So, who does the Mail think is British?


11:21 pm - February 25th 2009

by Sunder Katwala    


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Dear Mr Dacre,

I was disappointed to read reported in today’s Daily Mail that the newspaper regards it as a mistake to consider that the children or grandchildren of immigrants are British, but rather would classify us as “second or third generation immigrants”.

although the figures from the Government’s Office for National Statistics show an increase in numbers of foreign born people they still fail to record the true impact of immigration because they record their children as British rather than second or third generation immigrants.

I hope that your proposed reclassification of Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry as not British, as second and third generation immigrants descended from the foreign-born Phillip, will not distress them too much.

But it does seem most ungrateful, when Winston Churchill was voted ‘greatest Briton’, to now strip him of that status because he had an American mother. (However strongly your newspaper disagreed with Churchill’s criticisms of appeasement in the 1930s, isn’t it now time to let bygones be bygones?)

Perhaps you could let us know who the Daily Mail thinks is truly British. I can see you probably think it is too late for my children – as “third generation immigrants”, currently aged under 3 – but perhaps there might be a tip or two they could pass on to their descendants.

So, given our shared interests in integration and citizenship, it would be terribly kind if you might let us know whether there is anything that those of us who were born here as British citizens could ever do so as to become British in your eyes.

Yours sincerely,

Sunder Katwala

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About the author
Sunder Katwala is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He is the director of British Future, a think-tank addressing identity and integration, migration and opportunity. He was formerly secretary-general of the Fabian Society.
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Reader comments


This? Is made of awesome.

win of the year. great stuff.

Loyalty to this country. In France, if one serves in the Foreign Legion for more than 5 yrs or one served in the Roman Army then one automatically becomes a citizen of the country. Basically it is loyalty to this country. If one was born in another country but when on living in this country one supports this country against all others, then one is a citizen of this country. Consequently, citizenship is independent of race, religion, skin colour and language .Anyone who has ever put their life on the line for this country, has earned the right to be a citizen of this county along with their immediate family.

Their may be certain customs and practices which are acceptable in one’s counrty of birth which are not acceptable in this country and one should be happy and willing to adjust accordingly.

In order to maximise benefit from obtaining citizenship and understand the way one’s new compatriots think, feel and act, then it is often beneficail to understand, language, history, geography, culture, customs and religious practices of this country.

Nicholas Pevsner was born outside the UK but became our greatest recorder of our architectural history. Archbishop Sentenu has educated native born Britons in their Christian and religious traditions.Consequently, a foreign born British citizen may be ideal in educating native born Britons in their history, culture, customs, religion and practices. Perhaps we ought to say Britain is a country and an idea. All those who believe in the idea of Britain and pledge their loyalty to this country is British.

This is fucking disgusting, and straight out of the BNP’s handbook.

I remember when we used to fight online battles with National Front people who came over to try and invade and mess up Asian forums. They had a saying: “Just because a dog is born in a stable doesn’t mean it becomes a horse.”

Looks like the Daily Mail is now singing from the same hymn sheet.

Fantastic stuff.

Absolutely bloody brilliant.

I may well re-post this at PR and do some ‘what is Britishness’ ranting later in the week.

Laurie.
(Irish, Russian and Maltese – 3rd gen. immigrant)

I suspect it’s a mentality that’s left over from the days when 99.9% of the population were descended from the Anglo-Saxons, Celts and related tribes. Back then it would be easier to conflate Britishness with race. For those who grow up in almost all-white areas I suspect the mentality lingers on.

Clearly if someone has lived in Britain all their life, they cannot be an immigrant here.

Sunder, if this was a boxing match you’d be peeling them off the floor.

Great stuff.

Charlie (4): depends on what you mean by ‘loyalty to this country’.

I certainly don’t feel loyalty to the government and I’m not particularly arsed about our football team either. My cultural influences are as much American as British.

I don’t particularly feel loyal to any other countries though (St Patrick’s Day excepted) and I wouldn’t deliberately go out of my way to harm British people just for the hell of it.

I think that’s enough to make me a patriot.

The Daily Mail and its editors/writers are from a different dimension, let alone the same country as the rest of us

You can imagine what my thoughts were when we did our family tree and we all came over from Normandy.

At least it wasn’t France then – just an extension of England. But still…

12. Golam Murtaza

For a decent summary about how and why the Daily Mail is such a venemous outfit check out the relevant chapter in the book ‘Flat Earth News’, by Nick Davies. Sobering stuff.

The Daily Mail makes my skin crawl for so many reasons. Here’s another one to add to the list.

I am British under these criteria. But I’m a little worried that since both my parents have emigrated I might retrospectively cease to be British. Can the Mail reassure me?

15. Lorna Spenceley

Best web site posting of the year so far. Awesome.

Rob @ 17

That’s brilliant. Very funny. You should write in

The Mail view is inherently colour-driven racist. What it is really saying is that the. Second or third generation of non-white immigrants may think British, speak with a British accent etc etc etc but they still aren’t quite white.

Still if the Mail wants to limit its readership base like that it will have no future. The rest of the country has moved on.

18. organic cheeseboard

Just because a man is born in a stable doesn’t mean it becomes a horse

AFAIK this phrase (with man replacing dog) was first used by Lord Wellington – who considered himself British (the ‘man’ part, with messianic overtones) but was in fact Irish (Ireland as stable and the Irish as horses)…

11. Shatterface . Not committing or encouraging acts of violence against Britons and/or British property and being prepared to provide information to the Police against those who do so. When it comes to national interests , putting Britain’s before other countries .After WW1 , Asquith called those industrialists who had made substantial profits out of the conflict ” The hard faced men on the Conservatives benches”. Therefore I would question the “Bitishness ” of those in business ho sell off out natonal assets to foreign buyers and evade taxes using off shore accounts whose actions are detrimental to the British economy. Personally , those who wave the flag and then undertake commercial actions detrimental to Britain hypocritical. After WW1 , Baldwin The Tory prime Minister gave one third of his wealth to Britain to pay off the national debt and encouraged others to do likewise. Many regular officers gave up their pensions to pay off the national debt. In Germany, the various banks and companies wrok together to prevent foreign ownership of strategically important businesses- for example the car industry.

