L’intégration des musulmans britanniques a échoué. C’est ce qu’affirme un récent sondage, qui a fait l’objet d’un documentaire diffusé à la télévision britannique et qui a aussitôt déclenché une polémique dans la presse.
Principal intervenant du documentaire, Trevor Phillips, ancien président de la commission Egalité et Droits humains (EHCR) au Royaume-Uni, commente les résultats de l’enquête dans The Times, les qualifiant de “frappants” :
“Cette enquête est troublante. Elle révèle quelque chose que l’on n’a pas reconnu jusque-là : l’apparition d’une nation dans la nation, avec sa propre géographie, ses propres valeurs et son propre avenir.”
Il contredit avec fermeté la conclusion du documentaire selon laquelle les musulmans sont mal intégrés et forment “une nation dans la nation”.
M. Versi dénonce aussi la méthodologie “biaisée” du sondage. Exemple : elle révèle que 34 % seulement des musulmans seraient prêts à dénoncer une personne qui a des liens avec le terrorisme en Syrie, sans préciser que dans le groupe de tous les Britanniques confondus, ce pourcentage est encore plus bas : 30 %.
En outre, il estime que l’enquête n’est pas représentative de la population musulmane britannique : “Elle a été menée dans des régions où les musulmans représentent plus de 20 % de la population. Or il se trouve qu’il s’agit des quartiers les plus démunis de Grande-Bretagne […], pauvres et conservateurs sur le plan religieux. Les résultats de l’enquête parlent pour ces endroits-là, mais pas pour les musulmans britanniques au niveau national.”
As a doctrine of religious belief, Islam has never held any terrors for me. I was born in London but grew up in a developing country, now called Guyana, where one in 10 people worshipped Allah — roughly twice the proportion in Britain today. To me, the Muslims were just boys with names like Mohammed and Ishmael; in most things that mattered — could they play cricket or do calculus, for example — they seemed no different from the rest of us.
Liberal opinion in Britain has, for more than two decades, maintained that most Muslims are just like everyone else, but with more modest dress sense and more luxuriant facial hair; any differences would fade with time and contact. Britain desperately wants to think of its Muslims as versions of the Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain, or the cheeky-chappie athlete Mo Farah. But thanks to the most detailed and comprehensive survey of British Muslim opinion yet conducted, we now know that just isn’t how it is.
The survey of British Muslim opinion — What British Muslims Really Think — will be published in full by Channel 4 later this week. I was asked to examine the results and interpret them. When I was chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, I played a principal role in the creation of UK laws against religious discrimination — and it was a report that I commissioned exactly 20 years ago that first introduced the term Islamophobia to Britain.
I thought this latest exercise would be intriguing. In fact, it has turned out to be astonishing. The data collected by the respected research firm ICM shows what the polling experts call “a chasm” opening between Muslims and non-Muslims on such fundamentals as marriage, relations between men and women, schooling, freedom of expression and even the validity of violence in defence of religion. And the chasm isn’t going to disappear any time soon; indeed, the gaps between Muslim and non-Muslim youngsters are nearly as large as those between their elders.
The good news is that the new survey tells us that the majority of British Muslims probably do identify with Nadiya and Mo — albeit with some worrying exceptions. What British Muslims Really Think reveals a Britain we normally don’t hear from. Too often, this section of society is spoken for by self-styled community leaders, or interpreted by academic experts. What’s different about this survey is that it reveals British Muslims speaking for themselves.
To start with, the research was conducted in the old-fashioned way — face to face. The pollster, ICM, was determined to avoid the failures associated with phone and internet polls that led to the political miscalculations in both last year’s general election and the Scottish referendum. It also wanted to avoid the perils of “code-switching”: the all-too-human minority impulse to fit in, to shape your response to meet the expectations of the majority population and to disguise the answer that you think will be too disturbing for people from a different culture to hear. The ICM methodology makes this probably the most revealing inquiry into Muslim opinion yet conducted in this country.
Its findings are striking. And they provide the sternest test yet for diverse Britain’s moral agenda: do we still believe in diversity — even when it collides head-on with our national commitment to equality, between men and women, gay and straight, believers and non-believers? For many years we’ve dodged the tough questions, so this research makes for troubling reading. What it reveals is the unacknowledged creation of a nation within the nation, with its own geography, its own values and its own very separate future.
Wives should always obey their husbands — 39% agree (strongly agree 15%, tend to agree 24%)
There are now nearly 3m Muslims living in Britain. Half of them were born abroad, and their numbers are being steadily reinforced by immigration from Africa, the Middle East, eastern Europe and the Far East, as well as the traditional flow from the Indian subcontinent. The best projections suggest that, by the middle of the century, the number of Muslims in Britain and elsewhere in Europe will at least double, given the youthfulness of the communities.
More than eight in 10 Muslims say that they are happy living here, and feel British. Their preoccupations aren’t that different from most people’s: family life, their children ’s future, economic security. But Muslims also prize the British way of life for a reason increasingly unimportant to non-Muslims: freedom to practise their religion any way they see fit. In the Indian subcontinent, Muslims are subject to Hindu persecution. In Nigeria, north Africa and the Middle East, the brutal Islamists of Boko Haram, Isis and al-Qaeda make the slightest deviation a potential suicide mission.
As a young stand-up comic, Aatif Nawaz, told me: “It’s a privilege to live in a country like the UK, which lets us practise our belief. I firmly take this as a privilege. We’re free to go to the mosque, we can pray, we can dress the way we want. We’ve got halal food pretty much everywhere in the UK now — what a time to be alive!”
But while Muslims clearly like Britain, many are not as enthusiastic about their non-Muslim compatriots. Levels of intermarriage are extremely low compared with other minorities: according to the ONS, fewer than one in 10 Muslim Britons of Pakistani or Bangladeshi heritage are in inter-ethnic relationships. (Whereas more than four in 10 African-Caribbeans are in a mixed relationship.) Even fewer relationships between Muslims and non-Muslims produce children — just 3% of Pakistani or Bangladeshi-heritage children live in mixed households. According to ICM, more than half mix with non-Muslims daily, probably at work or college — but 30% never translate that into a friendship that would take them into a non-Muslim’s house more than once a year. One in five never enter a non-Muslim home.
I have some sympathy for this apparent standoffishness. This isn’t always a deliberate policy of self-segregation. As a child, I had some friends whose homes were effectively barred to me — kids I’d played football with all day would be bustled inside at tea time with no invitation to cross the threshold. One of my sisters discovered that her “best” friend had somehow forgotten to invite her to her 17th birthday party. But the separation here isn’t just down to white bigotry. It’s also a consequence of the entrenched residential segregation of which I warned over a decade ago, when I spoke of Britain “sleepwalking to segregation”. Today, according to Policy Exchange’s David Goodhart, author of The British Dream, more than half of ethnic-minority children attend schools where white British children are in the minority.
The social costs are still to be reckoned. Anjum Anwar cuts an unlikely figure when we meet her in Blackburn Cathedral, in an elegant dark suit and close-fitting headscarf. But she is a key figure in the local effort to shed the town’s unenviable status as one of Britain’s most segregated towns. She told us that the Muslim population, now approaching 30%, barely mixed with whites.
“There are certain areas that are wholly Asian, others wholly white. So if you have a child who’s attending a school in an area that is predominantly Asian, where would that child meet children and people of other faiths? They’re restricted, aren’t they? So you have a child who goes to school from nine o’clock till about four o’clock, then he will go to mosque maybe, and then Monday to Friday he is in that area. So where would an Asian and a white child actually meet?”
It’s not as though we couldn’t have seen this coming. But we’ve repeatedly failed to spot the warning signs. Twenty years ago, when, as chair of the Runnymede Trust, I published the report titled Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All, we thought that the real risk of the arrival of new communities was discrimination against Muslims. Our 1996 survey of recent incidents showed that there was plenty of it around. But we got almost everything else wrong. We estimated that the Muslim population of the UK would be approaching 2m by 2020. We underestimated by nearly a million. We predicted that the most lethal threat to Muslims would come from racial attacks and social exclusion. We completely failed to foresee the urban conflicts of 2001 that ravaged our northern cities. And of course we didn’t dream of 9/11 and the atrocities in Madrid, Paris, Istanbul, Brussels and London.
For a long time, I too thought that Europe’s Muslims would become like previous waves of migrants, gradually abandoning their ancestral ways, wearing their religious and cultural baggage lightly, and gradually blending into Britain’s diverse identity landscape. I should have known better.
It is acceptable for a British Muslim to keep more than one wife — 31% agree (strongly agree 14%, tend to agree 16%)
Just months after I had taken over as head of the Commission for Racial Equality in 2003, I visited the town of Oldham, where some one in five of the population are British Muslims. Two years earlier the town had been torn apart by some of the worst race riots Britain had seen in my lifetime. An official government report had spoken of white and Asian communities living “parallel lives”. It couldn’t really be as bad as that, I thought. In fact, it was worse. Speaking to a hall of more than 200 students, one thing was immediately obvious: groups of white and Asian students sat in the same hall — but the groups didn’t mix. It was like looking at a living chess board. And to drive it home, one of the white students made no bones about what was going on. He told me, without rancour or aggression: “When we’re here it’s fine, we get on. But when we leave here on Friday, we won’t see them [Asians] until Monday.” No one dissented.
After the northern riots of 2001, wise heads, such as Professor Ted Cantle, who had written the “parallel lives” report, warned that we could not afford to allow things to drift. But not even Cantle — much less me — foresaw just how divisive the consequences of this kind of segregation would become. Today, we can see that on certain key issues Britain is nurturing communities with a complete set of alternative values. None is more alarming than attitudes towards women.
