London: An Integration Success Story?

Apr 27, 2016

Policy Exchange hosted a debate about whether London is a well integrated multi-ethnic city or not. The majority of speakers and those in the audience assumed that the usually optimistic narrative of London as a multi-ethnic success story did not tell the whole story: rubbing along together is not the same as being integrated or sharing any kind of common life. The speakers included Shiria Khatun (deputy mayor of Tower Hamlets), Unmesh Desai (Newham councillor and adviser to mayor Robin Wales on cohesion issues), Sunder Katwala (director of British Future), Ben Judah (author of This is London) and Rohan Silva (former adviser to David Cameron).

London emerged as a special case. It has neither the entrenched “parallel lives” of the northern mill towns nor the issue in much of the rest of the country of how best to promote mixing between the ethnic majority and various minorities—because in London the ethnic majority is increasingly absent, especially in schools. In Newham, for example, the issue is how to encourage more mixing between the three different South Asian groups (Bangladeshi, Indian and Pakistani) who make up the majority of the population. Unmesh Desai described what is sometimes called the “Newham model” in which “single identity” funding of the multiculturalism era is no longer allowed and the stress is upon using public funding to promote English language tuition and contact across the different minority groups. Has this made for a more integrated borough? It is hard to tell.

Shiria Khatun said that although Tower Hamlets would be developing its own model there would be significant overlaps with what Newham has been pioneering. This would not, she admitted, be able to promote more mixing in schools most of which are overwhelmingly Bangladeshi. Sunder Katwala, whose British Future has proposed that whoever wins the London mayoral election should establish an Office for Citizenship and Integration, said that London had a particular problem of temporary and short-term migration which contributed to a high level of churn.

Ben Judah, who spent months experiencing the underside of London immigration for his book This is London, described the twilight world of Russian and Romanian sub-minimum wage labour and said that unlike the post-colonial immigrants to London 50 years ago these groups could not easily achieve a stake in this society. Rohan Silva talked about segregated housing and recommended a more “muscular” approach to preventing ghettoisation in public housing estates by borrowing from Singapore the idea of strict limits on the number of residents from one group.

The debate ranged over some of the difficult practicalities of promoting mixing in a liberal society when, as one young woman pointed out, even in her own quite mixed school in Barking the different ethnic groups tended to stick to themselves. There was also discussion of the curriculum in faith schools, the importance of citizenship ceremonies and increasingly segregated media consumption.

Transcript

Introduction: David Goodhart (Head, Demography Unit, Policy Exchange)

We are one short but we will get going anyway and hope that he hasn’t completely forgotten and is just caught in poorly integrated traffic!

Anyway, welcome to this discussion of How Well Integrated Is London? My name is David Goodhart, I’m Head of the Demography Unit here at Policy Exchange. Integration, as we all know, is a fuzzy and disputed idea, indeed it’s so fuzzy and disputed that some people, some well-informed people, think that London is a very well integrated city, particularly by international comparison and not just by international comparison, they’ll cite all different sorts of figures about multi-ethnic households and so on, to support the case, while other equally well-informed people think that London is not a particularly well integrated city, much less so than the kind of Evening Standard, GLA London boosterism world view would suggest, and they tend to point to things like school segregation. And indeed, the results of social integration report, that some of you may be familiar with, came out last year, and found that London was the least well integrated region in the country in relation to friendship, people from different ethnicities going to each other’s houses.

Anyway, we will not resolve the question tonight of whether London is a well-integrated city or not but we do have five, or at the moment just four, interesting perspectives on the issue, who I hope will be taking somewhat different positions, I am sure will be taking somewhat different positions, and probably on an optimism/pessimism spectrum, rather than any kind of more traditional left/right spectrum. For example, if one supports the idea recently put forward by British Future, that London should have an Office of Citizenship and Integration, I don’t think this is really a politically polarising issue, certainly not along traditional left/right grounds. And indeed, both main candidates for the Office of Mayor of London have said relatively similar things about integration in the course of the campaign, they haven’t majored on it, they made only rather glancing reference, at least to the extent that I’ve been following it. I think it’s fair to say though that both of them have expressed some disquiet about segregation in London. Sadiq Khan has talked about promoting integration through planning rules, I’m not quite sure what that means but an interesting idea; Zac Goldsmith has talked about an integration test for all City Hall funding, an echo, perhaps, of the Newham model. Newham, as many of you will know, several years ago dropped any what’s called single identity funding and had a very integrationist rhetoric, at least in the past few years.

Anyway we still have a crowded platform even while missing one of our speakers, so I will shut up myself and allow the people on the panel to talk. They will talk for not very long, however, only about five minutes each, and then we will bring you into the conversation as there are many people in the room who have valuable experience and perspectives on this issue. I guess I ought to just, very, very quickly introduce everybody on the panel, with just perhaps one line. Each of you can have one line – obviously you’re very important people simply by dint of being on our Policy Exchange panel. To my left is Unmesh Desai who is a councillor in Newham, where he’s responsible, among other things, for community cohesion, I think that is correct, and so Unmesh will, I hope, tell us a bit about the Newham model later on. To my right is Shiria Khatun who is one of the Deputy Mayors of Tower Hamlets and also you have responsibility for community cohesion issues, I think, although you don’t yet have full power back from your Commissioners, do you, or do you? I’m a bit confused about that.

Shiria Khatun, Deputy Mayor, Tower Hamlets

They’re still there and will be until 2018, I’m afraid.

David Goodhart

Right, oh dear! Well, hopefully they won’t… you will have power over this issue anyway. To Shiria’s right is Sunder Katwala who is Director of British Future and as I mentioned, British Future have produced an interesting document in the light of the Mayoral Election called Making Citizenship Matter, Why London Needs an Office for Citizenship and Integration. Sunder is the Director of British Future and to Sunder’s right is Ben Judah, who is the author of a book called This Is London, some of you will have read, perhaps, or know about, read reviews of, possibly. Ben was brought up in London and spent a lot of the last 5-10 years as a Foreign Correspondent in various parts of the world and he’s returned to London to look at London through the eyes of a Foreign Correspondent from the bottom up, as it were, spent time living in doss houses in Barking with Romanian builders and things like that, and he will be able to tell us about that.

So try and stick to five minutes each. Sunder has bravely agreed to go first, so over to you Sunder and then everyone else.

Sunder Katwala, Director, British Future

Thanks David, thanks for the invitation. Integration, how integrated is London, what is integration, why do we want it, how do we get more of the integration that we want in a liberal, democratic society? I think these are good and important questions we should be asking right now.

We live in a society of high immigration and I think, for me, what is the most important question posed by immigration, there are lots of questions posed by immigration, how much do we have, how fairly do we manage it, what’s the pace of change, what’s the economic contribution, what are the skills we need, but the most profoundly important question faced by society of immigration is, how do people become us? That is the question of integration, that’s what integration means, to be integral to your society is to feel that you have an equal sense of belonging and stake in it to all of your fellow citizens. That’s a subjective thing, it might be based on equal opportunity economically but it’s also based on your identity and belonging, your feeling of belonging to the community of which you’re part. And it depends on that being reciprocated, I think. Not only do I feel I belong equally but is my equal sense of belonging to my society recognised by everyone else. Am I, Sunder Katwala, just as British as you, David Goodhart? I think it’s important to us that we do think that. How you get that at a time of high immigration is an important question and that, in a way, is the integration challenge faced by London, the capital, the most confident, the most cosmopolitan, the most open part of our country, but also the place of highest change and highest churn in this era of high change and high churn. If more than a third of people in London weren’t born in the United Kingdom, if that pace of change is speeding up and if the way in which immigration works is also now changing because actually immigration can often be more temporary than it was and I think we still feel quite confident about how… come with your suitcase, become a citizen and your kids become equally us… we’re quite confident about how citizenship integration works, in my view, I think we find, sort of, churn immigration actually harder to deal with. These are the reasons why the place of most change needs to think hard about immigration and integration even if it’s got more confidence than anywhere else.

