Today the UK Prime Minister will deliver what major, mainstream media outlets are promoting as ‘his most important speech ever on extremism’. Whether it is or not, you can bet your bottom dollar that authentic context and deeper truths will not have inspired the rehashed ideas and rhetoric.
So here are five reality checks to keep in mind or to cross-reference if you’re actively listening.
- “Lessons-to-be-learned” are evidently not being learned…
Case study: Bradford, UK. Ten years after debilitating riots in 2001, an official report of 2011 found a segregated city, deeply divided:
- The PM’s words will fall on deaf ears (and even if words get through, such speeches never consider the elephants in the room)…
An insider’s response to Bradford’s segregation: “I don’t know how you solve it. If it’s not going to happen naturally, then you can’t really force it.”
The same interview (linked above) touches on a raw nerve for many cultures: “Whatever happens in the home stays in the home. People really put on a face. They don’t actually deal with what’s happening in their own home.”
The PM’s speech and policy moving forward will not take into account the herd of elephants in the room which include the widespread (found across cultures/ethnicities/religions) cultural practice/learned behaviour of ‘saving face’.
- ‘Cam’ himself (and/or the authors, his speech writers) has deaf ears for anyone who has arguably/viably greater insights – even those in his own party…
- Policy is all too often an arbitrary exercise of State power – ignoring real experience and local context (and, again, all the elephants in the room like the culture of ‘saving face’ – see above).
Back in 2007 part of new UK government policy was aiming to, effectively, force schools to get pupils ‘to understand each other’ across so-called race and ethnicity (and religious) lines. That was for every day, happy-go-lucky, school children who just happened to live in postcodes and/or attend schools that were somewhat, euh, ethnically singular … so what hope for radicalised/at risk youths?
- The PM’s fluent in ‘political rhetoric’ but not the kind of reasoned argument that engages with reality and offers progressive, achievable solutions…
Doubtless today’s public address will be wrapped up as ‘persuasion through argument’ type rhetoric yet will it have taken into account any of the reasoned points above? And will it be riddled with the, often predictable, ‘assertions and empty promises’ rather than real solutions.
Unlike so many politicians and policy makers I’m always open to being proven wrong – so I’m all ears for today’s speech.
Talking about today’s PM’s speech, the Home Secretary Theresa May has been quoted by the BBC: “[We’ll be] looking at what is happening in schools, looking at what is happening in communities, looking at what is happening in terms of employment – so a really positive agenda”.
One word is stark in that agenda: “looking” (not listening, not talking, not engaging, not investigating…).
Also, the UK PM is set to draw attention to what he (or his writer) dubs “a tragic truth” that faces Britain: that people are born and raised here yet “don’t really identify with Britain and feel little or no attachment to other people here” … this is an intriguing point about contemporary life yet it is made redundant when it is connected to ethnicity or religion via the underlying thread of “Islamism”. There are Scottish or Irish or Welsh, and English, people who are born and bred in the UK and don’t ever feel British…
Plus, the past few decades of inept policies to message/encourage ‘integration’ make today’s lack-of-integration line a boorish echo of what we (ok, some of us) knew, literally, decades ago.
Overall, a rehashing of redundant words and recurrent debates are a zero sum endgame. It appears there is no new insight to air, no fresh solutions for the public to back.
P.s. Listicles are like testicles – more often than not useless and frequently irritating.