by David Goodhart
Wednesday, 16
March 2022
Reaction
10:45

Britain is still ethnically segregated

And no-one wants to talk about it
by David Goodhart
Credit: Getty

Does anyone care about how much the white majority and ethnic minorities are mixing in the UK? The issue of integration and segregation bubbles to the surface when home-grown Islamist terrorism strikes or when immigration hits the headlines. The rest of the time it sits beneath the surface of daily life, something that many people are acutely aware of but is seldom a subject for public discussion and even lacks a commonly used vocabulary.

Yet a poll for British Future in 2021 found the ethnic divide the third biggest division people worried about after the divide between rich and poor and the Brexit divide.

A new analysis for Policy Exchange confirms that neighbourhood segregation has been slowly declining for most ethnic minority groups as they spread out from inner city heartlands into the suburbs. But because they are moving to neighbourhoods full of other minorities, the level of mixing between ethnic minorities taken as a whole and the White British majority is barely changing. It is a similar story in schools with most minority pupils going to majority-minority schools, where over 40% of ethnic minority pupils attend a school that is less than 25% White British.

But what is most revealing about the report is the reason for why the issue remains a political orphan. Brendan Cox, the widower of Jo Cox the MP murdered by a white identity extremist and now a campaigner for more cohesive communities, says there is no consistent lobby for it and neither of the main political parties has an incentive to pursue it.

Cox’s analysis is based on anonymised conversations with politicians of all parties including former prime ministers David Cameron and Tony Blair, five former Home Secretaries (Amber Rudd, Charles Clarke, David Blunkett, Jack Straw, Jacqui Smith) and other experts and leaders of ethnic minority organisations. One of the former PMs (sounding remarkably like Tony Blair) is quoted as saying:

Later in my term I started to feel this was one of the most important issues, that there was nothing more important… The tough questions are schools, housing, and immigration. You start with wild enthusiasm then look at the policies that stem from it and say ‘oh Christ do I really need to do that.’
- Former Prime Minister

And a former Home Secretary is quoted as saying:

It feels like a poisoned chalice. Long timelines, multi-departmental approach and lack of definition about what we mean and controversial policy areas, are all real brakes on strategic action. It’s seen as unclear, potentially messy and with indeterminate benefits.
- Former Home Secretary

Both main parties have reason to the duck the issue. For the Conservatives, argues Cox, “when it comes to integration and minority communities it’s not simply about fears of being seen as a nasty party but a racist one. Conservative politicians interviewed for this study freely admitted the challenge”. They also tend to represent places with small minority populations where it is less of an issue, around 80% of UK wards are still 90% White British.

For Labour, says Cox, “the political challenge comes from a political reliance on minority voters in particular areas of the country.” He says in theory this might incentivise engagement in integration given high levels of support from minority voters but many community leaders are either ambivalent about integration or see it purely through a discrimination and anti-racism lens. One Labour politician admitted, “We don’t want to offend the communities by challenging the lack of integration.”

Cox, however, argues that there are some grounds for optimism. This is partly because the issue has ceased to be an “us and them” issue and has evolved into an “everyone” issue. According to a YouGov poll for More in Common in 2021, 38% of British people agree (strongly or somewhat) with the proposition that: “Sometimes I feel like a stranger in my own country”. And more than a fifth of British people say they are always or sometimes lonely.

He also argues that the way the country came together during the pandemic provides some grounds for optimism about social cohesion in the future. “The aftermath of the Brexit referendum and the Covid pandemic both create moments of national introspection about the type of country we want to be and the communities we want to build. These are generational moments that could change dynamics and create an opportunity to change direction.”

Join the discussion


To join the discussion, get the free daily email and read more articles like this, sign up.

It's simple, quick and free.

