Dame Louise Casey’s government-commissioned report into integration between ethnic groups and community cohesion is not going to shatter the earth. She discovered what many already know: that British society is not very well integrated; that it is increasingly divided along ethno-cultural lines; and that there is a want of any cohering, collective identity.
‘I had thought that I knew what some of the problems might be’, she writes. ‘Black boys still not getting jobs, white working-class kids on free school meals still doing badly in our education system, Muslim girls getting good grades at school but no decent employment opportunities.’ And these, she confirms, are still problems. ‘But I also found other, equally worrying things, including high levels of social and economic isolation in some places and cultural and religious practices in communities that are not only holding some of our citizens back but run contrary to British values and sometimes our laws.’
She hammers the familiar message home with stats showing that certain ethnic groups tend to live and mix only among themselves, attending near-enough mono-cultural schools, and living and working, or increasingly not working, in mono-cultural communities. She mentions in particular the segregation of Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities in Blackburn, Birmingham, Burnley and Bradford, reporting that some wards are 70 to 85 per cent Muslim. She admits that the security and comfort the familiar affords is understandable. But she also notes that many in these segregated communities live almost parallel lives to mainstream British society, talking their own languages, sharing their own values and submitting to their own authorities. And she warns of the deleterious effect this segregation may be having on some members of these communities, in particular women – who are not just being held back, but subjected to ‘domestic abuse’ and ‘other criminal practices such as female genital mutilation, forced marriage and so-called “honour”-based crime’ - and gays and bisexuals, who are persecuted and worse.
It’s a soberly written report, and the diagnosis of a culturally fragmented society at least skirts the truth. But its content is often hyperbolic, with the lurking implication that something terrible is happening in these sequestered, isolated communities. Yet that’s not the real problem with the Casey Review. No, the real problem is that it doesn’t grasp why Britain is culturally fragmented; it doesn’t understand the dynamic that has led to increasing numbers of people firmly identifying themselves with, and entrenching themselves within, particular ethno-cultural communities. It doesn’t, in short, acknowledge the British state’s own role in fomenting this fragmentation through the promulgation of multiculturalism. Because it’s this, the active, state-driven implementation of multiculturalism, encouraging assorted ethno-cultural groups to identify themselves as such, that lies at the heart of what now appears under Casey’s eyes as social disintegration.
Not that this is even alluded to in the Casey Review. Instead, she heaps the blame on civil society itself, pointing the finger at rising levels of immigration over the past 20 years, and a combination of self-segregating communities led by segregation-happy faith leaders, and, as she puts it, changing ‘public attitudes [towards immigrants]... with negative judgments about the cultural and economic impact of migration growing’.