Just because a dog is born in a stable doesn’t mean it becomes a horse.” </i.

That is a Bernard Manning line and dull though he may have been I think you ought to admit there is a kernel of truth in it . Life is never neat and tidy but predictable outrage misses the point .Where there has been a separate community and that community has failed to integrate with the main stream , like many Muslim and Asian people , that has an impact of on the character of the country no matter what generations have passed .
Some may feel this is a good thing and that a multicultural England is something we should all be grateful for. I do not see it as a” good “thing exactly .It can be tolerated up to a point but there has been no gain for this country. There is far too much “ What I am owed “ and no ,”What have I contributed “ This goes right against the communitarian grain ion Englishness . We hate queue jumpers .
Many people agree with me and at all events would like to see figures that reflect the current state of play. People who take an interest know that immigration itself is only one part of the picture but immigration figures are used as if they bore a relation to the dilution of the countries inherited culture. As a corrective to the hoax that starts “Immigration” at zero every few years “ it has some place in the picture.

(You cannot deny it except by resorting to the ignorant abuse that makes my case for me .)

The Mail are misguided because they included an “genetic “ content and thus open themselves to the charge of racism . This is no doubt the cause of much delight in “Progressive “circles who wish to equate all Nationalism with the holocaust , even when it is a pride in the very country that stood alone against the Nazis . In reality this is only a slip . They do not mean that a Black or Brown man cannot be English ,of course they can . Mixed race families like mine ( not English ?) are a fast growing group but they are a group which is not a “Community” . We are simply English and regard skin pigment of no more importance that nose length , freckliness of pallor and so on.

I would suggest if you want to think about this at a level above the usual moronic name calling start from the other direction. What does the word “English” mean ? (Britain , we can forget it is now simply s asset of entitlements with no more cultural import , it once meant greater England )

What are the components of Englishness ?

I would say it is a floating set of meanings in which race is a small part but not in a “racist “ sense . A typical Englishman is unlikely to be pictured as Black , the phrase “ An English beauty” is unlikely to be applied to Mrs N for example . Nonetheless she is English and such expectations or just part of the usual flux of meaning . So it is not an all or nothing but this is really a minor matter exaggerated so as to attack the more important English values and shared culture
Does English include a component of what we might call sharing English values ?
Certainly , and religious values that conflict with them are important in defining Englishness .The history of Common Law Parliament literature , even visual art betray a certain habit of mind we find clearly from Chaucer to Orwell
Now to tell such a people that the country is no more than a car park they happened to park in and that they have change to suit people that turned up yesterday is not reasonable . There must be tolerance but it must also not be abused .There must e a recognition that this is a home and inheritance not just a scrap of land . To deny the word “ English’ means more than simply having been born here is to abuse language , sense and a nation with nothing to be ashamed of and much to be proud of .

.,” Just because a dog is born in a stable doesn’t mean it becomes a horse.”

Well does it ?

I am, by LC’s standards, right wing and my blog is right wing (actually it’s libertarian but I’m still a bit of a Dave & Boris lover). However, this Mail article has upset me greatly. I’ve now emailed it to loads of friends and posted about it on my blog (it’s particuarly relevent, as by the Mail’s standards, my very English wife is apparently not English). Well done LC for drawing this brainless work of hatred to my attention.

Can someone please remind me what the Mail said about the plight of the Gurkhas.

Newmania

Your discussion on the cultural and national identity of the English and Englishness – however interesting it might be to interrogate it – is a separate issue, something of a tangent on this occasion. If you read the Daily Mail article, the point it criticises is the idea that the children and grandchildren should be classified as British.
(1) It complains that the statistics of those who are “foreign born” in Britain are misleading because they fail to count the next two generations, born in Britain, as either foreign born or as “immigrants”. (This is, presumably, because they are neither).
(2) It doesn’t understand how the Office of National Statistics got the idea that those born in this country as the children and grandchildren of immigrants are “British”.

In fairness, it is probably not the considered position of the Daily Mail’s editorial line that one can not become British for four generations. They like to promote integration – preferably into their own (somewhat contested) reading of what the ties of our common citizenship are and should be. This news report has simply slipped, perhaps subconsciously, into claiming that, perhaps through Mail staff ignorance of British history, our constitution and British citizenship – which leaves them able to publish something so lamentably confused about the differences between place of birth, ethnic origin, nationality and citizenship.

This might be stupid, or malevolent. However, let me suggest a more benign reading. Why not
take it as a helpful reminder that – while the integration of immigrants and new Britons is important – citizenship education really needs to be for everybody if it is going to work.
http://www.nextleft.org/2009/02/daily-mail-in-want-of-citizenship.html

Englishness is another, different issue from the one at stake here. Being British is a civic identity, to be British is and always has been to be part of an inherently multinational state, and about the content of our common citizenship within it. Englishness is one of the varieties of Britishness, and so contributes some of its plural content, and is of great importance to many people in terms of their cultural and national identity. But it is not the same. It is perhaps underarticulated and underdefined. the English, in truth, have not thought enough about what (if anything) they want by way of recognition especially in the political sphere (as opposed to as a cultural identity), still less done anything of any genuine salience to organise advocacy or pressure for it (which is a major reason why nothing has happened, in contrast to the Scots, who did do this 20 years ago).