The contempt for white girls among some Muslim men has been highlighted by the recent scandals in Rotherham, Oxford, Rochdale and other towns. But this merely reflects a deeply ingrained sexism that runs through Britain’s Muslim communities.
Most people think that some Muslim men’s attitudes to women may be a little antediluvian. But it comes as a shock to hear a respected Asian head teacher, Noshaba Hussain, soberly recount the behaviour of small boys in her school — which they had surely picked up from the men in their families.
“The boys used to act as thought police. You know, they would go around and actually hit the girls on their heads if their heads weren’t covered. I even had one boy, one nine-year-old boy, say to me, ‘Why haven’t you covered your head? It is only slags who don’t cover their head.’ ”
Would you support or oppose there being areas of Britain in which Sharia law is introduced instead of British law? — 23% support (strongly support 7%, tend to support 17%)
The ICM survey provides a torrent of data that backs up the impression that this is a community whose idea of women’s equality lies eons away from the mainstream. Two out of five Muslims — men and women — say they believe that a woman should always obey her husband. Nusrat, a highly intelligent and scholarly student, Sudanese in origin, told me: “If the husband is saying ‘obey’ in the context of asking me to do things that are pleasing to Allah, then by all means, because ultimately my faith teaches me — and teaches many Muslims — that our duty is to Allah first.”
We didn’t get to discuss whether the injunction at sura 4:34 of the Koran to chastise your wife falls under this rubric. I have no doubt that many husbands will claim that it does. The bland Koranic platitude, in my view, hides a clear invitation to legitimise domestic violence.
One in three British Muslims supports the right of a man to have more than one wife, even though it is illegal in the UK. While the support for such a policy is strongest among older Muslims, they are nearly matched in their enthusiasm for polygamy by young Muslims aged 18 to 24. Such unions, of course, would be recognised by sharia law. Amra, a female sharia court judge, says: “In my experience, it’s not men who have demanded it; it’s women. I personally have met women who have said to me, ‘I do not want a full-time husband. I don’t want him under my feet.’ For a man it’s a huge responsibility. For a woman it’s a privilege. ”
The ever-pragmatic Nusrat chimed into our conversation with some advice for the aspirant bigamist: “You have to make sure that you are actually treating your wives in a fair way. I think even Islam says, that even within the Koran, if you have more than one wife, if you can’t do justice to them, don’t have them at all. So you have to actually make sure that you are doing justice by them.”
More than half of the sample reported that they believe that homosexuality should be illegal. Even more opposed gay marriage, and nearly half thought that it was unacceptable for a gay person to teach their children. A quarter supported the introduction of sharia law in parts of the UK — presumably those areas where they thought Muslims constitute a majority — instead of the common statute laid down by parliament. Allah’s law, apparently, need take no heed of democracy.
Homosexuality should be legal in Britain — 18% agree (strongly agree 8%, tend to agree 10%) and 52% disagree (strongly disagree 38%, tend to disagree 14%)
It should come as no surprise that Muslim liberals are in despair. They knew all of this long ago. And unlike the political elite and the liberal media, they recognise that British Muslim opinion is hardening against them. The journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, who has had to seek police protection because of her liberal views, argues that the optimistic belief that time and social contact will naturally lead to the integration of Muslims is mistaken: “You know, we [liberal Muslims] are a dying breed — in 10 years there will be very few of us left unless something really important is done.”
The results of the Channel 4 survey are hard to argue with. While the majority of Muslims are keen on Britain, a significant minority really would prefer to live their own lives further away from the rest of us. Non-Muslims who live and work in areas with a large Muslim presence have been uneasily aware of the emerging differences for a long time, but many are too worried about being tagged as Islamophobes to raise the debate.
Many people, however, are just unaware. Not long ago, I had an exchange with a leading newspaper columnist who airily assured me that he had many Muslim friends, and that they were integrating just as his Irish Catholic forebears did a couple of generations ago. He could not accept that his own circle of acquaintances — probably doctors, lawyers, journalists — might not be typical of the British Muslim experience.
The problem with Britain’s liberal white elite is twofold. First, they find it hard to grasp that people of colour may not want to reveal their true selves to people who do not share their backgrounds. The fact is that most people of colour are raised to expect that white folks will let them down. And to be frank, most black and Asian Britons will tell you that their expectations are seldom confounded.
Second, Britain’s increasingly deracinated opinion-forming classes are puzzled by the fierce attachment to religion among ethnic minorities. The number of places of worship attended mostly by Muslims and black evangelicals is rising. The fact that Britain’s ethnic minorities are intensely committed to their religious beliefs and practices seems baffling to secular liberals — indeed, somewhat threatening. Some of my journalist friends imagine that, with time, the Muslims will grow out of it. They won’t.
“What I eat is according to my sharia, how I pray is according to my sharia, how I dress is according to my sharia, how I treat the stranger and family members is according to sharia,” says Anjum Anwar. “I think people misunderstand the concept of sharia law. Their only thinking is, uh-oh, once you’ve got the sharia you’ll be chopping heads off and hands off. That is not the case.”
She’s saying to faithless modern hipsters that she isn’t going to give it up. Anwar spends her time actively working to promote integration. But for her that doesn’t mean adoption of non-Muslim ways. The chasm discovered by ICM isn’t going to close any time soon.
Little of this will surprise Britain’s Muslims, even if many would rather it were not said in public. In our northern cities, many of the non-Muslims I’ve met will also recognise the picture we are painting. It won’t be easy to change. Britain’s Muslims are a diverse group; but, rich or poor, British-born or not, most have a deep commitment to their faith. Many are distressed by what they see as white Britain’s increasing secularism, low morals and loss of confidence in many of its own values. Those who told ICM’s researchers that they would prefer to live a more separate life in Britain are sending a clear signal: they really don’t want to adopt much of our decadent way of life.
Oddly, the biggest obstacles we now face in addressing the growth of this nation-within-a-nation are not created by British Muslims themselves. Many of our (distinctly un-diverse) elite political and media classes simply refuse to acknowledge the truth. Any undesirable behaviours are attributed to poverty and alienation. Backing for violent extremism must be the fault of the Americans. Oppression of women is a cultural trait that will fade with time, nothing to do with the true face of Islam.
Tell me whether you sympathise with or condemn people who take part in stoning those who commit adultery — 79% condemn (completely condemn 66%, condemn to some extent 13%) and 5% sympathise (completely sympathise 2%, tend to sympathise 3%)
Even when confronted with the growing pile of evidence to the contrary, and the angst of the liberal minority of British Muslims, clever, important people still cling to the patronising certainty that British Muslims will, over time, come to see that “our” ways are better. And since there are so few Muslims in the corridors of power, they seldom run into anyone who can show them the reality. Those who do want to make a difference are often consumed by fear that they will be seen as prejudiced. So while our liberal elite wrings its hands in anguish and makes school children celebrate Eid, Diwali, Hanukkah — and Easter — hundreds of young people are being seduced to join Islamist fanatics abroad, thousands of young girls are shipped off to have their genitals mutilated, and many more are pressured into marriages they do not want.
I passionately believe that our society is one of the most open and adaptable on Earth. For centuries we have managed to absorb people of many different backgrounds; Britain has changed them and they have changed us, both almost always for the better. But the integration of Muslims will probably be the hardest task we’ve ever faced. It will mean abandoning the milk-and-water multiculturalism still so beloved of many, and adopting a far more muscular approach to integration.
We’ve been here before. When I was head of the equalities commission, it never occurred to me that we should not take action where people claimed their cultural sensitivities required them to discriminate — for example, the Islington registrar who refused to sanction civil partnerships, or the Bristol relationship counsellor sacked for refusing to give advice to gay couples. Both these individuals were black, like me, and cited their profoundly held religious beliefs in defence of their actions. I understood their background, as I share much of it. But my respect for their sincerity did not for a second deter me from opposing what they did.
While many of us are comfortable condemning less numerous and less powerful minorities, we are reluctant to speak clearly when it comes to Muslims. I know that the muscular integration I want to see will be difficult to implement.
It will mean halting the growth of sharia courts and placing them under regulation, even perhaps insisting that they sit in public. It will mean ensuring that, whatever the composition of a school, its governance never falls into the hands of a single-minority group, as in the “Trojan horse” episode in Birmingham.
It will also mean ensuring mosques that receive a steady flow of funds from foreign governments such as Saudi Arabia, however disguised, are forced to reduce their dependency on Wahhabi patronage. And it will mean an end to the silence-for-votes understanding between local politicians and Muslim leaders — the sort of Pontius Pilate deal that had such catastrophic outcomes in Rotherham and Rochdale.
If we really want to create a society in which Muslims and non-Muslims share the burdens and benefits of our democracy, we have a lot of work to do. And that work has to begin by listening to, and hearing, what British Muslims really think, working out how to support them where possible — and deciding how to confront their thinking where it collides with our fundamental values.
- ICM Unlimited interviewed a random sample of 1,081 adults aged 18+ who self-identified as belonging to the Muslim faith. Interviews were carried out face to face, in the home, in geographical areas in which the minimum proportion of Muslims was confirmed by census to be 20%. Interviews took place between April 25 and May 31, 2015, and the data has been weighted to be representative of all Muslims by age, gender, work status and region. A nationally representative control sample of 1,008 adults aged 18+ was also conducted, by telephone, on June 5-7, 2015. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults.
What British Muslims Really Think is on Channel 4 at 10pm on Wednesday
Voir de plus:
Not A River of Blood, But A Tide of Hope
Managed Immigration, Active Integration
Speech by Trevor Phillips, Birmingham, April 20 2008
« A week or two ago, I fell into conversation……the black man will have the whip hand over the white man…..How dare I say such a horrible thing…..I do not have the right not to do so. » – Enoch Powell, Birmingham, April 20 1968.
The Legacy of April 20 1968
40 years ago, Enoch Powell’s speech in this hotel, made to a handful of activists, electrified Britain.
