In this collection, edited by David Feldman and Ben Gidley, a series of short essays call for a re-focusing of our national debate and our national and local policy on integration, cohesion and extremism. The starting point is the principle that parliament has the opportunity and responsibility to take a lead in combating racism and religious intolerance. However, the editors and writers extend this principle to set a new agenda for cross-party parliamentary work to tackle intolerance.
The essays presented here arise from the presentations made at a symposium held at the House of Commons on 8 may 2013, hosted by the all-Party group against antisemitism and planned jointly by the Pears Institute for the study of antisemitism, based at Birkbeck, University of London, and by the Centre on migration Population and society (ComPas), University of Oxford. The aim was to reflect on the government’s integration strategy and its Prevent strategies and to do so in the light of both contemporary developments and recent scholarship.
In Ben Rogaly’s and Becky Taylor’s short essay, included in this volume, the stance of Finding common ground against disadvantage: Challenging the ethnicization of class (p.21-24) is being examined.
The two authors discuss how the current economic, financial and policy climate has expanded disadvantage in the UK creating greater precariousness at work and drastic cuts to welfare benefits and public services. The writers argue that for some analysts, the success of UKIP in council elections in spring 2013 was generated by this climate. Yet UKIP’s narrative does not encourage a united approach to tackling disadvantage. Rather it helps to reproduce a longer established public discourse of divide and rule; one that seeks to separate out ‘strivers’ from ‘skivers’ to justify cuts in bene ts, and immigrants and ethnic minorities from the so-called indigenous population in de ning who belongs to the UK’s constituent nations.
Their essay concludes by suggesting that first, political leaders and national media figures need to be more cautious about contributing, even inadvertently, to the stigmatisation of international migrants, both through what they say and where they say it; and second, that politicians should be bolder in articulating the structures which give rise to common experiences of inequality and disadvantage, rather than focussing on external markers of difference.
Read the report here.