Monday, 29 January 2007

David Cameron in Birmingham

Bringing down the barriers to cohesion

David Cameron has called on the people of Britain to resist extremism, and work flat out to tackle the 'five barriers' dividing society and blocking cohesion in the community.Delivering a keynote speech in Birmingham, the Conservative Leader said that instead of seeking to blame one group or another for the breakdown in relations, the country should confront the underlying causes: extremism, multiculturalism, uncontrolled immigration, poverty, and poor educational standards.He warned that those radical Muslims who seek a sharia state, or special treatment and a separate law for British Muslims, appear like a mirror image of the BNP, as they try to divide people into 'us' and 'them', and deliberately seek out grievances to exploit.

And Mr Cameron called on government to use all the available instruments of public policy to draw people away from the ideologies which attempt to separate British Muslims from the mainstream, and to make society inclusive, fairer and more just.Speaking after an opinion poll was published showing that anti-western attitudes are strengthening among young British Muslims, he declared: "We need big changes. Let's take down all the barriers in the way of a stronger society - the barrier of extremism, the barrier of uncontrolled migration, the barrier of a multiculturalist approach that's failed, and the barriers of poverty and poor education."Likening Muslim extremism to the ideologies of the BNP, he stated: "We must mobilise the instruments of public policy to draw people away from supporting such ideologies. The BNP pretend to be respectable; but their creed is pure hate. And those who seek a sharia state, or special treatment and a separate law for British Muslims are, in many ways, the mirror image of the BNP. They also want to divide people into us and them. And they too seek out grievances to exploit."Warning that multiculturalism has been manipulated to favour a divisive idea - the right to difference - Mr Cameron stressed the need to bring people close together, and pressed for Muslims to be taught English. He said: "We've got to make sure that people learn English, and we've got to make sure that kids are taught British history properly at school. I believe that the Government should redirect some of the money it currently spends on translation into additional English classes. This would help people integrate into society and broaden their opportunities.

"Mr Cameron insisted that government must get a grip on immigration. "We can only live together if there is proper integration. You can't have proper integration if people are coming into Britain at a faster rate than we can cope with," he said.On poverty, the Conservative Leader warned of an emerging underclass, crippled by family breakdown, drug and alcohol addiction, unemployment, ill-health and crime. "It's a self-perpetuating cycle. In some of our urban areas people are living in conditions of multiple deprivation. Not only is this an affront to social justice; it's also a breeding ground for resentment and division. So tackling poverty is a priority. And the most effective way of beating poverty in the long run is to give people in deprived areas decent schools," he said.On education, he called for action to bring down the 'educational apartheid' existing in many towns and cities - "not between faith schools and non-faith schools, but between good schools and bad schools. A good education is important for everyone, but for children in poor areas it's absolutely vital."