Sayeeda Warsi criticises ‘state multi-culturalism’, English Defence League


by Sunny
5th October, 2009 at 9:37 pm    

Sayeeda Warsi gave a speech today at the Conservative Party conference. The full speech is below the fold. She said she had three key messages:

1. Labour’s reliance on multiculturalism has failed Britain
2. The state’s continued suspicion of faith is wrong
3. And the threat of terrorism is no excuse for demonising a whole community.
Plus, she equates the al-Muhajiroun lot with the English Defence League.

A few points worth mentioning here. She specifically focuses on ‘state multiculturalism’ and makes a distinction by saying:

Firstly, when we as Conservatives talk about multiculturalism we are not talking about the building of temples, or synagogues or mosques in any neighbourhood. For us that is religious pluralism and it is a defining British characteristic that began with the non-conformists.

For me, state multiculturalism, as I like to define it is forcing Britain’s diverse communities to still define themselves as different, patronisingly special and tempting them to compete against each other for public funds.

Pretty agreeable stuff. In fact I’m pretty sure I was the first to use “state multiculturalism” (as distinct from lived multiculturalism, which Sayeeda defines first) and criticise it here on the New Gen manifesto.

It’s unfair to blame New Labour because it was the Tories in 1997, just before Labour took over, who first encouraged Muslims groups to band together and speak in one voice. The Labour party took that further no doubt, but once our manifesto was published the whole edifice fell apart pretty quickly.

No doubt New Labour made a lot of mistakes – in both directions. It went for draconian attacks on civil liberties, while hoping that chucking money at religious groups would curb terrorism or encourage ‘community cohesion’. It has now retreated from both positions – but I did say earlier that the party realised its mistakes and changed policy.

I can’t say I disagree with the main points of this speech. There are issues the Tories will duck – like funding ethnic focused groups such as Southall Black Sisters. And in those cases they’ll have to be pragmatic too and realise sometimes its best to help people than become ideologically rigid.

————–

Sayeeda Warise speech
“Project Maja reminded me that Bosnia-Herzegovina as a country in the heart of Europe, is still delicately balanced between its past and its future.

“A past where much blood has flowed down the River Drina where the murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand led to the First World War, and where differences in ethnicity and faith were cruelly exploited in 1995, leading to the worst genocide to have taken place in Europe since the Second World War.

“Conference, despite the progress made in the last 14 years, without further sustained international attention Bosnia could easily slip back.

“And after the failures on the part of the international community during the Balkan war.
We have a duty to support Bosnia and its future as a united multi-ethnic, multi-faith country in the heart of Europe. We must not fail Bosnia again.

“Conference, let me now turn to issues closer to home. No one needs reminding of the tragic consequences when communities fragment, as they did in Northern Ireland, and how those consequences were felt throughout Britain, including the tragedies during the 1990’s right here in Manchester.

“We as a nation throughout our history have had to deal with extremism in all its guises, with groups that promote both hatred and violence.

“And this summer, we were reminded again why that fight continues.

“The protests against our troops led by Anjem Chowdhury and Al-Muhajiroun in Luton were truly disgusting and quite rightly condemned by us all.

“And we also rightly condemned recent violent demonstrations led by the English Defence League, and their nasty friends in the BNP.

“These groups of extremists represent two ugly faces of the same coin, and for them, hatred of the ‘other’ isn’t just a scourge, it is a political philosophy.

“They have a simple, yet dangerous goal – to drive a wedge, to spread hatred and to sow the seeds of division.

“Conference, during the Second World War, British and Commonwealth soldiers, including my two grandfathers, fought side by side to defeat fascism in Europe.

“So over 65 years later we are NOT going to tolerate fascism on our soil.

“Conference let me say this loud and clear. There is nothing Muslim about Anjem Chowdhury and Al-Muhajiroun.

“There is nothing English about the English Defence League. And there is certainly nothing British about the BNP.

“Conference, there are three key messages I would like you to take away from my speech today…

1. Labour’s reliance on multiculturalism has failed Britain

2. The state’s continued suspicion of faith is wrong

3. And the threat of terrorism is no excuse for demonising a whole community.

“Firstly, when we as Conservatives talk about multiculturalism we are not talking about the building of temples, or synagogues or mosques in any neighbourhood. For us that is religious pluralism and it is a defining British characteristic that began with the non-conformists.