I’m not very interested in the are we doing well or are we doing badly debate because when we’re having that debate of course it’s important that we’re having that debate as observers and in my view, as observers, the pro integration coalition might sensibly break on both sides of the, is the glass half full or is the glass half empty, both things are true, and yet those people, in a way, the moderately optimistic, sensible left and sort of ethnic minority thought leadership, which is moderately optimistic, will get there in the end. And the moderately anxious centre right might be on different sides of the glass half full, glass half empty debate, but if we stop being observers and start being participants and say, ‘What are the things to do to promote more of the integration that is good?’ in a liberal society we’d be on the same side. And actually one of the problems of British national policy is we talk about integration and apart from a rhetorical commitment to British values which is important, we have a Government that doesn’t have an integration strategy or policy. It doesn’t try to do very much other than say these are British values, it doesn’t spend any money, it doesn’t have any policies, in which case it hopefully will change that, I hope. It has an integration strategy that says, Integration is very important to the nation but it happens locally, good luck local people.’ That isn’t an integration policy, so I think one of reasons we’re calling on London to do more is that London is place where over a third, nearly half of the immigration, half of the new citizens come, London could be a model of how to do it well. It would also be good to see the place that is considered most confident and most cosmopolitan working hard at showing even in that place you need to make it work, that would reassure people who aren’t sure how it works.

So our Office of Citizenship of Integration in London, led by the Mayor with a Deputy Mayor, it should do three things – three very quick sentences. It should set a norm that if you’re in our country for any period of time, up to a year, you should speak English or be learning it and it should break down the barriers to having universal English fluency in our city and in our country; it should promote more contact between people of different backgrounds, you shouldn’t be able to grow up in a school in London without having contact from people of different faiths and ethnicities; and it should be pro-citizenship. I think, it should actively promote the value of people going on the path if they’re here and they’re settled, going on the path to become citizens and to fully participate in that way in our democracy as well as in our economy and civic life. That’s the agenda, I think, that would show… that could unite people behind a doing more for the integration agenda. Thanks David.

David Goodhart

Good, thanks very much, Sunder, that was a good start. Can I turn to you next Unmesh? Unmesh Desai, as I said, is a councillor in Newham. Newham has pioneered a more integrationist approach compared to, at least, many other London boroughs. Many years ago it stopped funding for single identity projects, although my question to you, Unmesh, would be has that made a huge difference or not? You have an integrationist rhetoric but Newham is a pretty ethnically divided borough, just between the different South Asian groups, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Indian, has your rhetoric had any real effect on the everyday life of Newhamers?

Unmesh Desai, Newham councillor & Adviser to Mayor Robin Wales on Cohesion Issues

Well, it’s more than rhetoric, David, I think it’s action as well, which I shall talk about, but the short answer is yes. Three minutes to make three points, some general observations, some stats and then three or four lessons from what David has called the Newham model.

In terms of integration, one can define integration in many ways and I think the title to the seminar is London – An Integration Success Story. I will define integration the way that I understand it: our different communities coming together and what do they have in common? And I think the short answer really is yes, compared to Northern towns and cities, where we have segregated societies, people living apart, what [13:59] called parallel lives. I grew up in the North, I came to this country in 1975 from East Africa, I’m of Indian heritage and I lived in Yorkshire for quite some time. The only links I have with Yorkshire is I support Leeds United –

David Goodhart

Bad luck!

<Laughter>

Unmesh Desai

<Laughs> Don’t do [14:17 IA] But you still get people in many Northern towns that from anecdotal evidence, academic studies, where people actually can bank, shop, go to schools and live in a world completely removed from their neighbours who happen to be of a different colour, and we don’t have that in London.

But yet there are some serious issues in London. My daughter now studies in Paris, she’s 20, the school that she went to some years ago in Newham, many of our schools happen to be people from one ethnic origin, overwhelmingly, 90, 95, 99%, sometimes only non-white faces you see in some of our schools are actually Eastern Europeans. Now that is how geography is, how the demographics of Newham are, people have talked about bussing strategies, like they did in America and so on, but there are some serious issues to be asked, serious questions. So yes, there is a serious debate.

Just to give two recent experiences, I was canvassing last night for the GLA Elections in Upton Park and an elderly Labour supporter, well, not that elderly, one of the questions (we get a standard script to ask questions to people whose doors we knock on) and one of these questions was about the EU Referendum. It’s hard enough getting people interested in two elections <laughs>, the Mayoral and then to ask about the Referendum, and to discuss are they Labour supporters? ‘I’m not racist at all. No, I’m against EU because you walk down Green Street, too many of them have come in, because of the EU.’ Mind you, that’s not as bad as the one… I met a shopkeeper in another part of East London that I hope to represent, ‘No, I’m against the EU because of all these Romanian street drinkers.’ Now, you know, [16:10] it’s more than that, and so on and you can’t start [16:12] with Romanian. But that’s a Labour supporter and I think it’s important. I come from the left, very unashamedly, left of politics, and too often the left have shied away from tackling these issues, don’t want to talk about it and that’s already a fault, we surrendered the debate on immigration and patriotism and identity amongst many other issues, to the right. I think we have to go quite a long way to reclaim some of the debate because there are issues that our supporters talk about.

Last night I was with two Ecuadorians, one of whom has been in London for many, many years and they want to do something about the recent earthquake in Ecuador and we talked about the wider political movement. And their whole lives, I could say, they’ve mixed with members from Latin American communities. Yes, they all speak English but for all practical purposes, apart from the people that they mix with, I suppose, in terms of their work, there is a different community out there. I haven’t yet read your book, Ben, I’ve got it but I think –

Ben Judah, Journalist and Author, This is London

It’s a fine read!

<Laughter>

Unmesh Desai

It’s the sort of things… it’s got the right to [17:20 IA] manifesto, but there are communities that Ben talks about in his book. So just some observations –

David Goodhart

The Newham model –

Unmesh Desai

The Newham model, I’m coming to that. I think it’s important to stress, and one can go on and on on this issue, that firstly, community cohesion, how people get on together is very, very different to integration. The Northern towns do say people get on and yet we have race riots in the middle of the Northern towns. One thing we’ve not had in London is race riots. In 1958 and Notting Hill, I suppose was the last time we had something along those lines.

David Goodhart

The early eighties?

Unmesh Desai

Well, they were not race riots, certainly not, not at all. That’s when I got active and interested in politics, they were issues about policing, we can talk about that.

But the Newham model, we do different surveys. There’s two stats that I will quote, Newham’s something like 80% BMEs and if you include people who are not on the register and so on, or illegals or whatever, we have to give about 85-90% of Newham are from a BME background. And two recent questions surveyed: To what extent do you agree or disagree that Newham is a place where people from different backgrounds get on well together? In 2015 89% agreed that people got on well together. On integration: What proportion of friends are of the same ethnic group as you, would you say? In 2015 more than half said, 48% said that friends were from the same ethnic group, so the figures are fairly split. But the Newham model, I think there were some good figures. I have lived in Newham for 30 plus years and in the East End generally, in Tower Hamlets as well, because that’s where I started my political life and journey in East London and I’ve lived there, but people generally get on well together and there’s far more mixing and integration in the sense that I would understand it.

