Assimilation 1 Racial Justice 0

Rob Berkeley looks at the concerns raised by Eric Pickles about assimilation, and finds them to be largely without merit.


Rob Berkeley is the director of the Runnymede Trust

Today’s announcement of an integration strategy from Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, marks a dangerous and ill-advised reversion to assimilationist policy, where all differences of ethnicity and heritage are subsumed into a majoritarian ‘mainstream’.

Instead of taking the opportunity to further benefit from the diversity of the ethnic and faith backgrounds of its citizens, Pickles seems intent on restoring some notion of Britishness that is frozen in time and fails to take account of the nature of a modern Britain, its citizenry, or its role in the world.

While in interviews Pickles points to last year’s Royal Wedding as a unifying moment for the British people, he would do well to also remember this summer’s Olympics, won for a London sold as ‘The World in One City’.

His emphasis on ‘British values’ and ‘national unity’, in a series of interviews given to the Daily Mail and Express, suggests that people from minority ethnic backgrounds are somehow a threat to these values or to a unified country.

This is despite significant evidence to the contrary and the significant contribution people from minority ethnic backgrounds have made and continue to make to Britain. Pickles seems to be advocating that the government, or perhaps he, or just the white majority, should be the arbiter of these values rather than the citizens of this country in all their ethnic diversity.

Meanwhile even in the wake of the Lawrence convictions we still see persistent racial inequality and injustice in our society.

Youth unemployment among Black and Pakistani heritage young people is more than double the rate of that of white young people. There are three times as many young Black men in prison as in Russell Group universities. Police waste 5,500 days each year stopping and searching Black and Asian people without reducing the crime that they are more likely to be victims of.

Government research has highlighted that if you have an identifiably African or Asian name you have to make nearly twice as many applications to even get an interview.

Our research and that of others shows that concern about racial injustice was a key motivator in the riots last summer. Our football terraces and fields are once again dealing with overt racist attitudes. These facts seem to have escaped the notice of the government department charged with addressing racial injustice in our communities.

The government has taken over 18 months to articulate its (still incomplete) strategy in response to these problems, and has failed to meaningfully consult the communities that this strategy will effect most.

Due to this lack of engagement, it has identified ‘integration’ as the solution, and sought to blame marginalised groups for ‘choosing to remain outside of mainstream society’.

Rejecting any targeted responses to racial injustice in favour of ‘mainstream’ services, the government proposes that a ‘Big Lunch’, ‘community music days’, and support for The Scouts Association are the kind of responses that we need.

The Secretary of State appears to have completely misunderstood the problems we face in building a successful multi-ethnic society, and the solutions proposed as a result simply miss the point.

While it may win a few political points on the soft right, a return to assimilation is neither desirable nor practicable and puts at risk the benefits we have gained from the ethnic diversity of British people. This government has sought to make fairness its catchword; this strategy does nothing to turn such rhetoric into reality.

See also:

Outside In: A conviction politician, and a good read to bootCarl Packman, January 24th 2012

The hidden legacy of the Stephen Lawrence caseDr Phil McCarvill, January 15th 2012

What will Cameron do to end the racism of the young Conservatives?Alex Hern, November 23rd 2011

He sees no corruption, hears no racism and speaks no sense: It’s time to kick Blatter outShamik Das, November 17th 2011

All eyes on Barcelona as racism rears its ugly head againShamik Das, May 3rd 2011

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19 Responses to “Assimilation 1 Racial Justice 0”

  1. leftlinks

    Left Foot Forward – Assimilation 1 Racial Justice 0

  2. Starting a story

    RT @leftfootfwd: Assimilation 1 Racial Justice 0: @runnymedetrust's Rob Berkeley on Eric Pickles

  3. Pulp Ark

    Assimilation 1 Racial Justice 0 #Social_Justice #Assimilation #Multi_culturalism #muslim #tcot #sioa

  4. Ben Gidley

    RT @leftfootfwd: Assimilation 1 Racial Justice 0: @runnymedetrust's Rob Berkeley on Eric Pickles

  5. Rob Ford

    RT @leftfootfwd: Assimilation 1 Racial Justice 0: @runnymedetrust's Rob Berkeley on Eric Pickles

  6. mixt

    Americanisation of England – RT @leftfootfwd: Assimilation 1 Racial Justice 0

  7. Patrick

    Ah the Left’s favourite subject -racial injustice.

    White, educated, middle-class people frothing with righteous anger for the rights of oppressed minorities. I wonder how many of them actually know significant numbers of ethnic minorities, or have asked them whether they want white people’s empty words of support, or what they have actually done to help out minorities. It’s all a pose. These people adopt this subject as an off-the-shelf way of appearing modern, forward-thinking, tolerant and cool, safe in the knowledge that to anyone who disagrees with them they can use the ultimate sanction -“you’re a racist”.

    It’s not the rights of minorities I disagree with, it’s the sanctimonious hypocrisy of Left wing poseurs that I hate. And I’m not alone in thinking this. Go and ask non-white people what they think of it.

  8. Hannah Jones

    RT @leftfootfwd: Assimilation 1 Racial Justice 0: @runnymedetrust's Rob Berkeley on Eric Pickles

  9. Omar Khan

    RT @leftfootfwd: Assimilation 1 Racial Justice 0: @runnymedetrust's Rob Berkeley on Eric Pickles

  10. J Maisi

    RT @leftfootfwd: Assimilation 1 Racial Justice 0: @runnymedetrust's Rob Berkeley on Eric Pickles

  11. Sue Corcoran

    RT @leftfootfwd: Assimilation 1 Racial Justice 0: @runnymedetrust's Rob Berkeley on Eric Pickles

  12. Peter Happe

    It is genocide. The 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Article II states:
    In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group as such: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

  13. Tony Lindsay

    RT @leftfootfwd: Assimilation 1 Racial Justice 0: @runnymedetrust's Rob Berkeley on Eric Pickles

  14. Omar Khan

    In case you missed it, Runnymede's response to the integration strategy:

  15. Ed's Talking Balls

    Wow. That’s some hyperbole, even for this blog. Do you know Leon Wolfson (or are you actually him?)

    Eric Pickles’ words are hardly on a par with a pogrom.

    Incidentally, Pickles is perfectly right. A country has a right to an identity and the onus should be on those who enter to adapt to that culture rather than change it to one of their choosing. I thought left-wingers were against imperialism?

  16. Lianne

    Interesting article on Eric Pickles' "dangerous and ill-advised reversion to assimilationist policy"

  17. Rob

    I don’t agree with your point or suggestion that the Left has a particularly strong record in addressing racial injustice – but just for your information the author – me – is Black

  18. Creating the Conditions for Integration | The COMPAS Blog

    […] majority”,  “Immigrants will be expected to speak English and champion British culture”, “Assimilation 1 Racial Justice 0”: it seems odd that such widely divergent headlines last week announced the same news […]

  19. 1society

    Excellent article criticising the government's so-called 'integration' strategy by Rob Berkley of the Runnymede Trust

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