Sign me up
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
53 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Sharon Overy
Sharon Overy
3 months ago

His optimism is myopic and therefore misplaced.
Post the Brexit referendum, he wasn’t amongst those being insulted, derided and demonised for 5 years! He was on the side that was dishing it out, if he didn’t join in, I’ll bet he saw it amongst his friends/fellow travellers.

As for the pandemic, after the first brief togetherness, I was disgusted that so many Brits became so nasty – doxxing their neighbours on the internet for not join the Thursday Seal Clap and “making the street look bad”, calling the police if they saw someone walking their dog more than once, etc. The curtain-twitching authoritarian nature of a horrifying proportion of the country, was revealed.

Then there was the mania of Saint Floyd’s death and BLM, and now public and government (taxpayer) funded institutions are teaching and promulgating the idea that to be white is to be inherently racist. That our entire culture and society must be ‘decolonised’ and dismantled because brown peoples’ very existence depends upon it.

I’m not surprised 38% feel their country is being taken away from them – it is.

Andrew D
Andrew D
3 months ago

What segregation? If we’re to believe the TV adverts, just about every household today is happily multicoloured (black and white that is, curiously not many Asians)

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Yeah the Asians seems to be non existent in the adverts.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
3 months ago

Ethnic minorities? Indian Hindu, Chinese, Pakistani, African, Caribbean, are all one are they?….Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Bhuddist?… all one?…what utter woke drivel…

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
3 months ago

There is often more racism, or at least as much, between ethnic minorities than directed at each from the traditional White British..way more.
But we have to pretend , for reasons that I am not entirely sure about, that this is not the case.

D Ward
D Ward
3 months ago

Our local cricket club is now majority Pakistani.
They don’t mix after the matches. They don’t get involved in other aspects of club life (e.g. looking after the place, fundraising). They are not even keen on paying their subs. Presumably this is our fault somehow but I’d love to know why. It’s not for want of trying to get them to fit in.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
3 months ago
Reply to  D Ward

Good that you try. Can only suggest you keep trying – maybe ask for ideas that would appeal to their group?

Marcia McGrail
Marcia McGrail
3 months ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

..shouldn’t subs paying, fundraising and looking after the place be universal, not a subject for pleading towards a special group?

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
3 months ago

I said essentially the same thing in an earlier comment that, for some reason, went into moderation, so I’ll repeat it here: Are people being kept out of certain neighborhoods as a matter of public policy? If not, then it’s no one’s business where people live.

R Wright
R Wright
3 months ago

You will enjoy the growing diversity of your suburb. You *must* enjoy it, or else.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
3 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

“In 2030, you will own nothing, and you will be happy.” Stayed up one dreadful night (don’t ask) and binged “Black Mirror”. All you need to know. And they always tell you.

Peter LR
Peter LR
3 months ago

I’m trying to get some good reasons for why some comments need moderation but haven’t heard back yet. The guidelines are no help!

Michael James
Michael James
3 months ago

Identity politics plays up ethnicity and naturally encourages segregation.

Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
3 months ago
Reply to  Michael James

As can be seen at the American School in London (ASL) where parents are complaining about teaching staff segregating “After School” groups. Very “Theorist”.Head being replaced shortly to harden-up the Wokist Agenda.

R Wright
R Wright
3 months ago

Only 38%?

Pete Marsh
Pete Marsh
3 months ago

The intersectional Woke actively advocate segregation. I listened to a BBC Radio Sheffield show one Sunday evening in 2021 where a local British Pakistani activist demanded that organisations like Sainsbury’s and the NHS should supply “safe spaces” where non indigenous employees could be safe from “the white gaze”.
There are many many more examples of this deliberate divisiveness that you must be aware of.

Perry de Havilland
Perry de Havilland
3 months ago

And no-one wants to talk about it

Because no one other than the race obsessed wokesters actually care. And they are right not to care.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
3 months ago

Are people in Britain being kept out of certain neighborhoods as a matter of public policy? If not, it’s no one’s business who lives where.