And I think the politics comes into it and the role of the public sector plays, the role that political parties play.

The Newham model is basically based on three basic concepts. One is what do we have in common, building common ground. So, for instance, we make sure that people use the community assets and council funding this way, events bring people together, they’re open to all residents and not restricted to particular communities. That is not to say that we don’t recognise diversity and so on. We have a concept called resilience where we say the role of the councillors is helping people stand on their own feet and so on, but it’s about precious public resources, how we use those resources and this is where the [20:02] cuts come in. In Newham we have £100 million of cuts and there are more cuts along the way, so it’s about making sure that we find what people have in common.

Mixing communities is the second aspect of our strategy, free events that bring people together, public space, public events that people can actually mix together, not creating this sense of separation. And the third aspect, I suppose, is promoting fairness. So, for example, the housing policy approved by the House of Lords in the case of [20:35 Ahmed,] which was what, about seven, eight years ago, where basically it’s about how long you’ve been on the waiting list, [20:41] statutory issues, exceptions and so on, but the one thing all over the country, the [20:45] list and housing goal has always been an emotive issue; put the race angle into it and it’s an explosive issue, simply because there’s not enough houses, and so it’s how long have you been on the list.

David Goodhart

The final thought?

Unmesh Desai

The final thought is about the public sector, what its role is, implementing good race relations, getting people together; it’s not about setting communities against one another in terms of funding strategies, which you saw in the seventies, eighties, through some of race policies; it’s about the common space for the common good, public resources to bring people together, a public space that everyone can use. But also it’s not saying that people are not separate. We’re different cultures, we’ve got to respect it; we have a diverse society. Yes, we support that diversity, but it’s about how we use public spaces, it’s about resources, it’s about building Britishness in practice. People write about it, we build it in practice and that’s where the importance of English… English is the common thing that holds us together and that’s why we put so much emphasis in Newham on the need to learn English and we say it very clearly, very proudly.

David Goodhart

Good, thank you very much.

Unmesh Desai

To compete in the job market, that’s the most important thing.

David Goodhart

Absolutely. Well, I’m going to ask you, Shiria, in a minute, to comment on the Newham model and whether Tower Hamlets might adopt the model of your next-door-neighbour but first of all I want to hear from Ben.

Ben Judah

Thank you very much for coming this evening and my name’s Ben Judah, I’m a journalist. And for my recent book This Is London I decided that I wanted to write a Foreign Correspondent’s book about the city where I was born.

I worked in Moscow and I shuttled across the vast terrain of Putin’s imperium meetings, the occasional saintly figure, crooks, thieves, and in doing this process I realised that the Foreign Correspondent is a way of writing and it’s a way of writing in which you go from the top to the bottom and you manage to give a lot of voice to the poor and really see for yourself what is happening. Coming back to live in London I’m opening the newspapers or going through Twitter, I was shocked by how British journalism appeared to have been dominated by two trends and especially the discussion about this topic that we’re here to debate this evening, the topic of ethnic change. One is punditisation, pundits getting bigger and bigger and getting their own YouTube channels, leaving the Conservative Party and their opinions done from their iMacs in their living rooms on these issues, defining them. And the other is what I call sort of innate [23:06 silverisation] ,which is there’s no story about polls, numbers are everything, numbers are sacred and it all sort of looks terribly, terribly clever but, in fact, it’s sort of Wikipedia mining.

<Laughter>

The approach that I decided to take was in honour of the great writers about London such as Henry Mayhew or Jack London was to, as far as is possible, go and immerse myself and live and work in the new London, a sort of mega city of the world’s immigrants. And what I’m going to tell you about this evening is my experience living and working alongside London’s now giant and over the last 10 years has been, swelling, population of Eastern European labourers. What I found and thanks to my ability to speak Eastern European languages this was possible, what I found going undercover, pretending to be a Russian asylum seeker looking for work in Barking and Ilford and other parts of the East End, was a much darker reality than what I’d been reading in the pundits’ columns or seeing in the opinion polls. And let me tell you about a few of my experiences.

I didn’t know until I went undercover that the reality for most labourers in London is one where law is only as real as it is enforced and that minimum wage doesn’t really exist if you’re a migrant labourer from Poland or from Rumania. This is what I found and this is what I saw. Everyday around London, around the Wicks or the B&Qs or the sort of hangars of building materials, you’ll have groups, between 50, sometimes 200 men, touting for work. White vans would pass and that’s where a lot of London’s labour gets picked up. For these men minimum wage doesn’t exist, the wage they get is the wage that they haggle for. And of course I’m sure you will know that minimum wage prosecution in this country is so low that the law is only people who can request the right to be paid it or is sort of essentially notional.

Working on these sites and finding myself in these vans and going to find jobs, I found that instead of the conspiracy theory that is propagated by various politicians and various publications in this country that there are individuals in Rumania or in Poland with an A-Z of the British benefits system, absolute masters of what they can claim arriving in Victoria Coach Station, I found a reality where people don’t know their rights, people don’t know that you need to be insured to work on a building site, people don’t know that there is such a thing as minimum wage, people don’t know that the council… what it offers, what it provides, and that they are cut off from all of that. And they don’t feel they have a choice or any ability to ask or push for that. So you have in London a giant population of people working without the protection of insurance or laws being enforced, where their pay is what they can haggle for, and one of the lowest wages I ever saw for a day’s work was one chicken and chips which I doubt sustained the individual into the evening.

So where do these people sleep? Again, it’s a story of unenforced law. I lived in a doss house in Barking but a moment’s stone throw away from Margaret Hodge’s Constituency Office. And in this two-bedroomed flat you had 17 people piled in, sharing beds, living in a sort of, to use the Hackney term, in Dickensian squalor.

So what is integration for this population? What I found is it’s extremely different for men and women. For Eastern European men coming to London you won’t learn English unless you’re very lucky. The reason is is that on the building sites of London orders are given… in the lower end of the market, orders will be given in Polish or in Russian and there’s no need for you to learn English. You’ll work only essentially only with other men from Poland or Lithuania or other people from countries where Russian has been a previous lingua franca. And it’s all very well and good saying that people need to learn English but English is actually quite expensive to learn. And if you’re standing outside a Wicks, waiting for a white van to come past, you might make £20 for a bit of plastering, you don’t have the money to go and pay for an English lesson in the evening. In fact, if you had a full day’s job you’re so exhausted and you’re so drained by this, all you want is a pizza to give you some kind of boost at the end of the day. So this population of men finds itself unprotected and when things go wrong, they go very, very wrong and as you may have noticed the majority of street sleepers in London today are Eastern European men or Eastern European tramps. And they’re not street drinking because they like it, because it’s what people do in Rumania who sleep on the street and drink a bottle of vodka, usually what happens is that they become the victims of this lack of law enforcement in London, is that they’ve fallen off building sites, they don’t know that there are people who can pick them up or shelters they could go to, they’ve been chased away by bandit employers, they’ve got a broken leg, they can’t work and they fall into alcohol.

The experience for women, rather different, is that women work in what we sort of like to call client-facing jobs, if they’re low paid labour migrants from Eastern Europe, they work as coffee girls or they work sometimes as receptionists or in restaurants or as cleaners. In these jobs English is required and English unlocks London to them a lot more. So in both cases it’s not really what people want or any kind of Government policy, it’s the raw realities of hard cash and jobs and work, defining how people integrate.