“For me, state multiculturalism, as I like to define it is forcing Britain’s diverse communities to still define themselves as different, patronisingly special and tempting them to compete against each other for public funds.

“It’s the madness of political correctness which fails to teach our children British history in case it offends, and is the madness of translating documents into a multitude of languages instead of actually teaching people English.

“State multiculturalism is not integration, is not unifying and is not the British way.

“Secondly, Conference under Labour, the State has become increasingly sceptical of an individuals religious belief.

“We’ve all seen the stories, how appalling that in Labour’s Britain a community nurse can be suspended for offering to pray for a patient’s recovery.

“Or a school receptionist could face disciplinary action for sending an email to friends asking them to pray for her daughter.

“At the heart of these cases lies a growing intolerance and illiberal attitude towards those who believe in God. The scepticism of senior Liberal Democrat MP Evan Harris driving this secular agenda has now grown to become an ideology permeating through many parts of the public sector.

“It’s an agenda driven by the political-elite, who have hijacked the pursuit of ‘equality’ by demanding a dumbing down of faith.

“It’s no wonder that this leads to accusations in the media that our Country’s Christian culture is being downgraded.

“For many their faith brings them closer to their neighbour, it’s the driver for their voluntary work, their social action. And for many, faith is the basis for some of the best schools in our Country.

“This scepticism against faith communities and in some case outright hostility, is both wrong and dangerous.

“Strong societies are built on cherishing their heritage.

“So when some misguided lliberal tries to downgrade Christmas…

“Or a school tries to ban the nativity play, or a child is not taught about the empire in case it offends.

“It’s no wonder we lose track of who we are Conference, I am not for one minute suggesting that faith communities should get a special deal, but, I do believe they should get a fair deal

– one that doesn’t discriminate,

– one that isn’t intolerant

– and one that truly understands and appreciates religious communities… and their contribution

“Forced secularism in not progressive, it is not Conservative and it certainly is not the British way.

“Thirdly, Conference, I am sure you will forgive me if I say a little about my own faith.

“As a British born Muslim, I believe that my faith makes me a better person.

“I disagree with those who believe that in the present climate, to say one is a Muslim is more a political “act than simply a matter of faith.

“British Muslims are found in every walk of life, as doctors, nurses , teachers, as soldiers in the British “armed forces, as parliamentary candidates and dare I say members of the House of Lords.

“But reading some newspapers or some blogs today you could easily believe that such Muslims are in the minority.

“Since the 7/7 attacks in Britain, the fear of terrorism has fuelled the rise of anti-Muslim sentiment.

“Leading journalist Peter Oborne in his Daily Mail column said that anti-Muslim hatred “is Britain’s last remaining socially acceptable form of bigotry”.

“Recent months have seen several arson attacks targeting mosques around the country.

“In September, a spate of attacks against Muslims culminated in the death of a sixty-seven year old man in Tooting.

“And last week, here in Manchester, 20 Muslim gravestones were desecrated.

“Conference, the fight against extremism cannot succeed if all communities do not feel they belong and have an equal stake in Britain’s future.

“As I have said earlier I am not for one minute suggesting that the Muslim community or any other community should get a special deal.

“But, I do believe racism and religious intolerance is unacceptable, and just because you belong to the Islamic faith – you are no less a British citizen deserving of our country’s protection.

“Like all-forms of bigotry, like anti-Semitism and homophobia, anti-Muslim hatred should rightly be recognised as an evil and noxious creed.

“Discrimination against any community has no part in a liberal democracy, it is not Conservative and it certainly is not the British way.

“Some of you may know, I have sometimes been my press officer’s worst nightmare.

“I put it down to the fact, that I am from the North, proud to be from the North and proud to say it… like it actually is.

“And in these difficult times, more straight talking and honesty is what is needed

“After 12 years of socially divisive politics,

“After 12 years of Labour playing fast and loose with our heritage.

“And after 12 years of Labour tip toeing around the difficult issues.

“As a nation.

“We now need to be clear.

“We now need to be honest.

“And above all we now need to be brave.

“We need to mend the broken ties that should bind us.

“End the politics of us and them.

“Put integration at the heart of our policy.

“And proudly, once more, make the case for today’s Britain.”