Mike Wylde
Mike Wylde
3 months ago

The only ones proposing segrigation are the immigrants who refuse to integrate. The ones who have fled their homeland but now insist that the traditions of what they fled must be implemented in their place of sanctuary. The only difference being that whilst before they were just part of the common masses they must now be the self appointed “community leaders” doing to others what they were certain was being done to them.
In the majority of cases if they wanted to integrate they would be welcomed as those who do try to integrate have been.

John Lee
John Lee
3 months ago

I am a white, English, Londoner ; Born of white English parents.
Why does it annoy me so much that I find myself an ethnic minority in my home city.

Marcia McGrail
Marcia McGrail
3 months ago
Reply to  John Lee

Shhh. Be careful of being proud of all your attributes; that’s for other nationalities to trumpet & flag wave — those of us who are w…., E…..,[city], of w….E…… parents are to be silent and flagless unless we want to be labelled racist, xenophobic, patriotic bigots (I might have missed a couple out but I’m sure there’s always someone there to remind me).

Jonathan Story
Jonathan Story
3 months ago

Didb the author chose the title. Segregation implies a policy choice, a government backed segregation policy. This does not exist. Its plain BS. Libluvvies finding something to whine about. Pathetic.

Samuel Gee
Samuel Gee
3 months ago

I would have liked to have seen some analysis of how people respectively feel about this lack of integration. As we know there are good practical reasons why communities congregate togther in particular areas. Church, friends and family affiliation, businesses that cater to particular communities. I don’t think the big explanation is racism, though I am sure it exists. It’s also about whether people feel comfortable moving into a new area. It can be class based as well. And it’s not all about race either. It’s also a class thing. It may be that you have made a fortune at the scrap metal business earn 7 figures, employ 100s of people and have serious business interests but you may not feel that you’d fit in along the leafier streets which you could easily afford. Maybe you move to somewhere where there’s lots of money but people aree more like you. Share your values.

Jerry Smith
Jerry Smith
3 months ago
Reply to  Samuel Gee

Agree. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from several years running a guest house in Sri Lanka it’s that mixing with people from different cultures, classes and political views is hugely life-enhancing. Before that, the people I worked and socialised with were entirely graduates, entirely left of centre and overwhelmingly white and middle class. And of course we all have the right to choose not to associate with people who are not like us, but I would submit that those of us who exercise that choice are the poorer for it. Whatever their race, religion, class or philosophy.

Hilary Easton
Hilary Easton
3 months ago
Reply to  Jerry Smith

I totally agree that mixing with people of different cultures etc is life-enhancing as well as interesting and inspirational. However, that is very different from being a small minority (non-Asian) in the midst of a cohesive community with a different language and a certain disdain for ones (British, secular) culture.

AC Harper
AC Harper
3 months ago

Would there be less extremist activity if people from different social backgrounds were more evenly spread throughout the general population? I doubt that this could be proven.
Plus there are plenty of Scots who prefer to live in Scotland, Welsh in Wales, Yorkshire people in Yorkshire, etc. Are they going to be persuaded to mix more too?

Hilary Easton
Hilary Easton
3 months ago
Reply to  AC Harper

In fairness, there are a lot of Scots who prefer to live ‘down here’.

John Murray
John Murray
3 months ago

What is the reason anybody should care? Article doesn’t really explain. To be honest, this seems like yet another attempt to import American concerns and hang-ups about race into the UK. Also the elephant in the room seems like the possibility that the UK Muslim population are fairly happy having their kids segregated and may choose that for themselves.

Hilary Easton
Hilary Easton
3 months ago
Reply to  John Murray

I think they do chose it and in some ways I sympathise, because their culture is so very different and they want to preserve it. I used to live in a majority Asian area of London and found that I did not want my children to be a small minority in the local school, so I ‘bused’ them to a neighbouring area where they would be in the majority as non-Muslims.