So what do people think at night in the doss houses of Barking about their integration into the United Kingdom and British values, looking ahead? Well, out of my hundreds of hours of conversations with these people I can sum it up very bluntly, is that they’ll never be middle class, is that they’ll never have a stake in this society. These people see the realities of inequality in London front up, they’re building and renovating the mansions of the rich, they’re cleaning the homes of the wealthy, they’re wiping off the grease off the plates of those who have dined in the restaurants or serving them, and they know better than anyone what the property prices are or how little they’re paid relative to the value of those homes.

David Goodhart

Final thought, Ben.

Ben Judah

What they think is that integration was easy for, as they put it, for the Jews and the Asians, who arrived at the right time, who arrived when housing prices were at an historic low in this country, labour was strong and there was a massive expansion of university education and that now simply the economic forces have changed to such an extent that means they’ll never be able to achieve what I think us on the panel <laughs> were lucky to benefit from, which was an economic model that no longer exists.

David Goodhart

Thank you. Shiria, final thoughts, for now.

Shiria Khatun

Right, OK, thank you. I’d like to start off by saying how my life has been integrated in British society. I was born in Birmingham but raised and brought up in Tower Hamlets, as a matter of fact, Brick Lane. When we moved to Brick Lane I must have been about four or five years of age, it did not look like what Brick Lane looks like now, it was very dilapidated, with outside toilets, tin baths inside the houses, it was very, very bad conditions. And I remember I went to a Church of England school but at the same time I went for my Islamic classes, my Arabic classes, in the evening to Brick Lane Mosque, so you can say I had the best of both worlds, I was reading the Bible and the Quran at the same time, and one of my mum’s best friends was a Hindu lady who used to take me to school and back. But I remember when we were living in Brick Lane it was not as populated, there wasn’t that many Bangladeshi families, my parents and grandparents are from Bangladesh, but as the years went by and the area got populated. And more and more Bangladeshi families started moving in, one of the questions that was being asked of my parents was, ‘Oh my god, you’re sending your son and daughter to a Church of England school, they’re going to become Christians, how dare you?’ And I remember my parents saying, ‘Well actually what Islam teaches is for the child to explore and learn and become who they want to be.’ And as a matter of fact my dad was a strong person and so was my mum and so the more people started asking him, the answers became more vigorous and growing up in a borough like Tower Hamlets, especially back in the seventies and eighties, was very different. When I then finally got married and had children of my own, my daughter is now 21 and I have a 20 and 16 and a 12-year-old, two in university, their lifestyle is very different to how mine was when I was growing up in Tower Hamlets but there are lots of similarities. For instance, when we talk about integration and we talk about friends and who we associate with, my friends list is very diverse and so are my children’s and that’s probably because of the upbringing I’ve had, which then made me respect and be tolerant of others as well as be aware of what the cultures and the religious beliefs of others around me are. We also celebrate Christmas as well as Eid and we celebrate Diwali, as a matter of fact we just celebrated St Patrick’s Day as well and it’s just in Tower Hamlets, living in Tower Hamlets, we have many people from different backgrounds and different religions and cultural beliefs and one of the things we’ve done in the borough always, is celebrated each other’s cultural backgrounds.

And one other thing, I know David asked me about the Newham model, we have our own model. However, we’ve only just come into power in Tower Hamlets. We came into power last year when we managed to get our Mayor, John Biggs elected. However, previous to that the previous Mayor had introduced a Faith Fund which did actually create quite a few issues. We don’t have that anymore, we don’t have that in Tower Hamlets, what we do have, we do encourage groups and organisations to come forward with proposals but the proposals have to have a huge impact on integration, so we ask, ‘How would your activities or proposal bring the very diverse communities we have in Tower Hamlets together?’ And one of the things I’ve seen in Tower Hamlets, whether it’s growing up or as a politician, is the festivals that we celebrate are attended by many thousands of people, not just from Tower Hamlets, but beyond. We get people coming from abroad to celebrate what we have.

However, one of the biggest challenges I’ve come across is I work with a lot of women whose English is not very good, so women who have come into this country, first generation that haven’t actually learning to speak English and now they’ve come at a stage in their lives where their children have all grown up and left the nest and they’re having to look for jobs. However, the jobs available do not match the skills set that they have or the language requirement, so if you’re actually starting from the bottom end of the spectrum where your English is very, very limited, for you then to be able to get your English to a standard, to a level and to be able to go through an interview and then get a job is a huge challenge. This is something not just in Tower Hamlets, I’ve come across women’s groups all over the UK, who are facing similar issues, especially with the welfare benefits cuts that have come into being, it’s had major impacts on women, their aspirations and wanting to work, however, they’re unable to because of not being able to speak English. So that’s one of the biggest challenges of integration as well, if you can’t speak the language and you’re not able to do the basics whether it’s going to the doctors, talking about your illnesses, making an appointment and finding out how your child is doing in school. I mean, it’s very important as a parent myself, to know that my challenge are doing well in school, I need to meet with the teachers, I want to be able to go into schools and see what they’re doing, but if your English is so limited, then you’re not going to be able to do that. So the basic participation, whether it’s in family life or social life, is very limited because you can’t speak the language.

David Goodhart

Thank you very much. Before I open it up we’ve got about half an hour. I want to ask both of you who are councillors in some of the most diverse and I think, it’s fair to say, segregated parts of the country, it may not be Northern mill towns, but often in neighbourhoods and schools you have overwhelming domination of one ethnic minority group and what practically can you do to push against that, to try and get better mixes in neighbourhoods, to get better mixes in schools or is this the wrong path to go down, do you think?

Shiria Khatun

Is that to me?

David Goodhart

Either of you.

Shiria Khatun

So Tower Hamlets, we do have a very larger Bangladeshi community and it’s very difficult to… I haven’t actually come across many schools in Tower Hamlets where there’s a split in the ethnic balance, it’s predominantly the BME community, i.e. the Bangladeshi community. However, it was very different when I was growing up because the Bangladeshi population, the BME population, was not as great as it is now and therefore there was a lot more mixing. As a matter of fact I think me and my brother were the only two Bangladeshi kids in the school that we attended, the Church of England school that we attended. However, when I went to Arabic classes in the evening, it was predominantly 100% Bangladeshi Muslims in Tower Hamlets. But one thing that I feel can actually encourage people to move their children into different parts of the borough, school-wise, is educational attainment, I think parents want their child to be in a school where the education attainment is quite high. So it’s looking at that and making that more attractive, to say, ‘Actually, don’t just think about your catchment area where you live, think beyond that, about the neighbourhood next to you and the schools there.’ So it’s trying to… what I found is that many parents, especially Bangladeshi women, tend to send their children to a school that’s yards away from where they live.

Unmesh Desai

First of all I have to say I totally endorse everything that Shiria’s said and can I just say so there’s no confusion, the sections of commentary [40:01] talk of the new model and the Tower Hamlets thing, and this actually was something under the old Mayor, who had a very different approach, the independent Mayor who politically, morally and now we know, financially, was/is a bankrupt Mayor, ex-Mayor, so there were funding strategies that, quite frankly, are to be condemned. And I think people like lots of [40:24] have written about this at length. So Tower Hamlets is in a new political leadership, under my friend John Biggs, so it’s a different approach and it could be sensitive to cultural issues and so on.

