Inequality in London

21 04 2010

See this interesting presentation, by the author of a new book on inequality:

London is most unequal city in the developed world, with the richest tenth of the population amassing 273 times the wealth owned by the bottom tenth – which creates a “means chasm” not seen since the days of a “slave owning society”, according to a new book

In Injustice: Why Social Inequality Persists published by Policy Press, Danny Dorling, a professor of human geography at Sheffield University and an expert on social disparity, paints a bleak picture of an extremely unjust Britain where differences in wealth have led to a profoundly divided society.

Dorling said Labour had managed to stop the gap in incomes from getting bigger, but this had not stopped the rich getting richer. The wealthiest had amassed assets such as second homes and expansive stock portfolios.

He says the government’s latest figures show that in the capital the top 10% of society had on average a wealth of £933,563 compared to the meagre £3,420 of the poorest 10% – a wealth multiple of 273.

“Other comparable cities like New York, Stockholm, Sydney … have wealthy people, but not as many wealthy people as London,” said Dorling. “There is an inbuilt bias towards inequality in UK society today.

“We are getting wealth inequalities in London now as far as we know that have not been seen since the days of a slave-owning elite. The lesson is that it is not enough to just stop the disparity in incomes from getting bigger – you have to make it smaller to stop wealth inequality from getting worse.”

… article continues at the Guardian

… full data available on-line too from the Guardian’s Datablog and the Injustice companion website

one of Polyp’s brilliant cartoons featured in Professor Danny Dorling’s presentation above.


The general election in Tower Hamlets

20 04 2010

The furore over politics in Tower Hamlets which I have discussed here in previous posts (here and here) is continuing into the general election campaign for the Bethnal Green and Bow constituency. Religion and politics from London, the UK, Bangladesh and other places mix in a complicated entaglement. 

One of the IFE/East london Mosque/Respect Party activists who featured in Channel 4’s dispatches programme, Abjol Miah is standing as the candidate for Respect, hoping to take over from George Galloway, who beat New Labour’s pro war candidate Oona King riding a wave of Bangladeshi anger over the Iraq War in 2005.

One of the legacies of Galloway’s victory seems to be that all the main parties are fielding British Bangladeshi candidates this time, having identified the young and Bangladeshi vote as a crucial one. Labour, the Conservatives, Respect, the Greens and Liberal Democrats are all fielding candidates of Bangladeshi origin. The Guardian has an article discussing the battle for Bethnal Green and Bow, and introducing the leading candidates, Respect’s Abjol Miah and Labour’s Rushanara Ali. Oxford educated Ali has worked for many years at the Young Foundation, and in many senses is an impressive candidate. She is a good speaker, an intellectual and has a good grasp of local and national policy debates.

Miah seems to have a greater affinity with most British Bangladeshis, especially the disillusioned, the Islamists and the Gallowayists. Does Ali have the neccessary street cred and ability to speak Bangla to win over the voters – those angry with Labour over the war and other percieved betrayals, and those who are suspicious of the banglaocracy dominating politics in the borough?

Its too tight to call, but its fascinating to watch.

IFE vs. Andrew Gilligan and ‘Prevent’

8 04 2010

A few weeks ago I wrote about Andrew Gilligan’s programme for Channel 4’s Dispatches programme about the organisation Islamic Forum in Europe.

Since the programme, Gilligan and islamic Forum in europe have been regularly trading blows in the press. IFE issued a press release to deny the allegations that Gilligan made.

Gilligan accused the BBC of ‘airing Islamist propaganda’ by having their ‘Any Questions’ programme based in the East London Mosque where the IFE is based, using the stage where Gilligan alledges that 18 ‘hate, extremist and fundamentalist speakers’ have spoken in the last year.

Islamic Forum in Europe has also issued a press release welcoming the Communities and Local Government Select Committee report on the Government’s ‘Prevent’ strategy. Neo Labour’s fiasco department have been at it again: 

The ‘Prevent Strategy’ is part of the UK counter Terrorism Stragtegy, along with: ‘Pursue, Protect and Prepare’ 

This aim of the Prevent part of our counter-terrorism strategy is to prevent people from becoming terrorists or supporting violent extremism. Increasing our resilience to attacks and successfully disrupting terrorist plots will not alone stop terrorism. We need to prevent people supporting violent extremism or becoming terrorists in the first place.

Protecting vulnerable individuals who might be attracted to the ideology of violence is not just a job for the police, but also for local government, schools, universities and local communities. Our effectiveness relies on all of us providing effective support to those who are at risk of advocating violence, or have already been recruited by violent extremists.