Andrea X
Andrea X
3 months ago

Had to do a double take here:

“Brendan Cox, the widower of Jo Cox the MP murdered by a white identity extremist and now a campaigner for more cohesive communities, says…”

I didn’t know that Jo Cox’s murderer is now campaigning for more social cohesion. Good on him, I suppose.

Last edited 3 months ago by Andrea X
N Forster
N Forster
3 months ago

Because the multicultural “parallel play” you describe can lead to resentment and hostility between communities.
From my own experience, I’ve only seen one country where multiculturalism truly works – where the country is both harmonious and prosperous. And that has required considerable government intervention and significant restrictions on personal freedoms to create and maintain – Singapore.
People there are reminded constantly that they are Singaporean first, all other identities second. Allocation of housing is controlled to reflect the countries racial mix and to prevent the creation of ghettos. People are encouraged to enjoy one anothers’ cultures, yet at the same time it is always clear which culture is dominant. The country is prosperous without any resources other than its people and the people are deeply patriotic. So there is little to suggest the Singaporean model could ever work in the UK.
So that is why segregation is a problem. Without significant guidance It leads to more serious problems. Integration has its own problems, least of all it is now viewed by our educated betters as a form of white supremacy.

Last edited 3 months ago by N Forster
Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
3 months ago
Reply to  N Forster

I think the whole idea of multi-culturalism is flawed.
The happy clappy, hopey soapey idea of *enjoying* different cultures all together is hopeless. Any society has one culture that binds it together.
One can and should respect other cultures but having a country made up of a kaleidoscope of different cultures is impossible.
Hence the only example is a country where discipline, social control and the sort of values that used be called *Puritan work ethic* are necessary, and infact create a new *culture* above the multi-cultures.
Or else people ghettoise themselves, precisely so they can be in their own culture.

Peter Hall
Peter Hall
3 months ago

Here is some interesting information on the ethnic composition of people who live in social housing.
17% of all people live in social housing in the UK compared to 3% to 4% in Australia and Canada.
44% of Black African, 41% mixed white/Black African, 40% of Black Caribbean people, 33% of Bangladeshi people, 32% of Arab live in social housing.
https://www.ethnicity-facts-figures.service.gov.uk/housing/social-housing/renting-from-a-local-authority-or-housing-association-social-housing/3.1#by-ethnicity
One tool that the authorities could use to reduce segregation is to make more social housing available in White British areas and insist that they are only available to BAME people. Then Britain, like the BBC could be less “hideously white”.
The British people, as demonstrated by their voting record, are vehemently in favour of rapid population growth, unconstrained immigration and a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society. They keep voting for parties that have delivered that outcome over 70 years and explicitly anti-immigration parties have never earned more than 1% of the vote.

Alan Tonkyn
Alan Tonkyn
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter Hall

I think social housing could indeed be used to reduce ethnic segregation, which I see as an evil with dangerous future outcomes for society. In Singapore, where the overwhelming majority of people live in social (government-subsidised) housing, there is a requirement for estates to be ethnically mixed in line with national proportions. In a region where racial tensions have flared up into conflicts in the past, I believe this policy has helped to promote a sense of cross-racial solidarity. Recently, when some PRC immigrants objected to the smell of their Singaporean Indian neighbours’ curry, there was a movement amongst outraged Singaporeans of all races to ‘cook a curry for Singapore’!

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
3 months ago
Reply to  Alan Tonkyn

It would certainly be interesting to see Leicester or London estates required by law to be mixed in line with national proportions.