This may well be changing a bit: at which point there will be many complex and nuanced discussions about how to define Englishness as a cultural identity which can encapsulate the many different ways in which the English, as we are now, represent that Englishness, including whether there is any political component of that. The question of how much of a role the idea of English as a blood and soil national identity, or instead as a historic tradition, how far it might retain any racial component, and how far that has now changed can legitimately be part of that discussion. And some of that needs to be thought through if the English are to remain within a pro-British consensus, or if they did not want to.

One modest proposal of mine is that the English should use English, not British, cultural symbols when representing England, not Britain, as in some national sports. It is one small symbol of this ignorance and confusion that England use the British anthem when playing rugby against Scotland or Wales. And so that is an easy way to give more space and attention to England and the English, which advocates of greater attention to Englishness should promote
http://www.nextleft.org/2009/02/give-us-english-anthem-for-britains.html

But all of that is a quite separate issue from citizenship: that remains British so long as there remains sufficient political consensus among the different nations of Britain for that to be the case. (While people can individually say ‘I am English, not British’ this can not be true in terms of citizenship and our political community unless and until they win a public, political argument to withdraw from the Union. The same of course applies to the Scottish, the Welsh and the Northern Irish, though our political institutions can recognise these plural identities, again depending on what is politically advocated and negotiated).

Do I take it you all disagree with classifying people by their racial/national/religious ancestry? A British Asian is British? There is no Black Police association? You lot started it. You reap what you sow and I’m afraid you cunts planted the seeds of segregation.

Romani Ite Domum! – Romans Go Home!

Britain has always been a home for people from elsewhere – It all went down hill when those Anglo Saxons turned up – it was nice before them!

Britain before the English was a peaceful place where you could meet proper British people .. who were defended from the Romans, the Asian and African slaves of Romans, Pics, Beaker People, various celts and anyone else who happened to land here over the past 4-5000 years that people have known about the Tin Islands.

The Daily Mail article is racist crap and should not be given the time of day by any rational thinker.

One point.

My children are of mixed race and I am continually requested to fill in school forms etc regarding their “ethnicity”. I always refuse to tick any box on the grounds that they are British and that their genetic background is irrelevant.

I am told the reason for this is so that the performance of children from different ethnic backgrounds can be monitored. In a sense this is as racist as the Mail and the impetus comes from the race relations industry!!!

Let’s keep it simple. Any child born in this country is British and anyone stupid enough to make any judgements or assumptions based on their skin colour has problems.

Well said, Pagar. Unfortunately, this is the legacy of years of failed multi-cultural policies from our left-leaning policy makers. Don’t expect any apology from them.

28. Ken McKenzie

@pagar,

“I am told the reason for this is so that the performance of children from different ethnic backgrounds can be monitored. In a sense this is as racist as the Mail and the impetus comes from the race relations industry!!!”

Sorry, you’re mistaken. I am very much not involved in the “race relations industry”, but I do work in social research – specifically employment.

Data on the backgrounds of people involved in the labour market enables us to research how far, if at all, there is disadvantage for groups in society, and to provide actual evidence to hold organisations to account if their policies are ineffective or do not work. It’s perfectly reasonable not to want to give this information; it is incorrect that it’s only wanted for nefarious purposes or to serve some nebulous agenda.

“You lot started it.”

Are you, by any chance, not gonna be our friend anymore?

Blood and Soil ? Blimey not here I think “ Home and legacy “ , but that does not mean we are nothing at all. .No-one denies that even those who plot against and hate this country are often British citizens , for example so what ; only because we cannot catch them !
If that’s the easy point you are making then you are not engaging with the Mail`s real agenda .
The Daily Mail is not right but only by being clumsy. “Immigration “ is understood by many people to mean ‘rate of change ‘.In that actual immigration is a relatively small part of that now ‘immigration figures’ certainly require additional information to present a true picture
This broad point is right and you are picking on an error of detail to attack the general truth . I think thats all there is to be said on that .
Your version of Britishness’ as a merely legal term is one with which I agree. Britain in fact evolved a shared identity as ‘Greater England’ which is why England and Englishness sat happily in it . We can see this in the acknowledgement of RP as the standard ( and English dialect originally ) .Even when this was varied to include National dialects it is still the point of reference on grammar . Real dialectal divergence is still forbidden.
With the emergence of Celtic Nationalism since the Britishness has dissipated to the point of extinction .Add to this the export of executive power to Brussels mass immigration and state imposition of multiculturalism and there is little or no engagement with the idea.
It is important to understand that British never had deep roots .It borrowed English cultural norms and a word forgotten since the Romans . It was the “Mercia “ of its day if you cannot grasp this you will grasp little that follows
Your notion of a multicultural ‘ Britain’ then is sheer a-historical invention and while you are right in confers entitlements with support withered to nothing that is insufficient for any sustainable country . The break up of nations is in any case a world wide phenomenon and likely continue as long as security recedes as an immediate concern .

The establishment of ethnically coherent states of course presents special problem for minorities ,but Englishness has always been easily acquired for those who wish to Just as the language operate peculiarly between groups . What must be dropped is the idea that there is no Englishness to acquire as some would prefer , or that the English themselves have no special place in England
I don’t think we should wish for too tidy an answer neither do I see the streets flowing with blood . I advocate the idea of subornation of private separateness as practised by the Jews ( and many Asians such as your good self and Sunny lets face it ) within the Publicly dominant English culture . I demand ,in common with the vast majority ,the control of immigration to sensible levels and things will soon settle down .On the other hand the fag end of eugenic theories of the 20th century must be stamped out where they persist . I see no evidence of any great interest in such ideas myself .
I wish England to remain English . I want the politicians to reflect that. I represent the vast majority , and those do not must stand up say so and seek election not hide in the Labour movement ….( he muttered darkly ). If you are signed up to this then we have no disagreement.

