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Mick Temple's Blog

CRIMBO IN LIMBO

02-11-2007

One of Labour's think tanks has come up with its craziest idea yet, reckons Mick Temple - the suggestion that Christmas should be seen as just another religious festival with no special significance.

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) is responsible for many of Labour's flagship policies over the past decade. They've previously come up with such stunners as ID cards and road pricing, and now they want to abolish Christmas.

Well, that's how the tabloids have played it anyway. In fact, the IPPR just want to downgrade Christmas and put other religious festivals on an ‘even-footing' in order to help race relations.

This is all in the name of ‘multiculturalism'. The IPPR's report (which actually was into ‘identity, citizenship and community cohesion') has vigorously defended this much maligned concept.

For the IPPR, multiculturalism is the route to a ‘fairer and more liberal society'. For me, it's largely responsible for many of the problems we now have. Broadly, multiculturalism argues that rather than being encouraged to integrate with the existing population, new entrants should be supported in their desire to maintain their own culture and identity.

If you can tell me how this can possibly build ‘community cohesion' in a country which has deep-rooted racist attitudes - although we're not alone and we're better than some in Europe - please get in touch. Separate development? Ah yes, it worked very well in South Africa and the southern states of the USA.

So, let's throw out the things that make us what we are. Let's not expect newcomers to this country to understand and respect our long history, our customs, out ceremonies.

The result is a lack of integration, generation after generation, and the creation of what are effectively ghettoes in many of our cities. And no, this is not the BNP talking. I despise racism of any form and I don't want to make people drop their own customs and beliefs. You can believe anything you want - but if I go and live in France (which I did in the 1970s) it is up to me to adjust my life, customs, religion et al, into my new environment.

Brits who go to live in France or Spain and make no effort to learn the language or integrate in their new communities, instead building Little Englands abroad, complete with shops selling Marmite, marmalade and Colman's mustard are rightly condemned - and yet make the same comment about newcomers to Britain and you're seen as racist.

You can't build community cohesion by encouraging separate development and diminishing the values and beliefs of the vast majority of a population. You build community cohesion by a process of integration which encourages dialogue between our different communities. Respect for differences, yes - but respect for broader societal beliefs, whatever you think of them.

A lot less adherence to the shibboleths of multiculturalism and a little more integration would be a good thing.

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