Thursday, September 22, 2005

Sleepwalking to Segregation and In Bed with Hypocrisy

There's undoubtedly some truth in Trevor Phillips' claim that Britain is 'sleepwalking towards segregation', although the picture is more mixed and complex than that. For example, it is claimed that in Britain you are more likely to marry someone of another race than in any other country in the world.

One of the obstacles to integration is this Government's enthusiasm for segregating children in 'faith schools', having learned nothing from sectarianism in Northern Ireland. David Trimble, no flag-bearer for secularism, has called this madness.
Maybe this was what Trevor Phillips was referring to when he said in an interview today that we were "schooling people to be strangers to each other."
Yet this is the same Trevor Phillips who chose to segregate his own children by sending them to private schools.
How very New Labour.

Trevor Phillips' biography follows a classic New Labour template. Student politics - a mixture of the Black Panthers and socialism was how he described his politics at the time - leading to President of the National Union of Students, like Jack Straw and Charles Clarke. Today, a pillar of the new Establishment, a Tony Crony and an O.B.E.

Good phrase though, Trevor. 'Schooling people to be strangers to each other' neatly sums up the objection that some of us have to a private sector in education.
Just a pity you don't practice what you preach. But you wouldn't, would you? That's not the New Labour way.
Shimmy up the ladder like a rat up a drainpipe, pull it up after you, and then declaim social principles that don't apply to yourself or your family. Even Diane Abbott, a fierce critic of New Labour, couldn't bring herself to send Abbott Junior to the kind of school that most of her London constituents' children go to.
Still, I suppose there's an element of equality in this pattern. White politicians have no monopoly of betrayal and hypocrisy.


At 6:57 PM, Blogger ash said...

I went to private school - both a private secondary school and a small, quirky primary school. I didn't realise I was being 'segregated'...
I went to my local state primary for a while. My brother and I were the only Asians there.
In both private schools I met more people from all sorts of different countries and situations than I probably would have done anywhere else - to the point where a person's background ceased to be a big deal at all for me

At 7:12 PM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

ash, I'm glad you had a positive experience in your schools.
However, it's stating the obvious to say that, however varied your fellow pupils were, you would only meet people whose parents could afford to pay for private education.

At 9:36 AM, Blogger ash said...

That's true. Thanks to some schemes though, there was a large number of parents who could afford to go. I definitely didn't meet people from all walks of life because if you weren't deemed intelligent enough then you never got in.
If I'd gone to my local state secondary school though I would have only met people from my immediate local area - very white middle class suburbia. I doubt I would have felt at home.

At 10:14 AM, Blogger Merkin said...

I entirely agree, Willie. What Trevor Phillips calls "segregation" (A Bad Thing) in 2005, he called "multiculturalism"(A Good Thing) in 2004 . What's wrong with Uniculturalism? One black friend of mine calls himself "Afro-Saxon". That's what we need, but it's not what bleating neo-establishment figures or the Race Relations Industry recognise.

At 11:12 AM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

ash: you're quite right in pointing out that, short of bussing children around, state schools are always going to reflect their individual catchment area.
Whilst I hesitate to suggest that you should have been ill at ease in the interests of greater diversity, it is undoubtedly the case that had you gone to your local school it would then have been very slightly less white middle class. That would have been in the interests of the school and its pupils.
Many of the schemes you refer to used taxpayers' money to increase the diversity of private schools. But this was addressing the wrong problem. It's impossible to have an effective comprehensive state system if private schools are creaming off pupils on the basis of either wealth or supposed intellectual ability, or indeed, religion. That, in turn, makes it difficult to achieve a society less divided by wealth, class, race or religion.

merkin: I think Phillips identified a serious cause for concern. My objection was less with what he said than with his own double standards.
Ideally, we should get away from all labels and 'isms'. The problem with 'uniculturalism' is that there are few shared common values within the white British community, any more than there are within any other group. If you asked me what being British meant to me you'd get a very long silence.
And at the root of all this is the widespread racism that still exists. If, like me, you have had black friends you will have witnessed this yourself or heard of their experiences. Within my lifetime it was still legal to put 'no blacks' on advertisements for flats, etc. Sadly, attitudes lag behind the law and take generations to change. The danger is that when a problem disappears from view, politicians and others think it no longer exists. A parallel case is the way the London middle-class intelligentsia think everything's now hunky-dory for gay people, whereas a look at the 'hate crime' statistics and the problems in schools shows otherwise.


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