What particularly struck me about the Daily Mail piece is that I pretty much tick all their boxes on “traditional English” – as I blogged at http://www.libdemvoice.org/according-to-the-daily-mail-im-a-foreigner-11777.html – but they still think I should count as foreign.

“British” is an answer you write on a form which asks you your nationality – (if you have a passport from Great Britain)

– therefore “British” is a passport – nothing more and nothing less.

I don’t know why you guys are complicating it?

The Daily Mail is wrong. Britishness is not about birth, blood or even necessarily soil. It is about allegiance to the Crown and adherence to British values. The BNP, by this yardstick, are a bunch of dangerous foreigners.

Just to clarify my comment before the outrage pours in, I don’t mean that republicans or Roundheads are/were un-British, just that the Ghurkas who fight for the Crown are as British as anyone and that common allegiance is the best quality of a nation.

Furthermore, as a non-white second-gen immigrant, my only encounter with racism was a government official that forced me to disclose my ethnic identity (‘prefer not to say’ or ‘British’ were not options).

“ethnic identity (’prefer not to say’ or ‘British’ were not options).”

Cicero, if you can’t even bring yourself to proudly proclaim your ethnic/genetic background then how do you expect anyone else to respect you?

“British” is not an ethinicity – its a word to describe people holding a passport of a piece of land called Great Britain – that is all.

I’m confused now – am I a foreigner (having been born in Australia), or 3rd generation British (as my grandfather & back were all born in England)?

I’m just unsure which direction to be outraged in.

37. Green Socialist

Typical racist shite from the Daily Hate Mail. I really don’t care where people are born or if the are British or not.

I’m of Lincolnshire and Austrain Jewish extraction, my partner is from Irish, Cockney and French Protestant roots.

4th Generation British jobs for 4th Generation British workers, that’s what I say.

39. Sunder Katwala

Stephen Farrington has a very good quote on precisely this issue from The Economist style guide.
I am also sending a copy of it to Mr Dacre, in case he might want the Mail to adopt it.
http://donttripup.blogspot.com/2009/02/no-style.html

“Generation: take care. You can be a second-generation Frenchman, but if you are a second-generation immigrant that means you have left the country your parents came to”.
http://www.economist.com/research/styleGuide/index.cfm?page=673903

Ken@32

Data on the backgrounds of people involved in the labour market enables us to research how far, if at all, there is disadvantage for groups in society, and to provide actual evidence to hold organisations to account if their policies are ineffective or do not work.

Sorry, Ken, but that, in my view, is racist.

These ‘groups’ you are talking about are defined by their racial origin. You mean well because you attempt to identify them so that you can discriminate on their behalf but that’s not good enough. Because by creating the group in the first place, you are alleging that skin colour is important. It is not.

Lilliput @39

if you can’t even bring yourself to proudly proclaim your ethnic/genetic background then how do you expect anyone else to respect you?

Most reluctant to fall out with you after recent discoveries but can’t agree here.

In my experience most people eager to proclaim such things are plonkers.

Usually black plonkers or Welsh plonkers.

if you can’t even bring yourself to proudly proclaim your ethnic/genetic background then how do you expect anyone else to respect you?

There’s a difference between proclaiming, talking about and referring to your background amongst friends and general discussion – to it being used as a political tool for whatever purpose.

Definitely a ferriner.

And so is my second generation Streatham born daughter, given that her Grandad was from Ireland (and her mother was born in Slough).

Personally, I don’t know about you lot, but I take this as a badge of pride*.

Disenfranchised by the Daily Mail? I’d wear that on a tshirt.

(*No, no, no I am not being unpatriotic or whatever some nit is going to want to shout at me about. I love these islands. They’re my home)

Imagine if all the forms requesting ethnic details were banned – we would all be british again – regardless of colour, accent, religion or whatever.

THAT would be a true multicultural society – one that call itself British – nothing more – like British Black, or less, like native.

It would put every racist ethnic diversity NGO out of business, which would be such a shame – where would these professional shoulder chipper end up working? – the guardian?

Lilliput: Cicero, if you can’t even bring yourself to proudly proclaim your ethnic/genetic background then how do you expect anyone else to respect you?

“British” is not an ethinicity – its a word to describe people holding a passport of a piece of land called Great Britain – that is all.

I really very strongly object to this comment, for many reasons. I don’t have time to go into it, but, in summary:

1) Prescriptive, who are you to tell anyone else how they should or shouldn’t feel about their race? Race is the ultimate personal issue

2) Reductive. Has it not occurred to you that there are many, complex reasons why one might object to being ordered to disclose one’s “race” on a form? Just one example: what if that person’s race isn’t ON the form?

other reasons, but that’s it for now. I really do think you should reconsider your position on this issue, or if not, explain it further.

Cicero, if you can’t even bring yourself to proudly proclaim your ethnic/genetic background then how do you expect anyone else to respect you?

Respect is based on ethnic background? This is a joke, right? Either that or you are a vile, racist imbecile.

There’s a difference between proclaiming, talking about and referring to your background amongst friends and general discussion – to it being used as a political tool for whatever purpose.

OK, Sunny, let’s talk as friends.

Prefer Man Utd or Tottenham?

Do you support Labour or the Tories? (I think I know that one)

Are you gay or straight?

My father was born in Scotland, where was your father born?

What the hell does the pigmentation of your skin have to do with any of this?

