This is the report based on the parliamentary symposium we organised last year for the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism. The report is introduced by John Mann MP with an afterword by Baroness Sayeeda Warsi. Press release:
Report explores what drives far right and radical Islamist movements in Britain
27 May 2014
A new report, ‘Integration, Disadvantage and Extremism’, produced by researchers from COMPAS and Birkbeck, University of London, for the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, examines what drives extremism in British society.
It suggests that Islamist and far-right extremism are often two sides of the same coin with radical ideologies being embraced by people who feel marginalised as they appear to offer an explanation for, or an answer to, a sense of grievance or lack of opportunity.
The report, which offers new insights from ten leading academics and thinkers, says extremism and integration cannot be tackled at a local level alone. Nor can they be addressed in isolation from tackling issues of disadvantage and inequality. It suggests a unified national strategy is required to build community cohesion and integration, incorporating legal and policy responses, and with a renewed commitment to improving social mobility and racial justice.
Professor David Feldman, Director of the Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism at Birkbeck, University of London, who co-edited the report, said: ‘Xenophobia, Islamophobia and antisemitism are promoted by leaders and ideologues to drive many different forms of extremism. Their appeal to followers is rooted in social and political grievances. Intolerance and racism cannot be understood or fought in isolation from tackling their underlying causes.’
Report co-editor Dr Ben Gidley, Associate Professor in the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) at the University of Oxford, said: ‘Integration – or a lack of it – is experienced at a local level on the streets of Britain’s towns and cities. This research suggests a more effective national strategy is needed to overcome barriers to integration; otherwise, there is a risk that we create conditions within which extremism can flourish.’
One of the report contributors, leading sociologist Professor Anthony Heath from the University of Oxford, identifies what he calls ‘the paradox of integration’. He suggests that second generation British Muslims are becoming more aware of inequalities in British society than their parents’ generation were. ‘Simple caricatures of Muslims as leading separate lives will not do,’ concludes Professor Heath. ‘Non-Muslim British citizens must do their part too to live up to the ideal of providing equality of opportunity for their Muslim fellow citizens.’
Professor Heath, who led the Ethnic Minority British Electoral Survey (EMBES) in 2010, found that while 94% of Muslims born in Britain expressed their national identity as British or English, compared with 66% of first generation Muslims who migrated here, their perceptions of discrimination and exclusion have increased: 46% of second generation British Muslims felt there was prejudice against Muslims as compared with 27% of the previous generation; 20% of second generation Muslims also felt discriminated against because of their religion as compared with 8% in the first generation.
The reasons why people support far right organisations, as well as the UK Independence Party (UKIP), in Britain are also explored. Vidhya Ramalingam, from the London-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), argues that there is ‘a wide reservoir of tacit support’ in Britain for ideas put forward by the far right. ‘The UK has historically been fertile ground for movements thriving on discontent with mainstream political institutions, popular xenophobia and euro-scepticism,’ she adds in the report. She suggests that although the UK Independence Party (UKIP) is not a right-wing extremist party, there are overlaps between its policy proposals and those of the far right. Her review of existing research concludes it is important not to stereotype these groups or their assumed support base as being from ‘the white working class’.
UKIP’s ‘narrative of divide and rule’ is explored by Professor Ben Rogaly from the Sussex Centre for Migration Research and Dr Becky Taylor from Birkbeck, University of London. They explore what is meant by the white working class, arguing that UKIP seeks to separate “strivers” from the “skivers” to justify cuts in benefits, and immigrants and ethnic minorities from the so-called indigenous population. Their research includes case studies in Peterborough of white working class individuals who have moved to the area, and assesses their views of international migrants. The authors suggest that politicians ‘should be bolder in articulating the structures which give rise to common experiences of inequality and disadvantage, rather than focusing on external markers of difference’.
*The report, ‘Integration, Disadvantage and Extremism’, is co-edited by Ben Gidley of COMPAS at the University of Oxford and David Feldman of the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism at Birkbeck, University of London. The essays are based on research papers presented at a symposium hosted last year by the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism (APPG).
*The Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) is an ESRC-funded research centre within the University of Oxford. Since 2003, COMPAS has established an international reputation for original research and policy relevance. It has undertaken a strategic programme of multidisciplinary social scientific research, publications and dissemination, events, knowledge transfer and user engagement activities. For more information, see: www.compas.ox.ac.uk.
*The Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism was established by the Pears Foundation and is based at Birkbeck, University of London. It is a centre of research and teaching, contributing to discussion and policy formation on antisemitism and racism. See www.pearsinstitute.bbk.ac.uk
*The All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism was established to combat antisemitism and help develop and seek implementation of effective public policy to combat antisemitism. Administrative support is provided to the group by the Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism Foundation. See www.antisemitism.org.uk/parliament
Dr Ben Gidley is a senior researcher at the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society at the University of Oxford. He leads research on integration.
Professor David Feldman is Director of the Pears Institute for the study of antisemitism at Birkbeck, University of London. His research focuses on the history of minorities and their place in British society.
Anthony Heath is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Oxford and Professor of Sociology at Manchester University. He has written widely on ethnicity, stratification, and labour markets, as well as minority ethnic electoral behaviour and multiculturalism.
Vidhya Ramalingam is responsible for the Institute for Strategic Dialogue’s work on far right extremism.
Ben Rogaly is Professor of Human Geography and a member of the Centre for Migration Research at the University of Sussex. His work explores social and historical geographies of migration and identity in England.
Becky Taylor is Lecturer of History at Birkbeck, University of London, and Visiting Research Fellow in the Department of Geography, University of Sussex. She has published widely on the history of migrants and minorities in Britain.