It elated some. It terrorised others.
Its timing was a tragedy for our nation.
Historically we are diverse, open-minded, and anti-racist. But every now and again we forget our true character. And April 20 1968 was the start of a forty year aberration for which we have since paid dearly.
Just at the moment when we were about to pass what were then the most progressive race relations laws in Europe we were plunged into a forty-year bout of racial introspection.
In the year that four young British musicians captivated the planet with their charm, confidence and their talent, our politicians were forced to wrestle with the fears of an anxious majority convinced that their rights were about to be usurped by a greedy minority.
And in the past forty years, when we could justifiably have been boasting of our success in creating a multicultural, multiethnic society, we found ourselves mired in a ghastly stand-off about race relations which has spawned unnecessary division and inequality.
Yet in spite of all this, today, I believe that Britain remains, at heart, that open-minded, anti-racist nation. And that this 20th of April offers us a chance to throw off the shadow of the past forty years.
I want to tell you why I believe that right now, the urgency of change demands a new social contract in which we the British people reap the benefits of managed migration by pursuing a positive policy of active integration.
In my lifetime there has never been a more vital moment for such a profound shift in thinking. There are no rivers of blood in prospect. Rather there is today a tide of hope that is carrying 200 million and more migrants across the globe in search of a better life. Some are British. Many are highly-skilled and qualified.
They look in our direction, but they have choices. Like every other prosperous developed nation we know that if we don’t get our share of this wave of talent we risk becoming an economic backwater.
But we also know that with the benefits of migration come costs.
So my speech today is about how, we maximise the benefits and minimise the costs. If we fail, our children and our grandchildren won’t be arguing about how many immigrants we can take into Britain; they’ll be wondering how they can get a work permit to the dominant economies of China, India and Brazil.
Powell and Powellism
During the past four decades it has become common to suggest that the views in that speech on April 20 1968 were those of just one man. Powell himself suggested that he was the only public figure prepared to « speak for England ».
But the truth is, these sentiments were not unique to Powell. What he said reflected one aspect of an underlying unease about race amongst Britons of all kinds. That didn’t make him right, but it would be wrong not to acknowledge that Powell’s public rhetoric reflected the private thoughts of many white Britons.
This unease was felt very differently by black families like my own. And felt to the extent that the year before, my own parents decided that the friendly shore to which they had sailed in 1960 had turned into a hostile frontier.
My family had arrived with the brightest of hopes. They went to work with gusto in the Post office, in North London sweatshops and the NHS. I don’t think that my parents quite expected me to arrive, I was their seventh child; but like most immigrants they made the best of a bad break. They were used to bad breaks. For many who came much of what they found in the promised land was not streets paved with gold, but drudgery, disappointment, and discrimination.
By the mid nineteen sixties, my mother, who had coped with years of Rachman style landlords, and dreary shift work decided she’d had enough. After all, she reasoned that if you found yourself at a party where you weren’t welcome you shouldn’t hang around.
In 1967 my family left for the United States. They sent me back to Guyana.
So on April 20th 1968, I, and most of my siblings had already departed for what seemed like less menacing territory. But when we read about Mr Powell’s speech, we knew exactly what was happening.
The Britain of 1968 was a very different place. This was a Britain which had recently emerged from National Service and rationing. The nation had just discovered colour TV and we were hiding behind the sofas from the Daleks the first time around.
It was a country in which fewer women worked, and where the Chief Prosecutor could ask the jury at the trial of the publishers of Lady Chatterley’s Lover « Is this a book you would wish your wife or your servants to read? »
Disabled, lesbian and gay people, to all intents and purposes, did not exist in polite society.
The sentiments in Powell’s speech had been muttered quietly in workplaces, painted surreptitiously on walls, blustered openly in pubs for years. They were daily translated into the language of the playground, that christened every black or brown-skinned child « coon-features » or « nig-nog » or « wogface ».
My brother was chased home by Teddy Boys. We learned quickly about the unspoken subtleties of racism. Some houses you just couldn’t go into, some kids just weren’t allowed to come to yours. My sister found the girl she thought was her best friend had thrown a birthday party and somehow forgotten to invite her.
Some of it wasn’t subtle at all. As a skinny, opinionated, possibly too-clever by half black kid, one of only half a dozen or so in my grammar school, I learnt the value of knuckledusters from my friend – let’s call him Winston – at the secondary modern across the way. You could borrow them for those days when you thought the bigger boys might corner you in the playground and you wouldn’t be able to talk your way out of trouble. I know that some people in this room are familiar with this scenario.
So even though I was thousands of miles away at the time, I understood the Britain into which this speech was launched only too well.
Much has been already been said this week about Enoch Powell’s words that day. But though the moment that took place here forty years ago mattered, I believe that what took place in the years afterwards mattered much more. Not because there were rivers of blood, or ever likely to be; but because the shockwave of fear that followed still reverberates through our society today.
As far as the facts are concerned, we know now that some of his forecasts were within hailing distance of reality. He suggested that there would be five to seven million Commonwealth immigrants in the UK by the year 2000; official figures say that there are today six million or so foreign-born residents in the UK.
But what was important in that speech was not the predictions but the principles it set out. In the years that followed others created a doctrine in his name that tried to build on and justify those principles. Today we would call that doctrine Powellism, and it is Powellism that I want to address rather than Powell himself.
At the heart of this doctrine are three key propositions.
First – racial integration is impossible. Powell called it « a dangerous delusion ». Powellism argued that people of different races and traditions cannot, by their very nature, ever enjoy good relations unless the majority race or tradition is numerically so dominant that the minority eventually gives up all aspects of its special identity. We would today call this assimilation.
In effect Powellites believed that we are all prisoners of our race, our heritage or our religious beliefs. And just as they lost sleep over interracial relationships, I guess we could see a parallel with people who are today consumed with fear at sharing the planet with lesbian or gay people.
The second article of the Powellite faith, was that every single immigrant , no matter what skills or resource they bring, is one too many and adds to social fragmentation. Now there’s no evidence or logic here, but neither is a feature of this particular doctrine. And the corollary is that if you can get rid of some – or all – immigrants by repatriation then you are on the way to creating a better society.
Third, if for some reason you are forced to accommodate different kinds of people in one society, then you must ensure, by any means necessary, an overwhelming cultural domination by the majority, so that all other traditions wither on the vine. This is socially engineered assimilation pure and simple, and it goes with repugnance for any law that protects the rights of minorities.
So how have these principles survived the past forty years?
Well we have certainly seen violent incidents involving different racial groups. Some have been monstrous. For example we will this week mark the fifteenth anniversary of the murder of Stephen Lawrence by racist thugs. But have we as a nation been consumed by racial war?
I don’t think so. Let me clear. I do not underestimate the significance of some of the events that have taken place. This issue of racial violence is not an abstraction for me. As a student leader and a journalist over the past thirty years I have had cause on three separate occasions to wonder if I had personally contributed, however indirectly, to the death of someone else by not taking the danger of racial conflict seriously enough.
The first occasion followed the death of a young student, Kevin Gately, from Warwick University, killed in an anti-racist demonstration at Red Lion Square in 1978. As the then President of the NUS I had given the instruction to mobilise students, and had consented to the arrangements for the demonstration. Should I have been more aware of the risks?
Second, In 1983, as a young television producer, I made a film about the Broadwater Estate in Tottenham. In it young black men we interviewed prophesied that there could be lethal racial violence at any time. Two years later, in October 1985, PC Keith Blakelock, the beat police officer for the road in which I myself lived in Haringey was hacked to death during a ferocious riot on that estate. Had it been irresponsible, as some in our company believed, to broadcast those interviews in ’83?
And also in 1985, David Hodge, a fellow journalist and good friend from my student days, was killed whilst covering the Brixton riots that year – riots which I too was reporting.
So I’ve had real reason to wonder whether I underestimated the significance of the racial conflict in Britain.
But the fact is that we know that almost all these disturbances were not about black against white.
Kevin Gately was a young white man, who died protesting against racism arm in arm with black and Asian students.
Keith Blakelock was the victim of an appalling crime that would repulse any decent person of any race – and did.
And David died because like the courageous journalist he was, he chose to cover the story from the no man’s land between two sides of a vicious conflict.
Even if I hadn’t had to reflect on it personally I think I would take the word of Mr Powell’s most famous protégé, that the racial rivers of blood never materialised.
Margaret Thatcher robustly refused to attribute the riots in 1981 and 1985 to a fundamental incompatibility between races. She instead cited economic causes – unemployment and urban decay. Indeed it was she who memorably said on the night of her 1987 election victory that her government’s first task would be to regenerate the inner cities.
Our true British instinct has been shown time and again in times of crisis – after the eighties disturbances, the Northern riots in 2001, after the 7/7 bombings, we chose not to isolate and attack the minority, but to respond with unity and compassion rather than conflict.
Yet the fear that followed Powellism still stalks Britain.
The gap between people’s real experience and their politically-inspired fears is illustrated in virtually every survey of opinion. Asked about their own experience British people always describe a country that is tranquil where people that they know get along with each other. Asked about Britain as a whole they describe a country awash with conflict and tension.
Yet the principles that underlie Powellism still govern political debate about immigration and race.
And the forty year shadow persists even though it has largely achieved the opposite of what the Powellites hoped.
To begin with, they wanted to make immigration the touchstone political issue. In fact, for four decades serious political debate about immigration has been suppressed in every part of the political spectrum with smears and name calling standing in for genuine debate.
On the right immigration has remained a taboo subject. Conservatives fear being associated with Powellism and condemned as racist. The right’s public justification for reticence is usually that political correctness has unfairly silenced them. Somewhat comically, this point of view has been widely and consistently peddled by writers and publications which hardly ever stop yelling about immigration, only pausing from time to time to complain that they are being gagged, before resuming a deafening roar of outrage.
