Saturday, 18 June 2011

Herbert Marcuse and One-dimensionality

Defining one-dimensionality requires a particular train of thought as the conditions which become apparent in the understanding of a one-dimensional individual requires such individual to look back, inward onto their own being/existence. One-dimensionality evolves as a result of the suppression of oppositional behaviour and the defamation of positive critical thought; idea's formed that are utopian in nature are repressed due to the strength of forces acting to prevent their realisation. Through introjection “the self transposes the outer into the inner” (1991: 10), this acts in two ways. Firstly in a psychoanalytical sense it explains how one's behaviour is a condition of their immediate environment; learned and replicated behaviour which is realised and then internalised. In addition it allows the individual an 'inner freedom', an inner private space where they become and remain themselves. In contemporary society this private space has been invaded and mechanised by the Establishment and the forces of consumption. This assimilates the individual with others allowing for an identification with society, throughout it and as a whole – one's individuality becomes evermore lost to them even as science and technology increasingly explains what constitutes human demeanour.

The concept derived from Herbert Marcuse – a protagonist of the Frankfurt School – first articulated in the 1964 book One-dimensional Man, regularly referred to as a one of the most important published texts in a decade of surmountable political change. The work of Marcuse and others of the Frankfurt School was a response to the rapidity of developed capitalist societies and traditional Marxist theories inadequate acknowledgement of capitalisms grasp on the infrastructures of many democratic nations. Within the Frankfurt School the theorists of the time somewhat shared common questions and goals, reanimating Marxism while taking from other disciplines and schools of thought – combining the sociological, psychological and philosophical. Marcuse was particularly concerned with forms of social control and how over time causal agents such as consumerism and a preoccupation with commodities, affect one's freedoms. Throughout modern history Marcuse asserts that the individuals consciousness has been altered to conform/to be happy with the status quo. He explains, “the Happy Consciousness – the belief that the real is rational and that the system delivers the goods – reflects the new conformism which is a facet of technological rationality translated into social behaviour” (1991: 84). This is a powerful critique of modernities conditional cultural superiority, its well presented simulation of progressive industrial society and its efficiency in absorbing any resourceful opposition. The key wording within the previous statement is that of the rationalisation of capitalism, a process aided by societies most influential institutions such as the media, the education system and politics. For Marcuse the media plays an influential role in the shaping of the universe of communication (1991: 85), this is where one-dimensional behaviour is found. One-dimensional behaviour displays a control over one's ability to be critical of the dominant forces acting within society this can be through language, identification and the invasion of cognition. This is a result of the way in which individuals within society are organised by the governing bodies which seek to sell a version of reality to the masses. The political infiltrates the individual obscuring their needs and aspirations and their satisfaction with and acceptance of such promotes capitalism; this managed society becomes the epitome of all reason and a society beyond reasonable doubt.

Marcuse is asking the reader whether or not they have the comprehension to see through the veiled society which lies at the core of their very existence, to challenge the status quo. Either the individual can accept the vulgarity of being trapped within a reality constructed by the proponents of capitalism or act against the equivocator’s of one-dimensionality, de-constructing the 'unfreedom's' presently repressing oppositional behaviours. One way the control of social behaviour can be observed lies in the functionalisation of language which “helps to repel non-conformist elements from the structure and movement of speech” (1991: 86). Within a society there are certain rules and notions to how one should speak and be spoken too in an appropriate manner. Those who subscribe to the correct way of using language defend its 'properness' and treat oppositional forms of language such as slang and varieties of colloquial speech with disdain and ridicule. Being able to reshape language and use slang is a way of defying the powers that be, a small scale revolt against control, an elation gained trough 'deviant' kinds of communication. 'Proper' forms of language and its promotion in daily life, such as in the in workplace, in communication with strangers and even within the most stringent home-lives lend to one-dimensionality, one way of speaking, the correct way. The executives, the government officials, the time-keepers and managers (.ibid) speak a language different of that of the worker 'the common man'. Their language is one of order and organisation, one which stimulates people to act, to consume and to accept their social positioning – voiding the development of meaning. Marcuse believed that standardising of behaviour, such as in the control of one's speech is a repressive construct, satisfied with things as they are and not as they could be. When words are standardised they lose their conceptual flavour, they have a singular usage and become cliché. In this sense communication is governed and contained, stumping the development of meaning and closing off the meaning of 'things'. Marcuse states, “the noun governs the sentence in an authoritarian and totalitarian fashion, and the sentence becomes a deceleration to be accepted – it repels demonstration, qualification, negation of its codified and declared meaning” (1991:87). The conditions of modernity are abrasive, especially when considering the development of the human being. It would seem that there exists nature by its own accord and modernity (the nurturing entity in the process of development) both intertwined and effected by the other. The effectiveness of the one-dimensional agency is represented in man's relationship and appropriation with nature. Nature is objectified and quantified, in turn leading to the destruction of resources and a high accumulation of waste – society extracts from nature what it requires and/or wants without considering the detrimental affects within a wider context. As John K. Galbraith stated, “the Community is too well off to care” (1956: 96); modernity forgoes the realities of rationality for a callousness which objectifies the inanimate or the living through a judgement of value and exchange. When combined with advancements in technologies, technologies that have restructured labour and acts of pleasure/enjoyment, a vision of a world emerges that is oblique and self centred, one in which the individual does not do or think of their own accord – one-dimensional.

