Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Trevor Philips suggests Britain is "sleepwalking to catastrophe" on race

Trevor Philips, the former chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission argues the UK is being allowed to “sleepwalk to catastrophe” by leaders too “touchy”, “smug”, “complacent” and “squeamish” to talk about race.

In a 100-page paper, published by the think-tank Civitas and which is likely to provoke extreme controversy, he argues that a new brand of “superdiversity” is bringing challenges to the Western way of life, far removed from those of immigration of the past.

Crucially, he says, race is no longer a “purely black and white affair” but a divide between the majority and people with different “values and behaviours”.

But, he argues, liberal opinion in Britain has been almost unique in its unwillingness even to speak about the issue – possibly because of the backlash to Enoch Powell's "rivers of blood" speech a generation ago.

“Squeamishness about addressing diversity and its discontents risks allowing our country to sleepwalk to a catastrophe that will set community against community, endorse sexist aggression, suppress freedom of expression, reverse hard-won civil liberties, and undermine the liberal democracy that has served this country so well for so long,” he insists.

Britain urgently needs to find a language to address these problems which does not come over as racist or further stoke community tensions.

Trevor Philips' article does not make comfortable reading, but I hope it will be widely read and start people thinking about how a civilised society should start to address the problems he raises. The consequences if we do not find an appropriate way to do that could be most unpleasant.

No comments: