As the introductory part of this series showed, a timeline of events and the PM’s proclamations had pretty much predetermined the outcomes of the Casey Review. The government now needed a person who could see this agenda through to its toxically racist end. Casey, based on her history, was the right person to get this done.
Louise Casey – Violently Averse to Evidence-Based Policy
Casey is referred to as a “Tsar”. A 2009 Commons Select Committee noted that a “Tsar” differs from a civil servant in two respects; “first the direct appointment by the minister or Prime Minister and second a degree of public personal identification with a particular policy or piece of work which would not normally be expected from a civil servant or special adviser.” In effect, the process shuns Parliamentary parties, and therefore potential opposition in the formulation of a policy in favour of individuals that operate as cronies. In written evidence submitted to the Committee, Professor Martin Smith of Sheffield University highlighted that Tzars like Casey “are not morally neutral; they have an explicit function to achieve particular government objectives”.
In 2005, during an after-dinner speech at a Home Office/ACPO function, Casey said ministers would perform better if they were “pissed” and “doing things sober is no way to get things done”. Pertinently she further stated,
“There is an obsession with evidence-based policy. If No 10 says bloody evidence-based policy to me one more time I’ll deck them one and probably get unemployed.”
Ideology-driven policy, it seems, is Casey’s forte. A decade later, the alcoholic and potentially violent civil servant was commissioned by the discriminatory, anti-Muslim Eric Pickles to investigate the Rotherham child abuse. Her report was attacked by a number of social work academics for a lack of rigour, transparency and gaps in the methodology which raised questions of accuracy:
“There are… troubling aspects of the report… the process by which it was prepared, in particular, the lack of rigour and transparency in the methods used to gather and analyse data… we are not told how this massive volume of information was reviewed and analysed within what was a very short time frame. This gap in the report should concern us, as it goes to the heart of issues of accuracy, transparency and rigour.”
It was evident, from the stereotyping language and in the stalling of inquiries into white state paedophilia, that a distinctly biased, demonising agenda was pursued.
Troubled Families and PREVENT
Her defence of PREVENT (which I will address in more detail in a later piece) is explained by her oversight (as Director General) of the widely criticised and incredibly ineffectual Troubled Families Programme (TFP). Professor Jonathan Portes noted that that the “government was taking a set of families who were undeniably poor and disadvantaged, and redefining them – without a shred of evidence – as dysfunctional and antisocial.” This spin, (as we shall see in subsequent blogs) is pervasively prevalent in the Casey report, which equates highly “concentrated” Muslim minorities to vulnerability to “extremism”, without empirical basis. The scheme provided a cover for PREVENT experimentation to be pushed onto families. Finch and Mckendrick (2015) note,
“Levitas (2012) argues convincingly that there has been a narrative shift, one that identified deprived families experiencing multiple concerns with “trouble”… We also note recent trends that include families at risk of radicalization as an additional Trouble Families criterion in some local authorities. What we see therefore, is a conflationary discursive turn in both political narrative and policy – one that conflates terror with “troubled” families.”
From Families to Communities: “No-go areas”
The next step, quite clearly exemplified in the Casey Review, is identification of whole communities that are “vulnerable to radicalisation”. During the course of her review, Casey herself expressed,
“There is no bigger challenge facing us as a society than how we unite our communities so that everyone is engaged and nobody is left isolated or exposed to extremism. There will be no no-go areas, only a determination to do the best we can for everyone living in our country today.”
Noteworthy in the above statement is the reference to “no-go areas”. The notion of no-go areas is a far-right, anti-Muslim trope which has been used to fuel Muslim take-over myths and fearmongering. It is a narrative which has been used by white supremacist terrorists. The anti-Muslim neoconservative conspiracy theorist who was the brainchild of Trump’s anti-Muslim policies, Frank Gaffney, has called Dearborn and Michigan “Muslim-Only” no-go zones. Bobby Jindal, who has spoken at the invitation of the hate-financed Henry Jackson Society and has shared platforms with Donald Trump at events organised by Gaffney, and has made similar “no-go zones” claims. He has further asserted that immigrants are seeking to “colonise Western countries”. The no-go zones myth has been regurgitated by ardent neoconservatives like anti-Islam hate-preacher Douglas Murray, and Michael Nazir-Ali who is an apologist for the mass-murdering Bashar al-Assad, and who has called on the elimination of orthodox Islam. Nazir-Ali’s no-go zone claims were repeated by Robert Spencer, a man who has been praised by Murray as a “brilliant scholar” and is also the “intellectual influence” of the white supremacist terrorist Anders Breivik. Steven Emerson, last year called Birmingham “totally Muslim where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in”. Emerson links directly to the transatlantic Islamophobia industry which is run and financed by hatemongering neoconservatives. Soon after Emmerson made the statements, even the PM David Cameron called him a “complete idiot”.
What does that make Casey who seems to be dog-whistling the worst of neoconservatives myths about Islam and Muslims as truths in preparation for her Review?
