UK Prime Minister David Cameron has announced a £20 million project to teach English to Moslem women – backed by a threat to those on spousal visas that they won’t get permission to stay in the country if they don’t pass tests.
Within hours, the initiative had been criticised as ‘lazy’ by former Conservative party chair Baroness Warsi for targeting women when, she said, Moslem men could have equally poor language stills.
The Prime Minister also came under attack from Sky News for refusing to take questions during a visit to meet Moslem women and from Bradford West MP Naz Shah for earlier cuts to ‘English for Speakers of a Second Language’ (Esol) teaching for Urdu and Gujerati users, reflecting a tactic for media management that his entourage adopted – to much criticism – during the 2015 general election campaign.
Knowing the UK’s government’s track record for any initiative requiring testing, more of the £20m could well be spent on outsourcing this than on the teaching itself.
According to Deborah Orr, writing in The Guardian, even without the costs of testing, this amounts to just £100 per Moslem woman in the UK, itself an almost derisory amount to spend on learning a language.
Additionally, within months, even more of the limited budget will likely be diverted to additionally expensive appeal procedures, involving even more assessors and, because immigration is involved, recall to the courts with lawyers inevitably involved on both sides.
Later, Labour spokesman Andy Burnham accused the prime minister of ‘stigmatising Moslem women’ with an approach that was ‘clumsy and simplistic’.