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WINTER 2010-2011 / ISSUE 364
aSYLUM SEEKERS aND REFUGEES FaCE DOUBLE HIT SOCIaL HOUSING aND ETHNIC MINORITIES IS MULTICULTURaLISM paST ITS SELL-BY DaTE?
NG SpENDI CUTS
Dr Rob Berkeley Director Sarah Isal Deputy Director Dr Debbie Weekes-Bernard senior Research & Policy Analyst Dr Omar Khan senior Research & Policy Analyst Julie Gibbs senior Research & Policy Analyst Jessica Mai Sims Research & Policy Analyst Kjartan páll Sveinsson Research & Policy Analyst phil Mawhinney Research & Policy Analyst Jacob Lagnado Research & Policy Analyst Gabriela Quevedo Research & Policy Analyst Vastiana Belfon Real Histories Directory Robin Frampton Publications Editor Vicki Butler Public Affairs Officer Klara Schmitz Project Assistant Kamaljeet Gill Project Assistant Riffat ahmed Arts Project Manager Rebecca Waller Administrator Nina Kelly Communications and website Manager
wELCOME to the first winter edition of the online Runnymede Bulletin, just as a predicted cold snap reassures me that we’ve definitely caught the end of the right season. unlike past issues’ wilfully elected topics, this quarter’s theme descended upon us as inescapably as the spending cuts themselves. As we now begin to grasp the reality of how these swift and dramatic squeezes on the public purse will affect us all, Ricky Joseph points the spotlight on social housing (pages 6 and 7), where cutbacks will be felt acutely by minority ethnic communities. Meanwhile some of the most vulnerable groups among us are in danger of being hit on two fronts, as Julie Gibbs explores in her article on refugees and asylum seekers on pages 10 and 11. From page 8 Michael Keith takes a philosophical look at how the muchdisputed Big society and the rolling back of state-funded public services might affect the struggle for racial justice. Away from the spending cuts, another theme that has dominated recent political debate, and remains of manifest interest to Runnymede, is whether multiculturalism has had its day. Author tariq Modood and influential blogger sunny Hundal explain their nuanced opinions over pages 12, 13 and 15. Back at Runnymede, our public affairs officer Vicki Butler has been busy with our parliamentary programme over the past few months, and gives an overview of what we’ve been up to from page 20. A major area of our engagement in parliament is around stop and search practice, via our connection with criminal justice action group stopwatch. On pages 16 and 17, Benedicte Eichen outlines the fundamental issues related to stop and search and the disproportionate effects of these policing tactics on minority ethnic communities. Also, do not miss Alan Anstead and Lucie Fremlova’s feature on the Roma community, arguably the most disadvantaged ethnic group in Europe and often missing from discussions on race equality. For more on the same topic see Kamaljeet Gill’s analysis of ian Hancock’s essays in Danger! Educated Gypsy, which you can find in our familiar ‘reviews’ section towards the back of the magazine. Finally, as ever, i would like to earnestly thank everyone who has contributed to this and the last three editions of the Runnymede Bulletin, making a complete set of the four seasons. Your time, effort and skills are sincerely appreciated. And thank you readers! Please feel free to send any feedback, suggestions or responses to me at the email address below.
issn 2045-404X the Runnymede trust, sept 2010. Open access, some rights reserved, subject to the terms of Creative Commons Licence Deed: Attributionnon-Commercial-no Derivative works 2.0 uK: England & wales. You are free to copy, distribute, display and perform the work (including translation) without written permission; you must give the original author credit; you may not use this work for commercial purposes; you may not alter, transform, or build upon this work. For more information please go to www.creativecommons. org. For purposes other than those covered by this licence, please contact Runnymede.
Runnymede is the uK’s leading race equality thinktank. we are a research-led, non-party political charity working to end racism.
nina Kelly, Editor email@example.com
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ON THE COVER
06 HOUSING CUTS Professor Ricky Joseph looks at social housing cuts and black and minority ethnic communities 10 REFUGEES aND aSYLUM How some of the most vulnerable groups in our society expect to be hit by the cuts on two fronts 12 IS MULTICULTURaLISM DEaD? tariq Modood on whether multiculturalism is still relevant
a VIEW FROM...
20 ...paRLIaMENT what Runnymede has been doing to keep race equality on the westminster agenda 22 ...CaNaDa some good ideas on migrant integration shared by the torontobased Cities of Migration
04 NEWS IN BRIEF what has happened of note in the past few months? A selection of race-related stories here 23 REVIEWS Books and films with diversity in mind come under the scrutiny of Runnymede reviewers 27 DIRECTOR’S COLUMN Rob Berkeley sees dangers as well as opportunities in the Big society agenda
08 BIG SOCIETY aND RaCE Oxford uni’s Professor Michael Keith examines the Big society through the lens of racial justice
14 RISE OF THE FaR RIGHT Kamaljeet Gill on how the spending cuts may fuel the far right 15 RESpONSE TO TaRIQ Blogger sunny Hundal gives his take on multiculturalism 16 STOp aND SEaRCH How police tactics are affecting ethnic minority communities 18 ROMa COMMUNITY Alan Anstead and Lucie Fremlova on a community that experiences discrimination as standard
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NEWS IN BRIEF
by Lara Choksey
spate of racist attacks in sweden is linked to the rise of the far right
ONE PERSON WAS KILLED AND more than a dozen others injured in a year-long spate of racially motivated attacks in Sweden. Police charged a 38-year-old Swedish man with one count of murder and five of attempted murder in November 2010. Reports suggest that the man could also be linked to attacks on several other dark-skinned Swedes and immigrants. The shootings have also been linked to the entrance of the farright Swedish Democrats party to parliament in September 2010. The party, also known as the SD, defines itself as a nationalist movement, and regards Sweden’s immigration and integration policies as failures. Many people have argued that the SD’s entrance into mainstream politics has augmented racial tensions in the country. There have also been a series of anti-SD rallies, in which protestors declared solidarity with Sweden’s migrant communities. Swedish people report some of the highest levels of racism against Muslims in Europe, a recent report by the Board of Integration determined. Job seekers with a Swedish name are 50 per cent more likely to be called for an interview than those with an Arab-sounding name, according to a study carried out by Swedish National Television (SVT). This discrepancy cannot be explained by an applicants’ suitability for the job in question, as this factor has been controlled for in the research. The lowest employment levels in Sweden are among the African-born section of the population, according to a 2008 report by Statistics Sweden. This report further shows a substantial difference in school performance between children from African communities and their Swedish peers. Amid this lingering ethnic inequality, the rise of the SD has been likened to a rise in the prominence of far-right groups across Europe, suggesting that racist ideology is moving closer to conventional politics. These developments were discussed in Runnymede’s 2010 report Preventing Racist Violence in Europe in 2010, which suggests that “the rise and gentrification of the far right represents the extreme end of a Europewide backlash against diversity”. While providing an analysis of race crime prevention practices across a range of sectors, the report highlights “a distinct lack of formal structures to provide leadership, share good practice and embed prevention in policy.” You can download the report here: http://bit.ly/RacistViolenceEU
Leading political theorist Lord parekh defends multiculturalism against recent criticism
AUTHOR & LEADING POLITICAL philosopher Lord Bhikhu Parekh addressed the successes and failures of multiculturalism in the UK in a talk on 23 November 2010. Lord Professor Bhikhu Parekh chaired the Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain, a Runnymede project from 2000 that produced a pioneering report on the real world consequences of multiculturalism. In his speech, Parekh revisited the 2000 report, and called for the coalition government not to abandon the principles of multiculturalism in policy making. He argued that multiculturalism has “served the UK well” in reassuring the national majority that differing cultures do not need to be perceived as threats to collective social values, and that multiculturalism has contributed towards greater cultural sensitivity. Some of Parekh’s more interesting and surprising comments concerned the role of religion in public life. He warned of devolving public service delivery to the Anglican church, and noted that religiously inspired arguments are not always conducive to public discourse. Focusing on some recent criticisms of multiculturalism, Lord Parekh highlighted that terrorism has become associated with public understandings of cultural diversity. This is an association that must be reversed, he argued, as it could lead to further marginalisation of groups of young Muslim men who feel they have no identity within British culture. Lord Parekh ended with a positive point, noting that local identity, which is “more open and more loosely scripted” than national identity, is a key element in the future of multiculturalism. A culturally homogenous state holds the nation as the main point of reference; cultural diversity therefore must locate itself within local spheres in order to prevent further cultural alienation. Watch a video of Lord Parekh’s full address, given at the 2011 Jim Rose memorial lecture: http://bit.ly/JimRose
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Stop and search changes passed despite inaccuracy in ministers’ facts
A GOVERNMENT MINISTER skewed his facts when defending plans to scrap the stop and account form and reduce the monitoring of stop and search, reports influential action group StopWatch. Police minister Nick Herbert MP claimed at a Westminster debate on 1 December 2010 that reducing time spent on the stop and search form by cutting crucial information – from 12 recording requirements to 7 – will save more than 300,000 hours of officer time a year. The controversial changes have now been passed through parliament, despite the fact that StopWatch recalculated the time saving from Ministry of Justice statistics, finding the real figure to be closer to 19,000 hours per year. Herbert’s original claim assumes that it takes 16 minutes to record the five pieces of information the government plans to cut; in fact it rarely takes more than one minute. This means his figures were out by up to 15 times. Chuka Umunna, Labour MP for Streatham in south London, said: “The changes the government is making to stop and search powers are drastically watering down the information collected when a search takes place. “This will prevent a proper evaluation being conducted into the use of these police powers, in particular an assessment of whether they are being used in a proportionate and a nondiscriminatory way.” Equally misleading was Herbert’s claim that 450,000 hours of police time would be saved by scrapping stop and account recording. This assumes it takes 12 minutes to fill in the form. In reality, recording stop and account rarely takes more than five minutes, leaving the actual time saving at 184,000 hours. To put these numbers in context, individual officers carry out an average of eight stop and searches and 15 stop and accounts per year. The real time saving per officer will therefore be a matter of minutes per month. Recent calls to cut red tape in the police force have focused almost exclusively on the form that police officers are legally obliged to fill in each time they stop someone, which has lead to this legal change in the procedure. But by reducing monitoring, law enforcement agencies are seriously curbing their ability to serve and answer to the public. Dr Michael Shiner, an expert on stop and search from the London School of Economics, said: “Real time savings can be made by ensuring fewer, more effective stop and searches, but this cannot be achieved without rigorous oversight and scrutiny, which cannot, in turn, be achieved without recording stops and stop and search. In fact, real time savings could be made by stopping excess unfair and unproductive stops and stop and searches on black and Asian people.” At the moment, black people are stopped and searched by the police at more than six times the rate of white people. Meanwhile, Asian people are stopped and searched at more than twice the rate of white people. Targeting stop and search tactics on ethnic minority communities continues to drive a wedge between the police the public that they serve.
