Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Laziness and Populism

There is a strand in British politics – probably much approved of by the Pub Landlord – that says that by resorting to simplistic slogans, that have just a germ of truth to them, you can attract much approval and support.

Our Prime Minster seems to be especially good at this; I hope it is a character flaw rather than as a result of his expensive education.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Cameron said the push on language was “about building a more integrated, cohesive, one nation country where there’s genuine opportunity for people”.

He also said that while he accepted there was no “causal connection” between poor English and extremism, a better grasp would make communities “more resilient” to threats of radicalisation from so-called Islamic State – or Daesh.

“If you’re not able to speak English, you’re not able to integrate, you may find, therefore, that you have challenges understanding what your identity is and you could be more susceptible to the extremist message that comes from Daesh,” he said.

Lady Warsi – who was the first female Muslim cabinet minister – welcomed the new money for language teaching, but said: “This lazy and misguided linking, and what I saw once again as stereotyping of British Muslim communities, I felt took away from what was a positive announcement.”
BBC News Website, 18 January 2016 : David Cameron’s Muslim women policy ‘lazy and misguided’

We need to be more (academically) critical of some of these pronouncements.

Clichés: building a more integrated, cohesive, one nation country where there’s genuine opportunity for people

Coming from a Prime Minster from a Party that has probably done more to ensure that we are moving away from “One Nation” whether in the sense of “all being in it together” or the Unity of the United Kingdom, this is a bit rich.

Possibly it is nice to see him recognising that opportunities should be genuine. But that is assuming that when a politician uses a string of clichés he is actually thinking about what he is saying and not falling back on what he sees as the safety of “auto-speak”.

Willing to bend the facts to suit his claims: he accepted there was no “causal connection” between poor English and extremism

He accepts a point is not relevant but goes on to build his argument on it none-the-less. D- Cameron minor!

Not understanding Causality: a better grasp [of English] would make communities “more resilient” to threats of radicalisation from so-called Islamic State – or Daesh

And yet many of the families of those who have gone to Syria to fight for so-called Islamic State – or Daesh, seem to be quite good at speaking English.

Selective Politicking: If you’re not able to speak English, you’re not able to integrate, you may find, therefore, that you have challenges understanding what your identity is …

But likewise:

  • If you do not have a job, you’re not able to integrate (in fact you are stigmatised out of society as a “shirker”
  • If you are in poor housing, you’re not able to integrate (if you live in “One of those sink estates” you will not be able to socialise as easily as you would if you lived in a safe neighbourhood with a home that you would be proud to bring friends home to)
  • If you do not have an effective vote, you’re not able to integrate into political society (if your vote does not matter because you are outside the marginals and you are not a swing voter, the parties are far less interested in you.)
  • If you are in poor mental health, you’re not able to integrate (in fact you will stagnate and deteriorate on a seemingly endless waiting list as your social and economic life falls apart.)

So for a headline and photo-opportunity he will propose a relatively cheap initiative whilst dodging other equally valid claims.

It’s lazy thinking and lazy politics more suited to Trumpton than Britain. Surely we deserve better?


He could of course have more appropriately justified English classes for immigrants by looking at the social isolation of many (particularly women and the elderly) in some immigrant communities. But he makes a mess of that!

New rules will mean that, from October, people coming to the UK on five-year spousal visas will have to take a test half way through that period to show they are making efforts to improve their English.

Asked what would happen to those who failed, Mr Cameron said: “They can’t guarantee that they’ll be able to stay.” …

Lady Warsi said “threatening” women – even those who have children in the UK – with being “sent back” was “a very unusual way of empowering and emboldening women”.
ibid

That is twice in one post that I have quoted Baroness Warsi with approval! There has to be a first for everything. Is it me or is it Lady Warsi finding that being outside the Government gives her freedom to speak her mind?

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