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Filed in: British Identity,Islamists,Party politics






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  1. pickles

    New blog post: Sayeeda Warsi criticises ‘state multi-culturalism’, English Defence League http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/6112


  2. Bob Connors

    #homeland Sayeeda Warsi criticises ‘state multi-culturalism’, English Defence League: … on multicult.. http://bit.ly/iEosI


  3. Samuel Coates

    Some good, strong stuff said by Sayeeda Warsi today on the state's scepticism of people of faith http://j.mp/vq9bD


  4. MediaLive

    Sayeeda Warsi criticises ’state multi-culturalism’, English Defence League http://bit.ly/iEosI


  5. Sayeeda Warsi: There is nothing British about the BNP « Nothing British

    [...] see Sunny Hundal’s blog at Pickled Politics on Sayeeda’s speech at [...]


  6. Mad Mel is mad at Sayeeda Warsi’s very … « Talk Islam

    [...] Mel is mad at Sayeeda Warsi’s very mild rebuke of anti-Muslim bigotry in the UK. [...]




  1. Political Scrapbook — on 5th October, 2009 at 10:08 pm  

    Don’t mean to turn this into a party-political football but I cannot resist commenting that the Tories have suddenly “discovered” the Asian-heritage communities in seats which happen to look winnable this time around.

    I know of at least one seat that Warsi has visited recently in which the Tories didn’t even bother putting up local council candidates in the wards she visited.

  2. Leon — on 5th October, 2009 at 10:27 pm  

    The term state multiculturalism has been around for sometime before the NGN…

  3. MixTogether — on 5th October, 2009 at 10:34 pm  

    Well posted Sunny.

    I haven’t come to this thread to fight or argue, so would appreciate if we can keep it constructive.

    I think it is to your credit that you are not taking a partisan stance on this speech- the issues raised are too important.

    Sayeeda Warsi has grasped the anxieties of all of us, across party lines, who are worried by extremism. She is the first major politician I have heard equate the BNP and Islamist extremists, and that puts her speech way out ahead of any other speech of this conference season.

    Her nod to the blogs is welcome too, and hints that she is well informed about the ebb and flow of debate on the key sites.

    This speech managed to provide a solid defence of ORDINARY Muslims with a robust defence of British history- again far ahead of any other speech by a major politician I have heard.

    More straight talking is definitely needed, and I am looking forward to hearing it from Baroness Warsi.

  4. Leon — on 5th October, 2009 at 10:59 pm  

    You do realise MT it’s you that normally acts like a complete wanker on here provoking the reaction you get?

    That said it’s nice to see you can post in a sane manner for once, please do continue.

  5. AsifB — on 6th October, 2009 at 3:28 am  

    Three comments

    a) I’m no Tory, but would say the Baroness makes a good speech here – good enough to make it seem stupid for her to have given up the chance of standing as an MP. She does also make the point about not demonising communities, which we can all agree with
    b) Sunny – you do seem to be defending the govt. too much by asserting that the ‘whole edifice’has crumbled since the New Gen manifesto – isn’t part of what Sayeedi and co criticising the Preventing Violent Extremism agenda ? – which still rewards communal/faith identity based groups and until a recent rebranding – was soley focused on British Pakistanis/Muslims. I think PVE is what Chris Grayling had in mind when he said ““Public money should not be supporting the Bradford Muslim football league or the Leeds Jewish football league. It should be supporting the Yorkshire Boys’ football league. It should be seeking to bring different groups together and foster understanding rather than accentuating divides.”

    c) Peter Oborne – comes across as a journo with genuine principles. Far too good for the Mail

  6. Binkstein II — on 6th October, 2009 at 4:56 am  

    Maybe Baroness Warsi’s two grandfathers didn’t have the opportunity to scuttle over and join the Indian National Army in Singapore or join the flak units the Germans recruited from the ranks of Indian turncoats*.

    #1 ‘Political Scrapbook’ makes an interesting point about the Tories and the Asian vote. Of course, a Tory benefactor ought to be persuaded to bankroll ‘Respect’ to ensure a split Asian vote.

    Just saying.

    * Some were stationed in Holland but apparantly the local Dutch objected to having ‘coloured’ troops in their locality.