Coming to your specific question David, there are demographic changes happening all the time in Tower Hamlets and Newham. We’ve all been out canvassing and I’m astonished at some of the changes. In fact, the South of Tower Hamlets, Limehouse and so on, are getting more professional people coming in. There’s one block near Canon’s Road, the majority of people are EU citizens there. I think there’s professional people, the way the housing market operates, they’re pricing people out and so on, but it’s not the sort of thing that is exclusively, solely, members of one particular  ethnic grouping. When we talk about integration, it’s about class and this is where I think housing plays such an important role and I think in that context that they’ve talked about planning policies, about social tenure, private sector housing, how you mix it and so on, so looking at planning developments and housing developments as to what sort of genuine affordable housing there is. I think all those are things that councils can and should be doing.

And just one other point, David, so there’s no misunderstanding. Inevitably schools, local schools, reflect the local community round them, so some schools like… one particular school in Newham, our biggest school, in fact, we have 95% are from one community, because the school catchment area reflects the nature of the community. It’s what the school is doing to teach the children at the formative stages that there is a wider world outside Newham. So it’s about cultures, influences, teaching and so on, how they use the education syllabus, citizenship classes, etc. So I don’t want leave this misunderstanding that it’s absolutely wrong that a particular school has 95%, 99% from one particular community; that’s the demographics of the area! It’s what we do, as a local authority, although Michael Gove… not Michael Gove, who’s Education Secretary? They keep on changing them… we’re going to be left with no powers. [42:27 IA]

David Goodhart

OK. You’ll get a chance to get your oar in again at some point but let’s open it up to questions. Mark, where are you, from Waltham Forest?

Mark Rusling, Cabinet Member in Waltham Forest

Just a very quick point and then a question. The point is I think it’s probably mainly [42:57], but I just think there’s a danger of seeing London as an exception [43:02] because I think my grandmother cleaned the communal areas of old council estates and I think if you replaced her for what you’ve seen among Romanian citizens you would have seen exactly the same thing. Most of the time she was doing it before the minimum wage, but zero enforcement of any of the things that should have been in force. But I don’t think you were making the point that London is different in that respect, I think it’s important to prove the point, to show the point.

Ben Judah

When was your grandmother doing that, what decade was she doing that in?

Mark Rusling

This would have been in the eighties and nineties. So I do think there is… there’s a danger of overstating the London exceptionism. And the question is to everyone and it builds on what Unmesh was just saying, because actually I think this idea of schools representing their local areas, it might still work for primaries but it doesn’t work for secondaries in the era of free schools and the hyper, hyper diversity in the school provision. So just to give an example from Waltham Forest where I’m the Cabinet Member for Education, we have a Muslim Girls’ Free School, I don’t particularly agree with single sex schools or single faith schools, this is the best single sex, single faith school you could hope for, but it’s still a single sex, single faith school. It obviously segregates people by gender and ethnicity, in the case of Waltham Forest, it is 99% Pakistani bar one child who’s dad [44:27 IA].

<Laughter>

But actually the problem is with the other schools around, where the other schools around now have fewer Muslim girls in them, fewer girls in them per se, so you end up with not just a segregated school but an entirely segregated estate. And so what I’d just been keen to hear the panel… particularly from Shiria and Unmesh who’ve seen it from the ground up, is how do you think those policies will play out, not academically, but in terms of integration?

Unmesh Desai

Can I start with my… make a little comment?

David Goodhart

No –

<Laughter>

We’ll take a couple more. Mohammed –

Mohammed Ameen, Chairman, Conservative Muslim Forum

Does the panel think that the proliferation of foreign language television channels on satellite is helping the acquisition of English language skills and if not, what can we do about it in a society that values freedom of speech?

David Goodhart

OK, one more in this round, Eric.

It’s alright, you’ll get your turn.

Eric

Hi, this is to Shiria and Unmesh. I’m an academic and so the data tells us that individual ethnic groups like Bangladeshis are actually spreading out from their areas of concentration and moving elsewhere and so are Afro-Caribbeans, so what we’re getting are these super, diverse areas. But the one group that is not part of that, that isn’t joining that, is really the white British; they are moving away from these areas. I’m just wondering if you look at Newham or Tower Hamlets, could you imagine white, British people moving in there, not just the well-heeled that are on the edge of the city, but actually families in outer parts of your borough. And this is the same in the US, there are increasing zones in the outer rings of cities where the ethnic majority has moved out and they just don’t move back in, so do you see that continuing or do you think there’s anything that can be done to attract them back in?

David Goodhart

Well, let’s have some responses?

Shiria Khatun

To Eric’s one?

David Goodhart

Well, to all three or any of the ones that you want to do. You don’t have to reply to any of them.

Shiria Khatun

<Laughs> It varies actually! The transition we’ve seen in parts of Tower Hamlets is actually quite an interesting one, you’re absolutely right, what we have, you’ve got the traditional, white East Enders who are and have moved out into parts of Essex. However, you see also gentrification in parts of Tower Hamlets, so for instance, when you go to the Isle of Dogs or Canary Wharf, you see that gentrification. When you go to Aldgate and Aldgate East you see gentrifications and what you see is white, middle class people, professionals moving in because of the job markets, i.e. the City and Canary Wharf. And what we don’t see is families moving in, we see young professionals, couples moving in, working in Tower Hamlets for a few years but then moving out to the suburbs. So this is a challenge and this is something that we do need to tackle, I don’t know what the answer is. The Bangladeshi community like you say are also slowing moving out but they’re moving out to places like Barking and Dagenham and parts of Redbridge. Tower Hamlets has always been one of those transient boroughs, you’ve got people coming and moving out but the Bangladeshi community has been there for many, many years, so even though some of them, the younger ones, who have got good jobs and so forth, are moving into places like Barking and Dagenham, if you look at Tower Hamlets and how we’re doing, it’s more of a prosperous borough than the places they’re actually moving into.

David Goodhart

Unmesh, do you want to quickly come back to that, we had three questions –

Unmesh Desai

Yeah, three questions. The foreign channels one, I’ll do that one. That’s the first time I’ve been asked about that, but it depends… Some of them sadly [48:44] robust our regime [48:48] simply didn’t exist or are a law unto themselves, no matter how many warning letters that are sent and so on.

We appreciate diversity on channels in terms of entertainment and culture, I welcome them. I think the point I would make is what is a serious question as well is of isolationism, particularly with women, about English. Look, this is what English … let me stress why it’s important, we’re all part of a [49:22] culture, languages and so on; it’s about self-confidence, about being able to compete in the job market, and about also your own personal independence, and sometimes… So yeah, the foreign channels I think they can have a positive influence, but it’s about in general I think not, and certainly the ones I’m familiar with tend to be much more mainstream. It’s a growth industry, there are regular channels/stations opening up all the time.

I think in terms of the housing thing, the housing crisis in London is so fundamental, it’s basically everyone out of Tower Hamlets and Newham, where are these homes going to be built, someone asked me that the other day at a hustings. My personal thing is we’ve got to look at what the pioneers of the 1930s, of the LCC and in the 1970s of GLC, they built new towns around London with communities. Milton Keynes was just a block of concrete; now we do know that you’ve got to build communities, take jobs to these communities, rather than communities coming into London. So I can’t see ordinary people of any colour, ordinary working people … a house in Newham today, in Newham, a side street off East Ham High Street, you’re talking about £430-440,000. So professionalism, yeah, people are coming into Tower Hamlets along the river and so on, it’s class as well, because people do move to [50:54 IA] from Newham to Tower Hamlets. the Jewish community did that, they’re now in Ilford, Redbridge, further out in Essex.

