The Murdoch Times, by no coincidence at all, has the inside track as it declares “Women must integrate, Cameron tells Muslims”. Not Sikhs. Not Christians. Not Buddhists. Not Jews. No-one with those religious affiliations need be concerned. And it gets worse: the Tories are trying to connect lack of English language skills with extremism, somehow not noticing that the knife-wielding ISIS followers in the videos speak fluent, er, English.
After Christopher Hope of the Telegraph told “Immigrants who can't improve their English after two and a half years of coming here will be extradited from Oct”, the Mirror’s Kevin Maguire mused “Lot of Brits [would] be kicked out of Spain if Madrid imposed language tests. Imagine them coming back and shouting at our waiters”. It’s not only Spain, but France, Italy, Greece, Portugal and places further afield like Dubai.
And Maguire had another telling point to make: “Speaking perfect English isn't the problem with British jihadis on IS videos. PS Cameron cut language spending”. Green Party leader Natalie Bennett was on the same page: “David Cameron - whose govt slashed funding for English lessons for migrants in 2011 - is now complaining migrants aren't learning English”. Causes the problem, then says “Look at that problem over there!”
Stephen Bush of the Staggers reinforced the point, observing “Joined-up government! July 15 2015, cut 16,000 Esol classes. January 18 2016: announce you're deporting people who don't learn English”. Mic Wright took a directly cynical view: “‘...if you look at what Saudi Arabia is doing, they do have a good programme for de-radicalisation.’ - David Cameron”. Not much chance of being radical after beheading, that’s for sure.
Even in his own party there was disquiet: Sayeeda Warsi reminded Dave “PS mum’s English isn't great yet she inspired her girls to become a Lawyer, teacher, accountant, pharmacist, cabinet minister”. Helen Gardner responded to figures for Muslims who have limited or no English by pointing out “And what of the elderly Gurkha relatives of both sexes, for example, who also speak no English? They're not Muslim”.
She had more questions for Dave: “Also elderly Sikhs, been here for decades, who speak little or no English - what of them, Cameron?” And on the assertion that segregation was “unacceptable in the UK”, she asked “So when's he starting on the orthodox Jewish communities in north London?” The Tories claim they will be looking at the role of Sharia councils, but they would then have to do the same with the Beth Din.