  7. bananabrain — on 6th October, 2009 at 8:55 am  

    astonishingly, i don’t think i can find a single thing to criticise in this speech.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  8. Reza — on 6th October, 2009 at 9:52 am  

    “State multiculturalism is not integration, is not unifying and is not the British way.”

    Amen to that.

    Doesn’t is all seem so reasonable? But where is the substance? There was no policy. No proposals for action.

    For a start, did anyone notice that there was no mention of immigration (which according to recent polls is one of the top 3 concerns of the British majority)?

    No mention of the voluntary social exclusion of certain communities. No mention of unacceptable cultural practises such as internationally arranged ‘fetching’ marriages which continually hold back integration, generation after generation.

    Nice words Warsi. But not nearly enough to achieve anything tangible.

    A clever speech to fool the majority into thinking that their concerns are being addressed whilst also reassuring the immigrant ‘communities’, multiculturalists and race industries that it’ll be business as usual.

  9. Morrigan — on 6th October, 2009 at 10:15 am  

    It’s unfair to blame New Labour because… they have only had 12 years to get it right after all!

    Also that dusty old Guardian link does not prove that you caused the ‘whole edifice’ of Labour’s Communities policy to collapse! Harry’s Place has demonstrably had far more influence than the abandoned ‘New Generation’ project.

  10. DavidMWW — on 6th October, 2009 at 12:22 pm  

    Yes, good speech.

    Except for this “state’s continued suspicion of faith.” Which state would that be? The one that’s pouring billions into a massive expansion of sectarian schools?

  11. rupahuq — on 6th October, 2009 at 12:59 pm  

    I have to say I agree with Political Scrapbook. Have been watching bits and pieces of the conference on tv and, despite the high proflie Baroness on the stage, the audience is pretty overwhelmingly white – moreso than Labour at Brighton last week. The “ethnic vote” may be tougher than the Tories think to crack.

  12. Paul — on 6th October, 2009 at 2:18 pm  

    This is a lot to digest, but better than the trivialities often featured on this blog.

    Let’s start with the reference to Northern Ireland. That was not a community which fragmented: it was never a community in the first place. The United Kingdom is not a historical unit being threatened by fragmentation – as this kind of right-wing analysis suggests. It was assembled by force, and never completed its assimilation strategy in either Scotland, Wales or Ireland. It is too late to resurrect that strategy now without bloodshed, but it still appeals to many in the UK elite (not just Conservatives but also notably Tony Blair).

    The strategy is not in itself new or surprising, because it is standard for nation-states. That’s what the nation-state is all about – an ethnically, or at least culturally, homogenous population, from border to border. The difference in the British case is the inherent weakness of its multiple internal identity, a problem which it shares with Belgium. If you want to avoid ‘fragmentation’, you would be wise to have one home nation, and not four. (I think that some earlier suggestions of a national UK loyalty oath had to be abandoned, for fear its imposition in Northern Ireland would wreck the peace process there).

    But even if they could evade the Unionism issue – for instance by concentrating on England and deferring the ‘integration’ elsewhere, the strategy remains nationalist, and subject to the problems which all national-unity projects face. The reference to Christian heritage is a prime example: far too many people in England simply won’t accept that anymore.

    If I have time I will try to go through this more systematically. However, the most important thing is to recognise that this is an essentially nationalist agenda, nationalist in the historical and theoretical sense. It is not specifically British, and you can find exact equivalents in Germany, or France, or the Netherlands – most western EU countries (and some eastern as well).

  13. Morrigan — on 6th October, 2009 at 2:36 pm  

    Rupa Huq,

    Isn’t that missing the point a bit? She closes her speech saying:

    “We need to mend the broken ties that should bind us.

    “End the politics of us and them.

    “Put integration at the heart of our policy.

    So why should the ethnic makeup of her audience matter?

    She is not trying to cosy-up to some narrow ethnic demographic, she is talking about issues that affect us all.

    Her words will reach a lot more non-white people through blogs like this anyway.

    It is the quality of her ideas, not the colour of her audience we should be judging, if we are to escape from the politics of ‘us and them’.

  14. Dan — on 6th October, 2009 at 2:53 pm  

    Good speech, generally agree.

    Except for:

    “2. The state’s continued suspicion of faith is wrong”

    Nope, I think suspicion of those who hold core beliefs without a shred of evidence is pretty justified.