And Mark is correct. Primary schools is what I was referring to, but I think the way that [51:07] in free schools and the movement of young people in particular might end up going to Paris because it’s cheaper for them to study there, other than study in this country. She wanted exposure to different things and all the universities and colleges are [51:21 IA] now they’re linking up with places in the EU.

David Goodhart

Sunder, do you want to come in, you don’t have to answer all the questions, pick one.

Sunder Katwala

Sure, OK. I think if you want a practical pro-integration, pro-contact agenda you’ve got to work out where to put your energies and effort and part of that will be thinking about what we can change and what you can’t change. Are foreign satellite channels making it easier? Probably not. What can you do about it? Absolutely nothing, as far as I can tell. I mean especially compelling Sunday night drama on the BBC might make a difference but it’s going to be on the margin, isn’t it, and you’re not going to be able to reinvent the internet. White flight or brown flight turn out to have quite similar drivers, the white people move in out of different areas, you can do some things about housing, so working out where the things are that you can change. That’s why we should look at schools because schools can change the sense of horizons that you’ve got and might depend on we’ll channel you’re looking at or whatever if you get that right. But again schools, we’re not going to change the faith schools.

Actually there’s quite a paradox in this debate about free schools and liberalism, the left isn’t making one of the potentially compelling arguments against it, this doesn’t look very good for integration, because the left isn’t very good at integration, it just doesn’t like free schools and the right isn’t bringing its pro-integration concerns because it just likes the freedom of the free schools, so it’s quite odd. But there are going to be faith schools in Britain because we’ve got a massively long tradition of it. We could then make more demands of people who are running faith schools about the content of their curriculum, about the contact we expect with other schools and we could check whether people are doing it or not. And the decision not to do it is suspicious actually, especially if you’ve got a single faith or a single ethnic group and you’re not bringing about contact, using whatever it is for… and other things, who want meaningful contact. There’s a very modest proposal about the religious education GCSE, that at GCSE level it should teach at least two faiths and some people say, ‘We don’t want to do that because we’re using that to inculcate our faith. Well, it’s a subject, actually you should [53:31 IA], of course you should have two faiths and if there’s a faith school in the country that doesn’t want a religious education GCSE with a substantial component of two faiths in it, what’s going on there, why are they upholding it? So I think we could make more reasonable demands that mean you can, in a way, have the freedom, that you can have faith education but we’re expecting some contact and some integration too.

David Goodhart

Good, thanks. A quick one Ben?

Ben Judah

I was trying to say that I don’t think… Returning to the essay question on integration, I don’t think integration is really affected by whether or not the Government decides to put on a street party in Polish or in Bengali, I think it’s much more driven by whether or not a group of people have arrived at a certain time, can get their stake economically in a society, can they own houses, can they go to university en masse, can they get that sense of going up? And the other is the nature of these different migrant waves themselves. We use the word community in this sort of strange, almost Soviet-like term, to mean an ethnic group, but actually I don’t think there’s a Romanian community in London. There are people who are Romanian, whereas I think there very much is a Jewish community, a kind of Sylheti Bengali community, because they have their own institutions, they run their own schools, they want to run their own schools, no one wants to run a Romanian free school in London. And I think that whether or not you integrate or how you integrate is determined much more by that and I think we need to stop thinking about every ethnic group as a community in the same way.

David Goodhart

You heard some of the questions, this is Rohan Silva, by the way, the late arrival, Former Adviser to David Cameron, now runs Second Home, which is a sort of digital thing?

Rohan Silva, Former Adviser to David Cameron

I’m very sorry I’m late, I was hoping… I assumed… This is a very tricky and difficult and complex subject and I assumed the panel would have it all sorted out by the time I arrived and I’m sure that’s almost the case! But I actually didn’t really hear the question –

<Laughter>

David Goodhart

OK, well wait for the next round then, you can report in the next round, OK?

Rohan Silva

Sure.

David Goodhart

I want to get in… [55:40] Shamid, you had a question?

Shamid [55:44]

I think just going back, I think Ben’s got the main question [55:49 IA]. So the whole point of London is it’s said to represent the opposite of social disadvantage. So the opposite of Rochdale, where different communities or groups as you say, come in at different times and what you’re really interested in is are there lands of opportunity? So you talked about the model that may no longer be there for housing markets and so on. This is absolutely the thing that we should try to focus upon because it will actually disrupt London’s future, it seems to me, if only because of the size of the minorities, [56:18] immigrants that have settled here. But like my colleague who was talking earlier on, I’m not so sure because I would encourage us to focus on a couple of things. One is looking back, the housing market itself has been a bit of an engine for mixing in integration. Places that were formerly coded as being ethnically, mono-cultural, perhaps with broken down maps of identity, Brixton, of course, is celebrated by journalists, it’s simply happened in front of our eyes, the raw economics of the London housing market. Unintentional but it’s a bi-product of what’s happened in [56:56] in the housing market.

The other thing you should look at it is selective education. Look at who’s queuing up for London’s selective education, the grammar schools. I mean it’s surprising the extent to which those who are the most marginalised are, frankly, the most clued-up on what it is to pass those selective exams for their kids, and we’ll have to wait and see, it’s a bit early. So I thank you for alerting us to the fact that the Wicks’ cohort or the Costa Coffee cohort, they get stuck, I think you’re quite right. I think actually y played it out in terms of what’s the evidence going to be on their ability to overcome those hurdles and take advantage of the opportunity structures in front of them, housing and education will be prime. And I’m not so convinced but I take your point.

David Goodhart

Bobby… I seem to know everybody who’s asking questions!

Bobby Smith, Author

Hello, I’m Bobby Smith, I wrote a book called One Love, Two Colours, a few years ago about my marriage to a Nigerian woman, we’re still married by the way, 19 years. What strikes me the most is that my wife was born in England in the sixties and with her sister they went to Nigeria, grew up there, came back in their teenage years and my wife’s completely assimilated, she feels herself completely now English. And our children grew up there; also completely they feel at home being English. Her brother came to England 13 years ago from Nigeria, at the time he was in his late 20s, he feels completely Nigerian because he can be in England, there’s no pressure on him to assimilate or to integrate. He can feel separate and still get on with his life.

David Goodhart

The grey jacket, the man…

Leo Watson, City UK

Hi, I’m Leo Watson from City UK, we’re a youth, social action charity which recruit 18-25 year-olds to do full-time service in schools in deprived areas in London, Manchester and Birmingham. I think one solution that nobody’s looked at is the power of young people and what young people do to help social integration. Obviously the Government’s pursued an agenda with NCS and supporting the I Will Campaign to get people involved in new social action to help social integration, to mix with people you might not normally meet. At City we see ourselves as the next logical step, a year of this service, and we recruit really diverse people from largely free school meal backgrounds to do our programme, I’ve brought two of our volunteers here today who are in the red jackets. And if you look at countries like France, Germany and the US, they have a legal status for people doing a year of service which actually gives these young people support so they can go and serve their communities, meet people from diverse backgrounds and get to know them. And I think actually if you want to attack this you want to attack it from a young age and once you get people past the school age, really how much more integration are they going to be willing to do? I think if you get that knowledge of different backgrounds from a young age, I think you will have a massive benefit and I think programmes like City UK, like Be Inspired and like things that are run by I Will and NCS are crucial for that.

And just the last point I would make is that it’s interesting nobody’s mentioned age in terms of social integration. I think as a younger man and seeing some of the baby boomer generation who have their houses and who had their free NHS and will have their pensions and their early retirement, the resentment felt by young people towards that is only going to grow over time when we realise we have none of those things and what the hell is going to happen to us? And so there needs to be a massive investment in actually helping young people get to know the older generation and trying to integrate that, I think that would be interesting.

