IF ONLY THEY'D LISTENED TO ME; as Race Relations Chief Makes a Surprising U-Turn on the Deeply Flawed Doctrine of Multiculturalism

Article excerpt

Byline: RAY HONEYFORD

FOR decades, the Commission for Racial Equality has been rigorously enforcing the doctrine of multiculturalism on British society. Yet in recent days, there has been a dramatic volte-face at the top of the Commission.

Trevor Phillips, the chairman of the CRE, has suddenly taken to attacking the very dogma his organisation once so eagerly espoused. In a speech this week to a Muslim gathering at the Tory Party Conference in Blackpool, he launched an astonishing rhetorical assault on many of the central tenets of multiculturalism.

Having criticised the practice of excusing certain Muslim pupils from wearing full school uniform, he condemned the way town halls print so many of their leaflets in multiple languages, a habit he rightly believes does nothing to encourage integration.

Perhaps even more surprising was his defence of the British Empire - long regarded as the fount of all evil by antiracism campaigners - by pointing out that the Empire actually encouraged the mixing of races.

This latest speech follows another he made just a fortnight ago when he argued that the powerful influence of multiculturalism meant that Britain was 'sleepwalking towards segregation'.

The new integrationist stance of Trevor Phillips is in graphic contrast to the presiding trend of recent decades, which has seen schools and universities destroy national pride.

The idea that they should transmit a national identity was considered racist, imperialist and exclusionary. Slowly, this cancer took hold across vast tracts of public policy.

An emphasis on racial identity, an enthusiasm to promote victimhood among ethnic groups and a widespread contempt for indigenous British culture have combined to create a climate of mutual suspicion, ignorance and hostility.

Yet what is so galling to me is that what Trevor Phillips has been saying this week is what I was saying 20 years ago as the headmaster of a predominantly Asian school in Yorkshire.

Trevor Phillips calls for integration, the teaching of English and the inculcation of British values, precisely as I did in the mid-1980s.

He is lauded for his wisdom. I was sacked for my alleged racism and was never allowed to work as a teacher again.

This shows the profound double standards at work on race issues. If a black civic leader puts forward eminently sensible views, he is lauded. When a white public servant makes the same sort of comments, he is hounded out of his job.

In 1985, I was the head of Drummond Middle School in Bradford, where over 90 per cent of the intake was from an Asian background. My determination was that my pupils should be fully equipped to participate in British society, and should therefore learn English and our national history.

But this ran utterly counter to the multicultural ideology that prevailed in the city's education authority and among local politicians, which was based on the belief that every racial group should be encouraged to cling to its own separate cultural identity.

I was put under severe pressure for refusing to submit to the dominant official creed.

After demonstrations at the school led by antiracist Leftwingers interested in fomenting trouble and not in education, I was forced to resign.

The irony was that I had the backing of the vast majority of Muslim parents at my school, who were not interested in racial or political point-scoring.

Indeed, throughout my 25 years as a teacher in mainly inner-city schools, I never had one single Asian parent ask me to provide more multicultural teaching. It was only the ideologues, the zealots, the craven party activists and bureaucrats who sought to impose their divisive thinking on schools. …