Britain has long overlooked integration and accommodation of the immigrants that it has been courting since the 1960s. And now its chickens have come home to roost. In 2016, the government-commissioned Casey Review has deemed that not enough has been done. This is a shocking revelation for absolutely no one.
Social and government policy from then till now has been on autopilot. Everyone has looked the other way rather than paying attention to new Britons that were entering the country. The effect of this is now being felt. Racism is on the rise and an MP was murdered in the streets of Britain by a right-wing domestic terrorist. This hands-off policy has failed and now we need to ask some tough questions.
The political elite turned a blind eye towards how migrants were setting themselves up in the UK. The management was purely business. Britain needed workers and mass immigration from Asia allowed the mills and factories to be full again. No one asked whether this new intake could speak English. Most couldn't even tell you what language they spoke. It was migrants from India and Pakistan in the 1960s and today Romania and Bulgaria, that are coming here to fill the holes that the indigenous population has forgotten.
However, it is not just these groups that are isolated and left behind by government policy. White British adults are the least likely to have ethnically diverse social networks. White British males are the least likely group to go to university. Autopilot has failed everyone, regardless of skin colour or religion.
In the 1960s, Jim Crow laws segregated America, and in 2016 Britain, the systematic obliviousness of the political elite towards local communities has allowed us to reach this point. The focus must move towards class and opportunity rather than focusing on skin colour or religion.
For too long, the political elite were only comfortable having whispered conversations and well-placed photo ops. They saw that their name was out there and that was enough integrating. This has left behind a generation of forgotten kids that identify more with marginalised immigrants than the political class that is meant to represent them.
This report should be focusing on class rather than fixating over race, ethnicity, and religion. What is particularly sad is that 'Muslims' are mentioned 249 times in the review, being more scrutinised than any other minority group. Whereas, Sikhs are mentioned only 11 times, and I can guarantee you in Britain there are not 23 times as many Muslims as Sikhs. Having worked for decades in this area of work, I have seen that talk of integration is more meaningful when you keep religion and identities out of the discussion. 'Opportunity' should be the focus rather than forcing 'integration'.
When a report such as this mentions 'Muslims', they are not talking about Mo Farah, Sajid Javid or Nadiya Hussain, they are referring to the 1 in 4 Pakistanis who are security guards, the 2 in 5 Bangladeshi men who work in restaurants. Why not eliminate the religious label and acknowledge the security guards or waiters who want a better life for their families than they had? Irrespective of whether they're called Andrew or Ali.
It is the government's responsibility to remove the middlemen: self-appointed community leaders, experts, commentators, and academics. It's vital they work directly with all their citizens to create a positive, meaningful and aspirational Britishness that people want to invest in.
A middle ground must be found between Little Englanders and non-intervention multiculturalism. Failure to do this will result in another 'Review of the Casey Review' in 50 years' time.
Muddassar Ahmed is Managing Partner of Unitas Communications Ltd, a cross-cultural communications company.