One of Marcuse's strong-points is his ability to dissect the forces of domination and the methods which they use, undermining the foundations of traditional culture. He sieves through societies controlling nature to adequately explain why people accept society as it is. The answer is one-dimensionality, an abstract concept when understood can be used to pull apart the encroaching conformism eating away at the foundations of a free human experience. This is why Marcuse's work was and is influential, he offered a 'new' way of critically thinking about the complexity of existing societies. The older forms of thinking (i.e. the uncritical) allow capitalism free reign, to expose its substance and to pursue the reinforcement of one-dimensional thinking. While the new critical ways of thinking seek an alternative or for Marcuse, 'negative thinking' (1991: xiv) not only aids in the negation of the existing forms of thought but also offers a higher perception of possibilities and a greater emphasis on change.

It would appear that modernity needs one-dimensionality to function affectively; concentrating ones mind on a singular path gives one a direction which they dare not deviate from, indeed to deviate would be considered wrong. The only limitation to the concept is that the time in which it was conceived now belongs to the pages of history. Not in that the events that have constituted to the creation of such a concept are unimportant, on the contrary, but technologically and politically so much has changed since Marcuse's death that the concept need to be adapted to serve a contemporary audience. When Marcuse attacks the media for is role in fortifying the controlling forces ideologies, he talks of a media unlike anything that exists today with 24 hour television and the Internet. Even more crucial to the evolution of Marcuse's critical analysis, would be to evaluate the media's integration with technology so that they form a inseparable relationship. Also the effects of social media such as Facebook and Youtube where the individual gives up part of themselves in an effort to be part of something which is inclusive and part of the norm, further strengthening one-dimensionality. It is of great importance for the social sciences to not only acknowledge one-dimensionality but to modify its content so that it can be used to help those who wish to change society in contemporary times. Modernity is with us, in every fibre of social life, in every available space in which it can be conceived, and so to act against it would be foolish. What would be more applicable would be to reconstitute the fundamentals of one-dimensionality so that it can be used as a way of criticising the key roles of mass culture and improving contemporary capitalist societies.


Galbraith, J. K. (1956). American Capitalism. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.

Marcuse, H. (1991). One-dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of advanced industrial Society. Routledge, London.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

The Acceptance of Class Inequality: Part 3

Section 2: Recognition and Rationalisation

2.1 Recognition

The legitimisation of relations of domination depends on a combination of naturalisation of inequalities, as in the case of gender and the appearance of fairness, at least in matters which do not threaten dominance” (2005: 49).

Therefore as Sayer has argued, inequality is naturalised and reinforced through the notion of fairness, which is a condition evocative of a class based meritocracy. Fairness is intrinsic to how individuals treat on another and in the development of a moral landscape in which one can be judged upon a presupposed set of beliefs surrounding what is considered a good or bad act. Moreover, as contemporary capitalist society is seemingly preoccupied with merit and reward based systems of exchange, then greater amounts of fairness – quantified fairness – are distributed to those deemed worthy under the system. Although fairness and indeed its very definition can be culturally specific, such a definition lies in the individuals or groups comprehension of the term. Fairness is not in any way a universal construct and even if the politician, the teacher, the academic professes it to be so they attempting to set the borders of morality and negating the will of the domination. Morality is subject to the ruling hegemonies of the time and accepted behaviour (acts interpreted through the specific laws and unwritten laws of a society) comes to define the individual. From a Marxist perspective, “cultural and intellectual activities do not merely operate as functions of economic changes but compromise an arena of social struggle, of domination and resistance. Therefore the struggle of ideas is a crucial part in the general pattern of struggle (1979: 185). In respect to class inequalities, it is in the generalisation of moral thought in which one finds an acceptance of a structured hierarchy. This is one of the reasons why capitalism is so affective in its execution of representative worth, a combination of social status derived from birth and an agreed levelling of effort; agreed by society in its unprofessed ambivalence to domination.

