimination. They have instead institutionalised reverse discrimination and up-ended truth, morality and justice.
Following the Marxist doctrine that prejudice is restricted to those with power, they have given Third-World ethnic minorities special protection from rules or conventions that apply to everyone else.
They have also served to falsify the history of both Britain and Australia in the minds of countless thousands of young people, who are taught propaganda based on a false or distorted story of national oppression and shame.
Multiculturalism threatens to undermine societies, by removing the cultural glue that binds all citizens together and balkanising the country into interest groups fighting for supremacy.
Once upon a time, the need to have strong borders and endorse a historic cultural identity were axiomatic elements of citizenship and national survival.
But mass immigration and multiculturalism are predicated on what is called "transnationalism", the belief that the nation is the source of all the ills of the world and must be replaced by supranational institutions and cultural identities.
This is precisely what -at a visceral level - the people of both Australia and Britain understand and are refusing to accept.
And at last, in both Australia and Britain, politicians are being forced to listen.
Melanie Phillips is a columnist for the UK Daily Mail.