3rd June 2018
The Rt Hon James Brokenshire
Secretary of State for Housing
Communities and Local Government
2 Marsham Street London SW1P 4DF
Dear Secretary of State
One issue which is causing ordinary people great concern and is clearly not being addressed within communities is associated with the high numbers of people of the Muslim faith living in concentrated areas of inner cities. There are many challenges arising from this development some of which may be reflected in attitudes towards other faiths. There, therefore, appears to be little integration as the “British way of life” is seemingly Haram to many observant Muslims.
Having reviewed what may be behind the creation of a form of separate development, it seems to us that there have been a number of reports which have been significant in the past and continue to exert influence over the behaviour of Public Sector organisations and we believe this impedes the development of a shared set of twenty-first century values.
The Parekh Report published by the Runnymede Trust in 2000, the Mc Pherson Report into the murder of Stephen Lawrence and the Runnymede Trust consultation into “Islamophobia” have in our view all resulted in unintended consequences that are impacting on communities now.
Taking each, in turn, the Parekh report was comprehensive, well researched and influential. It fixed the policy expectations that were considered necessary to deliver a safe harmonious multicultural Britain in the new Millenium. It was culturally Marxist in its emphasis on prejudice, discrimination exclusion and inequality, as opposed to being class-based. However, the upshot of such top-down engineering is that it presupposes that the solution to important issues can be delivered by government and public sector policy.
However, it is interesting to note that the report did make the following percipient comment “The need for both equality and difference and to respect the rights of both individuals and communities appears to be beyond the compass of existing political vocabularies. The debate about British multiculturalism needs to pursue these long-term questions. It has hardly begun”
We would argue it has never started. This inability to meet the demands of equality and difference has established we believe a culture of organisational paranoia about the negative role in which organisations see themselves having unintentionally reinforced prejudice. As a result in places like Rochdale organisational fear and the absence of the ‘shared core values and human rights culture’ advocated by Parekh led the abuse of vulnerable white girls. This unintended consequence is now leading to anger being directed at the State by ordinary working people and their anger is both justified and understandable. If a report promotes a set of policy suggestions of a legal and procedural nature with vague suggestions about “values” that are not adopted by all communities and children are harmed, people will be moved to anger.
In respect of the Runnymede Trust Commission on Islamophobia in 1997, it identified a ‘mad’ view of Islam by westerners and came up with eight ways that groups with opposing views could overcome prejudice. For example, seeing groups as different but having equal worth, as opposed to seeing groups as violent etc.
The problem with this method is that it has been adopted by liberal western groups and yet the failure to adopt this method of mutual understanding by grassroots Muslims has resulted in a failure of dialogue at street level. It is sadly a commonly held view that Western culture is haram! The effect is that there has been a general retreat from dialogue at community level unless publicly funded schools are taking non-Muslim children to mosques. There is, therefore, a general reinforcement of separate development. This phenomenon has not assisted the aftermath of Rochdale. Communities simply do not widely share the same values and clearly have no desire so to do. The Islamic faith contains many values at odds with many of those of the twenty-first century West with little mutual respect particularly in respect of the treatment of women and girls.
Finally, the report into the tragic death of Stephen Lawrence identified institutional racism within the police. The allegation of police racism continues to cause problems in communities today. If prejudice, discrimination, exclusion and inequality are identified with public bodies as suggested by Parekh then those bodies like Police and Local Authorities will fail to serve their communities. They will and do operate to politically safeguard themselves from the possibility of charges of racism by the government or overt Political Correctness from the press.
Currently, knife crime and gang violence are establishing primitive values that are totally at odds with values compatible with the twenty-first century and little is being done to address it. Is there a “Queen’s Peace” in our inner cities?
If it is as stated that these issues remain beyond current ‘political vocabularies’ then it is urgent that action is taken. We would urge Her Majesty’s Government to consider a wide-ranging commission and consultation at all levels of society exploring the issue of community integration. There must be no hiding from harsh realities like faith justified abuse that has become established in some communities nor the social failure in white working-class communities that has created many of the victims. We need to have an open and transparent debate before the differentiation of communities, the lack of shared values; (the ambition of Parekh) starts to cause a generalised breakdown of moral cohesion.
On behalf Blue Revolution