But the left too has played its part in this deadly silence. Centre left politicians have, since the late 1960s persuaded themselves that immigration is an issue which favours the right. The left still fears that a free and open debate on these issues would lead to the release of a caged beast of an essentially reactionary public opinion.
So for forty years we have, by mutual consent, sustained a political silence on the one issue where British people most needed articulate political leadership.
But the shockwave of fear hasn’t just affected what politicians said. It also critically determined what they did. And that too has mostly been the opposite of what the Powellites hoped.
To start with by closing down debate about immigration, they allowed successive governments to avoid having much of a policy at all. In essence Powellism so discredited any talk of planning that we’ve limped along with an ad-hoc approach to immigration whose only consistent aspect has been its racial bias; a non-policy that may have led to Britain admitting more immigrants rather than fewer over this period.
Worse still, the Powellite attack on integration so scared lazy officialdom that they colluded with old-guard ethnic leaders to warp a progressive and very British recognition of diversity in the early nineteen eighties into a bureaucratic version of multiculturalism which today keeps many communities closed and separate. We know the result – people who want to scale the cultural walls that separate them, are blocked by institutions which insist on pigeonholing them by their race, colour and religion.
And in the end Powellism failed in its most important aim – to demonstrate the prophetic vision that ethnic diversity would lead to chaos and hatred. It just hasn’t happened.
This week’s survey from for the BBC shows that the perception of racial prejudice is down yet again with just 20% of British people admitting to feeling any prejudice.
According to the government’s citizenship survey in 2007, 81 per cent of people in England agreed that their local area is a place where people of different backgrounds get on well together. Of course this may well reflect the English propensity to get on with other people by not talking to them at all – but I’ll return to that later.
And though I am always cautious about interpreting the popularity of marriage as an indicator of goodwill, it must stand for something that rates of intermarriage in this country are a) rising and b) higher than anywhere else in Europe and of course the United States.
So why, given its impact, did Powellism fail so dismally?
I think there are three reasons.
First the doctrine utterly failed to understand the essential attitude of British people to difference. We are not racists. How could we be? We are an ancient multilingual state forged from at least four different ethnicities, with a people built on and used to intermarriage, compromise and negotiation.
Our defining monarch, Elizabeth 1 set out the doctrine of toleration, asserting according to Sir Francis Bacon that she would not open a window into men’s souls – that is to say that this is a nation which would not judge people according to their faith, as long as they followed the rule of law and observed the common good. This lies at the heart of the live and let live philosophy that makes cities like London and Birmingham vibrant, multicultural places.
And when we get it right, British tolerance isn’t some grim passive acceptance of difference. It is an active enjoyment of different food, music and ways of worship for example. And at its finest it is allied to a passion for justice that has become part of our culture, perhaps best summed up in the expression « standing up for the underdog ».
Our greatest playwright, William Shakespeare, wrote a famous speech which he put in the mouth of one of our sturdiest advocates of the British tradition of dissent, Sir Thomas More. More quells a London mob bent on violence against asylum seekers with these words:
« Would you be pleased
To find a nation of such barbarous temper
That breaking out in hideous violence
Would not afford you an abode on earth….
…what would you think
To be thus used? This is the strangers’ case,
And this your mountainish inhumanity »
I think the second reason for the Powellites’ failure is that they wanted to promote a British identity rooted in an Empire that by 1968 was already in rapid decline.
And finally, perhaps most important of all, the Powellites fatally confused race and immigration. We can see today why this is a mistake. In the last decade, when we have had higher net immigration than at any time in the past forty years, large numbers – over half a million between 2004 and 2006 of immigrants are white.
On the basis of Powellite doctrine we should welcome today’s immigrants, since they dilute even further the non-white presence here. A true Powellite should today be encouraging more, not less migration from eastern Europe. In fact, anti-immigrant groups still don’t quite know what to say about the Poles.
Because I am a pedant, and had the benefit of the sort of British colonial education that Mr Powell would have valued, I can’t resist pointing out that even the Latin reference that gave Powell’s original speech its name does not in reality point to discord.
The warning of the River Tiber foaming with much blood comes from the Cumaean Sybil, one of the prophetesses of Roman legend. Virgil says that she told Aeneas, the Trojan, not to go to Rome because there’d be trouble. In fact he ignored the warning, he went on to found the dynasty that built Rome – we remember Romulus and Remus – the centre of arguably the most successful multiethnic and multi-faith empire in the history of the world.
Perhaps what happened to the Sybil is a warning. She was granted eternal life by the God Apollo, but forgot to ask for an eternal body. So though she still had the gift of prophecy, she withered away until she was just a disembodied voice. Eventually she disappeared never to be heard from again. I think that’s food for thought for all aspiring prophets.
So in short, after forty years I think we can say with confidence that we don’t need to ask if Powellism was ever right. All we need to know is that it wrong now.
That story is over. Goodbye Alf Garnett.
Immigration Now : The New World
But that does not mean that the political challenge of immigration is over. On the contrary. We’ve only just begun to prepare the ground to debate the greatest challenge of our time.
I believe that there are two fundamental challenges facing western nations today. One is how we live with our planet. The other is how we live with each other. The second – in Sir Isaiah Berlin’s phrase – « living together graciously » – is in my view the more urgent.
If we cannot get along with our neighbours we have no hope of taking the concerted action we need to reverse climate change. There’s just no mileage in talking about car pools if you loathe your neighbours so much that you can’t bear to share a car ride with them.
So how should we approach this great challenge?
A New Social Contract: Managed immigration, Active Integration
Let me start with some straight views of my own.
I do not believe in an open door immigration policy. I support unreservedly, for example the government’s managed migration points system. I welcome how Liam Byrne is cutting through the paralysis of the last 40 years. However, though we might want to be more selective about who comes into Britain, managing immigration is not automatically the same as reducing numbers of immigrants.
Nor do I believe that good race relations has to be dependent on reducing migrant numbers. There is no evidence that reducing numbers has anything to do with better race relations. And the so-called commonsense view that « we can’t take any more » is daily refuted by the migrants who have added to the richness and prosperity of our society.
So I want to propose first that we simply abandon the unproven Powellite assertion that if we get immigration numbers down, we’ll have less trouble.
Instead I want to argue that our history shows that immigration and integration are reciprocal. That is to say, that if we needed, perhaps for economic reasons, to admit more immigrants we would have to work harder at integration; but equally, that if we are better at our integration, we can probably accommodate more immigrants.
And just as Powellism had its three central principles – assimilation, separation and domination – I want to propose three new principles for an integrated society, based on our Commission’s core values – equality, human rights and good relations.
But first, central to any approach to immigration today is an acceptance of reality, recognised even by Enoch Powell’s own heirs.
Last October here is what David Cameron had to say:
« The gaps in the labour market are very naturally being filled by migrant workers. That in itself is a good thing, not a bad thing. We should not try to unlock the potential of our own citizens by locking out the citizens of other countries… skilled foreign workers expand our economy and make us more competitive. »
Whatever we feel about immigrants, immigration is part of our future. The real question will be whether we can, as a modern economy, seize the restless tide of talent that is currently sweeping across the globe in search of a place to deploy its skills and its ambitions. So far we are lagging behind our competitors.
According to a World Bank study of 52 million migrants in 20 rich countries, one in three migrants worldwide has a university education. But while we cower in fear and fret about whether to admit clever foreigners from other nations – America, Australia and Canada are already sailing on that tide of talent.
Canada for example predicts that by 2011 all long term population growth will be due to immigration; and by 2021 every single extra worker in Canada will be an immigrant – already the case in the booming city of Toronto. The Canadians are making it easier, not harder for immigrants to become citizens so that they can compete with the pull of the US.
Yet our businesses are being asked to compete for talent against a background of politically inspired anti immigrant noise which risks discouraging the very people we want to coax here.
Curiously we ignore the fact that we have here in Britain probably the clearest example anywhere in the world of why any country with its act together will want to attract talented immigrants. And it’s an example that illustrates some of the principles by which we could marry a policy of managed migration with active integration and gain popular support for both.
Imagine a British business whose revenues have risen tenfold in the past fifteen years, making it the largest of its kind outside the USA. Consider a business whose exports are so lucrative that it has a presence in more than 200 countries. Think of a sector in which 62% of the key employees are immigrants, some here for the long term, some here just for a few years. And marvel that though the non-whites in this business were once the subject of vicious abuse, today, they are the idols of millions.
Beginning to get the picture?
Britain’s Premier league football is watched each week by half a billion people in over two hundred countries. It is the most successful sporting league outside America. Its revenues are touching two billion. Its foreign stars can earn in excess of in excess of 100,000 pounds every week – but their good fortune does not depress the wages of the home-grown talent.
We have an effective system of controlling entry; and none of the teams for which the foreigners play needs some kind of bureaucratic multiculturalism to effect their integration to their club. No-one has had to abandon their flair and brilliance in order to fit in. In fact the migrant players have for the most part played by the rules, learnt our habits, and I would say many have become better at their jobs for learning British ways.
Didier Drogba (my own team is Chelsea) has learnt that he should try not fall over when a defender breathes too heavily in his direction. Cristiano Ronaldo finally grasped that it wasn’t smart to get someone sent off. And far from displacing the best of our players these immigrants have lifted the standards and the earnings of the game. Today three out of Europe’s top four sides are English. Eight of the richest twenty clubs in the world play in the Premier League.
I’ll go further. These people don’t just take the money and run. The best of the foreign players set a wonderful example in their contribution to British life. Many do charitable work with young people.
And for those who worry that promoting the use of English is somehow an imposition on immigrants, I wish you could have seen, as I did, the recent pregame pep talk by William Gallas the French Arsenal captain, delivered in English and with the passion ironically that we usually associate with Henry V before Agincourt.
