The Conservative government has released a major report assessing the state of Britain’s different ethnic communities – and paints a grim picture of a country falling apart. But the report, shockingly, vindicates the core claims of the far right, while distracting attention from the real issue: the bankruptcy of Tory austerity.
Among the oddest concerns of the report, written by Dame Louise Casey, is its white supremacist fearmongering about the takeover of Britain by ethnic minorities.
The report warns that Britain is running low on white people, that immigration is out of control, and that Muslims are increasingly a threat: too segregated, too extremist, and “exponentially” building mosques. The rise of the far right is blamed not on opportunist extremists, but on Muslims themselves.
No wonder UKIP chief Nigel Farage hailed the report as “excellent”, and supporting “much of what I have been saying for years”.
At the same time, though, what most of the press headlines – and even the government itself – are ignoring is the following: the report admits that white Britons are the least likely to integrate and mix with people of other ethnicities, that the white working class is increasingly marginalised, and that one of the biggest drivers of the segregation of different communities is, obviously, growing poverty.
This muddled approach is not difficult to explain. The Tories have released this report as an ideological tool to divide working class communities of all ethnic backgrounds. Better we fight among ourselves, blaming each other, than point the finger where it needs to be pointed: the Tory elite.
The report opens by sounding the alarm bell on Britain’s “increasing” ethnic diversity:
Although eight out of ten of us identified ourselves as White British in the 2011 Census, the White British population reduced by 0.4 million people, while all other ethnic minority groups grew – with the largest numerical growth among ‘other’ White (most notably Polish, up by 0.5 million) and Asian (most notably Indian and Pakistani, each increasing by 0.4 million) ethnic groups.
Oh my! Shock horror! Britain is running out of white people!
The report goes on to complain that Christianity has declined from 70% to 59%, while the number of Muslims has grown by 1.2 million people – a 72% increase, which makes Muslims “the largest non-Christian religious population in the UK”.
The report blames these changes on immigration and “higher birth rates in some communities”. This sort of language is important to decode: the infatuation with ‘Other’ problematic populations, who keep growing too much, is a staple hallmark of racist and fascist ideology. And it litters this report.
But here’s the crux. What proper, empirical evidence is there that immigration is the key cause of Britain’s economic woes? The government’s new report offers no evidence.
Obviously, immigration and its impact on Britain is a complex subject. But what we have here is a transparent effort by the Tories to scapegoat Britain’s burgeoning economic difficulties on the spectre of hordes of ‘others’ taking over Britain, stealing our jobs, infiltrating our hospitals, and so on.
A new report by the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics, however, says the opposite:
The conclusion of this research is that the large increase in immigration in the UK has not significantly harmed the job and wage prospects of UK-born workers.
On the contrary, immigration has contributed to more taxes. The report notes data showing that:
EU immigrants made a positive fiscal contribution: they paid more in taxes than they received in welfare payments…. By contrast, UK nationals, as a whole, received more in benefits than they paid in taxes.
EU immigrants are, in fact, “bringing extra resources that could be used to increase spending on local health and education for the UK-born”. So the report warns that:
reducing EU immigration would generate the need for greater austerity. This would magnify the need for cutbacks caused by the slower growth of the economy due to reduced trade and investment.
Oh. Perhaps that explains why, despite Brexit, the staple Tory programme of ‘austerity for the poor, and welfare for corporations’ is escalating.
The Casey report says that both white working class communities, and ethnic minority communities – especially Muslims – are becoming increasingly marginalised from British society. This is fuelling the rise of both far-right and Islamist extremism, which tend to mutually reinforce each other in a vicious cycle.
But despite recognising that the tendency for some white and ethnic communities to become more segregated is being worsened by poverty, which in turn is being worsened by Tory austerity, the report simply blames these different communities themselves.
That’s not a surprise. Dame Casey has already come under fire for reportedly suppressing the findings of an independent report commissioned by the Department of Communities & Local Government (DCLG), which heavily criticised the government’s ‘Troubled Families’ scheme. Dame Casey herself ran the scheme, which was supposed to help turn around the lives of Britain’s poorest families. Instead, the DCLG-backed report found that Dame Casey’s scheme had “no significant or systematic impact.”
Now, Dame Casey wants us to believe that it’s not Tory economic policies that are failing Britain, but Britain’s own minorities.
So let’s not get lost in the maze of mirrors Dame Casey has laid out for us. The Tories want us to panic: to panic about the scary white people who hate us; to panic about the evil Muslims who want to conquer Britain; to panic about a country falling apart because integration has failed; to panic and run into the arms of our wonderful Tory government.
The reality is that the problem is not insufficient white people, nor too many brown people. The problem is not people. It’s the economy!
Don’t buy what they’re selling. Let’s not fight each other. Fight Tory austerity instead.
– Support The People’s Assembly Against Austerity.
– Join Unite Against Fascism.
– Support The Canary so we can continue to hold the government to account.
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