#32

“Data on the backgrounds of people involved in the labour market enables us to research how far, if at all, there is disadvantage for groups in society, and to provide actual evidence to hold organisations to account if their policies are ineffective or do not work. It’s perfectly reasonable not to want to give this information; it is incorrect that it’s only wanted for nefarious purposes or to serve some nebulous agenda.”

This requires the racist and patronising assumption that the ethnicity or colour of skin is an important factor in employment. It worse because this way of thinking almost always originates from the white middle-class, who try to impose their socialist utopian view on a thoroughly diverse and unequal World. The negative effects are promoting segregation and holding back minority groups by indoctrinating a sense of alienation and disadvantage.

48. david brough

“This requires the racist and patronising assumption that the ethnicity or colour of skin is an important factor in employment. It worse because this way of thinking almost always originates from the white middle-class, who try to impose their socialist utopian view on a thoroughly diverse and unequal World. The negative effects are promoting segregation and holding back minority groups by indoctrinating a sense of alienation and disadvantage”

FUCK OFF.

This requires the racist and patronising assumption that the ethnicity or colour of skin is an important factor in employment.

Actually, it is:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2004/jul/12/discriminationatwork.workandcareers

But don’t let something small like evidence get in the way of your usual rubbish chavscum.

Pagar, naughtpointzero and cicero, thanks for replying – maybe I used the wrong word when I used “proclaim” – I didn’t mean like a drunken plonker screaming it out at a pub – I meant as a sober person quietly and confidently filling out a form. Think of the race question like the following:

What colour are your eyes? Please circle the most correct one: blue, green, torquoise, brown, hazel, gold, silver, none (on Braille Form) or other please specify…………………………………………………………….

This is what I have seen on forms I’ve filled out. Now I have green eyes, I’m not emotional about the fact that I have green eyes, and my friend with one green and one blue eye can write it in other. This I believe in a truly non racist society is how we should view race – completely unemotionally.

Pagar, I don’t believe that ethinicity is only pigmentation of skin, it means a lot more then that ie its who your parents, grandparent and greatgrandparents were and it goes into what makes you the person you are today – but it doesn’t need to be an emotional issue for anyone – just like asking what colour eyes you have?

Sunny, I just read the article – thats not based on racism but people equating Muslim with terrorist and not wanting to have anything to do with them.

Also, people want English first language staff and with foreign sounding names they can’t be sure if that is the case and they can afford to be choosy.

Is that racist?

I always presumed my kids were British. Oooops!

Sorry, my bad.

I’ll turn in their passports in the morning. Now, Mr. Dacre, are they also required to wear some kind of identifying clothing – an armband maybe?

Lilliput

I have lovely blue eyes, but I still don’t see what business that is of the state or any of its cohorts. My son has an afro hair style inherited from one of his grandparents and that’s none of their business either.

I appreciate that people are influenced and affected by their extended families and the communities in which they were raised but if we are serious about having a genuinely integrated society labeling children based on their ancestry does not help.

Sunny

The article you linked to on racism in candidate selection is an appalling indictment. Again, however, I would suggest the solution to changing attitudes is real integration and not legislation.

54. Captain Lucy

Dear Daily Fail;

Re: Immigrant

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Yours,

Me

Again, however, I would suggest the solution to changing attitudes is real integration and not legislation.

I’m not sure what you’re trying to get at here. Even if I’m fully ‘integrated’, but have a name that suggests I’m not anglo-saxon, and then get discriminated against, then how exactly do you resolve that situation?

Unless of course you’re suggesting everyone should adopt anglo-saxon names for reasons of integration. In which case that skin colour would still betray me during interview.

I’m still waiting for chavscum to come back and proclaim that since it was a BBC investigation its a socialist/liberal/left plot to make some people look racist and bad. Maybe there were other reasons that the BBC missed out! Those communist bastards!!

I’ve completed application forms with equal opportunities questionaires but that part is used for statistical purposes and is seperated from my application and bares no influence on my chances.

On the other hand I HAVE got a job I hate so maybe I should start blaming someone else.

57. Ken McKenzie

pagar

Actually, my specialities are to do with labour market outcomes and whether various factors affect them. I specifically didn’t mention race in my post – just why people ask for background data.

I’m not sure how conducting social research makes me racist. Actually, I am – it doesn’t.

58. LEE JENKINSON

I emigrated to the United States in 1970, and seem to remember that my passport stated I was a British “subject”: no mention of citizenship at all. When did you lot become citizens and where do I get mine? Fairs fair.

59. LEE JENKINSON

By the way, my Mums’ maiden name was “French”, does that mean I fail too? I really don’t want to be French………………………

Lilliput, 55: I appreciate the clarification. I think I agree with Pagar at 57 that eye colour is pretty irrelevent. But perhaps I should disclose a personal connection I have with this topic. I have white skin and have only white skin ancestors for as far back as I know (not that far, but never mind). My wife is British/English (according to anyone sane, not according to the Mail, sadly) though she is of Indian descent. Her grandparents were born in India and are very Indian, her parents spend until about the age of 3 in India, then came to the UK, and are, I guess English but with a strong Indian background (I’m not really sure how I’d describe them off the top of my head).

My issue is: I have no fucking clue what our own kids are going to put in their forms. ‘Mixed race’ I suppose, but I’m really not that comfortable with them doing that because I don’t think of them as “ethnic minorities” – indeed, I don’t even think of my wife in this way. I certainly don’t want them to be rendered ‘the other’ by the state (I know that sounds a bit wanky, but never mind). So, basically, I don’t really like these boxes to tick at all.

I bet most of the staff on the Daily Mail aren’t “truly” English either!

although the figures from the Government’s Office for National Statistics show an increase in numbers of foreign born people they still fail to record the true impact of immigration because they record their children as British rather than second or third generation immigrants.

