Cllr Eve Allison is a councillor in Kensington and Chelsea.
In traipsing and tramping around the good Ward of St Helen’s and the surrounds of North Kensington, the hue and cry from Latimer Road, the bottom of Oxford Gardens, and on to Ladbroke Grove, is “why are they coming here, we have enough of ‘them’ already, where are we going to put ‘them’, what about our schools and hospitals, we can barely cope as it is”.
Historically there have always been movements of people from times of war and enslavement, plantations of sugar, tea and rubber they came.
What is the attraction of Europe and especially the United Kingdom?
We have all seen the visuals depicting mostly males of colour, whether black, brown or olive skinned, wearing ill fitting clothes, and defiant masks, against the dark faces of authority and the bright glow of fires. So the ‘Jungle Camp’ in France has been dismantled. What Now? In broken English, the cry is ‘England’, from the vast swathes of 28 countries that comprise the EU; England is the favourite destination.
Why arrive only to be designated to places of festering conurbations to be at the bottom of the economic heap? Socially and politically marginalised, shunned and misunderstood, passed over, ghettos situated within the most affluent postcodes, cloaked in veneers of respectability whilst foodbanks dot here and there. With existing schools expanding to accommodate more until they can expand no more along with housing registers where families remain becoming wizened and old.
There are mini ghettos of permanent hustling, of non-integrating groups, religious dwellings that foster hate. These are the cramped jowl to cheek residencies. Faceless rogue landlords find their coffers overflow – whilst their tenants compete with a one ring stove, defunct shower and toilet, and a mattress on the floor serves as the bedroom, adjacent to non-working fridges and a switch for heating with front doors that can be kicked wide open.
The crux of the matter is that multiculturalism, separationism, and, in essence, the ‘lessons’ of Commonwealth, Immigration and anti- discrimination issues have not been learnt.
Whether 50 odd years ago, or in the ether the same applies. Pandora’s Box when originally opened has continued to force the issues of unrest and fear. Despite and of whom and of where they come from, there will always be the fear of absorption, the flight of the ‘other’ from the incoming other.
Having read the ‘Casey Report’ on Opportunity and Integration, I surmise the following: The ills of Social injustice will always lurk within our communities. What we have from the report is rather societies within societies, that have somehow become exclusive, creating the isolation and deprivation from within.
Integration cannot be forced and the erecting of cohesive communities cannot be rushed.
It is unfair to dwell on discrimination, prejudice, and grievances-as forms of isolation. The Jewish community in many senses have risen above, and have contributed much to the sciences, arts, medicine and so on and yet are still subject to discrimination, prejudice, and grievances as such because they are now successful. Why do some groups overcome the barriers and others appear not to?
I fear we will see more swings towards identity politics which involves voting for a politician, whether local or national, along ethnic/religious lines. We will see more’ Tower Hamlets style fiascos being played out. Misrepresentation leads to power, privilege, and positions going to those from the local majority ethnic/religious base.
Surprisingly, the Casey report mentions little of the African/Caribbean pioneer generation for whom most of the issues around integration and opportunity have resonated the most.
Throwing financial aid at the issues is not the answer, communities must learn to assist themselves. A begging bowl approach only ensures communities within communities, it does not enhance them, and the amount remains the same, only the name of the aid changes.
What should be happening is better representation by those that can indeed stand up and do the task. We see this negligibly in the number of politicians both locally and nationally. Only six per cent of MP’s are from a minority background, of that only 0.6 per cent constitute from a black background for the Conservatives and 2.8 per cent for an Asian background. This is not dissimilar across most middle class professions.