    Especially when some of those beliefs end in “…and therefore we should oppress / kill / look down on X”.

  15. Morrigan — on 6th October, 2009 at 3:25 pm  

    Dan, do you mean unproven core beliefs such as ‘God does not exist’?

  16. Dan — on 6th October, 2009 at 3:35 pm  

    Morrigan – nope. Having a belief for or against God’s existence is pretty pointless once you strip God back to being an all powerful being.

    I mean more beliefs such as ‘God tells me I am one of his chosen people, and can thus discriminate against those who are not’, ‘God’s tenets allow me to ride roughshod over other people’s liberties’ etc.

    Believing in God (in general) or not is just a bit pointless, it’s all the gibberish that follows I have a problem with, and don’t want interfering with the state.

  17. Paul — on 6th October, 2009 at 4:42 pm  

    Another flagrant historical deception:

    And after the failures on the part of the international community during the Balkan war. We have a duty to support Bosnia and its future as a united multi-ethnic, multi-faith country in the heart of Europe. We must not fail Bosnia again.

    In reality, of course, the western alliance called for, and ultimately fought, a crusade against the Croatian and Serbian groups in Bosnia. Until, having re-assessed their geostrategic priorities, they concentrated on Serbia, and re-armed the Croatian army, allowing them to ethnically cleanse their country. A section of the Atlanticist right has since had misgivings about their de facto support for the Bosnian Muslim state, and a smaller section has since gone pro-Serbian. (Look for the ‘Kosovo is Serbian’ banners at anti-Islam websites).

    An appeal to often completely false histories is typical for nationalists, and that is one reason why they can not be trusted to decide national history curricula, not even in the name of ‘integration’. More later on the policy implications of this speech, which is presumably the line of a future Conservative government in Britain.

  18. Paul — on 6th October, 2009 at 6:49 pm  

    Yet more historical errors:

    “Conference, during the Second World War, British and Commonwealth soldiers, including my two grandfathers, fought side by side to defeat fascism in Europe.”

    The British Commonwealth had 3 members which fought in WWII: the United Kingdom, the Dominion of Canada, the Commonwealth of Australia, and the Union of South Africa. The the Dominion of New Zealand was not a member until 1947, and the Irish Free State was neutral in the war. The Dominion of Newfoundland never officially joined, before it was absorbed by Canada. The current British Commonwealth did not fight as a unit in in any war, ever. Obviously no ‘Pakistani’ soldiers fought in WWII, and those born in British India did not fight “alongside” British troops, but as subordinate colonial forces under them.

    Equally certain is that these colonial troops made no significant contribution, to the “defeat of fascism” in Europe. The implied claim, that Britain defeated fascism, is nonsense. The war in Europe was decided on the eastern front, and Britain was never in a position to inflict a defeat on its enemies, without allies. Troops from India would have played a more significant role in the Asian theatre, but then that is not in Europe. And Britain did not fight to ‘defeat fascism’ anyway, even if the British left saw it that way. The British state fought for geostrategic reasons, essentially because it was threatened in its own existence.

    This is how nationalists make up the myth, which they teach in the schools as ‘history’. Elements are selected out of context, or simply invented, to fit into the current idea of the nation. Yes, all the others do it too, but that does not confer any legitimacy on it.

    Note also that the Conservative Party’s gratitude, to those whose grandfathers fought for Britain, does not extend to letting the grandchildren freely migrate to Britain. Nor does it extend to back-paying the pensions the grandfathers would have got, if they had been white and born in Britain itself. For a comparison, see the issue of pensions for WWII French-colonial troops.

  19. Paul — on 6th October, 2009 at 7:12 pm  

    And if you are wondering what Project Maja is: a group of Conservative Party politicians flew to Bosnia for a few days of photo-ops and meetings, and then lied to their local papers that they had, for instance, “built a football pitch”.

    Here’s the group after “building the football pitch” on a propaganda image hosted at Flickr. Note that they managed to build an entire football pitch without getting any dirt on their t-shirts. ‘Baroness’ Warsi is in the middle.

    Note also that while the Conservative tour group is wearing “I love BiH” t-shirts, none of the locals is. Not surprising since it is not their country, but a 100% artificial entity created by the NATO as part of the peace settlement, and the flag on the t-shirt was invented by the NATO-installed governor Westendorp.

