Dominic Grieve, the shadow Justice secretary, will today make a hard-hitting attack on political correctness and the Government’s failure to question damaging aspects of multiculturalism. But he also admits that the Right has so far failed to credibly address some of those issues.
Speaking at Queen Mary, University of London, he will characterise the decade of this Labour Government as:
"A decade of ranking people as members of neatly categorised ethnic, religious or social groups, rather than treating everyone as an individual in their own right; a decade of courting self-appointed heads of minority groups and pandering to special interest lobbies, ignoring the range of opinions and depth of diversity in modern Britain; and a decade of stifling difficult debate, under a blanket of political correctness, that marginalises those ill at ease with prevailing dogma or accepted ‘progressive’ wisdom.”
He will highlight his concern that people no longer feel able to decide what is right and wrong – citing a "disinclination to criticise attitudes which are morally unacceptable to a modern western tradition" such as forced marriages:
"The reluctance to exercise reasonable judgment and to criticise or challenge negative cultural imports into our country, including discriminatory practices against women and corrupt political and electoral practices, is one of the most troubling consequences of a culture that wishes to avoid offence and accusations of racism."
Whilst applauding greater diversity, Mr Grieve suggests that thereneeds to be more integration and interaction between different groupsin society:
"It is through contact and the constant exchange ofviews and opinions that we moderate each other’s attitudes andbehaviour. Creating that contact, breaking down ghettos of the mind andinstilling confidence in our ability to learn from each other are theessentials. Greater diversity within our society must be recognisedand applauded. But it seems to me that the zealous regulation ofconduct, the imposition of state-defined orthodoxy on public andprivate conscience and the overburdening of law and regulation, havethe consequence of undermining that confidence and are deterringparticipation and engagement."
“Multiculturalism was intended to create a more cohesive andfriendlier society by facilitating bringing people together. Butinstead the laws and concepts underlying it seem to me to drive peopleapart endangering our traditional sense of community based on commonvalues."
He will also accuse Labour of having waged war on the "historic sense of Britishness":
"In schools, the dumbing down of history has resulted ina system where the teaching of a narrative of British history has allbut vanished. Instead of children being taught to have respect for pastevents and individuals who have shaped their lives, they are encouragedto be contemptuous of people who did not live up, in their own era, tothe then unknown values of modern Britain. I am convinced that thisapproach has hindered more recent immigrants to this country developinga sense of belonging."
He also appears to admit that the Conservatives have to date failed to respond adequately to the issues he is raising:
"The lack of a credible response from the mainstreamright to the current issues of multiculturalism has now left a gap,which is being filled by extremist voices. UKIP and the BritishNational Party have taken advantage to suggest policies not based on areasoned morality but which play on fear and encourage hatred."
These are robust words from Mr Grieve and he is to be praised for delivering this message. I certainly expect all those who have been concerned about his previously stated support for the Human Rights Act will find a huge deal here with which to find common cause.