Community Cohesion is still a key issue

In May 2010, just after the General Election, we argued that Community Cohesion matters more than ever, saying:

“What does the General Election tell us about community cohesion? The failure of most smaller parties to win elections might indicate mainstream political debate is completely in the ascendant. However with a post-war record of 12% of voters voting for a range of parties other than the main three, do some communities really feel more cohesive after the elections, despite the actual results this time?

“It’s important to recognise that election results are just a snapshot of people’s opinion at the time and that the causes of disaffection and anger that lead to low cohesion are more deep-rooted than the issues raised by politicians seeking votes. In the end those are the symptoms, not the real causes of local disaffection. More crucially some elections may lead to some people now feeling they are completely unrepresented and become even more disengaged.”

There is no great evidence that the situation has improved. Indeed the Barnsley Central by-election result last night, shows this disaffection with mainstream politics still exists.

The recent Searchlight Educational Trust Fear and Hope report, which was recently commented on here, shows there are strong emotions such as fear being expressed by some groups, which hardly indicate cohesive communities.

In addition, recent polls show that 47% of the public still see Immigration and Asylum as the second most important issue after the economy. We have also seen the continued rise of organised groups expressing fear of Muslims in the UK, which reflects trends in other parts of Europe.

The current turmoil in the Middle East may be seen by many in the UK, who hold certain values, as a democratic awakening. However it may also be feared by others in the UK, who hold different values, for its potential domestic impact on their livelihoods and because they perceive they will be subsequently treated unfairly in comparison to others.

There is a potential danger that strong emotions and attitudes about this might not automatically be heeded by some working on the public policy agenda due to the Values Gap which has been previously referred to here. However TCC is pleased that there is a greater recognition of the need to address the issue in the right way and has worked with over 40 local authorities on gathering insight and delivering engagement with some of their most disaffected communities around cohesion issues.

As local authorities move past the challenges they have recently faced with their budgets they will now be looking at tackling a range of issues in the aftermath of the changes they have made. Communicating with their local communities to reassure them over issues such as fairness will be important to the cohesion agenda in disaffected communities. The May 2010 blog posting made the following comment on the way forward, which is still relevant today:

“It requires early engagement now, through greater insight, better language and more involvement of frontline staff and lay people in communicating emotionally resonant cohesion messages.”

Charlie Mansell is Research and Development Officer for The Campaign Company. If you want to see what your own primary values set is, why not take the simple Values Questionnaire here.


One Response to “Community Cohesion is still a key issue”

  1. Anger, Trust and Community Cohesion – a warning about history? « The Campaign Company’s Blog Says:

    […] have argued in previous postings that Community Cohesion is still a very important issue in the UK. In March this year we were […]

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