Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

United We Stand; the Late Jo Cox MP Told Us There Are More Things That Unite Than Divide Us. Can We as a Society Bridge the Ethnic Divide in the Wake of the Recent Terror Attacks in London, Manchester and the Grenfell Tower Fire? STEPHEN LAMBERT Argues That Our Political Class Must Answer the Charge That Multiculturalism Has Failed

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

United We Stand; the Late Jo Cox MP Told Us There Are More Things That Unite Than Divide Us. Can We as a Society Bridge the Ethnic Divide in the Wake of the Recent Terror Attacks in London, Manchester and the Grenfell Tower Fire? STEPHEN LAMBERT Argues That Our Political Class Must Answer the Charge That Multiculturalism Has Failed

Article excerpt

OVER the last century minority ethnic groups have contributed greatly to the UK economy. They have enriched our lives and culture through cuisine, the arts, sport, multi-media, music and style. Britain has become a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-faith and multi-cultural nation. Yet for some on the radical right this hasn't been welcomed.

What does multi-culturalism add up to? A contested concept, even Tony Blair as PM conceded that he didn't know what the term meant. For the political theorist Lord Parekh, each citizen should be valued along with cultural differences in our society coupled with a robust attempt to stamp out racism and hatred. The UK, he argued, should become a "community of citizens'' at both a local and national level with a stress on dual cultural identities.

In our core cities ranging from London, Newcastle to Manchester there's proof that different communities intermingle in a genuinely multi-cultural society. In northern urban towns, however, there remains mutual misunderstanding, suspicion and residential segregation. The former PM David Cameron took the view that though the doctrine of multiculturalism was well intentioned the focus should have been on integration. People he stated needed a shared British identity. To those who believe that multiculturalism has failed present the following arguments. Segregated neighbourhoods are a feature of several northern mill towns like Oldham, Bradford and Burnley which ended in race riots in 2001. The Cantle Report reported a year later that these towns were fragmented and polarised in terms of ethnicity. Residents were leading "parallel lives'' which was reflected in schooling, housing, shopping and in day to encounters with others. Ted Cantle noted: "Multi-culturalism was little more than a consenting form of apartheid.'' His report recommended the development of more cohesive communities which would heal divisions. Yet the government social inclusion Czar, Dame Louise Casey, noted 15 years later that too many of our large towns have become more ethnically segregated as migration has risen. She wrote: "to help bind Britain together and tackle the divisions in our society, we need more opportunities for those from disadvantaged communities, particularly women, and more mixing between people from different backgrounds.'' Others have pointed to the sharp rise in radical Islamic home-grown terrorism in London and Manchester alongside far-right white supremist violence resulting in the untimely death of the anti-racism campaigner Turn to Page 20 From Page 19 Jo Cox MP. Last summer millions of dispossessed white working-class voters from the council estates across the north backed Brexit: some driven by UKIP's racist message. Others expressed a legitimate concern over the impact of uncontrolled immigration and free movement of labour.

Of course all this needs to be put in a wider context. Some scholars believe that multi-culturalism hasn't failed in much of the urban landscape. Eight of 10 council wards are 90% white British.

But there are 500 odd varied wards where minorities are in the majority. As the political scientist Eric Kaufmann says ''there's a diverse Britain and a white Britain''. Gradually some better-off BME groups are moving in mixed neighbourhoods - a good example being Hackney in London and Fenham in Newcastle.

Our major cities like Newcastle and Leeds have undergone economic regeneration, civic renewal and a cultural renaissance.

There's little contradiction between multi-culturalism and integration.

Calls for a ban of the veil by Ukip's former leader Paul Nuttall (though he excluded nuns and bee-keepers) is illiberal. It only helps to promote religious fundamentalism and rightwing extremism in economically marginalised communities which leads to more separatism, not integration.

Race riots - rare in the UK and even violent extremism, it's argued is partly the result of not enough multiculturalism rather than too much. …

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