Archive for the ‘Multicultural UK’ Category

Multicultural UK

mercredi, mars 9th, 2011

Is there a lack of clarity surrounding Coalition government policy on multiculturalism, which has left the British public confused? This was suggested by Caroline Flint, the Labour Shadow Communities Minister, commenting on a speech last week in Luton by Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, in which he called for engagement with extreme groups even if they appear to hold deeply unacceptable views.
The multiculturalism picture drawn by Mr Clegg is of an open and confident society in the UK which welcomes diversity but resists division, it being better to fight the views of extremists rather than to ignore them and to win such people over through smart argument. He, therefore, rejects the idea of a multicultural society in which there is more segregation and people lead separate and parallel lives. This is a very liberal position to take of course which assumes the other side will listen and respond to what e.g. Mr Clegg considers reasoned arguments based on traditional British values. There is, however, the problem in any such negotiation process that if one side wins the values argument the other side must by definition have lost. Each side, therefore, needs to concede something for a win-win outcome in which by definition the more liberal or tolerant is likely to give more than the extreme.
His views do not seem that different from those of the Prime Minister as expressed in a speech at a security conference in Munich last month, when he attacked the doctrine of state multiculturalism in the UK which had encouraged different cultures to live separate lives. His speech was not only welcomed by the right-wing of his Conservative party in the UK but also in France where Marine Le Pen, the new leader of the far-right Front National, saw a parallel with their policy on immigration. Where the more muscular liberalism of Mr Cameron might appear to diverge from that of Mr Clegg is in calling for an end to engagement with groups which do not share British values about e.g. human rights, equality of women, integration and democracy. However, this could also be viewed as only adopting a tougher initial negotiating position than Mr Clegg.
Essentially the main multiculturalism issue still seemingly being debated within government is how to address Muslim extremism and if by definition an extremist group is an organisation with which no negotiation is considered possible. Even Mr Clegg says that he supported the proscription of the Pakistan Taleban adding, however, that proscription must always be a last resort and not just an automatic reaction. Perhaps the difference in tone, language and values of the two speeches reflects the need for both leaders to reassure their own party members on this sensitive issue rather than the country as a whole.