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The Casey review: A review into opportunity and integration

December 21, 2016

casey Dame Louise Casey, an ex­perienced civil servant, concludes that work needs to be done to “repair the sometimes fraying fabric of, our nation”.

The unprecedented scale of im­migration and demographic change in recent decades has led to segregation and division in some deprived communities in the UK, the review states. (But surely a lot of that is to do with ‘white flight’ away from these areas and their schools.)

“Problems of social exclusion have persisted for some ethnic-minority groups, and poorer white British communities in some areas are falling further behind,” Dame Louise writes in her introduction.

She picks out the uneven spread of immigrants as a cause of prob­lems. For example, half of all ethnic-minority citizens live in London, Manchester, and Birmingham. Half of ethnic-minority students attend schools with a majority of non-white pupils. This is particularly marked for Pakistani and Bangladeshi com­munities, the report says.

In one state school visited by Dame Louise’s research team, “pu­pils believed the population of Britain to be between 50 per cent and 90 per cent Asian, such had been their experience up to that point.”

The concentration of minorities in certain areas is associated with lower social mobility, fewer job opportunities, and less trust in British culture.

While polling suggests that 89 per cent of people believe their com­munity to be cohesive, other surveys suggest that about six in ten believe the settlement of migrants in the UK to be a bad thing overall.

Dame Louise’s report focuses repeatedly on British Muslims, and Pakistani and Bangladeshi immi­grants. She quotes research that suggests that 55 per cent of people consider Islam to be incompatible with British values. (So is Christianity, I’d argue.)

Among, her recommendations are increasing government funding for English classes (which it cut); teaching on British laws, values, and history in school; and an “oath of integration” to be taken by immigrants on their arrival.

But surely the oath would in itself be a denial of one of the basic values it might seek to uphold: the right to dissent.

Slavery, the British Empire and restricting the right to vote to male property owners would once be commonplace “values”, or practices easily derived from the mores of their day.

After all, in his first speech as Culture Secretary in April 2014, Sajid Javid said: “What we do in this country is great because, far from being ruled by central diktats, our culture is based on freedom and self-determination.”

Now, as Communities Secretary, the same Saijid Javid is proposing that every new recruit to the public sector swear a McCarthy-ite oath to something called “British values” – an oath no doubt drafted as a “central diktat”.

Despite some passages on the white working-class, or on the Roma of Sheffield; thiswas overwhelmingly a report about Muslims.

The aggressive tone of the Casey report seems more likely to alienate rather than integrate many Muslims. The report focuses too much on Muslims (249 mentions), and not enough on Eastern European immigrants (only 14 references to Poles). And, in a critique of Lady Warsi, it confuses “race, ethnicity, origin and faith”.

If, as is claimed, some sharia councils condone wife-beating, ignore marital rape, or encourage forced marriages, then we have exist­ing laws that can be enforced to combat these.

But we must avoid reinforcing what Dame Louise herself calls the “vicious circle”, in which Muslims feel blamed for terrorism and extrem­ism, which in turn leads to suspicion, mistrust, and hostility.

The Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Revd Toby Howarth, said this week that, while he quibbled with some of Dame Louise’s conclusions, the re­view “rings true” and “needed to be said”.

Bishop Howarth, previously the Archbishop of Canterbury’s inter­faith adviser, said that it was indisputable that some minority communities had not integrated as well as they might. But too many leaders have chosen to take the easier path when confronted with these issues in the past.”

He argued for more state in­volvement. For instance, churches in his diocese running English classes for isolated Asian women could not hire enough professional teachers to meet demand because, government funding was so limited.

Minority groups considered British culture to be corrupt”, and obsessed with binge drinking and loose sexual morals.

Restoring funding for English lessons was a good start, as well as ensuring that tax revenue from migrant communities was reinvested in local public services, he suggested.

But, ultimately, the Government needed to also play its part in setting clear boundaries — for instance, explaining where wearing a niqab was inappropriate, and upholding the minimum requirements for Muslim school curricula.

The Bishop of Manchester, Dr David Walker, agreed that much of Dame Louise’s analysis rang true. “These [facts] are fairly stark, and it is important that we take them on board,” he said on Wednesday.

The existence of isolation and segregation in some communities did not prove that minorities were at fault – church schools were popular with Muslim parents.

The Revd Bonnie Evans-Hills, interfaith adviser for the diocese of St Albans, considered the Casey review to be flawed. “They seem to be placing blame at the feet of Pakistani and Bangladeshi commun­ities and making sweeping state­ments without looking at us as citizens, and the world as a whole,” she said.

Given time, migrants would settle into their new homes. “We need to calm down and stop scapegoating people. Eventually it does even out”

Why does everyone assume these days that integration is such a good thing, asks Giles Fraser. Louise Casey’s “community report”, published last week, simply took it for granted that it’s inherently unhealthy for communities to keep themselves to themselves. But why shouldn’t they preserve their distinct character? It’s precisely that which makes them a community in the first place. “What a miserably grey one-dimensional place [the world] would be if the dominant model of middle-of-the-road liberal secular capitalism became the only acceptable way of living.” To hear Communities Secretary Sajid Javid berating people for not embracing Britain’s “shared values” is to be reminded of the Borg, those Star Trek villains who travel the universe forcibly subsuming other cultures. “We are the Borg,” they say. “Surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile.” There we have it. For integrationists, “good community is little more than a dash of cultural colour at homeopathic levels: a calendar of exotic festivals, some religious fancy dress”. But having a different way of life, or seeing the world in a different way? Please God, no!

It completely contradicts (though no in some of its detailed findings) Unsettled Belonging – A Survey of Britain’s Muslim Communities – Policy Exchange

It also looks at other reports, e.g. Cantle.

 Quotations:

A similar picture is seen for lesbian, gay and bisexual groups – who suffer discrimination in mainstream society, but are affected twice over when they alsoelong to a community that can be culturally intolerant of non-heterosexual identification.

..community cohesion did not feel universally strong across the country.

Mistrust, anxiety and prejudice grow where communities live separately.

We remain a largely religious country, with nearly 7 out of 10 of us…saying we belonged to a religion.

..the 72% growth in the Muslim population… has been the most significant increase in any faith community

Over the last two  decades, however, total immigration has doubled.

..a ‘first generation in every generation’ phenomenon… may be acting as a bar to integration in some communities.

..contact with young people from different backgrounds promotes better understanding and more positive views, leading to less anxiety, fear, prejudice and discrimination…

When children being educated in segregated schools are also growing up in an area where all of their neighbours are from the same ethnic and/or faith background… It deprives them of the benefits… that are known to derive from mixing with people from different backgrounds.

89% of people thought their community was cohesive…

stronger support among Muslims for respect for all faiths, respect for people from different ethnic groups, freedom of religious choice and for the importance of voting; while showing weaker support among Muslims for the importance of pride in country/patriotism, freedom of speech/expression, speaking English, justice and fair play and responsibility towards others in the community.

Polling of British Muslim  attitudes by ICM in April 2016 , discussed earlier in this report, found that  52% of Muslim respondents said that they thought homosexuality should be made illegal in Britain (compared to 11 % among the rest of the population), while 47% said that teachers should not be gay (compared with 14% of the general population

(Muslim ‘extremist’) “It is ridiculous that the Government is saying Muslims are becoming radicalised. David Cameron says 500 people have gone to Syria to become radicalised, but where is the evidence? And out of a population of three million Muslims in the UK, what kind of percentage is that?”

opposition to female candidates was common; with many councils fielding only male councillors…

The report is online here

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