David Goodhart

OK. The lady in glasses. I’ll try and take as many as possible and then we’ll come back for a final go for everyone up here, OK?

Unknown Speaker

Thank you very much, I have just a few points about integration, so what does that actually mean? It seems that a lot of us are assigning ethnicity as the biggest issue but as the gentleman said there is age, there is gender, there are many things. There is also security, so one of the things that I think I would like to feel is being secure in an environment and I would like to feel respected and I would like that when I’m integrated or when others try to integrate, I respect and they respect me.

The other thing is that in London it’s not the person next door if he’s of another culture, it’s that I don’t know him, it’s anyone that’s next door, I probably barely know them and so it’s an issue for any sort of –

David Goodhart

Not a very neighbourly place? Yeah.

Unknown Speaker

The other point is I’m sorry that the gentleman left but I don’t know what his grandmother studied for but I’m myself Eastern European, a lot of the Eastern Europeans that are coming here are actually leaving villages behind without Mayors, without teachers, without doctors, so are coming here to work as builders and as office people, so I think there is a difference there.

David Goodhart

Yes. Mazin –

Mazin

I have to say that I haven’t heard anything new which I haven’t heard over the past few years about so-called integration. The reality of it is in what Ben said about –

David Goodhart

Thanks for the endorsement!

<Laughter>

Mazin

The average employer would have to wait 338 years for a Wage Inspectorate to come round and check what the minimum wage is –

David Goodhart

I’ve heard that before as well, come on, say something new!

<Laughter and applause>

Mazin

Well, that was trumpeted as one of the main achievements of New Labour and has been continued by the present Government. So what we have is now a contradiction where neo-liberal arguments are actually being put forward by multi-culturalists, such as perhaps [63:08] himself, and –

<Laughter>

… the reality is it’s a question of physical matter. As soon as a community becomes a certain size, it becomes separated, it becomes self-integrated, separated, and we are further and further away from any integration. What we have at the moment is so-called citizenship. Citizenship by definition includes and excludes at the same time, if it doesn’t it cannot be citizenship. Instead we have so-called Citizens Ceremonies , Citizenship Offices, we have a series of theatrical events about celebrating diversity and this is not new, this is happening in South Africa, it’s happening in Lebanon, in post-conflict societies, with a completely theatrical ritual celebrating diversity –

David Goodhart

They’re very popular, anyway…

Mazin

They are creating the illusion that somehow we’ve become integrated.

David Goodhart

The guy behind you with the red tie.

<Laughter>

You had your hand up earlier anyway.

Unknown Speaker

Hang on, I did have my hand up –

David Goodhart

Say something original!

Unknown Speaker

I’m going to defer because Eric kindly asked my question. I really wanted to ask Shiria whether if you were starting from scratch you would prefer to have an ethnic mix like Newham has, in which super diversity is the word, rather than an ethnic mix which is quite polarised between two communities. You used BME Bangladeshis and [64:29] in your remarks and the councillor (sorry, I forgot your name) from Newham talked about [64:37] because that’s the reality of the situation in the two boroughs and I wonder how much you think that’s affected the different experiences of integration in the two places?

David Goodhart

Good question. It really is going to be the final one, I think, unless… A very, very quick one.

Chris [64:53]

I’m speaking as an ex-CIO of an IT company. We haven’t talked about the role of business –

David Goodhart

No, we can’t talk about everything.

Chris ???

The important thing here is that [65:07] we were short of candidates all the time [65:10]. We recruited purely on competence and [65:14] attriubtes. The critical thing was… the absolutely critical thing you would have to have was English. After that skills, aptitude and anything else [65:28] and the team building environment of a business [65:32 IA].

David Goodhart

Thank you. OK, a very quick, final point, the woman in red and then we’re going to run down the line, OK?

Unknown Speaker

I come from Barking and I went to a very diverse school, superficially diverse. I took Citizenship as a GCSE and an A Level and I did RE as a GCSE and I learnt about four different faiths, so I had all the opportunities to be as mixed as possible and everyone was superficially very integrated but I found that a lot of people self-segregated themselves, because I felt like most people mostly went to what they knew. So if you grew up around white people, you go to white people, if you grew up around different [66:13 IA]. I wonder how you see we can combat that, because people, I think, will always go to what they know and what they’re comfortable with, at least until maybe they’re in a secure enough position to feel like they can step outside. So I wondered what your views are on that?

David Goodhart

A very good and fundamental question. OK, everybody a couple of minutes, down the line.

Rohan Silva

Lots of very good questions there. On housing I personally would advocate a more muscular approach to ensuring diversity in housing, particularly social housing than the current… We have a pretty lase faire approach, I think. Singapore, by contrast, sets very tough limits on the size or a proportion of a particular ethnic group allowed to dominate a given social housing estate. And it was Winston Churchill that said, ‘Unless we shape our buildings thereafter, they shape us.’ I think that mono cultures aren’t great at the best of times, that mono cultures in housing, I think, are particularly detrimental. So I think the Singaporeans potentially have an approach there that we can take something from, much less lase faire, much more muscular and strategic on ethnic housing –

David Goodhart

That only works on public housing, doesn’t it?

Rohan Silva

It is specifically public housing. New housing estates, I do think that however we face up to the housing challenge in London, we’re going to need to see more public housing built, but it certainly can be woven into PRS, Permit Rental housing in this country too.

On the pressure to assimilate and I’ve been interested in difference between the Nigerian brother and sister, it’s an interesting one. So on the one hand I think more muscular approaches on public housing I think makes sense, but you’ve only got to look over the Channel at Paris, Brussels, to see the risks potentially, of denying people that space in some ways to be themselves. And I think we’ve probably got it more right than we like to give ourselves credit in this country in allowing people to find their own identity located in their [68:28] framework of values and norms, so I think that’s pretty mature.

I’m totally with you on business, my company employs a very diverse workforce, we pay the living wage, not the minimum wage, we worked at Hackney Community College to employ young people through an apprenticeship programme and we trained our people that way. Business is a the great driver of social mobility, it was the former Chief Rabi who used to point out the highest form of charity is to create a job and I think we often lose sight of that in the role of business.

And then finally there was a little plug there for NCS, National Citizen Service, and I think for all of us who care about public policy and the role that Government can play in making a difference, this policy, National Citizen Service, which essentially is about national service for 16, 17, 18-year-olds, mixing people up from different backgrounds, I think has the potential to create a bow wave of young people in this country who are engaged, are passionate about interacting with different types of people. And other kinds of schemes too, like City Year and Year Here, I think can make a huge difference and I think Government should invest much more [69:54], could invest much more in this kind of programme.

David Goodhart

Thank you, worth waiting for!

Unmesh Desai

That was [70:01] citizenship. I actually have seen Citizenship Ceremonies held in Newham Town Hall and when you see the people who are 100 people at once a month, the look on their faces, touching their British passport and being photographed, it means something to them, you know? The countries they come from, [70:18], jobs here, and that as well, I think we’ve got to breed real citizenship because for those people citizenship ceremonies are something really, really important, and need to be valued, so I wouldn’t just dismiss it. [70:32] got [70:32] from what you said, the person who talked about citizenship ceremonies.

