Integration is an issue for all of us and there is broad public consensus on how we can make it work. So it’s welcome, writes Steve Ballinger, that the Government’s new Integration Green Paper, published today, moves on from the Casey Review to a broader debate about integration.
Polling by ICM for British Future finds common ground across referendum and political divides on the measures we need to make integration work, including support for people to learn English and ensuring children of different backgrounds mix at an early age.
More than three-quarters of Labour (76%) and Conservative voters (79%), Leavers (76%) and Remainers (78%), agree that the Government should ensure schools with children who are mainly from one background are taught about pluralistic British values and get to know people with different ways of life. A further 76% of Remain voters and 62% of Leave voters, 71% of Labour voters and 76% of Conservatives, feel the Government should provide more support for teaching people to speak English.
There has been quite a wait for the Green paper, with more than a year elapsing since the publication of the Casey Review. And the integration agenda could still get crowded out or delayed by Brexit. That mustn’t happen – despite the divisions in our society, people can agree on what we need to do. We now need to get on and do it. Provided it is accompanied by action, this could be an important step towards the national integration strategy that we’ve been missing.
The emphasis on ensuring people can speak English, and promoting contact between people from different backgrounds, is a solid foundation. More emphasis could, however, be placed on the challenge for all of us to make this an ‘everybody’ issue and to make integration work in the places where we live.
British Future, together with Hope not hate, is currently conducting the National Conversation on Immigration, the biggest-ever public consultation on immigration and integration. To date we have held citizens’ panels in more than 50 towns and cities in every nation and region of the UK, from Southampton to Shetland. It will visit a total of 60 locations overall, holding over 130 meetings with members of the public and with local stakeholders concerned with immigration. In many places, such as the West Midlands, getting integration right is the key to rebuilding trust and consensus on immigration.
The new ICM poll for British Future finds that majorities across referendum and political divides support the following integration policies:
– The Government should ensure that schools with children who are mainly from one background are taught about pluralistic British values and get to know people with different ways of life. (Support 76% Oppose 6%);
– The Government should provide more support for teaching people to speak English (Support 67% oppose 13%)
-The Government taking a zero-tolerance approach to hate crime and prejudice (Support 79% Oppose 6%);
– The Government should take stronger action to prevent discrimination on grounds of race or faith. (Support 65% Oppose 9%);
– The Government should work more closely with Muslim and other faith communities to tackle extremism (Support 74% Oppose 7%);
– The Government should use national events like St George’s Day, St David’s Day and St Andrew’s Day to bring people together (Support 63% Oppose 8%).