Multiculturalism and ‘the British way of life’

Ruth KellyIn today’s Daily Express Mark Palmer writes: “Yesterday Ruth Kelly, Labour’s Communities Secretary, warned in her own, typically fuzzy way that multiculturalism might not be such a brilliant idea after all. Well, not at the minute, at least, when there are Muslim extremists waiting for every opportunity to stir the racial-religious pot…. ‘We’ve moved from a period of near uniform consensus on the value of multiculturalism to one where we can encourage that debate by questioning whether it is encouraging separateness’, she said.”

Palmer broadly welcomes Kelly’s intervention. But he has his criticisms: “For starters, we have not moved from a ‘period of near consensus on the value of multiculturalism’ because for many of us it has never existed. Indeed, I would hazard to guess that the majority of tax-paying Britons have always regarded multiculturalism as a bad thing, increasingly so in a world where young men are prepared to drive aeroplanes into buildings and take bombs onto buses and Tube trains.”

He also raises another objection: “Kelly wants us to look at faith schools. She says Muslim parents should not be denied opportunities offered to Christians in sending their children to faith schools. But it is disingenuous to pretend that that all such schools serve the same purpose. Church and Jewish schools instil discipline and a moral framework. But unlike their Islamic counterparts they do not seek to keep children separate from British society.”

Palmer has his own recommendations as to how we should learn to live together: “Multicultural harmony will only be achieved when those from other cultures are prepared to accept the British way of life. And, lest we forget, Britain is a Christian country. The Church of England remains an institution worthy of respect – it’s a part of our heritage and has our sovereign as its supreme governor.”