David Blackburn

The scale of IDS’ and Gove’s challenge

The scale of IDS’ and Gove’s challenge
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Yesterday was a day of weighty reports. At 700 pages, the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s ‘How Fair is Britain?’ won the thoroughness stakes. Aside from the usual findings that a disproportionate number of young black men are imprisoned and that the white working class is outperformed at school by Indian and Chinese migrants, it made some telling discoveries.

The report found that a staggering 50 percent of Muslim men and nearly 75 percent of Muslim women are unemployed in certain regions. No clues as to where, though the reasons as to why should now be familiar: the figures correspond with the Centre for Policy Studies’ view that Britain has the highest rate of household worklessness in Europe.

This is fast becoming a hereditary condition among the now third or fourth generation Pakistani and Bangladeshi migrant community. The EHRC find that two-thirds of Bangladeshis and Pakistanis don’t have savings and half of pensioners living in Bangladeshi or Pakistani-headed households live below the poverty line and nearly three-quarters of Bangladeshi children grow up in poverty - all a cause of inherited unemployment.

There is no escape in education. The EHRC finds that Educational outcomes are virtually determined by age 5. The graph below shows the attainment in reading, writing and arithmetic by race: as you can see, Pakistanis and Bangladeshi are outperformed by all except the progeny of Roma and travellers, who rarely turn up.

The EHRC also attest that 54 percent of pupils whose first language is English achieve a good level of development compared to 42 percent of pupils for whom English is an additional language. Such colossal incidence of household unemployment ties people to their unassimilated ethnic communities, so it is highly unlikely that Pakistani and Bangladeshi children have a competent grasp of English and this is entrenching underachievement, alienation and disaffection. This was, vicariously at least, the view of Michael Gove and Barry Sheerman in the Commons yesterday, who agreed that comprehending English was the ‘key to enjoying a full civic life in this country’.