Can you imagine how the Mail would react if they didn’t do this? There would be shock horror headlines about how immigrants didn’t think of themselves as British.

As discussed elsewhere, I would consider myself British, but I suspect they are talking of the British=English definition, that would not account for the Celtic countries surrounding my current homeland. You see, I have Scottish heritage directly from my parents so I wonder if I would be considered ‘foreign’ in their deluded eyes.

Blue eyes AKA Pagar, the reason why the government wants to know what colour eyes you have is because brown eyed people think that people with blue eyes and maybe green ones get jobs easier then them. How else are thye supposed to check that out if they don’t have the info to do the statistical analysis. What else do you suggest? In terms of intergration – I’m not sure what you mean by that – does everyone have to live together in the same way? There goes the whole multicultural thing and we would lose what is most beautiful about London.

Sunny, people with muslim sounding names would receive preferential treatment among muslim employers, anglo saxons amongst anglo saxons, Chinese amongst Chinese etc etc That is a human thing. If you want to go all affirmative action, as an ex South Afican – I can promise you – its not a great idea.

Naughtpointzero, your wife is Indian, her parents are born in India and their parents before them. I bet she has an Indian name and eats curry at her parents home. Your children are a mixture of you both, they have the best of both ancestors – why can you not celebrate it?

My parents are Eastern European, but I grew up in South Africa. My parents speak a European language and English with a European accent (after many years). They eat the foods their parents fed them in Europe, they like the music and culture and that is what they gave to me. I would call myself more European then South African even though I grew up there and its the passport I hold. Of course South Africa, had an epic affect on my personality and being, but my blood and ancestors are European. If I have a baby with an Asian, African, Chinese, Maori etc no matter how many generations down, my child will be mixed race – and I won’t have an issue stating that anywhere because my child will be a mix of the best of both of us.

I hope that helps

Damian Green has issued a statement to Conservative Home, distancing the progressive Conservatives from the Mail’s new Britishness test/doctrine. ConHome doesn’t hat tip LibCon or credit me with creating any of the excitement. But well done Green.
http://conservativehome.blogs.com/torydiary/2009/02/damian-green-i.html

The effect is only slightly spoiled by the xenophobia and racism which follows it in the ConHome discussion, though with one or two decent Tories taking the time to challenge that.

more here
http://www.nextleft.org/2009/02/damian-green-rebuts-mails-new.html

Lilliput: This is a fascinating discussion, I’m really enjoying it. You said:

“Naughtpointzero, your wife is Indian, her parents are born in India and their parents before them. I bet she has an Indian name and eats curry at her parents home. Your children are a mixture of you both, they have the best of both ancestors – why can you not celebrate it?”

Well, I most certainly, definately celebrate my wife’s (and our future children’s) Indian background. For example, we had an Indian wedding ceromony and tend to do something at Diwali and sometimes Holi. But you have made one error: she is most certainly NOT “Indian”. She has never been to India and doesn’t particuarly feel much of a connection with the geographical region of South Asia. So that’s one thing: her and her children are politcally English/British. They have a cultural background that is connected with India, but she is not “Indian” any more than I am “Scottish” because my grandfather was Scottish and I occasionally root for them at Rugby. Equally, I wouldn’t consider her parents to be geo-politically Indian either.

As for the ticking boxes on forms, I guess to me it all comes down to the question: why are the boxes there to begin with? If it’s simply for monitoring diversity within a workplace… well, maybe. Depends on the workplace I suppose. But, baring in mind the fact that our children’s background is predominantly an English/British one, were they to tick the “mixed race” box of a form, would they be signalling anything other than they have a darker skin tone than some of their peers?

I think that is crucial. If it is the case, then I object to the box being there. The fact that the kids will eat curry, celebrate Diwali etc etc does not define them innately any more or less than my support of Scotland for the rugby defines me. The difference is that my skin is pale white whereas there’s will be sepia. Is this enough of a difference?

What if one’s parents, grandparents and many generations previously were born under the British flag, you know, in colonial times…

Naughtpointzero, I too am enjoying this conversation.

I think however that you are attaching too much emotion to something that I see is actually quite simple.

Your children carry a British passport and therefore their nationality is British – no argument there at all because in my mind nationality is a man made concept for a group of people holding a travel document from a politically deliniated geographical area. This can change though because they could choose to marry and take on their spouse’s passport in order to have right to live in their new country – and then when they are filling in forms which ask their nationality – they won’t be putting British but the nationality of the new country they have adopted.

“But you have made one error: she is most certainly NOT “Indian”. She has never been to India and doesn’t particuarly feel much of a connection with the geographical region of South Asia.”

As I see it, ethinicity/race is based on genetics and culture. Your wife and therefore your children have the charachteristics (one of them being a higher concentration of melatonin) of people we group as Asian Indian. Therefore she will always be ethnically or racially Asian Indian. There is nothing that can ever change that – as much as she wishes it wern’t the case. Its in her DNA and thats just the way that it is.

What about if I as a white European parented women decided to go a live in India for decades, celebrate Diwali, Holi and ate curry everyday for these decades, I would still never be ethnically or racially Indian. I might have received an Indian passport – in which case I would say I was Indian if asked for my nationality but if asked for my ethinicity – I would always put White European because that is my DNA and I can never change that.

69. Sunder Katwala

I think Ken McKenzie’s pro-social science responses to Pagar and others who say ‘any monitoring is always evidence of racist or segregationist assumptions’ are valid.