Part of this work involves challenging those who support violence. But we also want to actively promote values such as, for example, democracy and the rule of law on which the strength of our society and the cohesion of our communities depend.

We work directly with people in their communities to:

  • challenge the ideology behind violent extremism and support mainstream voices
  • disrupt those who promote violent extremism and support the places where they operate
  • support individuals who are vulnerable to recruitment, or have already been recruited by violent extremists
  • increase the resilience of communities to violent extremism
  • address the grievances being exploited by ideologues

The recent report from the Communities and Local Government Select Committee found however that the £45 million  Prevent Strategy has not quite had the expected results. Instead of promoting ‘community cohesion’, the strategy has stigmatised and alienated British Muslims and been widely percieved as having been used for spying. The Guardian has coverage here, the full report is here,  Inayat Bunglawala pre-empted much of this in August 2009, He based much of his article on the New Local Government Network’s report in the same month which covers much of the same ground as the Select Committee’s report. It’s almost like the weapons of mass destruction fiasco, where the last people on earth to realise the blindingly obvious are the people who run our country:

a spokesman for the Communities and Local Government department said it was “disappointed” the report did not reflect changes made in the last year in response to criticisms of Prevent. In recent months ministers have pointed to the increased role the scheme plays in targeting other forms of radicalism, such as far-right Neo-Nazi groups.

He said: “All Prevent activities are designed to support Muslim communities in resisting those who target their young people,” adding that there was no “substantiated evidence” that Prevent programmes were keeping Muslim communities under surveillance.

The summary of the report states:

‘The single focus on Muslims in Prevent has been unhelpful. We conclude that any programme which focuses solely on one section of a community is stigmatising, potentially alienating, and fails to address the fact that that no section of a population exists in isolation from others. The need to address extremism of all kinds on a cross-community basis, dependent on assessed local risk, is paramount.’

‘We remain concerned by the number of our witnesses who felt that Prevent had been used to ‘spy’ on Muslim communities. Our evidence suggests that differing interpretations of terminology relating to concepts such as ‘intelligence gathering’, ‘spying’ and ‘surveillance’ are posing major challenges to the Prevent agenda. Information collected for the purposes of project monitoring and community mapping—both of which are to be encouraged—are sometimes being confused with the kind of intelligence gathering and surveillance undertaken by the police and security services to combat crime and actively pursue suspects. However, despite rebuttals, the allegations of spying retain widespread credibility within certain sections of the Muslim community. If the Government wants to improve confidence in the Prevent programme, it should commission an independent investigation into the allegations made.

‘Regarding the Government’s analysis of the factors which lead people to become involved in violent extremism, we conclude that there has been a pre-occupation with the theological basis of radicalisation, when the evidence seems to indicate that politics, policy and socio-economics may be more important factors in the process. Consequently, we suggest that attempts to find solutions and engagement with preventative work should primarily address the political challenges.

‘There is a sense that Government has sought to engineer a ‘moderate’ form of Islam, promoting and funding only those groups which conform to this model. We do not think it is the job of Government to intervene in theological matters…’


1 04 2010

FiLo member Zana Vathi has had a paper published on-line as a Sussex centre for Migration Research working paper.

The paper is entitled: New Brits? Migration and Settlement of Albanian-Origin Immigrants in London

Studies on migration and the integration of ethnic minorities have noted the lack of research on ‘new’ immigrants to Britain. The ‘pragmatism’ in UK immigration politics and the inadequate response to the presence of these new migration waves have also been documented, although there is only limited evidence to date. This paper focuses on one particularly ignored immigrant group – Albanian migrants and their children – and provides evidence regarding their migration and process of settlement in Britain. Findings show that the lack of legal migration routes to Britain has deeply affected migration trajectories of this group into the country. By this I mean not only the geographical routes and means of entry, but, much more, the personal trajectories of the migrants. Furthermore, an unsettled British asylum policy and deficiencies in its implementation have had an impact on migrants’ health and their strategies of integration. In their search for a social and ethnic positionality in a multi-ethnic and socially stratified host society, the realisation of the migration project of Albanian migrants takes place alongside culture shock, a widened intergenerational ‘gap’, ambivalence towards citizenship and belongingness, and links to Albania.

I have put a link to the paper in the FiLo members’ publications section of the London literature page. The section is looking a little bit bare, I can’t believe that there are not more FiLo member’s London based publications, please send me the references and links if they are available on-line and I will put them up.