Multiculturalism in the UK was rejected long ago | Letters

Bethan Benwell says it was actually New Labour that first turned its back on the findings of Lord Parekh’s report, while Martin Rose wonders if the phrase British Asian is itself a token of non-acceptance

It is true that Lord Parekh’s report and its vision of multiculturalism was rejected by Conservatives (‘Crude racism’ fuelled by Tory rejection of multiculturalism, says Lord Parekh, 19 November), but it was actually New Labour that first turned its back on its findings, not long after its publication.

A rapid backlash arose during David Blunkett’s tenure as home secretary (2001-04), embodied in policy proposals in 2001 for citizenship ceremonies and tests requiring proficiency in English language, and suggestions in 2002 that immigrants should speak only English at home, and that arranged marriages among south Asian communities should not involve partners from the Indian subcontinent.

This sea change was given further impetus by Trevor Phillips, then head of the Commission for Racial Equality, in his interview with the Times in 2004, in which he called for an end to the political and social goal of multiculturalism, claiming it was “out of date and no longer useful, not least because it encouraged ‘separateness’ between communities”, in the words of the Times’s report.

A clearly emergent policy shift away from multiculturalism gained speed and momentum from 2006 onwards, with speeches espousing this move given by the then prime minister, Tony Blair, reflecting on the “duties” of those wishing to settle in Britain to conform to “British values”. This distortion of the aims of multiculturalism was, of course, enthusiastically promoted by the rightwing press, which routinely dismissed multiculturalism as a failed experiment.

So while it is right to criticise the Tories, we should perhaps reflect a little more on the wider political context of the rejection of multiculturalism and its values.
Bethan Benwell
Blackford, Perth and Kinross

• Re your article (‘We’ll never be accepted’: Yorkshire’s Asian community absorbs Rafiq story, 19 November), does it not strike you that the phrase British Asian is itself a token of non-acceptance? Why do we persist in calling Mr Rashid, Mr Raje and Mr Sajawal Asians, with the qualifying adjective British? They are British and if, as in this article, you need to highlight their ethnicity for the purpose of the argument, then surely they are Asian Britons, not British Asians? Asians is a very silly label, covering people from Turkey to Japan.
Martin Rose
Saffron Walden, Essex

Have an opinion on anything you’ve read in the Guardian today? Please email us your letter and it will be considered for publication.

Letters

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
This reckoning of racism in cricket is long overdue | Letters
Letters: Nadeem Razvi feels he can no longer support a game he has loved since childhood, Liesbeth Tip calls for greater social support of victims of racism, and Michael Meadowcroft reflects on earlier troubles in Yorkshire CCC’s relationship with Asian cricketers

Letters

17, Nov, 2021 @6:14 PM

Article image
Cricket can learn a lot about anti-racism from rugby league | Letters
Letters: Readers discuss the fallout from the racism allegations made against Yorkshire County Cricket Club

Letters

08, Nov, 2021 @6:07 PM

Article image
Look beyond a boundary to fix English cricket’s ills | Letters
Letters: Cricket clubs are no longer central to their communities, writes John Claughton; Martin Allen points out that in Australia, the game is still at the heart of youth culture; and Mike Stein raises the issue of inequitable funding

Letters

31, Dec, 2021 @5:00 PM

Article image
The Guardian view on Azeem Rafiq and racism: not just cricket | Editorial
Editorial: The former player’s powerful testimony has shed light on a problem stretching far beyond Yorkshire Country Cricket Club and his sport

Editorial

17, Nov, 2021 @6:59 PM

Article image
The Guardian view on Cricket and racism: Yorkshire’s shame must be a wake-up call | Editorial
Editorial: The failure of one of England’s most venerable sporting institutions to take action over racism must be punished

Editorial

03, Nov, 2021 @6:31 PM

Article image
The long history of racism in Yorkshire cricket | Letter
Letter: In 1963 I played with a Bradford League side where casual abuse was commonplace, says Philip Jaggar

Letters

24, Jun, 2022 @4:59 PM

Article image
Sajid Javid tells of racial abuse growing up as he urges ECB to do more
Minister says English cricket needs to take ‘long, hard look’ at itself after Azeem Rafiq racism revelations

Heather Stewart Political editor

21, Nov, 2021 @10:36 AM

Article image
Azeem Rafiq's testimony should shine a light on racism in every workplace | Shaista Aziz
I was not shocked by the abuse the ex-Yorkshire cricketer endured – it’s all too common, says writer and comedian Shaista Aziz

Shaista Aziz

17, Nov, 2021 @4:18 PM

Article image
So the more racism in cricket, the less it should be investigated? Right, guys | Marina Hyde
After the latest turn in the Azeem Rafiq/Yorkshire saga, beware those who would like this conversation to be closed down, says Guardian columnist Marina Hyde

Marina Hyde

19, Nov, 2021 @2:41 PM

Article image
Yorkshire cricket's race row exposes a sport that's gone backwards | Mihir Bose
The abuse faced by Azeem Rafiq took place in a game that is getting whiter, and more out of touch with modern Britain, says author Mihir Bose

Mihir Bose

04, Nov, 2021 @6:00 AM