The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Social Integration held its first public meeting on Monday 23 May. The meeting marked 15 years since the publication of a report into community cohesion in 2001 and APPG members discussed whether the UK has become more or less socially segregated over the years. Members, including APPG Chair Chuka Umunna, Vice-Chair James Berry and Oldham West MP Jim McMahon, were joined by Lord Ahmad, Louise Casey, and Professor Ted Cantle.
Lord Ahmad, a Home Office Minister with responsibility for Counter-Extremism, confirmed that the government took a cross-departmental approach to social integration and praised the Prime Minister for taking a personal interest in the issue.
Professor Ted Cantle, the author of the 2001 report, thought that there was more acceptance of diversity in the UK and more tolerance but also more segregation in some communities. He criticised the government for the lack of an integration strategy and claimed that Nadiya Hussain winning the Great British Bake-Off had done more for integration of Muslim communities than ten years of government policy.
Louise Casey, who is leading the government’s review into integration and opportunity, stressed that a stronger stance on integration was needed and that people should be prepared to face some uncomfortable truths.
All three speakers welcomed the creation of the APPG on Social Integration and praised the high public turnout to this event.