The problem with what is essentially the French Republican position is that it sounds good in theory but fails in practice. It is good at symbolic and rhetorical commitment to full integration. But it believes it would anti-integration to collect the data about how well integration and equal opportunity is going. The result is a very poor practical record on integration, and the inability to know what approaches might achieve integration in practice. Britain may have been less good at promoting integration as a goal of policy. But we have been better in many respects at achieving integration in practice than the French have. Equal opportunity and an integrated society are about two things: objective progress towards equal opportunities regardless of background, and the subjective sense that we do share a society and feel common allegiance to the institutions that reflect our common citizenship. Be sceptical about voices (left or right) which tell you we should aim at one or ther other. If you don’t achieve the first, don’t be surprised if the second is weakened. But you will also find it hard to build the coalitions to achieve the first if you aren’t pursuing a politics of solidarity across society. Less effective integration without a more equal society. But no equality without integration and solidarity too.

There are several important public political and public policy debates: how far is Britain structured by class advantage and disadvantage? Are gender, ethnic origin, place of birth or of residence strongly or weakly determining of opportuniities and outcomes? Are these effects becoming stronger or weaker? If you had a Martin Luther King style preference for a “colourblind” approach which established equal opportunity and fair chances, then you can not in reality get there without trying to assess progress. (Otherwise you are sticking your fingers in your ears shouting – “Don’t believe class exists” or “Race is a fictional construct”. It might be a fictional or humanly-constructed category, and still have real social consequences. If you don’t think class is any longer relevant, you have to provide and explain data to prove that: why are there starkly different infant mortality rates, for example, by social class? what could change these)

Take this study from 2003 of ethnic performance in the labour market. Anybody who thinks that it is racist to study such questions is mistaken, but is also unable to effectively promote equal opportunity. Public debates are much more rarely informed by the complex reality than by people’s intuitions and instincts. For example, a data-based approach would discover whether there might be specific issues affecting white working-class boys (but not girls), or particular ethnic minority communities, and ask how the structure or culture of education or broader factors might be contribuiting to that.
http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/media/cabinetoffice/strategy/assets/ethnic_minorities.pdf

I am against addressing disadvantage in a way which incentivises the creation or strengthening of micro-identities as a way to make a claim on resources. But that is a quite different point from whether it is appopriate to find the data out. So there are several historic shortcomings of British multiculturalism – on which Sunny, myself and others have offered engaged critiques for a long time – but no continental country can claim a better practical integration record.

And indeed this is what is going to enable us to move on to a less race-structured and race-conscious society over time. If we want race not to matter in structuring life chances, we have to understand where it still does (and indeed interrogate claims about when/whether it does or not).

Re. Guardian link in #53

This report in itself makes racist assumptions. This, as always, is because it emanates from the left-leaning white middle-class. Such people have had very little life experience of other cultures, except holidaying in Thailand/Goa or their Bulgarian cleaner. If they did then they would understand that prejudice is endemic in all societies. Being in a mixed-race relationship, I have first hand experience of this. If they made the same study with ethnic minority owned businesses, they would find prejudice equally as stark. They would also find that prejudice between ethnic groups is definitely more predominant. The people doing the diversity monitoring are either racist or not very diverse themselves, which produce one dimensional conclusions.

A Jewish fella that I previously worked with changed his very Jewish name to a very English name when he began his career for fear of being discriminated against. When he joined the company where I worked, he changed it back when he realised the owners and several senior staff were Jewish. In his mind, being Jewish would give him an advantage.

Sunny, you must know this and I guess that you are either so wrapped up in leftist dogma, you fail to think independently, or you see the opportunities to someone of your background are more advantageous in warped rhetoric, where minority groups are always victims.

The worst kind of institutionalised discrimination is at the bottom of the link. If you want to discuss the article, go to the “BBC Asian Network”! What the fuck is our State broadcaster doing running a racially segregated broadcaster?

I wonder how many people would call me racist if I said it would be misleading to call General George Armstrong Custer a Native American.

Chavscum…

“This report in itself makes racist assumptions.”

Could you point them out to me?

As it happens, I’m not sure whether the sample size for that report is wide enough for us to draw any confident conclusions, but it’s interesting nevertheless.

“This, as always, is because it emanates from the left-leaning white “middle-class. Such people have had very little life experience of other cultures, except holidaying in Thailand/Goa or their Bulgarian cleaner.”

With all due respect, Chavscum, the crap you talk about the “the left-leaning white middle-class” could fill all the sewage systems in the world. Can’t you argue without fantasising about the lives of your rhetorical opponents? You don’t know anything about the backgrounds of the researchers. There’s no indication as to their backgrounds.

“They would also find that prejudice between ethnic groups is definitely more predominant.”

Bare assertion fallacy.

“A Jewish fella that I previously worked with changed his very Jewish name to a very English name…”

A single piece of anecdotal evidence? Hot damn.

“Sunny, you must know this and I guess that you are either so wrapped up in leftist dogma, you fail to think independently, or you see the opportunities to someone of your background are more advantageous in warped rhetoric, where minority groups are always victims.”

Do you really think that Sunny would put up that link so as to make “the opportunities to someone of [his] background…more advantageous”. Really? Rly now?

“The worst kind of institutionalised discrimination is at the bottom of the link. If you want to discuss the article, go to the “BBC Asian Network”! What the fuck is our State broadcaster doing running a racially segregated broadcaster?”

Well, you seem fairly sure. Provide evidence that it…

a) Caters exclusively to “Asian” people, in employment and/or broadcasting.

Or…

b) States/insinuates that “Asian” culture is superior to others.

I am against addressing disadvantage in a way which incentivises the creation or strengthening of micro-identities as a way to make a claim on resources.

Grand-sounding words but very disingenuous. Asking black people to tick a box saying they’re black is racist and patronising in the extreme. Whatever you are for or against is irrelevant. The fact of that person having to tick that box encourages the strenghtening of a micro-identity, like it or not.