Foreign players like Eric Cantona stood together with Brits, in launching the campaign to kick racism out of football. A few years back a drive led by Thierry Henry and others to sell anti racist wrist bands resulted in a fund of a million pounds which we were able to give to local amateur sports clubs for activity directed at racial equality and integration.
One result of all this is that in spite of legitimate worries about the quality of the English team there is no real appetite for limits on the numbers of foreign players in British football. And no-one has seriously questioned the appointment of foreigners to manage our national side because they are foreign.We probably should have had Jose Mourinho but there you go.
I’m not naive. Football is a metaphor not a model. We are talking about a few hundred incredibly privileged men who are more likely to buy a bus for their children than ride in one. They aren’t jostling with us for space in the Tube and they won’t be standing in front of us at our GP’s surgery. Their children won’t be adding to the churn confronting many teachers in our inner city schools.
But the metaphor does suggest some lessons about immigration in the 21st century world that we would do well to heed.
First that the need of the market for skilled labour is more important than anxieties about cultural difference. No-one asks players where they come from; clubs and fans only ask what they bring. Our immigration laws have therefore made it relatively easy to bring in these talented people without too much trouble.
Second, the shared desire to win status and rewards means that players find ways of communicating and accepting that they need to make some compromises for the common good. Those that don’t accept that don’t stay long.
Third, the fact that we have foreign players in our game does not make our own home-grown heroes less bankable or less part of the game. And our country as a whole has benefited in a way that no-one could have imagined just twenty years ago.
Fourth none of this happens by accident. There has been control and regulation that governs who is admitted. We know what the facts about numbers of players are. Everyone plays to the same rule book; there is no special treatment for any cultural group.
And there has been a relentless effort by the authorities to put a stop to the kind of abusive and discriminatory treatment that used to be doled out to foreign and minority players – led by the way by one of our Commission’s forerunners, the CRE.
It hasn’t all been sweetness and light. We still don’t have very many minority authority figures in the game – managers or referees for example.
But it shows that we can manage this new world.
However we have urgently to get our house in order, because that world is changing by the day. We read anxiously about the millions poised to come to the UK. But we shouldn’t kid ourselves. We are not the automatic destination of choice for this wave of talent.
A study of Polish immigrants in Britain, conducted by Warsaw’s Centre for International Relations showed that we weren’t their first choice – a third, for example, sought jobs in Germany before turning to Britain.
And in case we ever become arrogant enough to believe that once people have tasted the delights of a British summer they’ll never return to their homelands, the same survey showed that though a quarter wanted to stay, 51% had no intention of remaining permanently in Britain. Their target would probably be to return home or to move on to richer pastures like the USA.
So in the coming years, the key question we will be asking ourselves is not how many of the wrong sort of immigrants we can afford; it will be how many of the right sort immigrants we can attract.
This wave of human talent carries huge benefits for us.
But it also carries some costs.
The Cost of Immigration
It may be true that as suggested by the recent report by the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Economic Affairs that each of us individually would be hard put to identify the addition to the Gross Domestic Product of our own households, made possible by recent migration.
But as much as I respect the economic expertise of their Lordships, I think we should also pay attention to the opinion of people who actually create wealth. Bill Gates, the boss of Microsoft, frustrated by what he sees as the restrictive immigration policies of the United States Congress, has decided to expand the company’s vital research and development operations not in the USA but across the border in immigration friendly Canada.
And what their Lordships didn’t do was to address what is nowadays called the counterfactual: what would life for our society as a whole be like without the immigrants?
In the real world we know some real people who would have their lives transformed and not for the better. Take three examples which apply to millions of British people.
To start with many families have benefited from the fact that they now have two salaries coming in – mostly because women have joined the workforce. But that was made possible for some only by of the availability of capable and qualified immigrant carers.
In the next twenty years our need for personal care for the elderly will double. Unless women are forced out of work, we know who will fill the void. Tens of thousands of qualified care workers from the rest of Europe, Africa and elsewhere.
Immigration is also changing some of our public services for the better. We all know that there would be no NHS without foreign doctors, nurses, cleaners and administrators. We all know that there will be no Crossrail in London, no Olympics, no new wave of housing starts without immigrant carpenters, electricians and bricklayers.
And many of our schools are benefiting from the presence of clever immigrant children. For example, Paul McAteer, the Head of Slough’s Langleywood School , described a few years back by the Daily Mail as « the worst school in Britain » now says that migrant pupils have been a « big factor » in transforming its performance. He goes on to say that « Foreign children have improved our results…white British parents who live close to the school want their children to come here again ».
So as a nation we have travelled a long way from the view that immigration is in and of itself a danger to our social tranquillity.
The Political Costs of Immigration
But it would be a return to the worst days of our forty-year silence to ignore the fact that many people are deeply unsettled by the pace and nature of change.
It is true that the small minority of people in this country who are genuine racists are obsessed with immigration. But that does not mean that the large number of people who do worry about immigration are all racists.
Any policy of managed migration and active integration has to be a policy embraced by the whole nation.
And that policy has to acknowledge the pressures that come with the benefits of immigration.
To deal effectively with those pressures we need to confront four key problems.
First, the poverty of timely information about the impact migration is having on our communities. We can see on the ground that the systems of funding for local services are not keeping up with the rate of change; leading to irresponsible rumour mongering about immigrants committing more crime and cheating the housing system.
Most of this is froth and nonsense. Police chiefs this week said there was no basis for the first allegation; independent research commissioned by ourselves and the Local Government Association show there’s no evidence of the second. But we do need more timely, and independent information so that ordinary people can see what is true and what is not.
Second, though there are benefits to migration, they aren’t shared out equally. The problem is that though the inequality may actually be caused by a lack of public investment, it may be attributed to the presence of immigrants.
Thus, for every professional woman who is able to go out to work because she has an Eastern European nanny, there is probably a young mother who watches her child struggle in a classroom where a harassed teacher faces too many children with too many languages between them.
Wanting a better deal for her child doesn’t make her anti-immigrant – but if we can’t find a better response for her frustration, then she soon will be.
For every boss whose bacon is saved by the importation of skilled IT professionals or skilled craftspeople or health professionals, there are a thousand people who are wondering every morning why they have to put up with the misery of a packed train carriage or bus – if they can get on in the first place.
Wanting an infrastructure that doesn’t make getting to work daily hell does not make someone a natural voter for an anti-immigrant party. But it soon will.
As the novelist Rose Tremain told the Guardian yesterday in describing Britain as « bipolar » on immigration « I do worry about immigration. Just the sheer crowds….it certainly feels vexing when you can’t even get a doctor’s appointment. Yet I don’t like the fact that I worry about it. »
Third, there is unfairness in the workplace. There is very little evidence that home-grown workers’ wages are depressed because of migration, so the likelihood is that there has been little impact on current workers. If there is an economic slowdown, that may change. But we’re not there yet.
There are however, two major issues which do demand action now.
One is the sheer exploitation of some low paid immigrants, illustrated by the fate of cockle pickers who died in Morecambe Bay in 2004. They were just the tip of an iceberg of human-trafficking and near-slavery, which can only be held in check by better policing and sharper regulation.
The other major issue is the question of why employers should invest in training and skills for home-grown workers when they can get the readymade thing from abroad? Easyjet delivers easymigrant to your door with all his or her skills, readiness to work over the hours and probably a university degree to boot. How can our million or so young people who are not in education, employment or training possibly compete?
The fourth key problem is the ever-present challenge of how to keep communities which are changing faster ever year from fragmenting. Powell predicted « hot » conflict and violence. We don’t see too much of that, and where it does occur it tends to be within specific communities – gun crime in some black communities for example.
However we have seen the emergence of a kind of cold war in some parts of the country, where very separate communities exist side by side, increasing the likelihood of little interaction and with poor communication across racial or religious lines. This is not purely an old style anti-black phenomenon. There are divisions between minority communities as we saw here in Lazelles two and a half years ago and increasingly there is little difference in attitudes to immigration between ethnic minorities and the majority. So how do we reconcile good relations and stable communities with our need to ride the tide of global migration?
There is perhaps another way to put all these questions.
How can we use a policy of managed migration and active integration to create a Britain that is fairer, built on dignity and respect, and where people are confident in all aspects of their diversity?
The Commission’s mandate and brief don’t run to controlling the immigration system, I’m happy to say. That’s someone else’s job. But our job is above all fostering good relations, and within that to make a reality of a policy of active integration.
So I want to end this morning by briefly setting out three key principles for our integrated society.
Three Principles for An Integrated Society.
The First Principle is that Integration is a two-way street
I know that some people are nervous about the use of the word integration. But most British people know what it means, and frankly, I can’t help feeling that if Powellites were against it I should be for it. But let me say what I mean by it in practice.
Immigrants change us, mostly for the better. They don’t just bring their labour with them – they create more choice for everyone – of food, of music, of literature – all aspects of the benefits of two-way integration. They compete hard, they lift our standards. And in a global economy they are beginning to give us the edge in markets – India for example – that we would not otherwise enjoy.
Most immigrants change too. We expect those who come to Britain to play by the rules and to do their best to share in the responsibilities of living together as well as enjoying the rights – for example by learning English so that they can participate fully in the workplace and in the life of the community. And if people want the rules to be different they campaign to change them by the democratic means we have available.
But an integrated society isn’t only the sum of what individuals do. It’s also what governments and civil society do too. So that means we all – immigrant and home-grown – have the right to expect that we will be treated fairly, not exploited and that our dignity is respected.
That means we need to redouble our efforts to stamp out trafficking and exploitation at work. Our Commission is already starting to work closely with trades unions on these issues and I look forward to sitting down with employers too.