Inequality persists at Oxbridge
OXFORD ADMITTED ONLY ONE black British Caribbean applicant in 2009, and out of 1500 academic and laboratory staff at Cambridge, none are black, according to official data collected by Labour MP David Lammy. Lammy writes, “If Britain has become a ‘classless society’, then Oxford still hasn’t got the message. Oxford and Cambridge receive nearly £400m a year of taxpayers’ money. They cannot be allowed to spend that money entrenching inequality instead of addressing it.” Runnymede’s director Rob Berkeley, an Oxford graduate himself, backed Lammy’s argument. Rob locates the issue not only with elite universities, but also with secondary schools for a failure to motivate and encourage the aspirations of their students. He writes: “School level careers guidance is too often weak, and institutions such as the University of Oxford are perceived as not being open to the diversity of the potential student population.” However, he continues: “With only one black British Caribbean student in a year, this perception seems well-founded.” Oxford University has criticised Lammy’s interpretation of these statistics. A spokesperson for the university partially attributed the under-representation of black British Caribbean students to their lower attainment in school, saying: “Only 71 black Caribbean students in all of the UK achieved three grade As out of nearly 36,000 students overall.” However, privately educated students who gain the necessary grades for entrance into Oxbridge have benefited from considerably more guidance and encouragement than their state-school counterparts. Rob Berkeley says: “Oxford University must wake up to the way in which it is missing out on the potential of students from black backgrounds and work to address it.”
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A house of cards
As local authorities face cuts of 26 per cent, Ricky Joseph considers the likely effects on housing, particularly for black and minority people
the omens were not particularly promising even before chancellor George Osborne announced the outcome of the Comprehensive spending Review (CsR) in October 2010. the CsR, a set-piece political event that rarely attracts the attention of those outside of politics, the public sector and the financial markets, took on even greater significance for a nation coming to terms with the bleak realities of the biggest global economic downturn faced in living memory. the CsR detailed spending targets across every government department over a four year period (2011-2015). Housing barely featured as an election campaign issue among the three main political parties, despite concerns articulated by a number of leading housing campaigning groups over the shortage of affordable housing, homelessness and ever-increasing housing registers. Credit is due to both Diane Abbott MP and theresa May MP, however. in Diane Abbott’s case, during her bid to become the next leader of the Labour Party following its election defeat, she articulated her frustration at those (even within her own party) who blamed immigration as one of the reasons for its failure to win office. instead, she pointed the finger to the lack of affordable housing and job insecurity. in a leaked letter, published in one of the broadsheets on the eve of the CsR, theresa May, now the home secretary expressed her concerns to chancellor George Osborne MP that cuts in public expenditure ran the risk of widening inequality in Britain and more worryingly ran the ‘real risk’ of breaking the equalities law. the CsR itself made grim reading. the raw headlines gave a taste of the scale and depth of the challenges facing our public services and communities up and down the country in terms of housing and wider welfare reform. Across a number of key housing policy and investment areas, we can see a systematic chipping away of services and financial support. Many seasoned observers realised quite quickly that this
Photo: James Y stewart
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Across a number of key housing policy areas, we can see a systematic chipping away of services and financial support
would have a disproportionate impact on ethnic minority households and other vulnerable groups. the national Affordable Housing Programme, which is responsible for delivering up to 150,000 new affordable homes, is set to receive a 63 per cent cut in real terms over 201115 (compared with 2008-11). the twist in the tail is that new homes (in most cases) supported by public funds must be let at 80 per cent of market rent. this will have a significant squeeze on the budgets of households who are on low incomes or are receiving housing benefit. Ethnic minority households feature heavily in both groups. the debates that have been raging since the 2010 General Election around the withdrawal of ‘permanent tenancies’ has been put before parliament in the Localism Bill. this will remove the right to security of tenure for new tenants: a policy which some have argued will result in the end of social housing as part of the welfare state. it is too early to assess its impact on ethnic minority households. However, it is likely to weaken families’ ties with their local communities if they know in advance that they may have to move from their homes and neighbourhoods before long. the social housing sector faces real challenges to its development programmes and in delivering the national house building targets set out by government. the cuts in capital investment that are proposed have to be seen in the context of already difficult trading conditions resulting from the impact of the credit crunch. not to mention the weak supply of funds from the money markets and the slump in the construction industry. Black and minority ethnic (BME) households are over-represented across a wide range of housing indicators, including overcrowding, poor quality housing and insecure housing. Moreover, certain BME groups, because of their family structure and size, can have a greater need for larger sized accommodation. the irony, given the much welcomed commitment to boost housing supply by 2020, is that this will be at the cost of reducing the supply of larger-sized accommodation. in effect, what are likely to roll off the production line will be smaller, higher density homes that are cheaper to build and manage. this places even greater pressure on BME households who have no other option but to consider privatly rented accommodation or spend even longer on the housing register. Ethnic minority households are overrepresented in homelessness figures across many local authorities’ areas and make up 21 per cent of households that have been accepted onto social housing lists in England due to homelessness. this figure is disproportionate to the demographic profile of ethnic minority groups. Funding for the Homelessness Grant remains relatively unchanged over the spending review period. However concerns have been expressed that
the course of the CsR. this will have a major impact on what they will be able to do for vulnerable communities. the government’s Localism Bill sets out new policy ideas, most notably Big society, which it is hoped will mobilise and empower communities and social businesses to fill this gap in publicly run services. it remains to be seen how the government will support and encourage local communities to take up the baton. the welfare reform package announced by the government includes specific proposals aimed at making £50m a year savings on housing benefit. the caps to local housing allowance announced in June 2010 will further reduce the amount of housing benefit paid. this change will have a significant impact on BME households, which are twice as likely to be unemployed. it is worth noting that the Department of work and Pensions undertook an equality impact assessment on the changes in July 2010. it conceded (albeit based on limited data) that ethnic minority households were among the groups who stood to lose an average £624 a year in benefit. the government delayed implementing these changes until this year (2011) because of concerns over its wider impact on recipients of housing benefit and local authorities. Commenting on the changes, sheron Carter, chief executive
Ethnic minority households are over-represented in homelessness figures and on social housing lists
the recession and expected increases in unemployment in 2011 will feed into higher levels of homelessness. A number of studies on the impact of past recessions suggest that ethnic minority groups are much more vulnerable. the supporting People programme, which provides housing-related help to vulnerable people, enabling them to live independently, will receive a 12 per cent cut over the period of the CsR. though many had feared a more severe reduction in funding, this cut will still have a tangible negative impact. Local authorities will face significant cuts of 26 per cent in real terms over of Arhag Housing Association, argued the changes would result in “state sponsored overcrowding” and would force people to live in accommodation much smaller than their needs. A further development that does not bode well for ethnic minority groups are government plans not to implement the socio-economic duty contained within the Equalities Act 2010. if implemented it would provide further public scrutiny to the way that public bodies attempt to reduce social and economic disadvantage when making strategic decisions. 2011 promises to be a pivotal year for equality issues.
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will the Big society
As we try to understand how David Cameron’s Big society agenda may affect us all in practice, professor Michael Keith of Oxford university’s migration centre, COMPAs, points a philosophical eye at the Big society, interpreting how it might interact with racial justice
if we want to understand the race equality dynamics of the scale of change at work in the fiscal readjustments announced in the autumn, we may want to think about both demography of needs and the historical complexity of regimes of welfare provision. the significant difference in the trajectories of minority communities also shows in the following statistics: • First generation Hindu men were paid slightly more (4 per cent) than white British Christian men. However, given their qualifications and (particularly) their occupations, they would have expected to be paid 14 per cent more; there was an unexplained penalty of 10 per cent. second generation Hindu men were paid 13 per cent more than white British Christian men, only slightly less than would be expected given their qualifications and occupation; an unexplained penalty of only 3 per cent. unexplained penalty of 8 per cent. All of the above need to be set against a changing pattern of inequality in the united Kingdom which demonstrates sustained inter-generational differences in affluence and poverty, class mobility and opportunity by social class.
the headline story that we already know for certain is that to the extent that black and minority ethnic (BME) communities are disproportionately dependent on programmes of social housing, employment benefits and ‘workfare’ programmes, so they will be disproportionately impacted by fiscal cuts. we know that the overall picture is bleak in this regard due to the differing patterns of poverty between ethnic
in the 1970s and 1980s we would have expected a strong argument that would suggest that ethnic minority employees were disproportionately represented in the public sector and so would also be disproportionately affected by the cuts in public expenditure. However, a cursory look at some of the evidence would question this from the more recent historical material. in an Ons paper recently published there is an analysis of total employment in the public sector that shows total ‘non-white’ employment growing from 5.9% in 2001 to 8.6% in 2009. the proportions in the private sector grew from 5.9% to 8.4% over the same period of time. Although there are some differences in ethnicity (such as the difference in percentage between black and Asian groups) we know that these categories mask as much as they reveal in terms of social class: Jamaican compared to nigerian in the black category; and Gujerati versus Bangladeshi under ‘Asian’. therefore, it is worth being cautious about what we can say here.
the headline story we know for certain is that ethnic minority communities will be disproportionately impacted by fiscal cuts
minorities. However, from the various surveys from the Policy studies institute over the years and related material, there remain both substantial historical differences in poverty by race and ethnicity, and also significant differences between minority groups. the most significant recent piece of work as a reference point here would be the Hills report. this was produced in 2010 by the Government Equalities Office and has the full title ‘Measuring inequality in contemporary Britain’ (John Hills, 2010). Just a couple of the more exemplary facts on racialised inequality from the report are as shown in the Fact Box. • First generation Pakistani Muslim men were paid 46 per cent less than white British Christian men. they would be predicted to earn 30 per cent less on the basis of their qualifications and occupation, so there was an unexplained penalty of 15 per cent. second generation Pakistani Muslim men were paid 12 per cent less that white British Christian men, about half of which was explained by qualifications and occupation, leaving an
The historical basis of the welfare state
the Big society appeals to long traditions of ‘self help’ and mutualism. the easy way to classify such a move is through the language of cost cutting: shifting the burden of responsibility for welfare from the state to the community. to an extent this is true. However it masks some important trends that we miss at our peril. Firstly, the origins of the welfare state
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be a racially just one?
