Tim Dieppe comments on UKIP’s integration policy platform which they announced this week.
UKIP was in the news for announcing its integration policy platform earlier this week, with a list of policies to promote integration in our society. The recent Casey Review, commissioned by the government, highlighted the various problems that have emerged from the lack of integration in our society. Former head of the Equalities and Human Rights commission, Trevor Phillips, has said that a “far more muscular approach to integration” is required. With this in mind, UKIP outlined the policies it would adopt to help tackle this problem.
Face veil ban
UKIP proposes that the UK follows the policy already enacted in France, Belgium, Holland and Austria, and in parts of Spain, Italy, Denmark, of banning face coverings in public places. This is a sensible policy which demonstrates that our culture believes that oppression and subjugation of women is objectively wrong. The face veil is a barrier to integration and interaction in society. It is also a security risk. A YouGov survey found that almost half (48%) of the British public support banning the face veil, as against 42% who oppose such a ban. It was good to see that this policy was also supported by a Muslim group in Oxford.
UKIP proposes following France in introducing school-based medical checks on girls at high risk of suffering FGM. The party also proposes making failure to report an instance of FGM a criminal offence, and that the CPS should operate under a presumption of prosecution of any parent whose daughter has undergone FGM. I previously wrote about the failure to prosecute cases of FGM in the UK, and the possibility of introducing an annual inspection of at-risk girls. The French approach has been much more successful than the UK, with about 100 people being convicted. This week London Mayor, Sadiq Khan came under pressure from the London Assembly to champion the fight against FGM, and make London a ‘zero cutting city’. The London Assembly report highlighted that 50% of all cases of FGM recorded in England are in London.
Education is a key battle ground for integration, with evidence of Islamic schools teaching extremist interpretations of Islam. More evidence of ‘Trojan horse’ type plots by Islamists to take over schools emerged earlier this year. Earlier this month, primary school children were taken on a trip to meet an Islamic preacher who has been ruled by the High Court as an ‘extremist’ who has ‘promoted and encouraged violence’. UKIP proposes that schools such as this, where there is evidence of Islamist ideology being taught, be immediately closed or taken over by the Department of Education. UKIP also proposes a moratorium on new state-funded Islamic faith schools until substantial progress has been demonstrated in integrating Muslims in to mainstream British society.
UKIP proposes “an explicit ban on sharia law and courts”, though it is not clear exactly what this means. More concretely, UKIP proposes to set up a legal commission to draw up proposals for banning sharia courts. UKIP rightly says that no parallel legal system should be allowed, and that sharia law and courts undermine women’s rights. UKIP also proposes that our benefit system should never reward polygamy. UKIP proposes a zero-tolerance approach to honour violence, and where grooming gangs target members of a different racial or religious group than the offenders, this should be treated as an aggravating feature of the offence when prosecuting, opening the way to a longer sentence.
A Christian Manifesto?
At the last General Election in May 2015, UKIP was noted for being the first and only national party to publish a separate Christian manifesto. In this manifesto, its then leader, Nigel Farage contended that: “we need a much more muscular defence of our Christian heritage and our Christian constitution… ours is fundamentally a Christian nation and so we believe Christianity should be recognised by Government at all levels.” Part of the task of integration is to be clear about our own culture and values, and this means unashamed acknowledgement of the significant part that Christianity has played and continues to play in our society. UKIP’s Christian manifesto contained some sensible ideas, and I hope that another Christian manifesto comes out for this year’s election.
Will others follow?
It has been disappointing to see the knee-jerk allegations of islamophobia from mainstream media and commentators to these proposals. UKIP is quite correct that integration is a priority issue which needs robust policies. Paul Nuttall claimed that UKIP is “ten years ahead of our time” on these issues, predicting that mainstream parties would adopt these policies “at some point in the 2020s”. I hope it will not take ten years for the mainstream parties to recognise that integration requires policies like these. The proposed oath to ‘British values’ is not the answer, and will only create more problems. I would also like to see the mainstream parties follow UKIP in creating Christian manifestos.
I previously proposed ten policies that would make a difference to integration. UKIP has added some, and left others. We await the manifestos of the other parties to see whether they will recognise that more action is required to tackle the segregation in our society.