I think it’s very unfair to accuse David Cameron of being racist on the basis of his multiculturalism speech. Why, he celebrates the multi-ethnic tapestry of British society and mixes personally with people of different colour and background every day. There’s that black chap who polishes his shoes. Then there is that Asian man who brushes the fluff off his top hats. Both staff, of course.
I jest. A little bit.
The fundamental problem with any debate about multiculturalism is that neither side is working from the same definition. To its advocates multiculturalism is a wonderful illustration of tolerant, multi-ethnic modern Britain: people of different colour, religion and national origin working and living peacefully side by side. To its detractors, it is evidence of fragmented communities: a society lacking cohesion with certain minority groups living in isolation from the mainstream with no common language or culture.
I have always tended to view it more as the former but recognise that there are clearly pockets of this country where the latter holds true. It is silly to pretend otherwise. There is also a high degree of sensitivity around discussing this issue candidly for the fear of being branded ‘racist’ – an accusation that Cameron faced in some (predictable) quarters. My earlier joke notwithstanding, I do not think that the Prime Minister is racist – it’s too easy for some to paint him as such seeing as he’s a wealthy white Tory from a privileged background, but that doesn’t naturally make him a bigot – and I do not think it is racist to point out that that there are sections of communities in this country that have not fully integrated into British society and do not want to either.
The real problem: how have such elements been allowed to fester and what can be done about it? This is the crux of Cameron’s criticism: the suggestion that cultural division has been purposefully engineered by do-gooding liberal lefties. If this is the case, what alternative policies are the government going to implement?