Tag Archives: multiculturalism

Multiculturalism on the defensive

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Ever since the then Prime Minister David Cameron declared that “multiculturalism has failed” the concept has found itself on the back foot in Western political discourse. This has been a matter of dismay for many – I suspect most – Liberal Democrats, as multiculturalism is part of our DNA. This means not just tolerating but accepting difference, be it about ethnicity, religion, language, ability, sexuality or other forms of collective and personal identity.

Alas, with a few noble exceptions, political leaders on both sides of the Atlantic have tapped into a seam of populist fear or resentment of The Other. This is not just a phenomenon of right-wing extremism, as represented by Hungary’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, France’s Marine Le Pen or Brexit’s Man in the Pub, Nigel Farage, all of whom have demonised Muslims and refugees. Listen to Donald Trump’s rambling speeches or read Boris Johnson’s journalism and you soon sense the undercurrent of prejudice and discrimination.

One of the reasons so many LibDems love the European Union is because the EU actively celebrates diversity. The Lisbon Treaty (the nearest to a Constitution that the EU has adopted) specifically declares that the Union respects cultural diversity and national identities. It would be nice to think that all member states treat this pledge equally seriously, and that those who don’t can be nudged back into line. Ideally, as a European Liberal Democrat I would moreover hope this could be a template for the rest of the world to follow.

However, I am enough of a realist to recognise that this is far from the case in 2020. Moreover, core European values, such as a respect for human rights and the Rule of Law, which were placed at the heart of post-War multilateral institutions such as the United Nations and the International Criminal Court, no longer hold sway over much of the planet. Indeed, some totalitarian regimes argue that promoting these values is a form of neo-colonialism.

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Don Foster MP writes… The Integration Strategy: one year on

The Government’s Integration Strategy, Creating the Conditions for Integration was published a year ago on 21 February 2012. Since becoming a minister a few months ago, this is one of the areas about which I’ve had some of the strongest feedback from party members.

The views I’ve heard range from “the strategy is welcome, but not enough” to “it isn’t a serious substitute for a strategy to tackle racism and racial injustice”. Some have said that the document skates over the fact that integration is a two way process of mutual accommodation. Those with this view argue that there’s …

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Opinion: Ritual slaughter – One law for all

Ritual slaughter has had a reasonably low profile in the UK, despite vigorous debate abroad, in the European parliament, and now in the Commons. David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Sarah Ludford MEP (FT) have expressed some level of support for the practice, but I must disagree.

The law requires that animals be stunned before slaughter, for their welfare, but there is an exemption for Muslim and Jewish food production.

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Opinion: Clegg is right on multiculturalism

A matter of hours after his party finished a humiliating sixth in the Barnsley Central by-election, Nick Clegg’s ‘Muscular Liberalism’ speech gave him an opportunity to appease disillusioned party members ahead of the spring conference. Amid the continuous onslaught of accusations of ‘selling out’, Clegg’s defense of multiculturalism showed clear water between his policy and that of the Conservatives.

In this speech, Clegg highlighted an indisputable split in the Coalition Government’s approach to tackling extremism. The deputy prime minister showed that he is unwilling to compromise on the communities agenda that remains the Liberal Democrats’ strongest suit amongst the inevitable compromises …

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Dinti Batstone writes: Cheap shots at multiculturalism generate more heat than light

Last Thursday, generations of Chinese in Soho welcomed the Year of the Rabbit in time-honoured traditional ways. Yet we didn’t hear David Cameron demonise Chinatown as a ‘segregated community’ living ‘apart from the mainstream’. On the contrary, the annual lion dance spectacle has become an essential fixture in London’s calendar, enjoyed by people from many different cultures.

The Oxford dictionary defines multicultural(ism) as “of or relating to or constituting several cultural or ethnic groups within a society”. Note the word “within”. Yet there’s a growing tendency to rubbish multiculturalism, treating it as synonymous with the failed Labour policies referred …

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Opinion: If State multiculturalism has failed, what should take its place?

Prime Minister David Cameron’s speech on security and tackling terrorism in Munich in has re-ignited a debate over whether ethnic and racial segregation is the root cause of so-called home-grown terrorism, in particular the species that manifested itself so tragically on July 7th 2005 in London. Given my ethnicity (I’m the UK-born son of Hindu Indian immigrants) you may expect me to be apoplectic over the tone and content of Cameron’s rhetoric; at least I should be according to Labour’s Sadiq Khan MP, who accused the PM of ‘writing propaganda for the English Defence League.’ Yet I find …

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