frequently lay as much in cooperation, mutualism and campaigning as they did in state reform. in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century concern for the poor was made visible through the work of the university settlements, charities and agencies for social reform. these in turn were frequently emerging from Christian reform movements. in the East End the role of figures such as william Booth and Canon Barnett, who founded university settlement house toynbee Hall, played an influential part in structuring the welfare state through models of Christian intervention. the tension between particular religious models of ‘need’ and ‘deserving poor’ and universal models of ‘state intervention’ nuance the way we understand the history of the development of welfare provision as well as the way we might understand its future. Crudely put, the boundaries between state and civil society have always been much more fuzzy than some thinkers would suggest, which means that how we think about the future of community power needs to understand some of the selectively communitarian roots of the welfare state, as well as the communitarian impulses of the Big society. new hopes and new cautions. Community organising mobilises strong forces of sentiment, moral powers that appeal to a good society and a just social order. the links between the communitarian moments of the last Labour government, the sorts of politics witnessed in campaigns such as London Citizens, who are demanding a ‘living wage’ for Londoners, and the demand for engagement in the Big society show many complementarities. the ‘new politics’ of America in the last 15 years could also be said to foreshadow the ‘anti politics’ of the Big society in the 21st century in the uK. the moral force at the heart of such political imaginaries are also important. they appeal to the reassuring categories that we know: the neighbourhood, our friends, our family and our faith. if the traditional enlightenment moral categories appealed to transcendent imaginaries that we invoke - the rights of man, the global good, the colour line – the Big society in part depends on a narrower ethical calculus. if its moral power derives from a sense of humanising the bureaucratic machineries of the welfare state, its moral challenge will be whether less obviously sympathetic connections can sustain the welfare needs of the less sentimentally strong links between undeserving as well as the deserving poor. in this sense in the politics of race equality, the Big society may both test the resonance of the categories through which we articulate claims for equality and challenge our ability to make the strange familiar. in terms of race equality, to the extent that we can make bonds and links across boundaries of identity politics it may open up new possibilities. But to the extent that forms
some of the Big society ideas have their roots in the ‘compassionate conservatism’ of the Bush era in the us
of familiar identity become the locus of claims for resources and recognition the Big society may also provide new geometries of division.
Professor Michael Keith is director, Oxford University’s Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS), a leading centre in the field of migration policy.
For white British households, median total wealth is £221,000 For indian households it is £204,000 For Pakistani households it is £97,000 For other Asian households it is £50,000 For black Caribbean households it is £76,000 For black African households it is £21,000 For Bangladeshi households it is £15,000
Liberal government and the Bush / Obama legacy
it is important to remember that the genealogy of some of the ideas of the Big society lie not just in the ‘Red tory’ thinking of some of today’s think tank directors such as Philip Blond, but also in the ‘compassionate conservatism’ of the Bush era. the latter sits alongside a particularly American tradition of community activism and a specifically prominent role for religious-based community activism / community development that is based less on ‘political parties’ and more on civil society organisations. in the usA, this is particularly linked to the history of the black churches and a number of minority groups’ religious organisations. there is a history of this in the usA that is important and confounds the simple left/right cartographies of politics. For examples, think through the background to the industrial Areas Foundation, saul Alinsky and Obama’s own biography as a community organiser. this opens up
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Refugees face double whammy from cuts
we know that the public spending cuts are likely to affect some of the most vulnerable in uK society. Here Julie Gibbs considers in particular the bleak situation facing asylum seekers and refugees
riting about spending cuts is always a gloomy affair. There are few good news stories in the refugee sector these days and things are set to get much worse over the coming months. Government spending cuts will not only affect asylum seekers in the UK, but will also hit those working with and for them too. The Refugee Council, which is itself facing the prospect of considerable cutbacks, recently pointed out: “Government funding cuts could mean that we are at risk of losing some of the most innovative organisations that support the most vulnerable members of our society, and which save the British taxpayer money by dealing with some of the more complex root causes of society’s social challenges.” It is important to look at the context of asylum to the UK over the past few years. In a time of recession, public opinion inevitably hardens towards migrants of any kind, as national unemployment rises and local services experience an increase in demand, or are cut altogether. Although the proposed immigration cap is still fuelling the idea that immigration to the UK is desperately out of control, the truth is that the number of asylum seekers coming to the country has in fact dropped. In fact, the annual statistics show asylum claims are at their lowest level since 1993. This is due to a wide range of factors, including the global economic downturn. But the point remains that despite public feeling running high on the back of right-wing media panics, the number of asylum seekers is now at its lowest point for a decade. That being said, asylum seekers in the UK are still likely to suffer the cuts in a number of ways. They will be forced to make stark choices about issues such as housing, basic essentials like food, and legal representation. What is more, they are increasingly likely to have to do so without the support of
community groups who are themselves facing axed or dramatically reduced budgets. Although asylum seekers will be affected by cuts across all government departments, the most salient one is that the UK Border Agency (UKBA) is facing a budget reduction of £500 million and a reduction of 5,000 staff on top of 1,700 posts already lost. This comes at a time when there are still a large backlog of cases waiting to be decided (the so-called Legacy Programme). The government has pledged to speed up the asylum process for newer cases through the Asylum Improvement Programme. What effect this will have on those claiming asylum is still unclear, but past experience suggests asylum seekers will suffer delays, poor communication and subsequent frustration while their claims are handled by overworked, target-driven caseworkers.
One area where funding cuts are already being felt is legal aid, and at the time of writing the government has just announced £350 million savings to the already stretched legal aid budget. For the reasons set out above it is more important than ever that asylum seekers can access high quality legal advice and representation to ensure that their claim has a justifiable outcome. This not only assists the asylum seeker in feeling that they are getting a fair hearing, but also reduces costs to the taxpayer. This is because fair asylum claims reduce the expensive detention of asylum seekers, decrease the amount of money spent on appeals, and allow for either a speedier process of integration into British society, or a faster and less-contested removals process. Appeals after initial decisions are currently allowed at a rate of 28 per cent, suggesting that Home Office decision making in the first instance is often flawed. With more spaces being built in immigration removal centres and more people entering asylum fast-track procedures, where claims are decided within
Legal aid cuts
seven days, the focus appears instead to be on removing as many people as possible in the shortest space of time. Changes to the way that legal aid is allocated to firms and billed to the Legal Services Commission, the body currently responsible for administering it, have already had a negative effect on the asylum law sector. Since 2007, the Graduated Fixed Fee Scheme has significantly reduced the time available to representatives to spend on a case. Asylum cases are more often than not complex and time consuming. This is even before considering essential elements, such as the time it takes for the asylum seeker and representative to build up a relationship and disclose their case fully. Under the Graduated Fixed Fee Scheme this has become extremely difficult. Despite the desire of those high quality advisers and firms to do the best work for their legal aid clients, they are nonetheless failing to make ends meet. The high profile closure of major legal aid provider Refugee and Migrant Justice (RMJ) in July 2010 is just the beginning of a slippery slope to asylum clients not being able to access high quality legal advice. In addition, nine law centres across the country closed in 2010. Cuts in legal aid to asylum clients would be disastrous for their access to a fair and humane hearing, and we may see a rise in appeals and fresh claims that will cost more for the courts to administer and the Home Office to defend.
The most vulnerable
At a recent conference on ending indefinite immigration detention I heard time and time again that accessing a solicitor is extremely difficult for people in detention, and research recently conducted by the Information Centre about Asylum and Refugees (ICAR) shows that even before the closure of RMJ, good solicitors were difficult to find (or they
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were not accepting new clients), especially outside London. Despite large protests by the asylum legal community, refugee support organisations and asylum seekers themselves, the government still insists that there is enough access to legal aid for asylum clients. In short the situation on the ground is a far cry from the one that seems to exist in the minds of the civil servants and ministers driving legal aid policy. Another area that has faced cuts, and is likely to face more in the future, is the support budget for asylum seekers on Section 4 support, that is, for those whose asylum claims have been rejected, but for whom it is still too dangerous to return home. These people exist on a card payment scheme which allows them £35 a week for everything aside from the basic accommodation they are given. Stringent conditions on the way that these cards can be used, the specific shops they can be used in and which specific items they can be used to buy make life for people on section 4 extremely difficult. Imagine living a cashless life, one where there is no change for the bus, for buying the cheapest food at the market or clothes in a charity shop. Forcing people to survive on such a small amount of money is hard enough, but then taking away their choice of what they can use it to buy
seems especially cruel. Housing is another key area where cuts are negatively affecting people’s lives. In October 2010, Birmingham and Wolverhampton councils both announced that they would end their contracts with the UK Border Agency (UKBA) to provide housing for asylum seekers next spring. The UKBA has also announced that it will be moving hundreds of asylum seekers out of Glasgow as a result of a row over costs with the local council. Thus asylum seekers who have been forcibly dispersed upon arrival to cities around the UK will now have their lives further disrupted as funding cuts hit local services. Refugees and asylum seekers often live in the most rundown areas that no one else wants to live in. Moving them as funding runs out could mean they end up living in increasingly unacceptable conditions, far from family, friends, legal advisers and other networks that they have worked hard to build up.
and council funding, and many are at risk of closure. London Councils, for example, which is one of the largest investors in charity and community sector groups throughout the capital, must reduce its central funds by 80 per cent from April 2011. It will not be able to honour previously agreed funding arrangements for groups who thought they had guaranteed funding for three years. Many groups will be hard hit by this news. Young Londoners, a charity that works with unaccompanied minors and young asylum seekers, faces possible closure. This double whammy of direct funding cuts affecting asylum seekers and refugees, and indirect cuts to the funding of the very groups that are best-placed to help them through a crisis, is a particularly worrying situation. Only time will tell how one of the most vulnerable groups of people in our society will cope with these dramatic spending cuts and what the consequences will be for all of us. Julie Gibbs is a senior research and policy analyst with the Information Centre about Asylum and Refugees (ICAR). To find out more about how you can support ICAR in this difficult time visit: www.icar.org.uk
Organisations facing closure
Finally, I want to highlight the people who set out to help asylum seekers and refugees through providing voluntary and charitable services. These groups are being hit particularly hard by cuts in government
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Photo: Physicians for Human Rights
is multiculturalism past its sell-by date?
professor Tariq Modood’s second book on Britishness is published amid a raging debate on multiculturalism sparked by David Cameron’s disparaging comments. so, is multiculturalism out-dated?
