By Charles Walford of MailOnline – 21st February 2012

The English language and Christian faith will be restored to the centre of public life, ministers pledged today.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles heralded the end of state-sponsored multiculturalism by vowing to stand up for ‘mainstream’ values by strengthening national identity.

He said the government will celebrate what people in England have in common, rather than what divides them.

And he called for local communities to use events such as the Big Lunch or the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and inter-faith activities to bring together people of different backgrounds.

Mr Pickles said there will be a strategy on community cohesion and integration which calls for people to come together around shared values.

He accused the previous Labour administration, and its equalities minister Harriet Harman, of taking the country down ‘the wrong path’ by encouraging different communities to live separate lives.

Migrants will be required to speak English, the number of official documents translated into other languages will be reduced and councils will be allowed to hold prayers at the start of meetings.

New education standards will bar schools from teaching which ‘undermines fundamental British values’, said today’s document from his Department for Communities and Local Government

But he also confirmed his commitment to tolerance, insisting that the Government will remain vigilant to hate crimes directed at Muslims and Jews.‘We are rightly proud of our strong history of successful integration and the benefits that it’s brought,’ said Mr Pickles.

‘Britain is a place where the vast majority of people from all walks of life get on well with each other. Events such as the Royal Wedding and the Big Lunch show that community spirit is thriving.

Banner: Mr Pickles said that events such as the Olympics and Diamond Jubilee who be used to fly the flag with pride

‘I welcome the contribution of everyone but those who advocate separate lives are wrong. It is time to concentrate on the things that unite the British people.’

Today’s paper said that, despite Britain’s tradition of tolerance, the past decade has seen growing concern over race relations, as incoming migrants in some areas have shown themselves ‘unable or unwilling to integrate’.

Last summer’s unrest in English cities highlighted some of the challenges caused by the swift pace of change, but should not be seen as ‘race riots’.

People of all backgrounds were involved in the violence, but also in the efforts to clear up afterwards.

The paper, entitled Creating the Conditions for Integration, argued that problems have been made worse by top-down government action, which has encouraged communities to resort to the law to settle their disputes and assert their rights.

‘It is only common sense to support integration,’ it said.

Attack: Mr Pickles said Harriet Harman was leading the country down the wrong path and that Labour had ‘encourage people to lead separate lives’

‘In the past, integration challenges have been met in part with legal rights and obligations around equalities, discrimination and hate crime.

‘This has not solved the problem and, where it has encouraged a focus on single issues and specific groups, may in some cases have exacerbated it.

‘There are too many people still left outside, or choosing to remain outside, mainstream society.’

And it added: ‘Today, integration requires changes to society, not changes to the law.

‘This means that building a more integrated society is not just a job for government. It requires collective action across a wide range of issues, at national and local levels, by public bodies, private companies, and above all, civic society at large.

‘Our first question must always be, “How can people contribute to building an integrated England?”.’

Mr Pickles made clear that the Government wants local communities to take a lead in finding ways of encouraging people of different backgrounds to find ‘common ground’ with one another.

But he said the state will be ready to step in to ‘promote mainstream British liberal values’ – for example by banning marches which could cause racial tension.

The Government will ‘robustly challenge behaviours and views which run counter to our shared values, such as democracy, rule of law, equality of opportunity and treatment, freedom of speech and the rights of all men and women to live free from persecution of any kind’, said his paper.

Speaking ahead of the announcement today, Mr Pickles told the Daily Mail the Coalition celebrated Britain’s tradition as a nation of ‘tolerance’ and insisted he was proud to celebrate the special customs and practices that make communities unique.

‘But it’s sad to see how, in recent years, the idea of tolerance has become twisted,’ Mr Pickles added.

‘A few people, a handful of activists, have insisted that it isn’t enough simply to celebrate the beliefs of minority communities; they want to disown the traditions and heritage of the majority, including the Christian faith and the English language.