  20. Jai — on 6th October, 2009 at 7:57 pm  

    Equally certain is that these colonial troops made no significant contribution, to the “defeat of fascism” in Europe…..Troops from India would have played a more significant role in the Asian theatre, but then that is not in Europe.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/India_in_World_War_II

    “The Army of India was one of the largest Allied forces contingents which took part in the North and East African Campaign, Western Desert Campaign and the Italian Campaign….

    …The Middle East and African theatre

    Main articles: Western Desert Campaign, Anglo-Iraqi War, Syria-Lebanon Campaign, East African Campaign (World War II), and Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran

    The British government meanwhile sent Indian troops to fight in West Asia and northern Africa against the Axis. India also geared up to produce essential goods such as food and uniforms. Pre-Independence India provided the largest volunteer force (2.5 million) of any nation during World War II.

    The 4th, 5th and 8th Indian Divisions took part in the North African theatre against Rommel’s Afrika Korps. Furthermore, the 4th and 5th Indian Divisions took part in the East African campaign against the Italians in Somaliland, Eritrea and Abyssinia.

    In the Battle of Bir Hacheim, Indian gunners played an important role by using guns in the anti tank role and destroying tanks of Rommel’s panzer divisions. Maj PPK Kumaramangalam was the battery commander of 41 Field Regiment which was deployed in the anti tank role. He was awarded the DSO for his act of bravery. Later he became the Chief of Army Staff of independent India in 1967.

    ….The invasion of Italy

    Indian forces played a significant part in liberating Italy from fascism. The British Army of India contributed the 3rd largest Allied contingent in the Italian campaign after the US and British forces. The 4th, 8th and 10th Infantry Divisions and 43rd Gurkha mechanised Infantry Brigade were involved, notably the former two at the famous Battle of Monte Cassino and all of them in the torrid fighting on the Gothic Line in late 1944 and 1945.”

  21. douglas clark — on 6th October, 2009 at 8:04 pm  

    Jai,

    Thanks for posting that so I didn’t have to. Paul only rewrites history in a way that suits Pauls, err, ‘vision’. All the allies worked very hard to defeat fascism, especially the communists. Just throwing that in there to see how it falls…

  22. Binkstein — on 7th October, 2009 at 4:53 am  

    In # 20 Paul is too, too cruel!

    Nobody with a brain imagines for a moment that any British politicians actually build schools or level playing fields in the Balkans any more than they think Chairman Mao actually engaged in hard physical labour for more than a minute or two or that the Queen actually goes around the world really planting trees or laying foundation stones.

    Sure, BiH is an artifician entity but so is Malaysia. In fact, quite a lot of post-colonial entities are invented states; Vietnam, Laos, India, Burma, Indonesia, the Philippines and – preposterously – Papua New Guinea.

  23. Binkstein — on 7th October, 2009 at 4:58 am  

    If BiH is an invented and artificial entity, what on earth was the mongrel republic of Yugoslavia?

  24. damon — on 7th October, 2009 at 6:47 am  

    In Hammersmith in London, the Tories are going to have Shaun Bailey standing as their candidate. A working class black guy who is a community workers with some of the most troubled youth in west London. He was interviewed by James Whale this evening on his radio programme. Whale is a pro-Tory hang ‘em and flog ‘em kind of populist, and raved about Bailey.
    As did many of his callers into the show. Several said that they would definitely vote for him if he was standing in their constituency. And that he was ”a breath of fresh air” etc.
    Bailey said that if elected, he would stand and fight for his beliefs, even if it meant him regularly getting slung out of the house of commons for his robust stance.
    He couldn’t be any other way, and had told David Cameron as much, as otherwise he would get accused of ”bum licking” by the people who he cared most about.
    Maybe the Tories are changing. (But in a clinical way of course).
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Aidf8xLRTo&feature=related
    I hope he gets in – if only because he’ll make things interesting.

  25. falcao — on 7th October, 2009 at 11:56 am  

    Nobody is that stupid we all know Tories will say anything that sounds good when an election is on the horizon. You think MP expenses are bad now, then watch once in power how the the brown envelopes full of cash brigade return and sleaze at parliament quadruples overnight.