The Review’s Network of Neoconservative Influence
Questions are also to be asked regarding the background of the report. Educationalist Robin Richardson of Insted Consultancy raises some pointed questions about the formation of the report:
“The Casey Review is written, according to its title page, by Louise Casey. But its actual text, apart from a foreword signed by Casey herself, is written by a group of people known as ‘the Review team’. They refer to themselves throughout as ‘we’ but provide not a shred of information about who they are and what their qualifications are, if any, for the task they have undertaken. They do not even give any information about how they worked, other than making vague references to having held meetings and conversations. Such anonymity and lack of disclosure in an official government report is extremely unconventional and does nothing to build confidence in its findings.”
These are indeed serious questions which need answering. The transparency with regards to the formulation of key policy papers and state apparatus which invariably detrimentally impact the Muslim minority has been practically non-existent; from the theory underpinning PREVENT and the secretive black propaganda directed towards Muslims, to the constitution of the McCarthyite Extremism Analysis Unit.
An indication to the “persuasion” which has evidently influenced the Casey Review is given via the unquestioning and uncritical authoritative deference to neoconservatives and their dutiful enablers.
David Goodhart’s book The British Dream is adduced a couple of times in the report, for instance, to highlight the “problem” of citizens choosing to marry someone from Pakistan, India or Bangladesh, and this subsequently leading to “problems” of preserving Islamic tradition. This theme was propagated by David Cameron in a speech made in January of this year, where he insultingly and baselessly claimed that non-English speaking Muslim women could not understand their children, uniquely making them vulnerable to “extremism”. Both Goodhart and Cameron’s narratives closely mimic Michael Gove’s statements made a decade earlier in his “anti-Muslim bashing diatribe”, Celsius 7/7:
“There is a greater than average tendency among British Muslims from South Asia backgrounds to marry spouses from the subcontinent… this trend among South Asian Muslims can mean that the family space is less ‘Westernized’ that within other ethnic minority groups. The habits, mores, sexual relations and cultural assumptions within such households are likely to be more traditional, and distant from the rest of contemporary British society. … All these may feed a sense of separateness…”
The strikingly similar themes which consistently course between Gove, Goodhart and Casey’s Review, more than indicate to the corrosive neoconservative influence in the report. A brief look at Goodhart’s neoconservative connections provides an apt understanding as to where these lines of arguments are coming from.
Goodhart sat on the Advisory Council of the notorious hate-preacher Douglas Murray’s inappropriately named Centre for Social Cohesion, a “think-tank” which later subsumed its operations under the hate-financed Henry Jackson Society. In 2010, Goodhart was also listed on the advisory board of highly discredited, neocon-enabling Quilliam Foundation alongside Gove. In his most recent positions, Goodhart is an advisory group member of Demos, and also heads the Demography, Immigration and Integration unit of Michael Gove’s notorious, anti-Muslim, neoconservative think-tank, Policy Exchange.
Of pertinence is that Goodhart, Policy Exchange, Demos, and the Integration Hub website which Goodhart brought under the auspices of Policy Exchange, are all referenced and/or mentioned in Casey’s Review a number of times.
Goodhart believes that there is no link between foreign policy and terrorism, a point which was confirmed when he attacked his previous ideal “moderate Muslim” deformist Tariq Ramadan for enunciating this very point (incidentally, this is also a sign for deformists that their mental restructuring is not going to be only limited to their religious beliefs but wider political views in order to be “accepted” within the neocon-defined pseudo-liberal status quo). The focus on Muslims and in particular ideology and his citation in the review therefore makes sense.
Pertinently, Casey, or rather, her anonymous group of researchers, seemed to have lifted the themes of the “Muslim alien”, assimilation and coerced desegregation directly from Goodhart’s book. The core of the argument made in the book is that human beings favour the own kind and are suspicious of outsiders. This I have elucidated elsewhere is fundamentally the type of nationalism fascist neoconservatism of the Straussian variety fosters. The book been heavily criticised as an “exercise in scapegoating”, “littered with examples of unsourced ‘facts’”, and with “no evidence” to support the notion that immigration has caused the plight of the white working class. Professor Jonathon Portes also states that the thesis that the lack of integration “physically” and “mentally” by certain minorities (Muslims in other words), has led to a decline of a shared sense of community, local and national as postulated by Goodhart is a conclusion which “far outruns the facts”. Instead the Professor describes his book as “dangerous for British politics, for public debate, and for policy-making.”
The content of the book is shocking. It plays down racism, and Islamophobia (this point will expounded in a further piece), claims press demonisation of immigrants contributes positively to race relations by providing a “psychological safety-valve”, and justifies discrimination against ethnic minorities in the job sphere on the basis that such people might prove “a source of tension and embarrassment” in the workplace, as, after all, “people will generally give preference to, and feel more comfortable being around, people they are familiar with”. He also makes sweeping statements about communities which are borderline stereotypically racist. One reviewer remarks:
“Findings from survey reports jostle with anecdotes, a mishmash of opinions, urban myths and even prejudices he has gleaned from conversations with a variety of people – many of them, like him in the media or the opinion-forming business. ‘Newcomers were noisy and boisterous (especially Caribbeans) and brought with them unfamiliar smells (South Asians)’, ‘Somalis are notoriously clannish’…”
As a staunch advocate for an explicitly neoconservative-type of nationalism (including compulsory National Citizenship Service, which for neocons is useful for fostering the docile subject who is willing to self-sacrifice at the whim of a small elite), he has previously proposed “banning veiled women from public buildings”. Whilst now having changed his view on banning veiled women in his book, he still believes they cause “indirect psychological harm” to others on the street.
