Is multi-culturalism a bad idea?

Marc Wadsworth

Brainy Britons do not think that multi-culturalism is an ideal to which it is worth aspiring. That was the finding of a readers survey conducted by a politically independent organisation whose members include leading academics, architects, charity bosses and engineers.

A poll in the journal of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce (RSA) found that 56 per cent were against multi-culturalism and 44 per cent in favour. The London-based RSA's 27,000 achievers and influencers world-wide come from a wide range of backgrounds and are committed to 'civic innovation and social progress'.

The two centuries old society's controversial vote followed the publication of heavy-weight articles last year on the subject brought to the fore this month by London Mayor Boris Johnson who sacked his political advisor following a race gaffe (search 'James McGrath' on The-Latest). Conservative Johnson, who himself has been attacked for making slurs about Black people, says he is committed to multi-culturalism which some leading members of his party oppose as a reviled policy of the left-wing 'politically correct'.

Personally, I am not a fan if it means the tokenism of school children once a year celebrating different faith holidays, dressing up in saris and the stand-alone Black History Month in October. Anti-racism should be all year round. My preference is for diversity and legally-enforced positive action measures to fight discrimination and inequality rather than a patronising approach to 'foreign culture' by a 'host nation.'

Britain is as much my home (I'm a Black person born in Birmingham) as a white Briton's. This concept is at the core of what Australian immigrant James McGrath could not grasp when asked by me to respond to a suggestion made by Black writer and broadcaster Darcus Howe that the election of right-winger Boris Johnson might trigger a mass exodus of older African-Caribbean migrants back to the islands from which they came. McGrath's now infamous retort was:  "Well, let them go if they don't like it here."

His fanatical Rottweiler Tendency (RT) supporters have launched a Facebook petition for me to apologise for publishing the story which led to his demise. Of course, I will not. It is McGrath who should be saying sorry to the Black people he hurt with his Powellite comment. RT leading light Dr Andrew Lilico must also apologise for calling me rather McGrath 'a racist' if he has a shred of integrity. As you can see below, the blog in which he made this libellous comment has been quickly taken down by Conservative Home website.

Sacked former BBC Radio Four Today boss Rod Liddle, another McGrath supporting RT member, launched a hysterical attack on this site, its editor and the Conservative Party leadership in the Sunday Times. This debate really has uncovered the unpleasant under-belly of British racism.

Reader Craig Pugh wrote in the RSA Journal: "The current legal realities of minority rights are extensions of the emerging norms of international human rights. That this heritage is easily forgotten is not an argument against multi-culturalism, but an argument for reclaiming the whole word, 'multi' as well as 'cultural', as a means of better respecting individuals and the contributions and perspectives they can bring to national public life."

The-Latest wants to be a platform for fresh perspectives on this important topic. Your views are welcomed.

* Marc Wadsworth is editor of the-Latest and a fellow of the RSA.


1 Response to "Is multi-culturalism a bad idea?"

chris's picture


Sun, 06/29/2008 - 18:57
<p><strong>Chris Gaynor</strong></p><p>I absolutely agree, why should you have to apologise for comments that were made by the interviewee.</p><p>Having tracked this story since your scoop, I have come to the conclusion that readers who read this story on here, only read what they wanted to read. I don&#39;t think they grasped your good intentions for trying to pursue a perfectly reasonable dialogue with the sacked aide.</p><p>I think you have explained perfectly clearly on both the-latest and on ITV what happened but some did not understand, because of their political blinkers!</p><p>And to make another point on last week&#39;s scoop, someone made a comment on this website, calling it &#39;rubbish.&#39;</p><p>If it was rubbish as they believed, then why were the mainstream press falling over themselves to get to this site to have the story in print on Monday?</p><p>Also, I agree that in a so called civilised society, we shouldn&#39;t have token gestures, but we have still not learned any lessons from History on race, war and its destructive qualities.</p><p>The Tories, whom I still support, still have some old guard though, who cannot, or will not move on. </p><p>As for prime minister Gordon Brown, do you think the end is nigh for his leadership of the Labour Party?</p><p>One further point to add, I&#39;m pretty sure the mainstream media would have been too afraid to have published an article like that for fear of sparking outrage. And losing a core of backward voters they pander to.</p><p>&nbsp;</p>