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10.05.16

Public bodies should have duty to enforce ‘active integration’ – Trevor Phillips

Councils, schools and other public bodies should promote ‘active integration’, Trevor Phillips, former chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, has said in a new pamphlet accusing British society of counter-productive ‘squeamishness’ over discussing ethnic tensions.

In his pamphlet, Race and Faith: The Deafening Silence, published by Civitas, Phillips says liberal figures in the British media and political establishment have failed to admit that there are real differences between ethnic groups in their attitudes and life chances, and to ask “whether aspects of minority disadvantage may be self-inflicted”.

He suggests that existing equality duties on public bodies are augmented with a new duty to promote integration, including requiring local authorities to publish annual data on housing integration and requiring employers to ensure that employees speak English and socialise with colleagues of other races.

Phillips says: “In my view, squeamishness about addressing diversity and its discontents risks allowing our country to sleepwalk to a catastrophe that will set community against community, endorse sexist aggression, suppress freedom of expression, reverse hard-won civil liberties, and undermine the liberal democracy that has served this country so well for so long.”

He also recommends that state schools are required to give pupils “a real experience of living in a diverse society” to avoid the kind of allegations of extremism in schools seen in the Birmingham ‘Trojan Horse’ scandal, and that places of worship welcome non-believers as well as believers.

Anti-racism charity Hope Not Hate rejected Phillips' claims. A spokesperson said: "Attention does need to be paid to extremists on all sides, and also to the plight of the white working class in de-industrialised areas, who are often abandoned to the likes to UKIP. But the picture is by no means as grim as Phillips paints and his clumsy, top-down prescriptions seem out of touch with the reality we see on the ground."

(Image c. Dominic Lipinski from PA Wire)

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