It means that the Equality and Human Rights Commission has launched a 10 million pound grants programme much of which is going to local voluntary organisations dedicated to bringing different groups together.
It means that this summer we will pilot a programme of summer camps expressly designed to get young people of different backgrounds to learn more about each other.
And it means that when we talk about active integration let me repeat: we are not talking about assimilation. But because integration is a two way street, we know that on this two way street, that there will sometimes be friction.
It is our job as a Commission, to help to minimise those frictions by establishing some rules of the road. These need to be more than traditional British courtesy and good manners – though frankly that would be a good place to start these days.
We need some more fundamental agreement on common values. These in my view are best based on our human rights principles.
I don’t mean by this the distorted view of human rights in which clever and malicious people take advantage of the rest of the community.
I mean the commonsense approach to human rights that is deeply ingrained in our British history, that tells us for example, that while free speech cannot be traded for cultural sensitivity, the right to offend does not imply an obligation to insult.
I also mean that these basic values and freedoms must apply to all. For example, that while the equality of women and the protection of children can never be modified in any way by cultural tradition, where fundamental protections are not undermined, we have to be ready to accept that minorities of which we are not a part ourselves have the right to be different.
For example we make a legal distinction between forced marriage – illegal – and arranged marriage, perfectly legal. I guess arranged marriages are unlikely to catch on in a big way outside some communities, they are now a legitimate part of British life. That is what being at ease with our diversity means.
And it also means that where law may not compel we have to find new ways of creating change.
For example our political parties remain desperately unrepresentative. They need to change. Pronto.
What legitimacy is there in a Parliament which makes crucial decisions on immigration with just fifteen ethnic minority MPs when there should be more than sixty? How can a House of Commons expect its decisions on counter-terrorism to be taken seriously by Muslim communities when there are only four Muslim MPs in the House of Commons?
I also believe that we should take opportunities to celebrate those new neighbours on our two-way street who make it a better place.
Our system of honours currently does not fully recognise those who have made a contribution here if they were born outside the Commonwealth. Bob Geldof, for example can’t properly be addressed as Sir Bob because he is not a Commonwealth citizen – surely a relic of our imperial past.
Well, we can’t change that but later this year our Commission intends to announce a special annual scheme that will celebrate the contribution to British life of individuals who were born elsewhere but have made the UK their home.
The Second Principle: Fairness is not just for minorities
We can no longer identify those who are not flourishing in our society by colour-coding them. For example, it has recently become clear that when it comes to educational failure and that million young people I mentioned earlier, the people with whom the system is having least success and who should today most concern us are young white men emerging into adulthood with no qualifications, no skills and in some cases no aspirations.
Our equality effort should be directed at them too, especially at a time when so many jobs that are available are going to immigrants simply because they are better qualified.
Our equality work should deal with mainstream issues. So when the government’s welcome plan to build 3 million more homes and five new eco-towns by 2020 is put into practice, good relations must be the heart of the design of those homes and those towns – so that they become mixed communities that bring people together rather than drive them apart.
We will only win popular support for an integrated society if we are seen to be fair to everyone, majority and minority. That is why we need better, more transparent information about the impact of immigration.
That is why I intend to propose to our Commissioners that we should publish, every year from next year, an annual good relations barometer which sets out honestly the state of relations, positive and negative, in communities across the country. It will draw on independent survey evidence, the experience of our frontline networks and the views of our voluntary sector partners.
And in our effort to provide a better evidence base, the Commission today publishes on its website a series of maps that show exactly where migrant communities are concentrated across Britain. (you can view the maps here)
We see this kind of openness as a platform for a no doubt difficult, but ultimately honest and better informed debate about how we live together graciously.
The Third Principle: We Must Share the benefits and burdens of migration fairly
Much of the reason for unease over immigration is no longer about foreigners’ difference. It is about whether those who benefit from their presence are also bearing their share of cost. There are two aspects to this.
One is whether all parts of the country are benefiting in the same way. All the evidence suggests that they aren’t. Many areas of England are accommodating many migrants for economic reasons without having had the time or resource to build up the necessary infrastructure. On the other hand some parts of the country aren’t getting enough migrants. That is why we think balancing measures are vital – such as incentives under the points system that will draw migrants to under-populated Scotland; and we’d like to see more funds going faster to parts of the country which are experiencing population surges.
The other aspect is the question of how we share the costs between settled communities, migrants and employers; to what extent should those who benefit from immigrants’ presence including immigrants themselves also bear some of the increased costs.
The government has recently acknowledged this by suggesting that whilst English lessons might be made free for those who intend to settle here, it is right that those who come just work – the easymigrant – and their employers should bear the cost of their English classes. I believe that this is right.
In other countries, many experts are considering whether there is value in the idea of a migrant tax, which would be used to defray some infrastructure costs.
But there are many complex issues here, and I believe that our Commissioners would object to anything which smacked of back-door discrimination. And anything which actually turned the tide of talent away from Britain would be utterly counterproductive.
So we need to do some thinking. Later this year the Commission, in partnership with the Migration Policy Institute of Washington, will hold an international summit of bodies like our own and NGOs which will consider these issues. We will draw on the expertise of people here and abroad to try to understand how we can start to reconcile the claims of those who are settled with those who come to support us and our economy for a period.
These are just some of my own ideas to start with. There will be many more as we debate these issues, starting this morning.
But the best ideas will emerge if we are now willing to have an open, honest and informed debate about a new social contract, about managed migration and active integration.
I believe that the more we talk about immigration the better. Many think that this isn’t the time or place for this debate. And I understand their anxieties.
I know that I will somehow be misquoted.
I know, without doubt some people will misuse the opportunity of open debate to cloak their racist motives.
But if not now, when?
We cannot allow discussion of race and immigration forever to be seen as playing into the hands of extremists. The forty-year old shockwave of fear has gagged us all for too long.
Our aim is the integrated society – one built on fairness, respect and dignity, confident in all aspects of its diversity.
We need to start a new conversation about how we get there, a dialogue has to be guided not by fear, but by hope.
Des fleuves de sang
Alors qu’en 1968, le gouvernement travailliste s’apprête à voter des lois contre la discrimination raciale, Enoch Powell, figure majeure du parti conservateur, premier ministrable potentiel, respecté de tous pour son intégrité, prononce — sans consulter son parti — un discours sur l’immigration qui enflamme le pays. Ce discours du 20 avril 1968 marque un tournant dans l’histoire politique de la Grande-Bretagne.
A la suite de ses déclarations, Enoch Powell est exclus du Shadow Cabinet (les conservateurs sont alors dans l’opposition). Une véritable fièvre s’empare du pays et un élan populaire massif lui apporte son soutien. Powell reçoit 100.000 lettres dont seule une infime partie lui sont hostiles. Toutes réclament la fin de l’immigration. Un mouvement anti-raciste nait en réaction et se manifeste avec une égale ardeur.
A la suite de remous importants et de l’élection en 1970 de Edward Heath au poste de 1er ministre, la brillante carrière politique de Powell s’achève. Tournant le dos à la volonté populaire, les gouvernements successifs s’engagent dans une voie opposée à celle défendue par Powell : c’est l’avènement du multi-culturalisme qui, théorisé, devient la politique officielle de la Grande-Bretagne.
« Des fleuves de sang »
Discours d’Enoch Powell du 20 avril 1968
La fonction suprême de l’homme d’état est de protéger la société de malheurs prévisibles. Il rencontre dans cette tâche des obstacles profondément ancrés dans la nature humaine. L’un d’entre eux est qu’il est d’évidence impossible de démontrer la réalité d’un péril avant qu’il ne survienne : à chaque étape de la progression d’un danger supposé, le doute et le débat sont possibles sur son caractère réel ou imaginaire. Ces dangers sont en outre l’objet de bien peu d’attention en comparaison des problèmes quotidiens, qui sont eux incontestables et pressants : d’où l’irrésistible tentation pour toute politique de se préoccuper du présent immédiat au détriment de l’avenir. Par-dessus tout, nous avons également tendance à confondre la prédiction d’un problème avec son origine, ou même avec le fauteur de trouble. Nous aimons à penser : « Si seulement personne n’en parlait, sans doute rien de tout cela n’arriverait…»
Cette habitude remonte peut-être à la croyance primitive que le mot et la chose, le nom et l’objet, sont identiques. Dans tous les cas, l’évocation des périls à venir, graves mais évitables (si l’on s’attache à les résoudre), est la tâche la plus impopulaire de l’homme politique. La plus nécessaire aussi.
Les hommes politiques qui s’y soustraient en connaissance de cause méritent — et reçoivent d’ailleurs fréquemment — les critiques de leurs successeurs. Il y a 1 à 2 semaines, je discutais dans ma circonscription avec un homme d’une quarantaine d’années qui travaille dans l’une de nos entreprises nationalisées. Après quelques mots sur la pluie et le beau temps, il me dit soudainement : « Si j’avais les moyens, je quitterais le pays. » Je lui fis quelques reproches, lui faisant remarquer que le gouvernement actuel ne durerait pas éternellement. Mais il n’y prêta pas attention et poursuivit : « J’ai trois enfants. Ils ont tous le bac [grammar school], deux d’entre eux sont mariés et ont une famille. Mais je ne serai heureux que lorsque je les aurai tous vu partir à l’étranger. Dans ce pays, dans 15 à 20 ans, les noirs domineront les blancs. »
J’entends déjà les cris d’orfraie. Comment puis-je dire une chose aussi horrible ? Comment puis-je jeter le trouble et déchaîner les passions en relatant une telle conversation ? Ma réponse est que je m’interdis de ne pas le faire. Dans ma propre ville, au grand jour, un brave et honnête compatriote me dit à moi, son député, qu’il ne fera pas bon vivre dans son pays pour ses propres enfants. Je n’ai tout simplement pas le droit de hausser les épaules et de passer à autre chose. Ce que dit cet homme, des milliers, des centaines de milliers de gens le pensent et le disent. Peut-être pas dans tout le pays, mais partout où s’opère la transformation radicale à laquelle nous assistons aujourd’hui, et qui n’a aucun parallèle connu en 1000 ans d’histoire.