Housing, I didn’t answer your question fully but I think housing associations have got a role to play. 40% of homes in London are built by housing associations. And can I come back to the Tower Hamlets issue. We’ve got to look at how racism and class factors shape societies, [70:50] the whole textile trade, the rag trade was concentrated in many parts of Tower Hamlets, Commerical Road, Brick Lane and so on, so communities gathered around those areas, Bangladeshi community in particular. Newham – people can do work at Ford’s, Dagenham, the cheapest houses… race was a factor as well, was around Green Street and East Ham. Enoch Powell, when he was Minister of Health in 1954, was actually putting advertisements in the West Indian Express, we used to call him Minister of Black Affairs as well, before he came up with repatriation. And so nurses and people settled in Green Street. I know families that [71:23] fifties, they moved from the Caribbean to work in the NHS and Ford’s Dagenham, so that’s how communities have been formed. There are actually political factors there, socioeconomic factors.

So finally, it’s a question of political will, what role the political parties play, what role does the local state play, the new model, [71:38 IA] by the way, is a term maybe others have used, but it’s about fairness, making sure that people don’t feel discriminated against through actions of local councils, that that group’s getting extra funding, we are not, or that community is being favoured or whatever, or that community is building so many temples; it’s about making sure that everything has a little bit of fairness to it, that’s what politics is about, it’s about bringing people together.

And finally, finally, integration, the way I look at it, it can be defined in many ways, it’s about what shared values do people have, whilst actually you have different cultures, diversity and so on, but what is Britishness, what shared values do you have, what sort of things do they feel about their local area, that forms integration and it can only be built through understanding, patience, political will, strategies and it starts with young people, as you said.

David Goodhart

Shiria, good point?

Shiria Khatun

Yes. Just Bobby, about your brother-in-law and your wife, I remember when I heard stories about how my dad’s uncle came into Britain back in the forties or early fifties, there wasn’t an established South Asian community where he was living, he married and Irish, Catholic lady, had many children and so forth. However, it seems like when your brother-in-law came into the country, there was an already established Nigerian community for him to own to.

Going back to Citizenship Ceremonies I completely agree with Unmesh, it’s very, very important, I’ve attended quite a few and the look of joy, people clutching their certificates and having family members standing next to them and taking photos is a big thing. I also agree with what Sunder has written about, emphasising the importance of Citizenship Ceremonies and one other thing I’ve actually done in Tower Hamlets is spoken to officers about enhancing how we do our Citizenship Ceremonies. So how about having it in the council Chamber, having our Mayor of Tower Hamlets coming in to one, shaking hands, because that’s what people like, they love it. To get their British Citizenship they have worked really tirelessly and don’t forget the cost attached to getting your citizenship as well.

David Goodhart

Thanks. Sunder.

Sunder Katwala

The reason I’m not a multi-culturalist is, you know, people disagree about the word –

<Laughter>

… they don’t always… it’s very abstract but actually it belongs to a time when the question of integration was for minorities by minorities, about minorities and it did what it could for minorities to feel British. That’s not integration, it leaves a hole because the majority of the society is either averse and feels a backlash or it’s benignly in favour but it doesn’t feel it’s about them or it’s completely indifferent. And that’s not integration and that’s why London in particular and Britain generally, needs to break with that and integration needs to be about the majority and the migrants and the minorities as well and we have to do it together and we have to do it on turf that works for all of us. There is obviously integration fatigue, some people have been to too many seminars –

<Laughter>

… and hear too much of it and therefore we need to move to what we should do instead. And the enforcement stuff, very popular, very important. Now the citizenship, young people stuff, really popular, pretty expensive, one day we’ll have to decide whether we want to spend any money on things that actually everybody thinks are part of the answer or whether we’ve got our fingers crossed, so let’s do more of it. But finally, let’s not say that integration is about waiting for policy from Number 10 Downing Street or the Mayor of London, if we want to do pro-contact then we can do that, so let’s do it. So anyone who wants to be part of the We Are All England Campaign that launches on May 10th, in the month ahead of the European Championship and take part in the pro-contact, We Are All England message, get in touch with me and put your pictures on Facebook and Instagram and be part of that.

David Goodhart

Singing Jerusalem together!

<Laughter>

Ben Judah

I think that looking ahead to 2050 and from what we can read in the runes of demographers, the rest of Britain will have a demography very similar to that of London today and it’s projected that by 2050, and this is on a low rate of immigration and based mostly on facility rates, the UK will have a BME population of 30% and a white other population mostly EU citizens, heavily Eastern European, will be around 15%. What we do now, and the right policy approaches we get today, I think will determine exactly what it will look like in 2050. I personally think that there already exist two integration pathways which are historic in the UK, and I read about them in David’s book, which is one is the Jewish model, in which you have a large population which stays relatively stable, declining slightly, and the key variable there about whether or not integrate on one end of the spectrum or not is not if they feel British or part of society; it’s how far they have gone towards embracing exactly the same lifestyle as the majority population or not, and the key variable there is schooling. People who go to Jewish schools tend to marry within the community and live a life with higher identification with Israel and with the Jewish community globally. People who don’t tend to marry out and to have far less identification there. Since I think the other pathway is the Irish pathway, in which as I said earlier there are people from Ireland rather than an Irish community because there isn’t an Irish community in the way of the Bengali community or the Jewish community or the Sikh community, we could go on all evening, with actively building, constructing and dominating its own institutions to create a society within a society. I think that lots of ethnic groups, such as the Romanians or the Poles will all very much follow that pathway into the UK. I think the decision, taken in a fit of absence of mind, to allow religions in this country to establish rapidly growing educational empires is of moderate historic importance for mapping us to 2050. Just something I’ve noticed in my own community is that when I went to school I didn’t go to a Jewish school; the percentage of children going to Jewish schools in my community was around 30%. Now it’s increased up to 70% and that increase is not nearly the growth of the Haredi Jewish population, and that’s because there is a certain group within the community who wants to run schools and has the capacity to run them. In an atmosphere where public schools are becoming more expensive and there are problems with school segregation, in London they’re becoming more popular. So I think mapping out to 2050, I’m going to leave you with one last thought, which is I think that London, there’s too much presentism about looking at contemporary London and contemporary Britain, and in fact I think London and London’s future has a lot more in common with cities that Judahs have lived in in the past. London’s a classic historical trading city. It exists on a trade route, which is finance, in many ways, like all the trading cities that are of the past. And these trading cities have almost always been multi-ethnic and had very different communities within them. This city has already existed in various ways. It could have been 19th century Calcutta where the Judahs originally hailed from, or 18th century Bagdad or Venice or Alexandria, and studying them and looking at why those places went wrong or what those places were successful at I think is very important.

I guess the concluding thought would be looking at those cities, it’s worth remembering that the moment of their greatest multi-ethnicity is always remembered as the golden age. In Venice, the mournful walks in Istanbul remembering old Constantinople, and I think the other one is that the assumption that people integrate in a way that they become just like us is wrong. Parallel religious communities are historically the norm, and I think the UK they will be growing and very much here to stay.

David Goodhart

Thank you. A good big picture, historical note to end on. I’ve certainly learnt a few things tonight. You haven’t, Mazin.

<Laughter>

And one final thought. One rather attractive definition of a well-integrated society is one in which everybody is a potential friend. I think on that criterion, just looking at the friendship figures from Newham, we in London do still have rather a long way to go. I think we are still at the rubbing along stage rather than the integration stage in many parts of this great city.

Anyway, thank you all very much for coming. I think there might be a bit of booze left at the back if you want to hang around for a few minutes. And thanks, let’s clap for our –

<Applause>

 

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David Goodhart

David Goodhart
Head of Demography, Immigration & Integration Read Full Bio

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