Samuel Gee
Samuel Gee
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter Hall

A couple of things here. Multiculturalism is the opposite if integration/assimilation. It means communities keeping their distinct idenitities as in “multi”. Integration/assimilation differ only by a matter of degree but both are aimed at creating some kind homogeneity. Many communities especially the succesful ones manage a dualism where they integrate in the wider social sphere very well and keep their idenitity for family and community and religious spheres.
Unless you are willing to change the polarity of the wiring away from multiculturalism and toward integration/assimilation then plonking small numbers of people down in council estates according to some ethnic quota and where they are very much a separate minority isn’t a great idea. Currently they have managed to create a community where they aren’t a tiny distinct minority. Family close by, people with the same identity next door or across the road or likely to pass by. The sort of place where where people with an animus towards them would think twice about starting any trouble. It sounds like you might want to take them away from all that.
I am all for integration but first you have reverse the multiculturalism that has encouraged communities to remain distinct. When they have psychologically integrated, then you might want to encourage them to fully integrate.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
3 months ago
Reply to  Samuel Gee

I agree with this…the idea of multiculturalism seems a contradiction in terms.
Which doesn’t mean one should not respect other choices and other cultures.
But we can’t have a *culture* in which many atomised *cultures* exist just as they would in which ever places or countries they evolved in.
Of course with the rapid pace at which immigrants can arrive in the modern world we get large numbers of people moving across the world and thus transplanting their culture into other countries.
But if they don’t integrate and homogenise within the existing culture theirs no chance of that harmonious multi ethnic kind of society that people seem to muddle up under the label *multi cultural*/
The *respect* the culture has to work both ways…what platform for peaceful understanding is there if someone is an atheist and someone else is very strongly religious.
I can completely respect the religious impulse even though I don’t share it..but I would be very worried if stringent laws, or practices were introduced by whatever religion may introduce them.
Right now we have a shadow debate in which people wonder why Poland, that was barring immigrants which huge fences just weeks ago, has now taken hundreds of thousands in a fortnight.
The answer is clearly obvious but we have to pretend not to see it just at the moment as Poland, the usual bad boy of the EU on immigration, is the refuge providing hero of the moment.

George Stone
George Stone
2 months ago
Reply to  Ted Ditchburn

I think the long border between the 2 countries has a lot to do with it!

Kathleen Stern
Kathleen Stern
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter Hall

They are certainly NOT in favour of mass migration or a multi ethnic society as you mockingly assert. All of then3 major political parties have pushed this and because the voting system is first past the post,these views are imposed by the major parties. Small parties struggle to survive and win votes in this system.

Paul Smithson
Paul Smithson
3 months ago

Being an ex Bradfordian this is an issue close to my heart. Unfortunately. A stream of politicians, most of them not from Bradford, spent a fortune introducing policies that basically divided the city. Rather tham embrace the culture of immigrant integration that had worked well for decades (Poles, Latvians, Lithuanians, Germans, Africans, etc) th

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
3 months ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

I had to go to Bradford 15 years ago for a sports coaching seminar for my daughter that lasted a day.
To pass the time my wife and I couldn’t believe it when we were driving through an area near the centre.
In a busy street, full of people we were the only culturally British people defined by language and our outfits.
My point is not racial it is cultural.
Everyone else was dressed as people dress in Lahore, and hardly anyone was speaking English which is their right of course; but it was hard to discern any integration or assimilation into the British culture I see where I live and elsewhere.
No doubt anyone of those people walking down the main shopping street where I live would feel the same.
I don’t know if Bradford is still the same, I haven’t had any reason to go back since.

Hilary Easton
Hilary Easton
3 months ago
Reply to  Ted Ditchburn

It’s odd that you would be expected to accept with equanimity being a racial and cultural minority in this town, but I read that POC finding themselves in the minority in the countryside and other places loved by the white majority, complain that somehow ‘racism’ has kept them out and they are ‘not welcome’ in the countryside.