Sur la lancée actuelle, dans 15 ou 20 ans, il y aura en Grande-Bretagne, en comptant les descendants, 3,5 millions d’immigrés du Commonwealth. Ce chiffre n’est pas de moi : c’est l’évaluation officielle donnée au Parlement par les bureaux de l’état-civil. Il n’y a pas de prévision officielle semblable pour l’an 2000, mais le chiffre avoisinera les 5 à 7 millions, soit environ un dixième de la population, quasiment l’équivalent de l’agglomération londonienne. Cette population ne sera bien sûr pas uniformément répartie du nord au sud et d’est en ouest. Dans toute l’Angleterre, des régions entières, des villes, des quartiers, seront entièrement peuplés par des populations immigrées ou d’origine immigrée.
Avec le temps, la proportion des descendants d’immigrés nés en Angleterre, et donc arrivés ici comme nous, augmentera rapidement. Dès 1985, ceux nés en Angleterre [par rapport à ceux nés à l’étranger] seront majoritaires. C’est cette situation qui demande d’agir avec la plus extrême urgence, et de prendre des mesures qui, pour un homme politique, sont parmi les plus difficiles à prendre, car ces décisions délicates sont à considérer dans le présent, alors que les dangers à écarter, ou à minimiser, ne se présenteront qu’aux élus des générations futures.
Lorsqu’un pays est confronté à un tel danger, la première question qui se pose est celle-ci : « Comment réduire l’ampleur du phénomène ? » Puisqu’on ne peut entièrement l’éviter, peut-on le limiter, sachant qu’il s’agit essentiellement d’un problème numérique ? Car en effet, l’arrivée d’éléments étrangers dans un pays, ou au sein d’une population, a des conséquences radicalement différentes selon que la proportion est de 1% ou 10%.
La réponse à cette simple question est d’une égale simplicité : il faut stopper, totalement ou presque, les flux d’immigration entrants et encourager au maximum les flux sortants. Ces deux propositions font partie de la plate-forme officielle du Parti Conservateur.
Il est à peine concevable qu’en ce moment même, rien qu’à Wolverhampton, entre 20 et 30 enfants immigrés supplémentaires arrivent chaque semaine de l’étranger, soit 15 à 20 familles supplémentaires dans 10 ou 20 ans. « Quand les Dieux veulent détruire un peuple, ils commencent par le rendre fou » dit le dicton, et assurément nous devons être fous, littéralement fous à lier, en tant que nation, pour permettre chaque année l’arrivée d’environ 50 000 personnes à charge et qui plus tard accroîtront la population d’origine immigrée.
J’ai l’impression de regarder ce pays élever frénétiquement son propre bûcher funéraire. Nous sommes devenus fous au point de permettre à des célibataires d’immigrer ici dans le but de fonder une famille avec des conjoints ou des fiancés qu’ils n’ont jamais vus. Ne croyez pas que cet afflux de population diminuera de lui-même. Bien au contraire. Même au rythme actuel de 5 000 admissions par an et par quota, ce chiffre est suffisant pour faire croître le nombre de personnes à charge de 25 000 par an, et à l’infini, sans compter l’immense réservoir des liens familiaux existant avec le pays d’origine – et tout cela sans parler de l’immigration clandestine.
Dans de telles circonstances, la seule mesure adaptée est de réduire, toutes affaires cessantes, le rythme de l’immigration jusqu’à des chiffres négligeables, et de prendre sans délai les mesures législatives et administratives qui s’imposent.
J’en viens maintenant au retour au pays. Si toute immigration cessait demain, la croissance de la population immigrée ou d’origine immigrée serait substantiellement réduite, mais l’importance numérique de ces populations ne modifierait pas les fondamentaux du danger qui nous préoccupe. Et cet aspect du problème ne peut être traité que lorsqu’une proportion importante des populations immigrées est encore composée de personnes arrivées récemment, durant les 10 dernières années. D’où l’urgence de mettre en œuvre dès aujourd’hui ce second volet de la politique du Parti conservateur : encourager la ré-émigration. Personne n’est en mesure d’estimer le nombre de ceux qui, moyennant une aide généreuse, choisiraient soit de retourner dans leur pays d’origine, soit d’aller dans d’autres pays désireux de recevoir main d’œuvre et savoir-faire. Personne ne le sait, car jusqu’à présent, aucune politique de cet ordre n’a été mise en œuvre. Tout ce que je puis dire, c’est qu’actuellement encore, des immigrés de ma circonscription viennent me voir de temps à autre pour me demander de bénéficier d’une aide au retour. Si une telle politique était adoptée et mise en place, avec la détermination que justifie la gravité de la situation, les flux sortants pourraient sensiblement modifier les perspectives d’avenir.
Le troisième volet de la politique du Parti Conservateur est l’égalité de tous devant la loi : l’autorité publique ne pratique aucune discrimination et ne fait aucune différence entre les citoyens. Ainsi que M. Heath [leader du parti conservateur] l’a souligné, nous ne voulons pas de citoyens de première ou de seconde «classe». Mais cela ne doit pas signifier pour autant qu’un immigré ou ses descendants doivent disposer d’un statut privilégié ou spécifique, ou qu’un citoyen ne soit pas en droit de discriminer qui bon lui semble dans ses affaires privées, ou qu’on lui dicte par la loi ses choix ou son comportement.
Il n’y a pas plus fausse appréciation de la réalité que celle entretenue par les bruyants défenseurs des lois dites « contre les discriminations ». Que ce soit nos grandes plumes, toutes issues du même moule, parfois des mêmes journaux qui, jour après jour dans les années 30, ont tenté d’aveugler le pays face au péril croissant qu’il nous a fallu affronter par la suite. Ou que ce soit nos évêques calfeutrés dans leurs palais à savourer des mets délicats, la tête dissimulée sous les draps. Ces gens-là sont dans l’erreur, dans l’erreur la plus absolue, la plus complète. Le sentiment de discrimination, de dépossession, de haine et d’inquiétude, ce ne sont pas les immigrés qui le ressentent, mais bien ceux qui les accueillent et doivent continuer à le faire. C’est pourquoi voter une telle loi au Parlement, c’est risquer de mettre le feu aux poudres. Le mieux que l’on puisse dire aux tenants et aux défenseurs de cette loi, c’est qu’ils ne savent pas ce qu’ils font.
Rien n’est plus trompeur que de comparer la situation de l’immigré du Commonwealth [ancien empire britannique] qui arrive en Grande-Bretagne avec celle du noir américain. Les noirs, qui étaient déjà présents avant que les Etats-Unis ne deviennent une nation, ont d’abord été des esclaves, au vrai sens du terme. Le droit de vote, et d’autres, leurs ont été accordés seulement par la suite, droits qu’ils ne sont parvenus à exercer que peu à peu, et encore incomplètement. L’immigré du Commonwealth lui, est arrivé en Grande-Bretagne comme citoyen à part entière, dans un pays qui ne pratique pas la discrimination, un pays où il obtient immédiatement les mêmes droits que tout le monde, du droit de vote à la gratuité des soins de la Sécurité sociale. Les difficultés rencontrées par les immigrés ne proviennent ni des lois, ni de la politique du gouvernement ou de l’administration, mais de leur situation personnelle, et des événements fortuits qui font, et feront toujours, que le destin et l’expérience d’un homme ne sont pas ceux d’un autre.
Mais alors qu’arriver en Grande-Bretagne signifie pour le migrant accéder à des privilèges et à des équipements ardemment recherchés, l’impact sur la population autochtone du pays est bien différent. Pour des raisons qu’ils ne comprennent pas, en application de décisions prises à leur insu, pour lesquelles ils ne furent jamais consultés, les habitants de Grande-Bretagne se retrouvent étrangers dans leur propre pays.
Leurs femmes ne trouvent pas de lits d’hôpital pour accoucher, leurs enfants n’obtiennent pas de places à l’école, leurs foyers, leurs voisins, sont devenus méconnaissables, leurs projets et perspectives d’avenir sont défaits. Sur leurs lieux de travail, les employeurs hésitent à appliquer au travailleur immigré les mêmes critères de discipline et de compétence qu’au Britannique de souche. Ils commençent à entendre, au fil du temps, des voix chaque jour plus nombreuses qui leur disent qu’ils sont désormais indésirables.
Et ils apprennent aujourd’hui qu’un privilège à sens unique va être voté au Parlement. Qu’une loi qui ne peut, ni n’est destinée à les protéger ni à répondre à leurs doléances, va être promulguée. Une loi qui donnera à l’étranger, au mécontent, à l’agent provocateur, le pouvoir de les clouer au pilori pour des choix d’ordre privé.