the idea that multiculturalism threatened social unity, let alone was subversive of western civilisation, was undreamt of when i published a collection of essays on being British in 1992. As is evident in my new book, still not Easy Being British, much has changed since then. Few people now believe that Britain can be a society in which ethnic minorities are treated equally without a large-scale discussion of multiculturalism, national identity and secularism. some of the more specific topics touched on in my book are summarised below. As Muslims discuss these matters of identity, and as Muslim discourses become part of British debates, these issues will become more openly debated and political maturity could mean that when we seek Muslim voices we seek more than one, or even more than a few, kind of Muslims. this is easier to achieve at the level of discourses, more difficult in terms of institutional accommodation, though it is not impossible. so allowing Muslims to politically organise ‘as Muslims’ without any sense of illegitimacy, and to have group representation in various public bodies means allowing Muslims to organise in ways they think appropriate at different times, in different contexts and for different ends. the result will be a democratic constellation of organisations, networks, alliances and discourses in which there will be agreement and disagreement. Group identity will be manifested more by way of family resemblances than the idea that one group means one voice. of groups is another. Or there is multiculturalism (in its political sense), meaning a response based not just on the equal dignity of individuals but also on the political accommodation of group identities as a means of fostering respect and inclusion for demeaned groups. Moving beyond a focus on exclusion and minorities is a third level of multiculturalism, which is not just about positive minority identities but a positive vision of society as a whole. A vision of society remade so as to include the previously excluded or marginalised on the basis of equality and belonging. it is at this level that we may speak of multicultural integration or multicultural citizenship. this third level of multiculturalism, incorporates the facts of diversity, group identities (by religion or race, for example) and exclusion. But this level of defining multiculturalism goes beyond individual rights and political accommodation, and is about encouraging minority difference without a counterbalancing emphasis on cross-cutting commonalities and a vision of a greater good. this has led many commentators and politicians to talk of multiculturalism as divisive and promoting of segregation. this popular, as well as academic critique, of multiculturalism was evident in the 1990s, not just in countries that had never embraced multiculturalism, such as France and Germany, but also in those that had, such as the netherlands and Britain. After the terrorist attacks in America on 11 september 2001 and their aftermath, including the London bombings of 7 July 2005 and other failed or prevented attacks in Britain, fears about international terrorism and associated
Muslims & multiculturalism
it is ironic that Muslims are experiencing the pressures to step up and be British Muslims just as other minorities might be feeling an easing of identity pressures and greater freedom to mix and match identities on an individual basis. One of the most interesting developments is the emergence of organisations that want to belong to the family of public Muslims, but are thoroughly critical of a religious politics. what is distinctive about these organisations is the relative thinness of their appeal to islam to justify their social democratic politics. they could just as easily seek to privatise their Muslimness, but feel a socio-political obligation to do the opposite. some contemporary Muslim identity politics, then, responds pragmatically, treating being ‘British Muslim’ as a hyphenated identity, in which both parts are to be valued as important to one’s principles and belief commitments. Of course to bring together two or several identity shaping, even identity defining, commitments together will have an effect on each of the commitments. the two identities will begin to interact, leading to some reinterpretation on each side.
past its sell-by date?
i believe that it is neither intellectually nor politically true that multiculturalism is out of date. the term ‘multiculturalism’, like the terms ‘integration’ or ‘assimilation’, operates at different levels. there is the sociological level that acknowledges the fact that racial and ethnic groups exist in society, both in the way minority groups are told that they are ‘different’, and in terms of minorities having their own sense of identity. then, secondly, there is the question of what should the political response be to that social reality. Assimilation is one response; liberal integration based on respect for individuals but no political recognition
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wars and conflict coalesced with anxiety about Muslims failing to integrate in Britain and other countries. the antimulticulturalism discourses came to not just dominate the relevant policy field but to be at the forefront of politics. Discourses of ‘community cohesion’ and ‘integration’ were prominent in this politics, which overlooked the fact that no major theorist or advocate of multiculturalism, nor any relevant policy or legislation, had promoted ‘separatism’. theorists of multiculturalism such as Charles taylor and Lord Bhikhu Parekh, related policy documents such as the Commission on the Future of a Multi-ethnic Britain (2000) and enactments such as those in Canada, which is universally regarded as a pioneer and exemplar of state multiculturalism, all built on an idea of national citizenship. From a multiculturalist point of view then, though not from that of its critics, the recent emphasis on cohesion and citizenship is a necessary re-balancing of the political multiculturalism of the 1990s, which largely took the form of what i have called above the second level of multiculturalism. it cannot be understood as simply a move from multiculturalism to integration, as it not only continues
to understand exclusion and identity as sociological facts but it also continues with group consultations, representation and accommodation.
Multiculturalism & religion
relation to the legal recognition of the turban. so, in many ways, Muslim political assertiveness arose in the context of an anti-racism movement, equality legislation and sikh mobilisation; in short, a political multiculturalism. this has led many to say that we must emphasise what we have in common, and they are right. Emphasising and cultivating what we have in common is not a denial of difference. Commonality cannot be taken for granted, both in the sense that it usually has to be worked at, but equally importantly it has to be the right kind of commonality. Hence difference and commonality are not either/or opposites but are complementary and have to be made – lived – together, giving to each its due. More than that, commonality must be difference-friendly, and if it is not, it must be remade to be so. this does not mean weak or indifferent national identities; on the contrary multiculturalism requires a framework of vibrant, dynamic, national narratives and the ceremonies and rituals that give expression to a national identity. A sense of belonging to one’s country is necessary to make a success of a multicultural society. that too is a lesson we should have learned by now.
the multiculturalism in Britain that i refer to has no single legal or policy statement (unlike Canada) but has grown up, sometimes in contradictory ways, in response to crises as well as mature reflection, and so is evolutionary and multi-faceted. it is important to remember however that the foundations of Muslim/non-Muslim relations in Britain are based upon white/non-white relation., the original policy paradigm that multiculturalism came from was ‘race relations’; no British policymaker or social scientist expected, let alone desired, religion to have political significance. the new political relevance of religion has not come top-down from the state, but from the political mobilisation of specific minorities or parts of minorities who prioritised their religious identity over that of ethnicity or ‘colour’ (which is not to say that they deemed the latter insignificant). the sikhs were the first religious minority to politically mobilise and win concessions from the state in
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Photo: Vijay Jethwa
Kamaljeet Gill on how public service cuts may fuel their agenda
Rise of the far right
he government’s reforms to public services threaten to sharpen tensions and provoke conflicts in areas already prone to attention from far right groups. Economically deprived areas, which can now expect less financial support from local authorities, are the first to be targeted by the British National Party (BNP) and the English Defence League (EDL). The public spending cuts might indirectly feed into the far right’s hugely divisive agenda in this way. When resources become scarce, competition becomes more heated and, in all probability, less civil. As public service provision is slashed and services such as street cleaning, libraries and play centres are reduced, resentments are liable to build between communities. Increased numbers of people will feel that their neighbours are receiving preferential distribution of the increasingly limited local authority benefits. There is also the potentially damaging element of hyper-localism, which the Big Society agenda incorporates, which devolves power down to community groups. This does not often lead to greater equality. In areas where swingeing cuts have already excited tensions, the monopoly of essential services by one or another community risks arousing further ire. For example, imagine that a group of concerned Jewish parents wish to break away from the local education authority and set up a free school. As current policy stands they would receive funding directly from government. It is not difficult to imagine this creating suspicion and resentment among residents who have witnessed their local comprehensive school suffer the effects of massive cuts, such as the cancellation of the Building Schools for the Future programme. Similar problems could arise if an Islamic charity takes over the provision of basic social or healthcare services and, in line with Islamic teachings, provides service users with Halal food. Organisations like the EDL, who have a history of picking up on such issues, would have ample material to cultivate tension and even violence. There is an assumption that communities are defined geographically and are close-knit. However, communities often lack one or the other of these qualities. As Steven Bubb, Chair of the Social Investment Business,
English Defence League march in Newcastle, May 2010
pointed out at a recent conference on the Big Society, Kurds living in Coldharbour Lane, may not define their community in terms of residence in Brixton, but rather in terms of the Kurdish population of the capital. Similarly there may be residents of a geographical area that are not accepted into the ‘community’ by their neighbours. Young offenders in an institution or asylum seekers are two obvious groups that may live (geographically) within a community, without being accepted into it. With extensive cuts to public services that previously catered to their needs, especially those of asylum seekers and migrants, is it really logical to assume that the local community will step in and fill the gaps? The last election resulted in the BNP losing the majority of its council seats. Yet the party increased their share of the total votes received in England from 0.8% to 2.1% overall. There remains a base level of support for the far right that has not declined. Significantly, the BNP have a history of successfully capitalising on local issues. Their notorious ‘Africans for Essex’ flyer, for example, took advantage of concerns over the lack of social housing in Barking and Dagenham by (falsely) claiming the Labour Party was paying African migrants to move into the area. In the absence of a positive vision of the limitations of localism, the Big Society could become a breeding ground for the type of disputes on which the party thrives. Outlining a minimum set of standards that should apply
everywhere is therefore a vital policy aim for central government, if only to define by whom localism is to be implemented. Without such a policy, it is likely that some people will be left outside the local community, and the localism agenda might be hijacked by extremist groups of any shade. Even without the influence of the BNP, there is a significant risk that conflict will increase. Proponents of the Big Society argue that reforms will result in neighbourhood and community groups working together; in reality the situation is more complex. A single community may unite to win resources and supply a service; however in securing those resources they will be denying them to a raft of others, either through ignorance or deliberate exclusion or simply because, in times of hardship, funding is a zero sum game. Even those who disagree with the BNP or the EDL may feel resentment and antagonism when they compete with others for scarce resources. There is naivety about the impact of both cuts and the Big Society on community relations. It will be a challenge for financially constrained local authorities to mediate between groups, especially when the groups directly compete for the responsibility of administering resources. In the resulting vacuum there may be opportunities for unscrupulous groups to take advantage of sharpening local resentments. There are potentially big risks within the Big Society.