Not only that, it fosters a victim status which most members of ethnic minorities do NOT want. They just want to get on with their lives, thanks very much.

Not only that, it fosters a victim status which most members of ethnic minorities do NOT want. They just want to get on with their lives, thanks very much.

Yes they do, but they also want to live their lives without the discrimination. Until that goes away, its hard to pretend everything is as hunky dory as you imagine.

chavscum – I think you’ve just drowned in the avalanche of bullshit cliches, and frankly make little sense as ever.

Personally I fucking hate those tick boxes. I started off as black, then afro caribbean, then black British, I’m sure there was half caste, also Black/White British and now I’m Mixed White/Black Caribbean, oh hang on, no, its Mixed Caribbean/Black White or is it……………!
Now I consider myself British because I was born here and brought up here – pure (no pun intended) and simple.
The boxes I have had to tick over the years have changed description yet I have no idea who decided what I was going to be. Certainly no one asked me. And what really makes me question their use is that if my father had been white rather than black, and my mother black rather than white, then by virtue of that fact I would have had to put down that I was white. Even though the chances are my skin colour would be the same.
Ethnic monitoring was brought in when institutional racism was rife, and getting some basic facts about numbers of black people employed made sense.
We have moved on from then as far as institutional racism is concerned so its about time we moved on from people ticking a box to denote what colour they are. Lets just make the assumption that employers will employ the best person and leave colour out of it. If someone feels they have been discriminated against by an employer there are enough avenues for that person to go down. A box ticking exercise will not change a racist attitude.
And if stats are needed for reports to measure progress as Sunder suggests then you do the usual research. You don’t have to have everyone tick boxes for every job they ever go for. By doing that you are saying ‘what are you’ rather than just ‘who are you’, and then given someone elses ideas of what you are to tick. Like I said, its time to move on.

A version of the letter appears on today’s Daily Mail letters page (page 58). If they run their letters online too, I can’t find them. So, for the record, here it is.

“IMMIGRANTS OR BRITISH?

I was disappointed to read a report suggesting that it’s a mistake to consider the children or grandchildren of immigrants as British (Mail) and that we should rather be classified as ‘second or third generation immigrants’.

I hope that your proposed reclassification as ‘not British’ of Princes Charles, William and Harry, second and third generation descendants of foreign-born Phillip, won’t distress them too much.

But it does seem ungrateful to Winston Churchill, voted ‘greatest Briton’, to strip him of that status because he had an American mother.

Citizenship and nationality can’t be reduced to place of birth or ethnic origin. My parents came to this country in the Sixties from Ireland and India. They worked for the NHS for decades and became naturalised British citizens.

Having been born as a British citizen in 1974, anyone would understand why I would find it offensive that I should be regarded as a foreigner, an immigrant and not truly British. I’m astonished to think that such a description might even apply to my children, born here in 2006 and 2007.

Such a message can only make the important task of integration more difficult. It is an extremist idea that being British is a matter of ethnic origin and that integration of immigrants and their descendants is impossible.

Care must be taken when describing generations. It has been said that you can be a ‘second generation Briton’ but calling you a ‘second generation immigrant’ would mean that you had left the country your parents came to.

SUNDER KATWALA, general secretary, Fabian Society, London SW1

I could be wrong. But as I don’t think the Mail would want to offend the Royal Family or the memory of Winston Churchill…perhaps…just perhaps they were referring to what Alan Partridge once dubbed “the brown people”?

Or am I being overly cynical?


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
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    HA WIN! http://is.gd/kWUJ

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    Great stuff – an open letter to the Daily Mail from an ‘immigrant’ who was born in the UK: http://is.gd/kWUJ

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    RT @MartinSFP Great stuff – an open letter to the Daily Mail from an ‘immigrant’ who was born in the UK: http://is.gd/kWUJ

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    RT: @MartinSFP: Great stuff – an open letter to the Daily Mail from an ‘immigrant’ who was born in the UK: http://is.gd/kWUJ

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    rt @MartinSFP Great stuff – an open letter to the Daily Mail from an ‘immigrant’ who was born in the UK: http://is.gd/kWUJ

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    RT @craigmcginty: rt @MartinSFP Great stuff – an open letter to the Daily Mail from an ‘immigrant’ who was born in the UK: http://is.gd/kWUJ

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    HA WIN! http://is.gd/kWUJ

  17. Mark Freeman

    is hating the Daily Mail http://tinyurl.com/d86vzg

  18. MartinSFP

    Great stuff – an open letter to the Daily Mail from an ‘immigrant’ who was born in the UK: http://is.gd/kWUJ

  19. artist-illustrator

    RT @MartinSFP Great stuff – an open letter to the Daily Mail from an ‘immigrant’ who was born in the UK: http://is.gd/kWUJ

  20. James Chapman

    RT: @MartinSFP: Great stuff – an open letter to the Daily Mail from an ‘immigrant’ who was born in the UK: http://is.gd/kWUJ

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    rt @MartinSFP Great stuff – an open letter to the Daily Mail from an ‘immigrant’ who was born in the UK: http://is.gd/kWUJ

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    RT @craigmcginty: rt @MartinSFP Great stuff – an open letter to the Daily Mail from an ‘immigrant’ who was born in the UK: http://is.gd/kWUJ

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  39. Sunder Katwala

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  40. Legal Aware

    I like Paul Dacre hugely. I also like @sundersays hugely. So this is bound to be tough: http://t.co/wca3yrjJ

  41. Andrew Miles

    @Manwithaview1 I had this argument with Mr Dacre & Mail in 2009 http://t.co/iBbyeWrj and won agreement we're British! http://t.co/MNkZiROc





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