‘In recent years we’ve seen public bodies bending over backwards to translate documents up to and including their annual report into a variety of foreign languages.

‘We’ve seen men and women disciplined for wearing modest symbols of Christian faith at work, and we’ve seen legal challenges to councils opening their proceedings with prayers, a tradition that goes back generations, brings comfort to many and hurts no one. This is the politics of division.’

Communities minister Andrew Stunell said: ‘We have many balanced and successful communities but we know this is not the case everywhere and there are still enduring problems in many neighbourhoods.

‘The coalition is determined to give everyone the ability and aspiration to prosper, breaking down barriers to social mobility. Every community is different and we need local diversity, not central prescription, if we are to grow prosperous and productive communities.’

Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said Mr Pickles’ strategy would fuel sectarianism.

‘While we agree that there should be some common values to live by – a shared language and respect for human rights – there cannot be a religious hierarchy that discounts the feelings of those who don’t share in that faith,’ said Mr Sanderson.

‘It is a recipe for conflict between communities that already eye each other with suspicion.

‘We see all over the world that when religion is given power, conflict follows. We have managed to some extent to keep this kind of sectarianism out of our policy making; now Mr Pickles intends to restore it in a big way.

‘The Government is going in completely the wrong direction with this and it is bad news for all of us.’

Andrew Copson, chief executive of the British Humanist Association, said: ‘The vast majority of people in Britain are not members of any local church, religious group or community, and so to lay such emphasis on religious identities as being the ones most important for encouraging voluntary work or community building is misguided.’

Rob Berkeley, director of the Runnymede Trust race equality think-tank, said Mr Pickles’ announcement marked ‘a dangerous and ill-advised reversion to assimilationist policy where all differences of ethnicity and heritage are subsumed into a majoritarian “mainstream” ‘.

Dr Berkeley added: ‘The Secretary of State appears to have completely misunderstood the problems we face in building a successful multi-ethnic society, and the solutions proposed as a result simply miss the point

4 Responses to “‘We need community cohesion’: Ministers’ pledge to end era of multiculturalism by appealing to ‘sense of British identity’”

  1. 1 Karen

    What a fascinating read!!!!! I pray that this stand for our society and its British history will be respected and accepted by the larger community. I think it’s brilliant that someone is doing something to bring a sense of national identity back! Watch this space I suppose!

  2. 2 Karen

    Just had an additional thought, would this mean that the Christian faith would be the recognised faith of Australia – and as such would Religious Education in state schools return with strength and obvious support from government?? Now that would be absolutely brilliant! So many kids are unaware of the fact there is a God that loves them personally – and yet they are fully aware of a variety of New Age beliefs and a mish mash of belief systems that their parents have concocted – a blend of all major religions (covering all bases possibly??) Such a win for the future of Australia if it flows from the top all of the way down!

  3. 3 Anne

    I hope Mr Pickles is supported by the Churches and the Christian community in general. He is taking a bold stand, and the secularists are not likely to take it lying down. This will NOT be the time for the denominational churches to look at the ground and shuffle their feet – it may be their last chance to have their country’s Christian heritage restored to its’ rightful place. Without it, as history has shown, civilizations collapse.

  4. 4 Sarah

    Unfortunately, the Communists/Socialists have intentionally gone about destroying England.
    The Labour Party I was reading, first came into power in England in 1924 and they have
    always been full of “Reds” set out to exterminate Christianity and the Crown.
    They are in love with Lenin who murdered 50 million white Russians, and of course the
    main aim was to take out Christianity from Russia, which they did until their demise.
    Multi-Culti was never suppose to work, but to destroy the English way of Life.
    Even in the Tories we had “Red Ted Heath” pushing England into the European Common
    Market and we all know what a mess that is. This Gobalized, One World was a plan by
    Lenin who was not an economist but a mass murderer. The Globalized, One World has
    always been about “Red Power” One World under International Socialism.

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