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Photo: Gavin Lynn
Let’s move the debate on
Responding to tariq Modood’s article on p12, Sunny Hundal argues that it is the debate, rather than multiculturalism, that is dead
“Just because a dog is born in a stable doesn’t make it a horse.” that was the cutting reply that a national Front member once gave me when i pointed out i had as much right to call myself British as he did, having been born here. it was around ten years ago when i heard that, and it has always stuck with me. in one sense it was at the beginning of a longer journey of discovery, of my own identity and sense of belonging. i wanted to be British whether the national Front guy liked it or not. More recently, i am more likely to call myself English than British. i say all this to make an obvious point: that identity and belonging, along with the words we use with them, are always changing. Always mutating. “nothing is static. Everything is falling apart,” as tyler Durden says in my favourite film, Fight Club. Reading tariq Modood’s excellent discussion of multiculturalism (page **): its failures, successes and how it should fit into modern society, i’m filled with those thoughts of mutation. in one sense, multiculturalism is already dead. in large parts of the political discourse, it is seen as an evil ideology that undermines the very fabric of society. it is seen as the prism through which terrorism and the race riots of Oldham 2001 happened. it is the prism through which the Daily Mail now gets outraged over Halal meat being served in schools. the first question is, are we trying to flog a dead horse in order to revive it? the second question is: do we even need to? i guess this is more of a fundamental question than simply a critique of what tariq says about multiculturalism in his book. i don’t want to throw the discussion off course, but these questions are implicit when responding to the question “is multiculturalism dead?” Let’s say you want to defend multiculturalism as an ideal. tariq says it is a “vision of citizenship”, compatible with multiple identities but not holding up one group as the model to which others have to conform to, while forging new national identities. i cannot disagree with that. But frankly, neither will most people in the Daily Mail who say they hate multiculturalism. we may have lost the battle over the meaning of the word; but we have won the war to make Britain appreciate its cultural diversity. no one is demanding that Asian women are not allowed to wear Asian clothes; Boris Johnson, once the scourge of multiculturalists everywhere, is celebrating Eid in trafalgar square; the representation of ethnic minorities in parliament is greater than it has ever been before. if we divide up multiculturalism into two sections: as state interventions (‘talking to community leaders’), and as lived experiences, then the success of the latter has ended up dictating the former anyway. in other words, even Conservative politicians, while in government, will not go so far as to ask minority groups to adhere to one way of life. it’s just not feasible.
Soho Road, Birmingham, is the most religiously diverse street in the UK
to come back to my original point then, if multiculturalism in reality is in rude health, why keep fighting old battles over what it means? why not think about where we go from here, and find a narrative that will help us achieve that? i’ll explain what i mean. Let’s say you are worried about people being forced to live a certain way of life they are not used to. Or let’s say you are worried about how minority groups are being demonised in the press or being targeted by the police using stop and search tactics. these are, i believe, some of the key concerns around identity politics today. Along with poverty, lack of social housing and all the usual issues of course. when discussing these issues and how to push back on them, i rarely bother mentioning ‘multiculturalism’. My framework is civil liberties. My framework is human rights law and the idea of us living in a parliamentary democracy that has valued the ‘rights of man’ for hundreds of years. what i am trying to say is that the danger for ethnic minorities generally, and these debates we conduct, is that they become out of kilter with public opinion and leave us behind. we don’t even talk about Englishness because people associate it with racial connotations and the far-right, and yet most people who fly the English flag during football seasons simply want to express their love for their country. Most of them will also be comfortable with a multiracial Britain and proud of people like Andy Cole, Mark Ramprakash, natasha Danvers, Amir Khan, Kelly Holmes and many more. the meanings of multiculturalism, of Britishness, of Englishness have all changed over the last few decades, and we have to accept that rather than trying to protect sacred lands. so my question to tariq would less be a criticism of what he says, but a broader question: why exactly do we need to save or reclaim the definition of multiculturalism? i’m quite happy to let others think it’s dead, while talking about it in a different way. what do we gain by trying to revive it? Or at least, what do we lose if we just say: ‘that’s right, multiculturalism is dead. Long live multiculturalism.’ Sunny Hundal edits the influential left-wing blog, Liberal Conspiracy liberalconspiracy.org
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Photo: Riffat Ahmed
stop and think about stop and search
Benedicte Eichen explores the effects of and alternatives to the discriminatory stop and search tactics employed by uK police. if monitoring is reduced, how can the police be held accountable?
the power to stop and search individuals on the street is widely regarded as an everyday part of modern policing. it is also an intrusive tactic that, in some instances, interferes with the right to privacy and the right to freedom: two of the most fundamental pillars of contemporary democracy. American civil rights leader Reverend Jesse Jackson, who spoke at the launch of the criminal justice action group stopwatch, voiced concerns that Britain’s moral authority is being damaged by the government’s failure to stop the police discriminating against ethnic minorities. He said: “it is distasteful and it undermines the freedoms and beauty of democracy.” such a statement seems to fuel the contentious debate about racial profiling and institutional racism, an issue that was investigated after the racist murder of black teenager stephen Lawrence in 1993. anyone in a designated area without grounds for reasonable suspicion. Ben Bowling, professor of criminal justice at King’s College London and member of stopwatch, argues that this amounts to an abuse of a power, which was “only ever meant to be used in exceptional circumstances and lacks effective safeguards.” He says: “this leaves room for increased stereotyping, which is likely to alienate those communities which are most affected.” such potential alienation of communities is damaging for the society as whole, but it also affects the work of the police and therefore risks becoming counter-productive. the police argue, on the other hand, that the use of stop and search tactics is necessary in the fight against violent crime, in particular knife crime. However, Richard Fuller MP suggests that such explanation is not representative of the evidence available. in a westminster Hall Debate tabled by Fuller in collaboration with stopwatch, the Conservative MP presented the example of tower Hamlets and islington. Between 2008 and 2009 both boroughs had a knife crime rate of 305 incidents. tower Hamlets responded by increasing the numbers of stop and searches, exceeding the rate in islington. As a result, knife crime fell by 11 per cent in tower Hamlets, whereas it fell by 25 per cent in islington. found that section 44 afforded officers too much discretion, without sufficient safeguards against abuse. A decision by the Home Office to scrap section 44 followed shortly after the verdict. However, the previously mentioned section 60, which affords officers similar discretion, remains unchanged. Furthermore, the Home Office recently decided to remove stop and account forms, a tool which was set up to hold officers accountable for their actions and to minimise profiling based solely on a persons race. the government also attempted to pass through draft guidance to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (1984) Code of Practice that would have allowed officers to stop and search on the grounds of ethnicity. Due to pressure from civil rights groups, including stopwatch, the paragraph relating to ethnicity was dropped from the draft guidance. these policy changes reducing the monitoring of stop and search send a signal that the government does not intend to challenge the racial inequality in relation to this practice. Changes like these undermine any previous work to eliminate institutional racism and weaken the established safeguards. Furthermore, a lack of proper monitoring will be detrimental to community relations and police engagement; both of which are vital components for a sustainable crime reduction strategy. Removing police accountability risks jeopardising the core principle of British policing: ‘policing by consent’, which means that the public should have trust and confidence in the officers securing law and order. the damaging consequences of the discriminative and disproportionate use of stop and search affects all levels of society. From young black men who, on daily basis, have to deal with the humiliating experience of being repeatedly stopped
Ineffective & discriminatory
Despite the continuous discussion about the discriminatory element of stop and search, the police exercise this power on a frequent basis. in 2009 more than 2 million stop and accounts and 1 million stop and searches were carried out by the police in England and wales. this is the equivalent of approximately 10,000 stops every day. there is an ongoing concern that the pervasive use of such powers is conducted in a racially disproportionate, unfair and discriminatory manner. An analysis of government data conducted by stopwatch researchers shows that black people are up to 26 times more likely to be stopped and searched than their white counterparts, and Asian people more than six times as likely. these figures relate specifically to stop and searches under section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act (1994), which allows officers to search
Although the effectiveness of stop and search tactics is questionable, the issue of whether they breach fundamental human rights was brought to light earlier this year. in the case of Gillan and Quinton versus the uK, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that section 44 of the terrorism Act (2000) was in violation of the Human Rights Act. this exceptional power permits officers to stop and search anyone within a designated area without any reasonable suspicion. the court
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and searched, to the local communities that distrust officers on the street, to wider society, in which certain ethnic groups are greatly over-represented in the prison population. A recent study by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) shows that while black people make up 2.6 per cent of the population in England and wales, they represent 14.4 per cent of the prison population. this depressing statistic is in part affected by the racial disproportionality in stop and search. For many young people, a stop and search becomes their entry point into the criminal justice system: their first experience of the police and how they are treated by them. if these first encounters with the system are targeted disproportionately at a particular group, the consequence later on will be equally disproportionate and result in a skewed prison population and a widening inequality gap between different groups in society.
section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act (1994), gives police the right to search people in a defined area at a specific time. this law was set up primarily to tackle football violence. under section 44 of the terrorism Act (2000) any police officer can stop and search anyone or any vehicle that is in a specific area, without any reasonable suspicion schedule 7 of the terrorism Act (2000) is a special power confined solely to policing the uK’s ports and borders, where ‘examining officers’ are able to stop, question and/or detain people, without reasonable suspicion. the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (1984) Codes of Practice provide the core framework of safeguards around stop and search, arrest, detention, investigation, identification and interviewing detainees.
as a result of intelligence-led policing and community engagement, which also strengthened public trust and confidence dramatically. such examples prove that there are alternative tactics that are effective and fair, and which do not create a wedge between communities and the police. in order to promote good practice policing and challenge the government and the police to rethink stop and search powers, a number organisations and leading figures in civil society, the legal professions and academia have come together to form stopwatch.
stopwatch works with communities, ministers, policy makers and senior police officers to ensure that the reforms to the police service are fair and inclusive, and lead to better policing for all. the objectives of stopwatch include advocating a reduction in ethnic disproportionality in stop and search, reviewing the use of powers that do not require reasonable suspicion and working to ensure effective monitoring, external accountability and the promotion of good practices. To learn more about stop and search powers and the work of StopWatch visit www.stop-watch.org
Change is necessary and possible. Even though much of the evidence presented shows that in relation to racial equality there is still a long way to go, good practice examples with positive outcomes do exist. in Cleveland the police decreased the numbers of stop and searches by 80 per cent, while the rate of disproportionate stops of particular ethnic groups, and crime overall, was reduced. this came
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Lucie Fremlova and alan anstead of Equality examine the situation of Roma living in the uK
Discrimination as standard
and the employment restrictions placed on all nationals from the new Eu member states, the number of Roma migrating to the uK has steadily risen. Although it is not known how many Roma live in the uK, the best estimate is around 500,000. Many Roma adults, and most Roma young people in the uK were born here and view this country as their permanent residence. For many Roma, their living conditions in other Eu member states was so poor that a life in the uK, often with salaries below the minimum wage, selling the Big Issue or collecting scrap metal is considered by them to be a far better life. the majority of Roma arrive in the uK in search of equal opportunities, a society free of anti-Roma attitudes, and a better economic, social and political future for them and their children. the research findings of the 2009 study conducted by Lucie Fremlova and Heather ureche shows that some of the most frequent push factors behind the recent movement of Roma to the uK are as follows: • 58% of the respondents said that their primary motivation was work (i.e. the ability to engage within a labour market that does not discriminate against Roma); • 22% of the respondents stated they had come to the uK in search of a better life for their children (in particular, the ability to be educated in mainstream schools as opposed to a system whereby many Roma children are placed in segregated schools for children with mental and physical disabilities); • 15% of the respondents listed discrimination in the country of origin as the third most important factor; • 97% of all the Roma respondents claimed that their life had improved since they moved to the uK.
