The press reports on the Racial Equality Plan made me apprehensive. They’ve been talking about ‘targets’ for minority ethnic employment in Scotland. In the limited work I’ve done on minority groups, what came over was the diversity – the position, for example, of Filipinos, gypsy travellers and and people from South-East Asia – and their relative isolation. There are too many small, dispersed minorities in a society to make intervention by numbers effective. I needn’t have worried. The plan, advised by Kaliani Lyle, is exemplary, recognising the special pressures on particular groups (notably Gypsy Travellers) but with the emphasis strongly falling on dialogue, consultation and engagement. Things done well are never as satisfying to a blogger as things done badly, so I’ve not much to add.
I’ve just been reading the Casey Review, published on the 5th of this month. It’s supposed to consider “opportunity and integration in our most isolated and deprived communities”. It seems to be doing something quite different, because the main focus is not about that at all. The primary focus is the relationship of minority ethnic groups (plus the rather odd addition of sexuality, which is a very different kind of issue) to the ‘British’ mainstream. Deprivation and disadvantage don’t get much of a mention before chapter 6.
There’s a discontinuity, too, between the issues that the report is discussing and the measures which are proposed to respond to them. One of the key proposals is to “Build local communities’ resilience”. The issues being considered – for example, asylum seekers or illegal immigration – aren’t, by virtue of the numbers discussed, necessarily capable of being linked to specific localities. A second proposal is to ensure that people adopt “British” values, but that’s done without asking how those values related to issues of identity. Integration is a matter of relationships, and relationships have at least two sides.