  26. Paul — on 7th October, 2009 at 1:02 pm  

    Indian forces did not “play a significant part in liberating Italy from fascism”. Of course it depends on what you mean by ‘significant’, but the bulk of the invading forces were not Indian. And even if there were much larger contingents on specific campaigns, that does not mean they made an important contribution to the “defeat of fascism in Europe”.

    As to the other campaigns cited by Jai: North Africa is not in Europe, East Africa is not in Europe, the Western Desert is in North Africa anyway, the Middle East is not in Europe, the African theatre is not in Europe. Iraq is not in Europe, neither is Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Somaliland, Eritrea or Abyssinia.

    Remember that ‘Baroness’ Warsi claimed that her grandfathers had helped “defeat fascism in Europe”, a feat which was she attributes entirely to “British and Commonwealth” forces. In reality, the Second World War in Europe was decided on the Eastern Front, and almost every soldier who fought there was born between the Rhine and the Amur. Neither British nor British-Indian troops played anything but a marginal role there.

    Of course I realise that I can’t stop people from believing distorted or entirely false versions of history, but it is interesting to see the hypocrisy of the Conservative Party on public show. Their interest in the Commonwealth is primarily because it is an alternative to a ‘European’ alignment in British policy, or worse, a partly ‘European’ national identity. But … all their respect for, and identification with, the Commonwealth terminates abruptly, when non-white Commonwealth citizens show up at a UK airport as immigrants.

  27. Paul — on 7th October, 2009 at 1:04 pm  

    Back to the policy implications: although the speech is vague about specific policies, the general direction is clear: a state-enforced monoculturalism with a common national identity derived from the past. That shows in phrases like these..

    political correctness which fails to teach our children British history in case it offends
    translating documents into a multitude of languages instead of actually teaching people English.
    “State multiculturalism is not integration, is not unifying
    not the British way.
    “Strong societies are built on cherishing their heritage.
    “We need to mend the broken ties that should bind us.
    “End the politics of us and them.
    “Put integration at the heart of our policy.
    “And proudly, once more, make the case for today’s Britain.”

    One typical proposal is missing, however: an official list of ‘national values’, such as that proposed in the UK by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.

    The correct term for the ideology on display here is ‘nationalism’, and I would recommend reading a history of nationalism in Europe, to put the policy in its place. The ultimate goal is of the nationalist project is a homogenous population, where all individuals hold identical fundamental values, share a single monolingual culture, and share a preference for all that is national. So in Britain they would preferably (if not always) read British books, watch British television and films, listen to British music, eat British food, and so on.

    Everyone ought to recognise that it would take a horrific level of repression to achieve that perfect homogeneity, certainly in a state with an uncertain identity, such as the UK. Nevertheless, a large part of the elite is still committed to this historical project – not only in Britain, but in most other European states.

  28. sonia — on 7th October, 2009 at 1:12 pm  

    what we don’t want is moral relativism in the form of cultural relativsm.

    multiculturalism is simple (and desirable) when its understood on the level of individuals in a country.

    multiculturalism on the level of group – is more problematic- when defined as a ‘culture’ which may demand/receive its individuals are treated differently to other individuals because they are in this ‘culture;.

    every individual has the right to define as part of many groups, networks and identities. and it should be recognised that the great thing about the UK is it is full of such individuals.

    what we don’t want is communalism in the way we see it in India. different ‘communities’ jostling for power and the right to control the individuals within that community.

  29. sonia — on 7th October, 2009 at 1:16 pm  

    when people talk about the problems of ‘multiculturalism’ it does help to think about terminology and concepts.

    what a lot of people mean when they object to ‘state’ multiculturalism is when they think the state is giving away special favours to groups (i.e. leaders of groups) who demand some special place (for their ‘members’) on the basis of being from another culture.

    now whether the state is really doing that or not – is another question.

    but there is no room for cultural and moral relativism and the Guardian needs to stop asking inflammatory questions about Western Feminists and Muslim Women.

  30. soru — on 7th October, 2009 at 2:56 pm  

    So in Britain they would preferably (if not always) read British books, watch British television and films, listen to British music, eat British food, and so on.

    Everyone ought to recognise that it would take a horrific level of repression to achieve that perfect homogeneity,

    What are the actual figures for the market share in the UK of:

    1. newspapers
    2. books
    3. magazines
    4. TV programs
    6. music
    7. films

    Pretty sure that you will find that all except the last are heavily British-majority (though less so than 50 years ago).