Roma are the largest ethnic minority group in Europe with an estimated population of 10 to 12 million people. since their arrival in Europe from india some 700 years ago, Roma people have been politically, socially, culturally and economically marginalised by the dominant populations. segregation of Roma still exists in many Eu member states today; in fact Roma people are arguably the most vulnerable and oppressed ethnic group in Europe. Many Roma from Eastern Europe, particularly from the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania and slovakia, came to the uK in the 1990s seeking asylum to escape widespread racial persecution and discrimination in their countries of origin. since the enlargement of the Eu in 2004 (when Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, slovenia and slovakia joined) and 2007 (when Bulgaria and Romania joined), nationals coming from the new member states have been able to exercise their right to free movement. As a result, many more Roma have moved legally to the uK to find work, equal opportunities and a good education for their children; and to escape racism and discrimination, not least the increasing number of racially motivated attacks on members of their community.
Every year on 8 April is international Roma Day, held to celebrate Romani culture and to raise awareness of some of the issues facing Roma people. Between 200,000 and 800,000 Roma Gypsies were killed under the nazi regime in Germany during the second world war. the greatest number live in Central Eastern Europe: Romania, slovakia, Bulgaria, Hungary, and the former Yugoslavia. Rolling stones guitarist Ronnie wood’s heritage is Romany Gypsy, according to a 2007 interview in the Guardian. Every second Roma person was discriminated against in the past 12 months, according to a survey taken by the European union Agency for Fundamental Rights in 2009.
Where have the Roma settled?
the Roma have established significant communities throughout the uK, particularly in the north of England, the East Midlands, Kent and north and east London. there are also sizeable communities of Roma in scotland (particularly in Glasgow), wales (Cardiff) and northern ireland (Belfast). these Roma communities originate from the first asylum seekers, and new arrivals tend to settle where they have contacts and family members. Despite the economic recession
Situation in England
the research, which is available online at found that many Roma in England work for low wages on temporary contracts organised by gangmasters and recruitment agencies. their vulnerability is often exploited. some agencies charge newly arrived Roma large sums for temporary work
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Young Roma boys chat in their school classroom in Gorton, Manchester
placements, completing paper work, arranging registration cards and finding accommodation. Many Roma live in sub-standard accommodation, shared with other families. severe overcrowding often leads to poor health, and low school attendance and attainment by children, with substantial secondary school drop-out rates. the communities have very little support in some areas and they are often unable to access the services that do exist because of their lack of familiarity with the systems and processes in the uK. Romanian Roma in particular are often the most disadvantaged and vulnerable, living in the most overcrowded conditions, often with more than 15 people in one accommodation unit, and in the greatest poverty. Roma adults are also generally isolated, mixing only with other Roma people. Employment barriers make social inclusion more difficult Barriers to employment particularly affect Roma people from Romania and Bulgaria who are, in reality, barred from taking many types of jobs and so obliged to be self-employed or in short-term agricultural work. such limited options make it much harder for Roma to work legally. there are also restrictions on new Eu member state nationals’ access to social benefits. Many local authorities and organisations that provide services are unaware of the numbers, locations or needs of the Roma
residents in their areas. this lack of knowledge limits the ability of these authorities to provide adequate and suitable services for Roma communities.
Some good practice, particularly in education
Research has found that where local authorities have used the Pupil Level Annual school Census to count their number of Roma students, services have been formatted to better reflect the needs of the Roma communities. the traveller Education support service and the Ethnic Minority Achievement service have been major forces in fostering the social inclusion of Roma, as well as models of good practice. these services are often the first contact, and sometimes the only contact, that Roma have with any officials or service providers. in the vast majority of cases, the invaluable work done by education officers and schools with Roma pupils and their families has served as a ‘springboard’ for other agencies to try and reach out to these communities. some enlightened local authorities employ Roma as outreach staff to engage Roma families on their children’s education, family health and other service provision. But many of these jobs are likely to be cut in 2011 under the Comprehensive spending Review measures.
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Photo: Ciara Leeming
a VIEW FROM...PARLiAMEnt
since the publication of the last Runnymede Bulletin in the autumn, our young coalition government has begun to make its considerable mark on uK society. Vicki Butler reports on Runnymede’s efforts to ensure that race equality remains on the political agenda
he past few months have been a tumultuous period in uK politics. the coalition government has been introducing dramatic changes to public policy at breakneck speed, be it cuts to public funding, restructuring of the nHs or the muchcriticised Big society agenda. Runnymede has been working to make sure that the government is made aware of the impact these changes will have on black and minority ethnic (BME) communities, particularly on the issues of stop and search reforms, widening access to university and the scrapping of the child trust fund.
Stop and search reforms
As co-founders of stop and search action group stopwatch, Runnymede has turned the spotlight on the government’s changes to stop and search recording. Given that black people are six times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police than white people, this remains a massive issue for many in the BME community. in 2010, the coalition announced that it planned to reduce the amount of information recorded on a stop and search form. this means that police stopping and searching someone will no longer have to record the name of the person stopped; whether injury was caused as a result of the search; and whether any action was taken as a consequence of the search. stopwatch and Runnymede believe that the scrapping of these categories will make it impossible to measure repeat stops and harassment, misuse of force and the effectiveness and fairness of stop and search procedure. in addition, the government included in the first draft of its proposals that ethnic profiling should be introduced into section 60 stop and searches, which allow the police to stop and search someone without reasonable grounds for suspecting them of a crime. this decision by the government appeared to ignore the massively negative impact similar policies had on race relations in the 1980s. Following efforts from stopwatch and others, this particular proposal was fortunately retracted, though changes to stop and search forms were retained in the re-draft of the guidance. to draw attention to these concerns, stopwatch and Runnymede worked with a number of MPs including David Lammy, Chuka ummuna from the Labour Party, and also Conservative MP Richard Fuller, who tabled a westminster Hall debate on the issue. the minister with responsibility for the changes, nick Herbert MP, later faced tough questions
Photo: nina Kelly
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Theresa May Mp addresses the all party parliamentary Groups on Equality and Race and Community
on the changes from the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Race and Community in a meeting held in the House of Commons in January, which was organised by Runnymede.
At the start of 2010 Runnymede research found that 60 per cent of black and Asian people have no savings at all, a statistic that has since been repeated in several westminster debates. so Runnymede was disappointed that the government decided to scrap the Child trust Fund and savings Gateway, two policies which successfully incentivised saving in the uK. we outlined our concerns in a response to the savings Accounts and Health in Pregnancy Grant Bill, which effectively discontinued the policies. in addition, Labour MP Kate Green drew attention to Runnymede’s findings on savings in the House of Commons debate on the bill, saying that the fact that twice as many black and Asian people have no savings compared to white people should “concern us greatly”. Green also tabled an Early Day Motion citing Runnymede’s findings last summer.
organised two meetings for the group since October, including the previously mentioned question and answer session with nick Herbert MP, and a session with equalities minister and home secretary theresa May. the meeting with theresa May was held jointly with the APPG on Equalities and focused on May’s duties as equalities minister. During the session, MPs David Lammy (Labour) and Richard Fuller (Conservative) asked questions on criminal justice. Other topics raised included issues affecting Gypsy and traveller communities, the Equality Act and mental health services. it is worth highlighting, however, that despite questioning from attendees on the issue, May tended not to focus on race equality issues unless pushed, speaking instead on other equality strands such as gender.
working with Labour MP David Lammy, Runnymede helped to reveal that only one British black Caribbean student was admitted to the university of Oxford in 2009. the information, gained through a Freedom of information request, also highlighted that Oxford’s Merton College has not admitted a single black student for five years. these shocking statistics generated a great deal of press and publicity, and in part resulted in the higher education minister David willetts stating that increasing access to university is “not just about social class”, adding that in future universities will be judged on whether they can provide more opportunities for ethnic minorities and other marginalised groups.
parliamentary group on race
Runnymede acts as secretariat to the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Race and Community, and has You can listen to the Q&A session with Theresa May on the Runnymede website: http://bit.ly/appgaudio
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Photo: nina Kelly
a VIEW FROM... CAnADA
Sarah Sternberg reports on some innovative migrant integration schemes, gathered together as part of toronto-based Cities of Migration’s Good ideas hub. so, what can we learn from Canada?
