Sunday, February 06, 2011

Baroness Warsi makes more sense on multiculturalism than David Cameron does

When Baroness Warsi's speech in Leicester was the lead story in the news (before she had made) I suggested that it was not because of the intrinsic interest of what she said but because she was being set up by her opponents in the Conservative Party.

Yesterday's speech by David Cameron, in which he said that "state multiculturalism" has failed, was also a lead story. Ironically, Baroness Warsi had already said much  the same - in her Leicester speech.

Those remarks do not appear in the text of her speech (which, impressively, is on the Leicester Mercury site), so they must have been made in answer to a question afterwards.

As I recall it, she said that "state multiculturalism" foes not work because it sets one ethnic community against another. They can, for instance, find themselves bidding for the same money to build community centres as opposite ends of the same street. It also encourages people to emphasise their separate identities, rather than what we have in common.

The usual caveats about Daily Mail stories apply, but this one shows some of the nonsense that can result.

Warsi was also critical of the government schemes that set out to combat Muslim extremism. No Muslim who really is extremist will go near them, while other Muslims will probably feel insulted. Meanwhile there is danger that other groups will reason that the Muslims are getting all the money when it is they who are causing all the trouble.

I found Warsi's analysis persuasive, particularly has her speech was in favour of multiculturalism. She shows a rather Liberal faith that in time people from different backgrounds will find their own ways of living alongside one another. The full text of Cameron's speech suggests he is rather more wedded to government action.

Perhaps the moral is that David Cameron should let Warsi make this government' major speeches on multiculturalism, if only because that would infuriate those in his party who do not with him well.

1 comment:

Jonathan J said...

Thank goodness for this blog. Recently I've been getting rather irritated at how excitable the Guardian seems to report on British politics these days. David Cameron's speech might be coloured by a want to pander to the disaffected right of his party, but suggesting in a title that it boosted the popularity of the EDL is getting a little too close to a pre-packaged opinion for me. Your take on it is a nice counterbalance to the guilt I get for questioning the politics of that sacred newspaper. More of this please. Plus Lord Bonkers is great.