By Paul Goodman
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The detail is buried away in Lord Ashcroft's latest poll of ethnic minority voters. It is almost exactly the same as the figure for all voters, which is 70%. The Liberal Democrat figure is 89% and the Labour figure is 76%. UKIP is the only party whose among whom a majority said they were opposed to multiculturalism. And that view doesn't command over two-thirds support from UKIP supporters, whereas the opposite one does command over two-thirds support from voters of the other parties.
Multiculturalism means different things to different people. To some, it means shying away from the fact that some Pakistani-origin men see white girls as second or even third class citizens. Or tolerating forced marriages and female genital mutilation. Or translating public documents into languages other than English at the taxpayers' expense.
Since 71% of Conservative voters won't support tolerating female genital mutilation and foced marriages, it must be that they view multiculturalism as something else. And the most likely explanation is that they see it as a form of shorthand not for a multicultural society, but for a multi-racial society.
Lord Ashcroft's polling suggests that this is also how even higher percentages of ethnic minority members interpret the word. Only 16% of Britain's ethnic minorities voted Tory in 2010. If what they hear when Conservatives attack a multicultural society is Conservatives attacking a multiracial society, then it's time for us to change our language – in other words, to end the war on multiculturalism, as I first urged on this site two years ago. Two-thirds of Tory voters are evidently of the same mind.
This polling evidence makes it even more urgent for David Cameron to take a lead, perhaps in a speech, of changing that language himself – after the unfortunate misuse of "multiculturalism" in his otherwise excellent Munich speech.