Stephen Snow
Stephen Snow
3 months ago

Another thought provoking piece from Goodhart. I agree that the present level of segregation is problem even if it is entirely voluntary and in a sense “natural”. Immigrants will obviously cluster together for mutual support when they first arrive but over time one would hope that they would diffuse out into the whole of society. It is the slow rate of diffusion that is worrying. Given the comments so far I can see why politicians shy away from the issue.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
3 months ago

I’ve noticed that in the last 20 years the number of black people I see in my area on the south coast has risen significantly, along with businesses aimed at black culture, such as hairdressers and food retail. It doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I don’t know any black people in my social circle but I’m sure we’d be nice to each other if we did overlap socially.
Like you, I don’t see any need to force or encourage people to have diverse ethnicity in their social circles, as long as people are integrating by attending schools, learning English, voting, etc. In fact retaining ethnic boundaries makes the country more interesting when one does get exposed to different ethnic culture eg My beautiful launderette, Bend it like Beckham.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
3 months ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

That is a hopelessly naive view of what it is going on.
In Batley or many other places.
The fact that you don’t know any black people indicates you are not living in a multi cultural environment. Skin colour is irrelevant, some of the most British people I have known and worked with have been other ethnicities. But they have created a slightly different Hindu or Islam culture blended with British.
Their culture is identifiably British.
But in quite a few areas of quite a few cities there are areas have become not clearly identifiable as British
The idea of multi-culturalism has been have un-integrated cultures somehow sharing the social, civic and even legal space.
It is to preserve the separate culture that people ghettoise themselves and in the main it is those people we (traditional British culture types) (obviously) never usually meet.
The issue isn’t racism at all.
But until we can discuss it clearly without all the smoke and flames accusations of racism create we haven’t much hope of solving the problems we see growing daily across the West.

Paula Williams
Paula Williams
3 months ago

The underlying problem is the diversity meme. It holds back immigrant cultures from properly fitting in, adapting and adopting the Western culture that has been good enough to take them in. What is needed is to encourage assimilation rather than diversity, thereby making immigrants truly British and accepted.

Simon Tavanyar
Simon Tavanyar
3 months ago
Reply to  Paula Williams

I’ll say it differently, if I may. Diversity per se is good, but only so long as we recognize that we are one big human family. Diversity says that, “All are welcome here.” That’s good.
Instead we have Multiculturalism, which is the OPPOSITE of diversity. Multiculturalism denies that we are all one big human family. Multiculturalism defines boundaries of exclusion because you are the wrong color or religion or you eat the wrong food. Identity politics further pushes people into inward-facing groups, at war with all the other groups. Your religion does not define you. Your color does not define you.
Being human defines you. We are all one human race and we should not be afraid of each other. Our political culture has been stoking fear for decades and it’s evil. It has to stop.

N Forster
N Forster
3 months ago

Yes, what could possibly be wrong with ghettos?

Paula Williams
Paula Williams
3 months ago

Segregation is the obvious consequence of the prominence and encouragement given to cultural diversity.
If this was dropped and instead assimilation was promoted, society would be much more whole and harmonious.

Martin Humphreys
Martin Humphreys
3 months ago

At risk of sounding stupid, why is integration something we ought to aim for?

Peter LR
Peter LR
3 months ago

How long is a piece of string? How long does integration take? Demographics continually change. Leicester is now a majority non-white city. The US seems really slow in integration whereas Britain shows more positive signs: eg number of mixed-race partnerships. It’s an easy subject to have a rant about and get yourself some publicity.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter LR

I don’t think Mixed race is a sign of integration, Happily, in perhaps a shorter time than we may think mixed race ethnicity will become the main one across Europe.
The issue isn’t really race although that is endlessly how it is discussed …the clue is in the label *multi-cultural*.
Racial mixing is a good thing, but culture is about values, ideas, beliefs and convictions, and a host of other things.
One reason many chattering class people talk about not seeing any problem is because they(we) do know people from many different races. I do, but they/we are far more homogenised culturally than many of them/us are with people who share our ethnicities.
They are not really multi cultural so much as culturally very similar with little variations around the edges.

N Forster
N Forster
3 months ago

it seems a great many comments have been removed. Shame, there was some interesting points made.