A number of experts comment on the recently published ‘Casey Review: A review into opportunity and integration’.
Dr Waqas Tufail: ‘Erroneous, misguided and dangerous’
The Casey Review represents the latest attempt by the state to intervene in the lives of British Muslims. The findings reached by Louise Casey are not new, original or surprising – in fact they cover startingly familiar ground by concluding that British Muslim communities are unwilling to integrate and retreat into mono-ethnic residential areas to ‘segregate’ themselves from the rest of society. Casey also takes the opportunity to attack the ‘regressive’ attitudes and cultural practices of British Muslims – whilst ignoring wholesale the impact of institutional Islamophobia. The Casey Review findings are politically expedient, and constitute a demand that British Muslims in particular ‘get their house in order’. With this narrative the state itself is absolved from any real responsibility in failing to invest in communities, some of which are located within the most deprived areas in the UK and which have experienced severe socio-economic problems due to decades of state neglect. Instead, Casey’s recommendations stretch from the bizarre (requesting the development of a set of local ‘indicators of integration’) to the outright offensive (the introduction of an ‘integration oath’ for immigrants arriving to Britain). It would be easy to dismiss the Casey Review as just another poorly thought out and politicised report, however the implications for minorities and for British Muslims in particular are very real. In the context of widespread anti-Muslim sentiment, increasing racist violence and a far-right emboldened by recent political events across the Western world, the Casey Review reaches findings that are not only erroneous and misguided, but dangerous too.
Dr Waqas Tufail is a senior lecturer in criminology at Leeds Beckett University.
Ratna Lachman and Nadeem Murtuja: ‘Overlooks government failures’
JUST Yorkshire expresses deep disappointment at the outcome of the Casey Review because it believes that it unfairly stigmatises ethnic minority communities for the so-called failure of integration. In overlooking the failure of successive governments to tackle deep-rooted inequalities that disproportionately impact on ethnic minorities and white working-class people, the Review is unlikely to address the real barriers to integration.
The Review also fails to acknowledge the existence of ‘white’ populist xenophobia and racism within British society. The recent 41 per cent spike in hate crimes against the backdrop of a virulent anti-immigrant EU Referendum campaign, highlights a country that is not only ill at ease with its multi-cultural identity but continues to perceive ethnic minorities as the ‘other’.
The Review clearly identifies the disaffection and alienation among many white working class communities’ in former mill towns in the north of England and in areas where heavy industries have declined as posing significant barriers to integration. It is clear that in these areas the problem of white populist driven racism has to be acknowledged in stoking community divides. Critically the failure of successive governments to address the economic abandonment of inner-city Britain, particularly in the North of England, poses an even greater challenge to integration than communities living segregated lives. The Casey Review would have been taken seriously had it recommended major government investment in kick-starting regional economies and rolling back the disproportionate burden of austerity that many of the poorest councils in the North are carrying. (This is excerpted from a much fuller response to the review which can be read here.)
Lord Herman Ouseley: ‘Blaming the victims’
Louise Casey’s report on integration/segregation has come at a convenient time for her as prejudice and hate within British society is a feature of everyday life affecting most people. It provides her with the opportunity to express herself assertively in raising important social, cultural , religious, economic and political issues, worthy of discussion, but controversially expressed to sensationalise and capture the populist headlines which she craved and which have come her way. She says nothing that is new that has not been written on the pages of most English national and some local newspapers. As always, such reports blame the victims. White people who choose to be with each other and choose not to mix with people from other backgrounds, as is their right, could not possibly be accused of self-segregating! It is the others who are to blame for not integrating!
Back in 2001, I led a local review team in Bradford, looking at similar issues which said everything and more in less pages but ignored by the local leaders in that District and by the government of Blair and Straw who went down a bizarre academic ‘social exclusion’ route to nowhere and that is where we are today. We said then and made recommendations on how to tackle institutional discrimination, economic and social disadvantages, to bring people from all backgrounds together so that they can learn with and from each other to shape a cohesive local community identity for their district. Above all, we highlighted the need for leadership and responsible decision-making.
We do not need any more reports like this to tell us what problems people in minority and majority local communities face when afflicted with the evils of discrimination, disadvantage, deprivation and exclusion. We urgently need social and political leaders who are prepared to face up to their own weaknesses and prejudices and who are capable and committed to getting rid of hatred, discrimination, inequalities and exclusion.
Lord Herman Ouseley is a crossbench peer, founder and Chair of Kick it Out and headed the Commission for Racial Equality from 1993-2000.
Gus John: ‘Cantle Mark II – fanning the flames of Islamophobia’
Most humans experience amnesia as a devastating condition. Nation states, however, appear to induce it as a means of self-gratification and as a way of forgetting their inglorious past and presenting themselves as ‘born again’.
Some of us have been in Britain long enough to remember the days when headteachers were required by the Department of Education and Science to bus immigrant children to schools outside their neighbourhoods if their numbers in their local schools rose beyond 30 per cent. It was felt that a larger number of them would put at risk the educational attainment of white children and ruin their life chances. I have personal experience of white people deserting whole streets when Caribbean and Asian families, including my own, moved into the area. Time was when Community Relations Councils in tandem with adult learning centres would run English as a Second Language classes for entire families from the Sub-Continent, including Asian grandmothers. Such provision has been phased out completely. The Guardian (5 December 2016) reported that Gideon Goldberg did ‘a wordle of the Casey report. He says the term Muslim gets mentioned 249 times, Christian thirty-five times, Hindu twenty-three times, Jewish eighteen times, Sikh elevn times and Buddhist five times’.
In 2001, after Burnley, Oldham and Bradford erupted in civil unrest as Asian communities resisted the far Right, the government blamed the unrest on self-segregation by mainly Muslim communities and the alienation of Asian youths in particular. A whole industry grew out of the ‘community cohesion’ recipe Ted Cantle sold to the government and which it in turn imposed upon schools and local government. Casey is Cantle Mark II. The Asians have not only segregated themselves, they have placed themselves outside ‘our values’ and are operating patriarchal and misogynistic systems that have no place in ‘our’ society. We must therefore extract oaths of allegiance from them and ostracise them even further if they fail to comply. All of that, needless to say, is oxygen for the far Right who are a greater threat to the stability of the social order and to integration than any group of non-English-speaking Asian women could ever be, but whose allegiance to our common values is never ever questioned. Greater grist to the mill of the far Right there never has been.
Robin Richardson: ‘A terrible failure’
The Casey Review is written, according to its title page, by Louise Casey. But its actual text, apart from a foreword signed by Casey herself, is written by a group of people known as ‘the Review team’. They refer to themselves throughout as ‘we’ but provide not a shred of information about who they are and what their qualifications are, if any, for the task they have undertaken. They do not even give any information about how they worked, other than making vague references to having held meetings and conversations. Such anonymity and lack of disclosure in an official government report is extremely unconventional and does nothing to build confidence in its findings. And indeed, the report is shockingly superficial, a mish-mash of prejudices, rumours and hearsay. In its prose style it moves carelessly from one non-sequitur to another, and is frequently inconsistent and unclear in its use of key terms. Amazingly, there is not a single reference to the Equality Act 2010 and to the failure of central government to fulfil its own legal duties under the Act. Its recommendations are banal in the extreme. Subtitled ‘a review into opportunity and integration’, it is a terrible failure to seize an opportunity to lead thinking about the nature and needs of modern Britain.
Robin Richardson is an educationalist who runs the Insted Consultancy.