Helping Muslim women speak out

Stewart Jackson MP's Westminster Life column in the Peterborough Telegraph - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

Stewart Jackson MP's Westminster Life column in the Peterborough Telegraph - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

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This week, the Prime Minister rightly raised the issue of exclusion and segregation in our society and focused correctly on the fact that many Muslim women don’t speak English, have never had the opportunity to do so and are therefore precluded from full participation in modern Britain.

In fact, almost 200,000 women in the UK don’t speak English or speak it very poorly, and many hundreds of them live in Peterborough.

The PM I believe has the support of a majority of Britons from all backgrounds and was right to raise this issue and pledge £20 million for English language classes.

How can we talk of One Nation when so many of our fellow citizens don’t speak the native tongue of the United Kingdom? Surely this is a negative consequence of so-called multiculturalism.

Even Angela Merkel has described the situation as people living “parallel lives.”

Whilst there will be an objection from those taxpayers who do speak English to subsidising the education of those who do not, I nevertheless think that the initiative is for the greater good – for families, communities, the economy and the life chances of many of the individuals affected by these so-called cultural barriers, often imposed by men.

It’s a phenomenon that is hardly cost free, which is why we need to challenge it: Many very young pupils arrive at primary school not speaking English because they have been raised by women who themselves have limited or no English skills, and this naturally sets them at a disadvantage. Why do we tolerate this?

Predictably, the Labour Party have cynically attacked David Cameron – not least as they see the Muslim electorate as “their” voters (not true) and would rather suck up to core voters than propagate freedom, opportunity and equality for their fellow citizens who really are the most vulnerable in our society, culturally if not always financially.

In this debate we need to ask tough questions. Why are we spending millions of pounds on translation and interpretation for people who live in the UK and why do we tolerate institutional inequality in Sharia courts and segregated meetings?

I respect the sincerity of someone’s culture differing from mine, but Muslim women must resist being put in a silent box and they should speak out as proud and equal citizens in our country, like all other British women.

That’s the reality of One Nation in the UK in 2016.