Parmi les centaines de lettres que j’ai reçues après m’être exprimé sur ce sujet il y a 2 ou 3 mois, j’ai remarqué une nouveauté frappante, et je la trouve de très mauvaise augure. Les députés ont l’habitude de recevoir des lettres anonymes, mais ce qui me surprend et m’inquiète, c’est la forte proportion de gens ordinaires, honnêtes, avisés, qui m’écrivent une lettre souvent sensée, bien écrite, mais qui préfèrent taire leur adresse. Car ils craignent de se compromettre ou d’approuver par écrit les opinions que j’ai exprimées. Ils craignent des poursuites ou des représailles si cela se savait. Ce sentiment d’être une minorité persécutée, sentiment qui progresse parmi la population anglaise dans les régions touchées du pays, est quelque chose d’à peine imaginable pour ceux qui n’en ont pas fait directement l’expérience. Et je vais donner l’occasion à l’une de ces personnes de parler à ma place :
« Il y a 8 ans, dans une rue paisible de Wolverhampton, une maison a été vendue à un noir. Aujourd’hui, il ne reste plus dans cette rue qu’une femme blanche, une retraitée, et voici son histoire : cette femme a perdu son mari et ses deux fils, morts à la Guerre. Elle a transformé sa maison de 7 pièces, son seul bien, en chambres à louer. Elle y a mis toute son énergie et elle a bien réussi, remboursant son emprunt et commençant à épargner pour ses vieux jours. Puis des immigrés sont venus s’installer. Avec une appréhension croissante, elle a vu les maisons se faire racheter les unes après les autres. La rue, autrefois paisible, est devenue bruyante et chaotique. A regret, elle a vu ses locataires blancs partir un à un.
Le lendemain du jour où son dernier locataire est parti, elle a été réveillée à 7 heures du matin par deux hommes noirs qui, disaient-ils, voulaient utiliser son téléphone pour appeler leur employeur. Elle a refusé, comme elle aurait refusé à n’importe qui à cette heure matinale. Elle a alors été injuriée. Sans la chaîne qui bloquait sa porte, elle a craint d’être agressée. Depuis, des familles d’immigrés ont essayé de lui louer des chambres, mais elle a toujours refusé. Ses petites économies se sont épuisées, et après avoir payé ses impôts, il ne lui reste que 2 livres par semaine. Elle a demandé une réduction d’impôts et a été reçue par une jeune femme qui, voyant qu’elle possédait une maison de 7 pièces, lui a conseillé d’en louer une partie. Quand elle a répondu que les seuls locataires qui se présentaient étaient noirs, la jeune employée lui a répondu : « Les préjugés raciaux ne vous mèneront nulle part dans ce pays. » Elle est rentrée chez elle.
Le téléphone est son seul lien avec l’extérieur. Sa famille paye la facture, et l’aide autant qu’elle peut. Des immigrés lui ont proposé d’acheter sa maison, pour un prix que les acheteurs potentiels pourraient récupérer en la louant en quelques semaines, ou du moins en quelques mois. Elle a désormais peur de sortir. Ses fenêtres sont cassées. Elle trouve des excréments dans sa boîte aux lettres. Quand elle sort faire ses courses, elle est suivie par de charmants petits noirs, très souriants. Ils ne parlent pas un mot d’anglais, mais il existe un mot qu’ils connaissent très bien : « Raciste ! » scandent-ils derrière elle. Lorsque cette nouvelle loi sur les relations interraciales sera votée, cette femme est convaincue qu’elle ira en prison. A-t-elle tort ? Je commence moi aussi à me poser la question…
L’autre dangereuse chimère de ceux qui sont aveugles aux réalités peut se résumer au mot « intégration ». Être intégré, c’est ne pas se distinguer, à tous points de vue, des autres membres d’une population. Et de tout temps, des différences physiques évidentes, particulièrement la couleur de peau, ont rendu l’intégration difficile, bien que possible avec le temps. Parmi les immigrés du Commonwealth venus s’installer ici depuis 15 ans, il existe des dizaines de milliers de personnes qui souhaitent s’intégrer, et tous leurs efforts tendent vers cet objectif. Mais penser qu’un tel désir est présent chez une vaste majorité d’immigrés ou chez leurs descendants est une idée extravagante, et dangereuse de surcroît.
Nous sommes arrivés à un tournant. Jusqu’à présent, la situation et les différences sociales ont rendu l’idée même d’intégration inaccessible : cette intégration, la plupart des immigrés ne l’ont jamais ni conçue ni souhaitée. Leur nombre et leur concentration ont fait que la pression vers l’intégration qui s’applique d’habitude aux petites minorités, n’a pas fonctionné. Nous assistons aujourd’hui au développement de forces qui s’opposent directement à l’intégration, à l’apparition de droits acquis qui maintiennent et accentuent les différences raciales et religieuses, dans le but d’exercer une domination, d’abord sur les autres migrants et ensuite sur le reste de la population. Cette ombre, au départ à peine visible, obscurcit le ciel rapidement. Et on la perçoit désormais à Wolverhampton. Elle donne des signes d’expansion rapide. Les mots que je vais citer ne sont pas les miens, je les reprends tels quels de la presse locale du 17 février , ils sont d’un député travailliste, ministre du gouvernement actuel : « Il faut déplorer la campagne menée par la communauté Sikh pour conserver des coutumes inadéquates. Ils travaillent en Grande-Bretagne, dans la fonction publique qui plus est. Ces personnes doivent accepter les conditions liées à leur emploi. Réclamer des droits particuliers pour leur communauté (ou devrait-on parler de rites ?) mène à un dangereux clivage au sein de la société. Ce communautarisme est un chancre : qu’il soit revendiqué par un camp ou par un autre, il faut le condamner sévèrement. » Il faut remercier John Stonehouse pour sa lucidité et pour avoir eu le courage d’évoquer ce sujet.
Le projet de Loi sur les Relations Raciales constitue le terreau idéal pour que ces dangereux éléments de discorde prospèrent. Car voilà bien le moyen de montrer aux communautés d’immigrants comment s’organiser et soutenir leurs membres, comment faire campagne contre leurs concitoyens, comment intimider et dominer les autres grâce aux moyens juridiques que les ignorants et les mal-informés leur ont fournis.
Je contemple l’avenir et je suis rempli d’effroi. Comme les Romains, je vois confusément « le Tibre écumant de sang ». Ce phénomène tragique et insoluble, nous l’observons déjà avec horreur outre-Atlantique, mais alors que là-bas il est intimement lié à l’histoire de l’Amérique, il s’installe chez nous par notre propre volonté, par notre négligence. Il est déjà là. Numériquement parlant, il aura atteint les proportions américaines bien avant la fin du siècle. Seule une action résolue et immédiate peut encore l’empêcher. Je ne sais si la volonté populaire exigera ou obtiendra de telles mesures. Mais ce que je sais, c’est que se taire devant cette situation serait une trahison majeure.
Michèle Tribalat : « L’Europe nous a imposé un modèle multiculturel auquel la France n’a jamais vraiment cherché à s’opposer »
La démographe republie « Assimilation, la fin du modèle français. » Selon elle, il manque plusieurs facteurs pour que l’assimilation fonctionne de nouveau en France..
5 Juin 2017
Vous republiez « Assimilation : la fin du modèle français » (Editions de l’Artilleur). Qu’est-ce qui vous fait faire ce constat de la défaite du modèle français en matière d’intégration aujourd’hui ?
Michèle Tribalat : L’assimilation ne relève pas d’une législation. Elle ne s’ordonne pas par la loi. C’est un processus social de convergence des comportements dans lequel la mixité des unions joue un rôle fondamental. L’assimilation, comme le multiculturalisme à sa manière, s’effectue dans un rapport asymétrique entre la société d’accueil et les nouveaux venus. Le modèle assimilationniste accorde un privilège à la culture de la société d’accueil, sans être ni culturaliste ni inégalitaire. C’est même tout le contraire puisqu’il suppose une capacité d’adaptation des migrants et de leurs descendants à un environnement culturel différent du leur. Le multiculturalisme est un modèle asymétrique d’un autre type. Il favorise le séparatisme et l’entre-soi, mais seulement pour les nouveaux venus. Cet entre-soi ne peut, en effet, être étendu aux autochtones, sous peine de susciter des discriminations. Les « minorités » reçoivent alors un traitement qui ne peut être concédé aux autochtones. C’est un modèle culturaliste et inégalitaire qui renverse l’asymétrie du modèle assimilationniste. Il ne reconnaît pas de droit à la persistance culturelle de la société d’accueil.
L’assimilation nécessite un certain nombre de conditions et, notamment, l’engagement du corps social dans son entier, élites comprises. La pression sociale exercée par les autochtones, généralement ceux des catégories populaires qui voisinent avec les populations aux modes de vie dépaysants, doit être considérée comme légitime et encouragée. Selon Paul Collier (Exodus, dont une traduction est à paraître à l’Artilleur l’année prochaine), les autochtones doivent être « les prosélytes de leur propre nation ». Pour être convaincant, ce prosélytisme nécessite une certaine fierté.
Si j’insiste sur ces caractéristiques, c’est parce qu’elles dessinent, en creux, tout ce qui manque aujourd’hui. Nous ne sommes plus dans une disposition d’esprit propre à susciter l’assimilation. L’ascendant culturel des catégories populaires, autrefois motrices dans l’assimilation, est désormais contesté. Elles ont cessé d’être les prosélytes de la nation, d’espérer que leurs voisins s’adapteront et préfèrent vivre dans des lieux où il leur sera plus facile de maintenir leur propre mode de vie. Elles se sont éloignées des grands centres urbains (voir Christophe Guilluy), évitement qui a renforcé les concentrations ethniques, lesquelles favorisent l’entre-soi et le maintien des habitudes culturelles. On a là un cercle vicieux sur lequel les exhortations à la mixité sociale (euphémisme pour mixité ethnique) ont peu de prise. L’autodénigrement a remplacé le prosélytisme. Pourquoi chercherait-on à s’assimiler à un pays aussi détestable dont on ressasse avec gourmandise les tares passées ?
La question des flux migratoires est souvent très débattue car très incertaine. Entre les deux extrêmes du Grand Remplacement et d’une société mondiale ouverte, quelle observation peut-on faire ?
C’est, paradoxalement, lorsque le gouvernement a souhaité arrêter l’immigration, au milieu des années 1970, que s’est dessiné un régime juridique très favorable à l’immigration. Les velléités de suspendre, pour un temps l’immigration, n’ont