there were nearly 250,000 migrants to Canada in 2008 according to Citizenship and immigration Canada. Figures from the 2006 census showed that Canada’s immigrant population reached its highest level in 75 years, with foreign-born individuals representing 19.8 per cent of the population, a proportion second only to Australia. Canada’s large migrant population represents more than 200 countries globally, but of more recent arrivals (between 2001 and 2006), more than half came from Asia and the Middle East. this represents a change in migration to Canada, which previously saw the majority of its immigrants coming from Europe. in particular, the last decade has seen an increase in immigrants arriving from China, india, the Philippines, and Pakistan, as well as from Eastern European countries, such as Romania and Russia. such changes in migration patterns and the diversity of immigrant communities present challenges for Canadian integration policy. Here, we survey four key examples of Canadian innovations to improve the lives of immigrants, as collected by the Cities of Migration project as part of its online hub if good ideas. For new immigrants, unfamiliarity with a new economy and financial system can prove particularly disorienting. to ease the process of financial adjustment, the Bank of Montreal has launched a package targeted towards new migrants: the newcomers to Canada programme. the programme allows migrants to quickly acclimatise to the Canadian banking system, and offers customers a credit card, which is a significant benefit for new migrants, who are often setback by a lack of credit history. But more than this, the programme is innovative in its carefully crafted, tailored support to migrants’ needs. staff are happy to field questions on how to obtain health cards, social insurance numbers, neighbourhoods and schools, and the service is offered in multiple languages at the bank’s branches. indeed, something as simple as offering a service in multiple languages can have a real and valuable impact for migrant communities. the importance of overcoming language barriers was recognised by the Canada Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in 2008, when Canadian cultural icon and television classic Hockey night in Canada was broadcast in the official Canadian languages of French and English, and for the very first time, in Punjabi. initial responses from the community were very positive, to the extent that the piloted show has continued as a regular feature on Canadian television. Following its success, plans are already in the pipeline for national Basketball Association (nBA) games to be broadcast in Punjabi, and for Hockey night to also be broadcast in Mandarin. By broadcasting a popular show in Punjabi, CBC has helped bring inter-generational families together to watch the game in a language that is understood by older migrant grandparents and their children alike, as well as making the show accessible to a wider audience. similarly, accessibility was a central concern for Canadian health providers and AMssA (Affiliation of Multicultural societies and service Agencies of BC), who started the Diversity Health Fair in 2005. the initiative followed the publication of statistics suggesting that migrant populations were having trouble identifying and accessing preventative healthcare, despite Canada’s universal and free healthcare system. this problem of access, attributed in part to language barriers and a lack of information targeted towards migrants, is tackled head-on by the Diversity Health Fair. this free community event brings together representatives and volunteers from ethnic minority communities across Vancouver, using interactive health screenings and displays, and providing information in at least two of the fair’s eight selected languages. the event has grown from strength to strength, and has replicated its successes in six other locations across British Columbia. Other innovations directed towards immigrant communities emphasise not what Canada can do for migrants, but what migrants can do for Canada. the Board of trade of Metropolitan Montreal recognised the rich array of expertise and skills that those coming to Canada possess, and sought to capitalise on these to enhance Canadian businesses. Of Quebec’s more than 45,000 migrants, more than 25,000 are between the ages of 25 and 40 and have the equivalent of (or greater than) a college education (equal to a bachelor’s university degree in the uK). However, many migrants lack the resources or networks to access appropriate employment. through the world on Our Doorstep programme, businesses seeking highly talented and qualified applicants are introduced to potential candidates from migrant and ethnic minority background, whom they may not come across through their usual recruiting networks. the programme also offers migrants the chance to gain experience in vocations with which they are unfamiliar, and to start to build a network of professional contacts, through short-term internships. the need to match up skilled migrants and employers has been recognised in other parts of Canada too, with Guelph, Ontario launching a conference to foster such relationships. while these inventive ideas address very different issues affecting established and new migrant populations in Canada, they have the common aims of enhancing integration into mainstream Canadian culture for new and settled migrant communities.
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Facing the lens at whiteness
The History of White people
by nell irvin Painter, w. w. norton & Co, 2010 Book review by nicola Rollock
BOOKS & FILMS
There is seemingly endless preoccupation, and certainly much of it justified in the context of equality, with the identities and experiences of minoritised communities. Yet holding up the mirror to the concept of white identity and white experiences is not familiar terrain, and is entirely missing from political discourse. But these are precisely the types of issues that African American historian Nell Irvin Painter explores in The History of White People. Painter begins her examination in “antiquity”, drawing on the terrain of Greek literature that she positions as a mix of both myth and reality. She demonstrates how people’s skin colour once carried no useful meaning. Other markers, such as where they lived or their group or tribal habits served as the means of distinguishing one group of people from the next.
There are perhaps two key themes that stand out for me in this book. The first relates to the reminder by the author of a slave trade involving (certain) white populations as slaves long before the commonly referenced Transatlantic Slave Trade beginning in the 16th century. Venice’s role as a central trading gateway, processing and selling sugar produced in its colonies in Crete and Cyprus, is fascinating. The second relates to the notion of what Painter describes as “degenerate families”. These are impoverished white families, living on the outskirts of mainstream society both literally and morally in terms of perceptions about their lifestyles as characterised by an overindulgence in sex, criminality and illiteracy. Mainstream white society’s response to such immoral degeneracy, often grounded in wellmeaning Christianity, was to explore possible “solutions”, including the segregation and sterilisation of these supposedly errant white groups. While we might respond aghast to such ideas, the similarities to current discourse about the white working class as
deficient, state-dependent and unrespectable, cannot be overlooked. Certainly bearing in mind its level of detail and ambition, this book would have benefited from more visual aids, in terms of explanatory maps and diagrams, to complement the text more fully. Nonetheless, Painter has produced a useful and insightful book that is of particular relevance to scholars and students of history, sociology and race studies.
Disengaged and uninterested?
by Justin Gest, Hurst & Co, 2010 Book review by Hannah Cooper
JUSTIN GEST’S FIRST BOOK DESCRIBES itself as a study of democracy that explores the differences between those who “engage with the political system”, and “those who reject it”. Gest’s interview-based study of Muslim communities in London and Madrid focuses on the identities of two particular ethnic groups, British Bangladeshis and Spanish Moroccans, and their ’apartness’ from the societies in which they live. Gest’s principal premise is that the growing community of Muslims withdrawn from political life poses the greatest concern to liberal democracies. From the outset, his argument emphasises a lack of engagement among citizens rather than questioning the attempts (or lack thereof) of governments to reach out to these minority communities. While Gest recognises the problems of a
government withdrawn from its people, the focus is on the alienation of, in this case, young Muslims, from “the structures of democratic activism”, or civil society. Yet, Gest does little to deconstruct or analyse what exactly he means by such a ‘civil society’. However, his departure from the predominant institutionalist discourse is useful. The study also gives us some useful insights into the idea of living in a country (and, indeed, being born into a country: most of the case studies are the children of migrants or have been living for several generations in Western Europe) yet feeling a minimal, or at least conflicting, sense of belonging. He points to the idea of active apartism, for instance, when people encourage others not to vote. He also looks at how wealthier individuals can feel just as ‘apart’ from their political system as those from poorer backgrounds, due to a feeling of political disenchantment. However, he fails to lead on from this point and indicate other reasons for disengagement, skimming over issues such as race.
In terms of the ongoing debate on British citizenship, the book is an important addition. It seems laughable, for instance, that the government still insists on applying a ‘citizenship test’ to incoming migrants when so many current citizens are disengaged from the values and ideas that this test represents. However the book does too little to explore the idea that perhaps this test indicates a government disengaged from its people, rather than vice versa.
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BOOKS & FILMS
Education on society’s margins
“FOR MY PEOPLE, THE HOLOCAUST is not yet over,” declares Hancock in one of the most powerful essays of this collection. Over the course of the 17 essays, written over several decades, this sense of urgency forms a leitmotif. Hancock’s essays touch on topics ranging from the ancient history of the Roma, the exodus from Northern India 1,000 years ago, to the intensely personal history of his own family dating back to the 18th century. His tone is discursive and digressions can be wide ranging but again and again he returns to these challenges and his thoughts on how they can be met. Often these essays do not demonstrate a strictly defined analytic focus; rather they progress organically, with an emphasis on narrative and exposition of even tangential points. In one, for instance, an essay ostensibly on the desire for education among contemporary Roma in the US, is primarily taken up with an extended narration of the history of attempts to Responses to the Porrajmos. The essay is an impassioned plea for the inclusion of the Roma into the discourse of the Holocaust. Hancock lists the 16 objections to the inclusion of the Roma within the scope of the Holocaust’s victims (Porrajmos - the Devouring - being his preferred term, equivalent to the term Shoah, which many Jews use instead of Holocaust). These include “The denial of the right to live is what singles out the fate of the Jews from all other victims” and “No other group was viewed with such disgust and contempt...” each of which he systematically demolishes. He then elaborates the reactions he and others have received when claiming equal recognition for the Porrajmos as is ascribed to the Shoah: abuse, blanket denial and even censorship. Discussion of genocide will always be emotionally laden, but one cannot help but feel that this is exacerbated when the group demanding recognition is one that has been considered beyond the pale of society for so
Danger! Educated Gypsy
selected essays by ian Hancock Edited by Dileep Karanath, univserity of Hertfordshire Press, 2010 Book review by Kamaljeet Gill
Every measure used by the nazis against Roma has since been at least suggested by European nations
educate Roma in the US and Europe and their historical aversion to such interventions, dating back to the 19th century. At the end of these discussions Hancock’s conclusions are rarely earth-shattering: it’s important that the Roma receive a good education; they should develop their own voice in academia and not allow the “Gadze” to speak for them; and depictions of the Roma in popular and academic literature have frequently been unfair. However the fact that it has taken so long for these points to be made, and required someone as prominent in their field as Ian Hancock, raises an interesting question. When discussing a group as marginal and externally demonised as the Roma, are even conventional conclusions potentially radical? A fairly neutral assertion such as, ‘a people should be able to represent themselves and not allow themselves to be purely the subject of outside depiction’, becomes considerably more significant when that group is one that has shunned and been shunned by mainstream society for so long. This point comes clearly to the fore in the essay long by so many. He cites one attendee of a conference who compared everything “the Jews have given” to society to the fact that Gypsies were “all thieves”. It is hard to think of another group about whom such a racist assertion could be so casually made in the same context. For Hancock this is more than a sentimental issue. Recognition of the Porrajmos is vital if the horrific persecution visited upon the Roma in the past is to be avoided in the future. Since the collapse of the Third Reich every measure employed by the Nazis against the Roma has been implemented or at least suggested by nations of Europe: sterilisation in Slovakia; recommendations for incineration by an Irish government official; and forced incarceration and deportation in Germany. In the years since the essay was first published in 1996 many more examples could be added to this list, though few more are necessary. Hancock’s essays offer a timely reminder of the specific ills vested upon a vulnerable people, but also of the persistent vulnerability of any people considered to be ‘other’.
