The Sunday Times reports a home office cover up over immigration policy. Their article closes with a damning quote:
Chris Mullin, a former minister, recalled in his memoirs that ministers had “barely touched the rackets that surrounded arranged marriages . . . terrified of the huge cry of ‘racism’ that would go up . . . There is the added difficulty that at least 20 Labour seats, including Jack (Straw’s), depend on Asian votes”.
The mainstream media should continue to scrutinise the connection between traditional Asian marriage practices and the wider problems surrounding immigration and extremism. Although people recognise the danger posed by importing spouses who do not share British values, no practical suggestions have been put forward on how to end ‘the rackets’ that underpin the problem.
One of the 5 key objectives of the Prevent agenda is to ‘Increase the resilience of communities to violent extremism’, but discussion of marriage practices has been conspicuously absent from the implementation of Prevent. Forced marriage has received a lot of attention from this Labour government, but last week worrying reports emerged that Karma Nirvana and IKWRO are to lose critical funding. It would be shameful if the government backed away from fighting forced marriage now because of electoral expediency.
Yet forced marriage is only the tip of the iceberg. Free choice in marriage is opposed in many ways, and only a few of the tactics employed to fight it are strictly illegal. Low level bullying and coercion by families is far more widespread and effective: watch Channel 4’s The Family, where a mixed caste couple have endured more than 5 years of hostility from the girl’s mother who is trying to scupper the union. This is the reality behind many ‘heavily arranged’ marriages in the UK, particularly where the bride or groom would not marry a foreign spouse if offered a free choice.
Free choice is the issue here, and supporting it does not require expensive consultations or new legislation. Civil ceremonies are available to all British citizens, regardless of the race, religion, caste or sexuality of their partner. If the government ensured that ALL young people in this country were empowered to make their own choice of marriage partner, it would provide a real boost to the Prevent agenda.
There is one further point that bears mention here.
The BNP remains strongly opposed to mixed race marriages, but they have no political power to prevent them. It must therefore be a source of constant joy to Griffin and co. that some minority groups will go to such efforts to police against mixed relationships. Importing spouses into already segregated areas, rather than allowing young people to choose a partner locally, only compounds the problem and cements the divisions that the BNP exploit.
Why then does free choice in marriage get no support from anti racist and anti fascist groups? A lot of lip service is paid on far-left blogs to protecting minorities who are the ‘most powerless in society‘, but there is deafening silence regarding the rights of young people within those minorities, who may be the least powerful of all.
Extremism in the UK will be dealt a blow when we say loud and clear that everyone has the right to marry who they choose. If Labour will not stand up for that message before the election, somebody else might.