It would be “no bad thing” if new migrants, including eastern Europeans, were told when to put the rubbish out, when to queue, or when to be nice, British government official Dame Louise Casey has told members of the British Parliament.
Casey rejected criticism of her report that said integration in Britain had to be a “two-way street,” and clarified her belief that the onus needed to be on “people coming from outside” to adapt to the “host community.”
She also defended her report’s strong focus on the isolation of parts of the Pakistani and Bangladeshi heritage Muslim communities and her personal recommendation that migrants should take an oath of allegiance to British values.
The year-long inquiry into community cohesion in Britain, commissioned by former British Prime Minister David Cameron, found that governments have failed for more than a decade to ensure that social integration in the UK has kept up with the “unprecedented pace and scale of immigration” and have allowed some local communities to become increasingly divided.
Casey branded ministerial attempts to boost integration of ethnic minorities as amounting to little more than “saris, samosas and steel drums for the already well-intentioned,” and accused the government of serious failings in its approach to social cohesion with leaders “falling well below the stated ambition to ‘do more than any other government before us to promote integration.’”
Questioned about her report in front of members of parliament on the Communities and Local Government Committee, Casey rejected the idea that integration had to be a two-way street with the host community expected to adapt as well.
“I don’t think it is a two-way street. I think that’s a soundbite that people like to say. I would say if we stick with the road analogy, integration is like a bloody big motorway and you have a slip road of people coming in from outside,” she said. “What you need is people in the middle need to accommodate and be gentle and be kind to people coming in from the outside lane, but we’re all facing the same direction and we’re all heading in the same direction. There is more give on one side and more take on the other and that’s where we have successively made a mistake, which is what we’ve not been honest about.”
She defended the report’s focus on segregationist tendencies within Britain’s Muslim communities, saying it was a question of scale, those at highest risk and the discrimination and misogyny that was faced particularly by some women in those communities.
However, she also said that new migrants wanted and needed to know the “rules of the game.”
“It was interesting to go round the country and hear that nobody had talked to them about our way of life here and when to put out the rubbish, nobody had told them when to queue or be nice. As part of the package that would be no bad thing,” she said.
She also defended her proposal for an “integration oath” to encourage new migrants to embrace British values.
Casey said that the idea of an oath was hers and she said it was an option worth considering.
She said that such a symbol was important and was capable of proving a reminder “of your responsibility to everyone.”
Casey said the reaction to her report was a lot less negative than she had expected, although some of the people who had spoken out in support at its launch had faced a social media backlash.