A child playing in Manchester: ‘Confinement by monoculture is the enemy of aspiration.’ [Image: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images.]

A child playing in Manchester: ‘Confinement by monoculture is the enemy of aspiration.’ [Image: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images.]


Interesting discussion. I’d hope the entrenched left-right views suggested by Mr Behr can be overcome to find a useful way forward.

But, in the current political climate – well…

I have doubts.

I’d say a taste of something is better than starvation. And the effect of inaction is accelerated segregation and the dissolution of any sense that Britain is a shared national endeavour.

That prospect will be the focus of heated debate next week with the publication of a report by Dame Louise Casey, who was commissioned in 2015 to lead a review into “integration and opportunity in some of our most isolated communities.” Casey has worked in this field for governments of different stripes since the late 1990s, giving her ample opportunity to upset people across the spectrum. She is no mincer of words.

In a speech earlier this year, Casey warned that the review would demand “brave conversations” on a range of issues: the educational underperformance of white working-class children; misguided squeamishness around “causing offence” that inhibits efforts to support women and girls held back by “patriarchal and misogynistic attitudes”; the normalisation of Islamophobia; and social conditions that incubate jihadi and far-right fanaticism.

There will be something to ignite outrage wherever dry ideological tinder is stored.

On the left there will be sparks of fury when it is suggested that some communities nurture insular habits of self-segregation. Tricky cultural questions will be overlooked in the rush to locate social exclusion as a consequence of discrimination, inequality and austerity.

On the right the muscle memory of finger-wagging blame will kick in: open borders as the root of national decline; the lazy conflation of religious conservatism and terrorist sympathy; the demand that minorities demonstrate commitment to “British values”, which will be ill-defined and muddied with a presumption that civic virtue is the automatic inheritance of an indigenous culture to which less enlightened newcomers must swear fealty.

Those precooked positions will emerge as vituperative charges of racism and counter-charges of potty political correctness.

Source: Class, race, wealth: Britain is a nation blighted by divisions | Rafael Behr | Opinion | The Guardian

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