The need for Spanish lessons


images1TFCCSMYLast night Question Time came from Bradford and some of the questions focused on the issue of the English language lessons being proposed by David Cameron, targeted at the female Muslim community. Thankfully there was the opportunity to hear from some of the informed audience and Shabana Mahmood MP on the panel, pointing out that this policy is being proposed by the same Prime Minister who cancelled some very successful English Language lessons being delivered to Muslim women during his time leading the coalition Government. The panel also included Paul Nuttal MEP, Amber Rudd MP and the journalist Isabel Oakeshott all of who appear to believe that ensuring that all immigrants integrate into life in the UK is vital and argued that language is a key part of this. It is of course easy for powerful people like Paul, Amber and Isabel to pick on one small group and end up judging them ‘guilty’ of failing to achieve a required standard of behavior or skill. I was not alone in wondering how willing these same commentators would be to apply that same principle to others, the sort of people who might fund the Euro sceptic politicians like Paul and Amber, and who ensure that the writings of Isabel get well read. According to this article there were 269,470 Brits measured in the 2007 Spanish census, but this rises to around a million when estimates for the population of non-registered Brits are added. A survey conducted in 2005 by the Economic and Social Research Council showed that a third of the British immigrants rarely or never meet Spanish people (other than in shops and restaurants), 60% did not speak good Spanish, half do not have residence cards, and over a third are not registered on the town hall register. It seems as though there is one rule for immigrants living in Britain and another for British people living in Spain, at least in the eyes of Oakeshott, Rudd and Nuttal. We need a bit of consistency and integrity. After all Spain is just one nation in which our fellow Brits like to live, and if it is known that our nationals are content to stay away from local people and refuse to speak the national language in places such as Spain, it is unlikely that immigrants will arrive expecting to live up to a different standard!

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About ianchisnall

I have a passion to see public policy made accessible everyone who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as in policies on health services and strategic planning.
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