Blunkett's Remedy for Racism; Immigrants Should Be More 'British', He saysHome Secretary Calls on Ethnic Minorities to Learn English as Major Step towards Integration and Ending the Tensions
Clarke, Michael, Daily Mail (London)
Byline: MICHAEL CLARKE
HOME Secretary David Blunkett sparked controversy yesterday by calling on immigrants to become more 'British' to cool racial tensions.
He said members of ethnic minorities should learn English so they could integrate themselves into mainstream society and stop ghettoes springing up.
But some Asian politicians warned his comments would offer ammunition to Rightwing extremists.
Mr Blunkett was speaking ahead of a series of reports on last summer's rioting by Asian youths in Oldham, Burnley and Bradford. These will point to deep racial divisions as a key cause.
Mr Blunkett said while racism against Asians and other ethnic minorities had to be opposed, immigrants also had a duty to reach out to mainstream British society.
He said that 'intolerable' practices such as forced marriage and female circumcision must not be accepted as part of 'cultural diversity'.
He told the Independent on Sunday: 'We have norms of acceptability and those who come into our home should accept those norms.
'We need to be clear we don't tolerate the intolerable under the guise of cultural difference.' He denied he was reviving Norman Tebbit's 'cricket test' - when the then Tory Cabinet minister claimed the true test of an immigrant's loyalty was whether he would support England in a cricket match with his country of origin.
Mr Blunkett added: 'I am in favour of diversity and I welcome the interplay of different cultures.
I think the word multiculturalism is now so degraded it is open to misinterpretation - we are all supposed to perform as though we are multicultural, where we are not.' Around 7 per cent of Britain's 57million people are from ethnic minorities. Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis account for just over 3 per cent, blacks originally from the Caribbean and Africa make up 2.2 per cent and other groups account for 1.5 per cent of the total.
Mr Blunkett said all groups needed to work harder for national unity.
'It is a two-way street,' he said.
'If we are going to have social cohesion we have got to develop a sense of identity and a sense of belonging.' Mr Blunkett said a forthcoming White Paper on immigration would set out plans to encourage immigrants to learn English.
Newcomers must have 'a sufficient grasp of the English language for their own wellbeing and that of their children and grandchildren,' he said. …