We should not shy away from a public debate on the state of community relations in this diverse country " as long as it is entered into with respectable intentions. No one would impute any malign intent to Trevor Phillips, the head of the Commission for Racial Equality. Mr Phillips, the son of immigrants and an establishment figure, is in a strong position to contribute to this vital discussion.
However, we disagree with much of what Mr Phillips said on this issue at a fringe meeting at the Tory party conference in Blackpool this week. Mr Phillips has adopted some new thinking since taking up his post " and especially since the terror attacks on London in July. A few weeks ago, he argued that Britain was 'sleepwalking' into US-style segregation in which there was no meaningful mixing between ethnic groups. This is needlessly alarmist. Britain has one of the highest rates of ethnic intermarriage in Europe. And as a measure of how much Mr Phillips has changed his views, it is worth noting that in March this year he was advocating separate tuition for underachieving black boys. Would that be compatible with a policy of forced integration?
Mr Phillips has also begun to question the concept of 'multiculturalism'. This is dangerous. In many ways, multiculturalism is simply a fact of life in modern Britain. Its staunchest opponents tend to be those who are disdainful of what our country has become. …