The question at this juncture must be raised, how has someone with such repulsive, anti-Muslim views been cited in, and quite evidently influenced, a Review which invariably targets the Muslim minority?
Another major neoconservative think-tank referenced (in the context of “Shari’ah law”) is Civitas. The Civitas report the Review cites is authored by, inter alia, Denis MacEoin. MacEoin is a pro-Israel activist who has said in the past that he has “very negative feelings” about Islam. MacEoin was a senior editor for the Middle East Quarterly produced by the Middle East Forum (MEF), a think-tank founded by its current president, neocon Daniel Pipes. The Centre for American Progress in its 2015 report Fear Inc. 2 listed MEF as one of the eight largest donors to “think tanks and organizations in the United States identified by the Center for American Progress as being anti-Islam and/or supporting policies discriminating against Muslims.”
In addition to authoring a report for Policy Exchange targeting Muslims which contained fabricated evidence, as of 2014, MacEoin has prolifically authored articles on the vitriolic neoconservative hate website Gatestone Institute. Gatestone has been described as “one of the most important hubs in America’s Islamophobia industry, pumping out reams of dangerous anti-Muslim propaganda of the kind lapped up by far-right mass murderer Anders Breivik.”
Civitas itself has produced anti-Muslim reports by noted Christian Caroline Cox. She believes that Muslims are compulsive liars, that Islam is a warring faith and Jihad is the conquest of the world. She also invited anti-Islam, far-right politician Geert Wilders to screen his anti-Muslim inflammatory film “Fitna”. Wilders was recently sentenced for inciting discrimination. Cox also launched Sharia Watch, a bigoted organisation spearheaded by far-right “extremist” Ann Marie Waters.
How is it possible that a paper on integration is sourcing information from such hatemongering neoconservatives who themselves are associated with Islamophobia industry’s finest?
In addition to the key ideological inspiration provided by invisible racist Goodhart and “clash of civilisations” Civitas, we also have the usual suspects among the neoconservative-enablers – i.e. those who wear the mask of the “problem” community to legitimise “white” liberal, or more specifically, fascist neoconservative solutions.
Thus, Dilwar Hussian is approvingly cited in the report. Hussain has founded New Horizons in British Islam which sells itself as “a forward-looking organisation that works for reform in Muslim thought and practice”. It hosts a plethora of neocon-linked deformists on discussions about Islam. Hussain has been praised by the far-right/neoconservative-linked Quilliam Foundation’s “theologian” Usama Hasan. Hasan works with US-based neoconservatives and features on platforms financed by the William Rosenwald Fund. Nina Rosenwald, who is described by The Nation as the “sugar mama of anti-Muslim hate” due to her funding of far-right groups, controls the fund.
In explaining the meaning of “extremism”, the Review reference’s PREVENT-pusher Sara Khan’s book, The Battle for British Islam, which is linked to the Home Office’s black propaganda project targeting the Muslim minority. Khan, who has no expertise in the field of terrorology, has also expressed support for neocon Quilliam theologian Usama Hasan.
Finally, we also have input from UK. The organisation is run by Shaista Gohir who has been exposed previously on the blog for her Orientalist constructions of the niqab and women who choose to wear the Hijab, and her links to neoconservative Muslim-profiling advocate Khalid Mahmood. Gohir is also the board member of a feminist Muslim organisation that is behind the “Global Alliance of Women Countering Extremism”, which was launched off the back of Barack Obama’s summit on CVE at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015. CVE has been highly criticised as baseless pseudo-science which encourages communities to be “scrutinized and surveilled under the banner of CVE” and establishes policies which “make religious people more “moderate,” or… teach[es] them that their religious texts say something other than what they believe”.
The dominant narratives of the Casey Review have been architected by those brought to light above who are either the intellectual figureheads of the neoconservative culturalist assault on Islam and Muslims, or are operating as cogs to deliver this agenda.
Casey has been sold in the media as a liberal lefty, thus painting the concerns she raises with a perception of greater legitimacy: “this is not by the Conservatives” the spin would go, “these comments are from someone who is liberal and has been involved in social justice”. However, her history demonstrates that she is a Blairite/neoconservative mouthpiece who is tasked to produce dubious justifications for predetermined agendas. In the instance of the Casey Review, she and her unknown group of researchers have produced something using materials that have been authored by the far-right/neoconservatives whose narratives have been employed by far-right terrorists like Anders Behring Breivik. With this analysis alone, the Review looks nothing more than sham to pursue the neocon agenda of demonising Islam to construct an enemy against which draconian, paternalistic policies can be enacted.
A close inspection of the content of the Casey Review aptly demonstrates this.
 McKendrick D., Finch J., “’Under Heavy Manners?’: Social Work, Radicalisation, Troubled Families and Non-Linear War”, The British Journal of Social Work, 2016