Commission on Integration and Cohesion: final report

19 June 2007

The final report of the Commission on Integration and Cohesion (CIC) was released last week. While there are some interesting and welcome insights and proposals there are also distinct absences and a sense of familiarity with the way the report is framed.

The interesting and welcome parts: further discussion on finding the balance between encouraging new migrants to learn and use English and the provision of translation services (although it hasn’t taken long for some to highlight some inconsistencies in this policy); an attempt to capture factors other than immigration and ethnicity that impact upon the nature of community, notably inter-generational relationships; a distinction between ‘Welcome packs’ as providing immediate practical information and ‘cultural ’ that attempt to offer new migrants a steadier introduction to social and cultural norms and practices.

The report’s four central principles certainly sound familiar and have been uttered verbatim by the Prime Minister: a shared future has been the focus of a series of lectures by the Tony Blair; rights and responsibilities have been central to a number of government policies; mutual respect has been a particular favourite of the PM; and social justice is a slogan the centre-left was built on. In addition to this, many of the proposals in the CIC report echo the ideas contained the Fabian’s pamphlet discussed last week.

This is not to suggest that the commission’s work is anything but independent; but it does make it sound more than faintly political. As do the absences: nothing on 7/7, terrorism or radicalism, no real analysis or critique of the role of faith schools (though there is a fairly anodyne section that repeats the arguments for and against). The omission of these issues certainly does no harm to the present government.

At its inception, the policyblog asked what room there would be in the commission for the interest of refugees. The potential impact on refugees is discussed further in ICAR’s latest interactive consultation on refugee rights and responsibilities.

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