Many see the Casey review as a big defection at the time of the crisis in education, social welfare provisions, NHS as well as to divert from the unrest because of the austerity measures and benefit reforms which adversely affect vulnerable groups of people.
This is also the time when the society is concerned about and trying to cope with the fear, hate, scaremongering and racism, perpetuated during the last London mayor election, EU campaign and US presidential election, resulting in the up surge of far right, far right media and politicians – enough to radicalise far right attitudes which lead to increased ‘hate crimes’.
Government-backed Casey review which was strategically delayed by Downing Street for months, recommends a major new strategy to help bridge divides in UK towns and villages, with an “integration oath” to encourage immigrants to embrace British values, more focus on promoting the English language, encouraging social mixing among young people, and securing “women’s emancipation in communities where they are being held back by regressive cultural practices”.
The review was originally commissioned by then prime minister David Cameron in 2015 as a part of a wider strategy to tackle the “poison” of Islamic extremism – so the review is more Muslim specific.
While the review highlights variety of socio-cultural negativities, noticed in some Muslims, it lacks adequate focus on why things are as they are – for example, barriers to integration which many say are the dominant norms as well as the conflicts and contradiction they cause.
As expected, strategically appointments community secretary Sajid Javid defended the widely disowned review:, “For too long, too many people in this country have been living parallel lives, refusing to integrate, and failing to embrace the shared values that make Britain great” giving examples from his own childhood like he accompanied his mother to GP for translation.
Mr Javid has signalled that every public office-holder may have to swear an oath of allegiance to British values. The loyalty pledge would be expected to cover elected officials, civil servants, and council workers. He also wants all migrants to swear an oath of allegiance, not just those seeking UK citizenship.
Mr Javid’s expectations lack substance and open up further tensions, strengthening the view that the Casey review and whatever flows from it are no more than political tactics to deflect from the harsh realities and difficulties that the government is facing, otherwise how could Mr Javid not see the unworkability of the review and miss the public concerns:
A lot of this British Values stuff is getting a bit ‘bigbrother’ like – what are the British values anyway – do they include the principle of justice and truth e.g. social justice, addressing oppression, resolving international conflicts through peaceful means?
How to monitor the acquirement of British values – can these be enforced by law?
Integration is two way process, can it be enforced?
If you don’t bring to your lips to what is in your heart, would all be okay?
Effectiveness of oaths and social legislation in reforming attitudes, given that the decades old race relations and other anti-discriminatory laws could only occasionally deal with the effects but largely failed to change attitudes?
Why ‘not speaking English’ is such a big issue now, especially as the inadequacy of English language fluency is noticeable only in a small minority of diminishing age group in the pockets of the UK areas?