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BOOKS & FILMS
new ways to tell an age-old story
A FIGURE STANDS BY A RIVERSIDE wearing a bright yellow jacket surrounded by white and grey. Life continues around him, but the figure does not move. He is part of the landscape, but wholly alien within it. This is the visual metaphor around which John Akomfrah weaves his remarkable depiction of the era of post-war mass migration to Britain, typified by the Caribbean migrants aboard the Empire Windrush. The Nine Muses was screened at the British Film Institute Festival in October 2010. It sits uncomfortably in the category of film; it could be more accurately described as a cinematic elegy. Using a combination of filmed shots, archival footage, music and poetry, Akomfrah’s piece does not allow a singular narrative. Employing the language of the creative arts, the film offers many stories on the themes of migration and belonging. Focusing primarily on the experiences assume, jobs are being advertised. He has dressed, we realise, for the job centre, rather than for a job. The people he passed on the street have not smiled back. No matter what costume he wears, we feel sure that he will struggle to find work. This is one of many desolate moments in Akomfrah’s film. Yet these are countered by moments of real warmth and, dare I say it, pride. The film takes the audience through the pains of ceaseless struggle, before abruptly taking flight in the opposite direction. It refuses to allow its migrant subjects victimhood, but takes every opportunity to empower. The use of poetry in the film is a striking example of such empowerment. Readings from T. S. Eliot, Emily Dickinson, James Joyce, Dylan Thomas, Nietzsche, Shakespeare, Sophocles and Homer provide almost the only source of spoken word. Akomfrah uses these canonic writings to highlight the universality
The Nine Muses
Directed by John Akomfrah, 2010 Film review by Lara Choksey
Afromkah’s film highlights the importance of telling stories that the dominant cultural narratives tend to leave out
of African, Asian and Caribbean migrants, Akomfrah uses archive material from the 1950s to the 1980s dug up from the National Archive in Birmingham. “A cold coming we had of it,” one of the unseen speakers narrates, and indeed the images of bleak winter in a northern climate, punctuated by bright figures standing motionless, chill the viewer. In fog-covered London streets, spectral figures in bowler hats dodge cars and buses. The red flames and leaping sparks of an iron factory illuminate sweat-covered black and Asian workers. Post-war Britain in Akomfrah’s film is a space of contradictions. Colour combats colourlessness. Nationalism breeds alienation. The city is a heaving rubbish tip, filled with the rubble of urban reconstruction. The streets overflow with poverty, anger and sadness. A sequence from the 1950s that particularly stood out shows a smartly dressed black man walking along a row of terraced houses. We see him smile at the people he passes. He stops at a notice board on which, we can of migration experience; the extracts dilute the stark chill of alienation and struggle, as well as the warmth of belonging. Akomfrah’s film highlights the importance of telling stories that the dominant cultural narratives tend to leave out. The unspoken and unwritten is given a platform through abstract sounds and images, and rational understanding is passed over for sensory perception. It is, in this sense, a film of resistance. In another scene, while the cars pass, the figure, on the roadside, is still unmoving. This stillness could be seen as a refusal to move. The figure places his image on the singular path of history that seeks to pass him by. Yet, as John Akomfrah said himself, who can ignore a bright yellow jacket in the middle of all that snow? Akomfrah shows that there are spaces for these stories to be told, and for perceptions surrounding immigration to change. It is a case of finding the right language with which to speak.
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A reader writes...
Baroness Janet whitaker, regular reader of the Runnymede Bulletin, writes in response to Amanda Rice’s piece on diversity the media (RB Summer 2010/362).
are forecast that would take away Local Authorities’ obligations to assess the housing needs of this most disadvantaged community and provide enough authorised sites. People often airbrush out Gypsies and Travellers when talking about race relations and community cohesion and I think it would have been helpful if Amanda had included some mention of enabling better understanding of this minority group within the responsibility of public service broadcasters “to reflect the complexity of modern society”, and made specific reference also to Gypsies and Travellers when “taking care to avoid the stereotypes of old”. When we consider Rice’s important point that “the industry undoubtedly values diversity as a bringer of great talent,” we could perhaps also be reminded of the other purpose, closer to the Reithian original purpose: to inform, to educate and to entertain. This should
stimulate better appreciation of the value of our minority cultures and the need to put an end to the blatant prejudice that deprives people of secure homes and makes children drop out of school as a result of bullying. I would hope to hear what joint programmes with the Gypsy and Traveller communities the BBC and other media can embark on. Yours sincerely, Baroness Janet Whitaker Vice-Chair All Party Parliamentary Group on Gypsies and Travellers Editor - Watch out for our Spring 2011 issue, out in April, which takes the theme of ‘the arts’ and will include comment from the Traveller community on Channel 4’s documentary series My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding
Dear Runnymede, First, may I congratulate you on the excellent summer issue of the Runnymede Bulletin. It provided a really useful analysis of current issues. I think it was Amanda Rice who came to talk on behalf of the BBC to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Gypsies and Travellers, some time ago. We expressed our disappointment that so little was done by the broadcast media to counter the damaging and inaccurate stereotypes of Gypsies and Travellers in this country. This is all the more worrying now that new legal measures
Books received spring 2010 - winter 2011
We are unable to review every book sent to us, though many of them are worth a read. We would like to mention the following, which may be of interest to our readers.
- Asylum, Migration and Community by Maggie O’Neill, The Policy Press, 2010, ISBN 978-184742-222-4. - Critical Race Theory Matters: Education and Ideology by Margaret M. Zamudio, Caskey Russell, Francisco A. Rios and Jacqueline L Bridgeman, Routledge, 2011, ISBN 978-0-41599674-7. - Educational Equality by Harry Brighouse, Kenneth R. Howe and James Tooley, edited by Graham Haydon, Continuum Books, 2010, ISBN 978-144118-483-2. - Ethnicity and Crime: A Reader by Basia Spalek, McGraw-Hill, 2008, ISBN 978-033522-379-4. - Identity and Participation in Culturally Diverse Societies: A Multidisciplinary Perspective edited by Assaad E. Azzi, Xenia Chryssochoou, Bert Klandermans and Bernd Simon, Wiley-Blackwell, 2011, ISBN 978-140519-947-6. - Identity, Politics and Public Policy by Rick Muir and Margaret Wetherall, ippr, 2010.
- The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity by Benjamin Isaac, Princeton University Press, 2006, ISBN 9878-0-691-12598-5. - The Iraq Papers edited by John Ehrenberg, J. Patrice McSherry, José Ramón Sánchez and Caroleen Marji Sayej, Oxford University Press, 2010, ISBN 978-0-19-539859-5. - Race and Ethnicity in a Welfare Society by Charlotte Williams and Mark R.D. Johnson, Open University Press, 2010, ISBN 978-033522-531-6. - Race and Ethnicity in the 21st Century, edited by Alice Bloch and John Solomos, Palgrave Macmillan, 2009, ISBN 978-0-23000-779-6. - Race, Sport and Politics: The Sporting Black Diaspora by Ben Carrington, SAGE, 2010, ISBN 978-1-41290-103-1. Teachers and Human Rights Education by Audrey Osler and Hugh Starkey, Trentham Books, 2010, ISBN 978-1-85856-384-8. - The Ashgate Research Companion to Multiculturalism edited by Duncan Iveson, Ashgate, 2010, IBSN 978-0-75467-136-7. - The Future of Islam by John L. Esposito, Oxford University Press, 2010, ISBN 978-019516-521-0. - The Future of Money: From Financial Crisis to Public Resource by Mary Mellor, Pluto
Press, 2010, ISBN 978-0-74532 994 9. - The Political Representation of Immigrants and Minorities: Voters, Parties and Parliaments in Liberal Democracies edited by Karen Bird, Thomas Saalfeld and Andreas M Wüst, Routledge, 2010, ISBN 978-0-41549-272-0. - The SAGE Handbook of Islamic Studies edited by Akbar S Ahmed and Tamara Sonn, SAGE, 2010, ISBN 978-0-76194-325-9. - The SAGE Handbook of Philosophy of Education edited by Richard Bailey, Robin Barrow, David Carr and Christine McCarthy, SAGE, 2010, ISBN 978-1-84787-467-2. - The SAGE Handbook of Race and Ethnic Studies edited by Patricia Hill Collins and John Solomos, SAGE Publications, 2010, ISBN 978-0-76194-220-7. - Thinking Through Islamophobia: Global Perspectives edited by S. Sayyid and AbdoolKarim Vakil, 2010, ISBN 978-85065990-7. - Unequal Britain: Equalities in Britain Since 1945 edited by Pat Thane, Continuum Books, 2010, ISBN 978-1-84706-298-7. - Who Needs Migrant Workers? Labour Shortages, Immigration, and Public Policy edited by Martin Ruhs and Bridget Anderson, 2010, ISBN 978-0-19958-059-0.
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Runnymede director Rob Berkeley sees opportunities, as well as dangers, in the Big society agenda
Double the work with half the support
t is a testament to the speed and depth of government reforms that most organisations we work with are only now coming to terms their massive impact. More than £83 billion is to be cut from public spending during the course of one parliament. it is only now as the nHs, local authorities, charitable trusts, and quangos let voluntary sector organisations know about what budgets are available that the penny drops. Or does not, as many are discovering. i recently attended a meeting of the London Minority Ethnic Elders Forum where local and national politicians sought to defend the cuts that are being made. the organisations represented at the meeting reported that services to support the most vulnerable were being put at risk.
to be made’; ‘central government is imposing the cuts’; ‘local authorities have made poor decisions’; ‘Labour profligacy’; ‘Conservative ideology’; ‘Lib Dem sell out’ etc. the audience watched, dumbfounded. the political debate failed to explain to them why their precious luncheon club has to close, or why the time and value that they offer as volunteers has now somehow become worthless, or why they are now being asked to defend services that they had worked so hard to build up over many years. Cuts on one front would be bad enough. instead, we have cuts on a number of fronts as the authors in this winter Edition of the Runnymede Bulletin have highlighted. As another example, take the support that is available to victims of racial harassment. sheffield, wycombe and Reading are the latest in a long line of Race Equality Councils to announce their demise over recent weeks. meanwhile Citizens Advice has annouced office closures in inner city
as government neglects to fund any national race equality organisations. Racist harassment persists and, history tells us, will get worse in a period of austerity. nonetheless, it looks like the victims will be on their own. i, like many others, have been seeking to understand how to capitalise on the promising ideas in the Big society agenda that could support the rebuilding of a popular movement for race equality. i am convinced that there is a powerful opportunity to bolster our democracy, build connections between people, and put citizens at the heart of decision-making. However, David Cameron’s confused and confusing speech on multiculturalism and the depth and speed of the spending cuts have given me reason to pause. Like the City of Liverpool, the outgoing CEO of Community service Volunteers and many others, i’m beginning to wonder whether the Big society is a distraction, a pipe dream to quieten the progressives, while socially regressive cuts are made. As organisations (Runnymede included) struggle to make ends meet, and as demand for support increases and capacity dwindles, the chances of engaging people in any Big society activities are squandered. this is particularly true for those who are most vulnerable to the impact of the cuts. what was presented as ‘we’re all in this together’, increasingly feels like ‘every one for themselves’. As the penny drops and the spending cuts start to bite, we must redouble our efforts to fight against any increase in inequality, which would only widen the gaps in our society.
One group supporting Cypriot elders had recently been told that their funding would be cut by 100 per cent in six weeks’ time. they had planned for 20 per cent cuts, but nothing on this scale.
A group supporting Cypriot elders is to have its budget cut by 100 per cent in six weeks’ time
You could see the distress caused by the lack of time they had been given to even let their supporters and know about the situation. Or to direct their service users to alternative organisations, though these too are facing swingeing cuts. the politicians’ responses were predictable: ‘the cuts simply have areas and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is to close down its helpline and work with half the budget it received last year. Cuts to police budgets are likely to hit cities hardest, with an impact on frontline support for victims of crime, while national specialist voluntary sector organisations like the Monitoring Group are facing a squeeze
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