Trevor Phillips and the Multiculturalism Debate

Trevor Phillips programme, Things we won’t say about race that true, has opened the debate about how integrated is our society and whether ‘multi-culturalism’  has allowed separateness and cultural isolation to flourish. Fifteen years ago, in October 2000 the Observer carried a debate between cultural theorist, Stuart Hall,  and myself on Britishness  as a result of the publication of a Runnymede Trust  report. This report suggested that  ’Britishness’ connotes racism and suggested ways of diluting it. Firstly  Britain should be reconceived as ‘community of communities’. Then  there should be a formal  declaration  that Britain is a multicultural society’. I criticised this . ‘To suggest ‘Britishness’ connotes racism is absurd, an attempt to wring a mea culpa from guilty liberals and nothing to do with advancing racial unity and equality’  ‘‘Multiculturalism’ is riddled with problems, and it is not racist to think so.’
This article was ahead of its times when it was received as an attack on a much cherished liberal orthoxody of multiculturalism.

To read the original article by me , see


‘They have given me somebody else’s voice – Blair’s voice’

When Tuesday’s Sun featured one of the iconic images from 7/7 alongside the headline ‘Tell Tony He’s Right’, the implication was clear: the victim backed the PM’s tough anti-terror measures. There was just one problem: John Tulloch doesn’t. In fact, he tells Ros Coward he is angrier with the politicians than the bombers

On Tuesday, the Sun’s front page evoked memories of the July 7 London bombings in a shocking way. A huge picture of a blood-soaked victim dominated the page. Under the banner “Terror laws” was a large picture of the victim with the words: “Tell Tony He’s Right.” The implication was clear: this victim had spoken to the Sun and was calling on the public to back Blair’s tough terror bill, defeated in the Commons last night. The Sun’s strong and emotive front page was mentioned several times on other media including BBC Radio 4′s Today programme and the World at One. It was widely recognised as a key element in sending a message to Labour waverers that those whose opinion on the bombings is unimpeachable – the victims – were strongly in favour of the government’s hardline stance.

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Lost in London

Stockwell station is somewhere I go a lot. My family use it all the time too. It’s not somewhere I particularly like; it’s always a bit edgy. There was an armed bank robbery a few years ago and drug dealers hang around late at night. But edgy is different from what happened yesterday when heavily armed police chased a man on to the tube there and shot him dead in front of terrified passengers. According to witnesses there was blind panic and passengers emerged from the station crying and shaking. The local vet’s, better known for its sensitive treatment of bereaved pet owners, was commandeered for witnesses of a suspected suicide bomber. Surreal was the word someone used and that’s what London now feels like to me. Yesterday’s event was another in a series that is transforming Londoners’ familiar home patches into alien, unfamiliar territory.

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Sperm does not a father make

David Blunkett should remember that social fatherhood, rather than a biological link, is crucial for a child

David Blunkett’s affair should stand as a warning. Not just against adulterous affairs. Not even against going to Spectator parties. Mainly it should warn against giving far too much importance to the rights of “biological” fathers. There is no better antidote to the contemporary myth – so beloved by Fathers4Justice – that biological parents should always have contact with their child than seeing the havoc such claims can cause.

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Phoney populism

Don’t pander to the ordinary bloke’s addiction to cars

Are cars the new beer and fags? I ask because while this government is bold when criticising the old comforts of smoking and drinking, it shies away from challenging an addiction that impacts more directly on the quality of our daily lives: the ordinary bloke’s addiction to cars, to driving and even to driving dangerously.

This may seem harsh. Among many promises for a safer world made in the Queen’s speech, was one for improved road safety. The new bill, we are told, will toughen up laws on dangerous driving. It includes a measure which will do the opposite, introducing graduated fines for speeding. This will not mean increasing the number of penalty points as the speeding gets greater, but reduce penalty points for breaking speed limits by smaller amounts.

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Adding new insult to old injury

Whose side is the children’s minister on – the abuser or the abused?

Two very different events have brought sexual abuse into focus this week: the report of the suicide in custody of a sex abuse victim, Joseph Scholes; and the extraordinary letter in which Margaret Hodge described another victim, Demetrious Panton, as “an extremely disturbed person”.

Joseph’s tragic death is a vivid illustration of just why we need a minister attending to issues of protecting vulnerable children – a position which was created in June, and to which Margaret Hodge was promptly appointed.

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When love hurts

Men now want and expect more parental responsibility – but have they changed enough to handle it?

The death of four little boys killed by their father will be every separated woman’s nightmare. Those strong enough to read the details of how Keith Young drove his sons to a remote spot and poisoned them in his car will have been chilled. Not by how extreme Keith Young’s behaviour was – although it was – but by how much of the situation sounded like the ordinary stuff of a bitter divorce. Maybe they will be asking: is it ever safe to allow angry men to have sole contact with their children?

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Put them on hold

Deregulating directory inquiries is a dogmatic exercise in privatisation – with no benefits to the consumer

This week we taste the fruits of the government’s latest contribution to improving our quality of life: opening up directory services to competition. Government-speak calls this “market improvement” intended to make life better for “consumers”. The reality is that it’s a pointless privatisation. A simple act has become a complicated issue of consumer choice increasing the frustrations of daily life.

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Put the planet on a war footing

This is the time for environmentalists to challenge the actions of our leaders and press their demands

I sat in the summer sun a few months ago with Blake Lee Harwood from Greenpeace, idly discussing whether Bush had inadvertently done environmentalists a favour. Kyboshing the Kyoto accord meant people who had never heard of climate change were suddenly discussing carbon trading and greenhouse gases.

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We got it so wrong

This atrocity exposes the wilful self-delusion of western liberals who want to believe that humanity is essentially good

The events of September 11 dealt a terrible blow to our self-perception as western liberals. We always suspected that we, the postwar generations, were peculiarly privileged but also soft and untested.

Now we have witnessed an act of terror which has quite literally first terrified and then pulverised 6,000 people in front of our eyes. This experience has dealt a grave psychological blow to our liberal belief system.

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