    I think you’d have to have a very loose definition of ‘horrific level of repression’ to say that the existing institutions that maintain that status quo (notably the BBC) qualify as such.

  31. sonia — on 7th October, 2009 at 4:09 pm  

    A lot of community authoritarianism in that speech.

    “Cherishing” Heritage for the sake of heritage (and because its ‘yours’ and your ancestors – is not without its problems – its what underlies the problems of exclusivity, racism, many other forms of social discrimination. It justified empire. What’s a ‘strong’ society anyway? One where health and education are not top priorities but war is? One which can impose its will on other societies?

    Many Indians and other ‘heritage’ obsessed countries are always having a go at the ‘West’ for not having strong societies in terms of heritage obsessed people.

    she says she is strong because of her faith – great, so what. she may well be (how are we to tell, or ‘judge’) but no reason why we should believe her just because she says so! faith is an entirely personal individual matter – it is hardly going to be ‘good’ for everyone or ‘bad’ for everyone. and religious communities are people so they should be ‘valued’ for whatever contribution they make, not ‘reduced’ to what god they believe in. (or don’t)!

  32. sonia — on 7th October, 2009 at 4:10 pm  

    Well good job she’s reminding us ‘liberals’ why we don’t want to be conservative traditionalists. (and why i object to the same in Muslim Mullahs).

  33. Paul — on 7th October, 2009 at 4:48 pm  

    The comment by Soru deliberately left out part of my comment on ‘integration’. What I wrote was this:

    “The ultimate goal is of the nationalist project is a homogenous population, where all individuals hold identical fundamental values, share a single monolingual culture, and share a preference for all that is national”

    A horrific level of repression would be required to achieve that level of homogeneity, in Britain or anywhere else. It goes far beyond a general preference for UK newspapers. There are enough historic examples: for instance Nazi German policies in territories they considered ‘Germanisable’, or the Bulgarian policies against the ethnic-Turkish minority a few decades ago. Just think of what would be needed to ensure that everyone in Britain has an English surname, for instance: the Bulgarian government forced everyone with a Turkish-sounding name to change theirs.

    And as far as the media are concerned, total-integration policies in the UK would mean for instance, closure of newspapers and magazines that sympathise with the SNP, Plaid Cymru, and Sinn Fein, and a ban on all ‘ethnic’ media. That is the logic of homogenisation, which is not to say it will happen tomorrow.

    The politics are ultimately simple: given that the population does not consist of patriotic nationalist clones, all those who want more ‘integration’ inevitably want more repression.

  34. soru — on 7th October, 2009 at 10:29 pm  

    Well yeah, any policy taken to ludicrous extremes would be ludicrously extreme – that’s kind of implicit in the definition of the phrase _ludicrous extreme_.

    A 1% tax rise doesn’t have implicit within it a plan to nationalise the last few private restaurants and then liquidate the kulaks. A 1% drop doesn’t logically imply the next step is turning the Scot’s Guards into a mercenary corporation to guard the gated condos where the last few middle class people live. Cleaner power generation doesn’t mean living in caves, and so on: you’d struggle to find some idea that couldn’t be taken too far.

    Can’t say I particularly trust the Tories to carry out even sensible ideas in a way that stops them being at least mildly unpleasant, if probably not the apocalyptic stuff you talk about.

    That doesn’t mean sensible idea is not sensible.

  35. Binky — on 8th October, 2009 at 5:59 am  

    # 35

    Aha, Paul, are you paying attention to events in Bulgaria?

    Are you aware that Ahmed Dogan’s party ‘The Movement for Rights and Freedoms’ is widely believed to be bankrolled by Ankara and that it engages in electoral jiggery-pokery that would make a Midlands Labour councillor cringe in embarrassed shame?

    Bulgarians are under no obligation to cater to the whims of a Fifth Column living within Bulgaria’s frontiers, any more than are the people of Israel or Northern Ireland.

    The light-hearted comment made by the leader of ATAKA that every Bulgarian Turk should be provided with a suitcase and a bus ticket to Istanbul is one which a great many Bulgarians find perfectly reasonable.

  36. Binky — on 8th October, 2009 at 8:30 am  

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