On 17th June in central London the Tactics Institute for Security and Counter Terrorism held its third public event, following events in the British parliament and French senate.
The seminar tapped into lively and passionate debate about the issues of integration, cohesion and security in the United Kingdom, which have only heightened since the country voted to leave the European Union in 2016. The speakers focused on the contribution of different ethnic minority groups in the United Kingdom and looked at the corrosive effects of racism and hate speech.
Dr Shaukat Khan, politician and community leader, who is Chairman of the UK-Pakistan Foundation, Senior Vice President of the Pakistan Policy Institute in the United States and former Sheriff of the City of Nottingham, the first non-English Sheriff of Nottingham in 1200 years.
Dr Khan used his talk to highlight what he sees as the social, economic and political underpinnings of integration. He stated that the type of racism experienced today in Britain was set in motion by Enoch Powell in the 1960s and compared Powell’s rhetoric to that of US president Donald Trump today.
Dr Khan blamed the media for its reinforcement of negative language and attitudes and also discussed the state of the economy as a trigger for youth crime and the drift of young people into drugs and crime when cuts are made to youth services.
Dr William Harbig, former legal adviser to the US delegation at NATO and corporate counsel on international legal issues, was the second speaker.
Dr Harbig looked back to the nineteenth century, the development of unified European trade and the peace dividend from pan European trade; how security can be achieved through integration. He considered the current state of limbo and uncertainty with Brexit on the horizon.
Asra Anjum, a Labour party and human rights activist and Vice-Chair of Tower Hamlets Constituency Labour Party in London, spoke next.
And Ms Anjum also took an historic view, tracing the waves of migration to the UK since world war two. She defined integration as having three aspects: a national identity; positive economic outcomes for immigrants and the emergence of successful communities.
Ms Anjum stressed that national identity becomes a major issue when it is perceived to have been lost. She added that it is important to look at immigrants’ economic outcomes to judge the success of integration, along with the development of successful communities in which there is cultural diversity, equal opportunities and differences are celebrated.
Ms Anjum used statistics to complement her talk, stating that between 1999 and 2009 net immigration to the UK was two million people and that 12 percent of the current UK population was born abroad.
Tactics Institute Director, Thomas Charles, chaired the event, and focused on the political discourse around integration in his opening remarks. He contrasted the words of then prime minister David Cameron in 2011, when he claimed that multiculturalism had failed, with current London mayor Sadiq Khan, who focuses on integration as a key pillar of his mayoralty, with programmes such as the Citizenship and Integration Initiative. In both cases, the choice of words used and policies pursued profound implications for the society. Both were examples of politicians judging prevailing moods, but both have very different implications.
More Tactics events will be announced soon.