Recognition is a primary requirement of an individual or group in order that its wellbeing and functionality remain intact within society. The refusal of recognition can lead to psychological damage (Taylor, 1994) and prevent people from “participating on par with others in social interaction” (1999: 34). As for class inequality, the under recognition of individuals or groups, coinciding with attempts by neo-liberals to legitimise the subject (Phillips, 1999) has led to a retreat from the discussion of class struggle and pushed it towards other forms of oppression and discrimination as a tactic of diluting the issue and redistributing concern. In contemporary society recognition has shifted from that of a class struggle to struggles relating to cultural differences, rebranded as movements (Oberschall, 1993). Whether movement or struggle, the parties involved demand respect, moral worthiness and the valuing of culture; in terms of class, an affirmation of culture through the injustice of being poor. Although as Ralph Miliband has identified historically a substantial part of the working class (more so in Britain and the US) have “supported bourgeois and conservative parties rather than the ones on the Left” (1989: 57). This seems rather self-defeating when involved within a struggle, where one’s objective is either to escape or abolish their class positioning rather than affirming it (Coole, 1996). The act of voting on the Right by the disadvantaged may have derived from an opportunistic mind-set attended to capitalistic democracy. Indeed for one to rise from the lower classes, to be upwardly mobile, the opportunity to grasp at the feed of those at the top overwhelms the individual. This is not to say that greed or excess are the driving force in the consciousness of a proportion of the working class but in accepting that one’s social positioning is of lower class orientation, one has a greater space of aspiration in which to achieve the goal of the capitalist; a categorisation not far from what Bourdieu recognised as the petite-bourgeois (1984:14).

As recognition is considered of great importance by many observers of social class – the recognition of recognition – it becomes a great tool in the assessment of political affiliation. As Sayer sates, “localised conditions for recognition can also be partly met in highly unequal societies, and indeed can degenerate into forms of recognition or misrecognition involving ‘othering’” (2005: 54). The act of ‘othering’ not only occurs in the differentiation between classes but is also apparent within individual classes, as with the example of the working class conservative voter (WCCV). This particular group, in accepting inequality as a defining aspect of their constitution as a member of lower-class society, could easily be said to of sold out the poor progressive Left and although recognition may rain from above, due in some aspects to the effort of ‘escaping deprivation’, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will move sideways. The respect and self-esteem required to satisfy the needs of recognition may derive from self-actualised recognition and those from the same class group, as a sense of pride, pride achieved through striving to become someone better. As Sayer points out, “adequate recognition... demands freely given acts as well as freely given words. Putting these points together we can see that nothing that a subordinate says or does towards the dominant can match the recognition in words and deeds that an equal can give” (2005: 56). So what for the right-wing working class, the petite-middle-class (PMC)? If their aspiration matches their pride and they are to consider their worth in equal terms to the bourgeois, they are firstly seeking to abolish the relations of domination as are those on the Left and secondly, attempting to reduce the Hegelian notion of the master/slave relationship (ibid.). The PMC have diverged from the class struggle, instead of acting to remove the borders of class they maintain class in an effort to rise above it so that they have achieved mobility over others (members of their own class group nonetheless); a superiority complex born of pseudo-opportunistic hegemony.

The struggle for recognition cannot be ignored by the dominant class. Attributing different groups with variable amounts of recognition is a way of driving competition for recognition itself as if it were ‘commodifiable’. Recognition in commodified form allows the dominant class to distribute it between certain groups as though it were merit. This is particularly applicable to markets, in that rates of pay for workers can be managed dependent upon adequate recognition and economical worth. Honneth acknowledges that “social esteem for a person or a group is so obviously correlated to the level of control over certain goods that only the acquisition of those goods can lead to the corresponding recognition” (1995: 166). Therefore one is rewarded in terms of capital gains based upon the levels of recognition that is the sum of social conditioning and merit, which is unequal over the class divide due to social conditioning being widely out of the control of the individual. Recognition within the bounds of capitalism may not be warranted and can be entirely the result of ‘luck’ the owner of great amounts of wealth may have done nothing to deserve recognition but receives it for the sake of social positioning. Obviously this process is appealing to the wealthy and manipulating the morality that subsequently affects the distribution of recognition is an effective way of maintaining control over the hierarchy that perpetuates inequality within a class based system. Sennett and Cobb (1972) have argued that the class system propagates a competition for dignity. A competition for dignity is even more stringent than recognition as dignity has a value which is seldom bought. Still, as the division of labour is unequal, precincts are placed on dignity; it is proportional to recognition while differing in levels of achievement. Dignity is also speculative in that it is reliant on the circumstances of the habitus, as Veblen (1953) argued, the wealthy do not procure wealth in order to consume goods evidently; they consume goods in order to exhibit their accumulation of wealth to others.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

The Acceptance of Class Inequality: Part 2

1.2 Bourdieu and Political Affiliation

“Television has probably contributed as much as bribery to the degradation of civic virtue. It has invited and projected onto the political and intellectual stage a set of self-promoting personalities concerned above all to get themselves noticed and admired, in total contradiction with the values of unspectacular devotion to the collective interests which once characterised the civil servant or the activist” (1998: 4).

Bourdieu on occasion expresses distaste for the politician, the minister, the civil servant, denouncing their motivations as self-promoting or attention seeking. For ministers a demanding issue of the time is validated only when it has been made public – the media being a central protagonist in this process – and is reconciled and achieved through the want of the people. Additionally when a member of a political party elite is embodied within a scandal or form of large scale corruption, “it reveals the gap between professed values and real behaviour [which] is simply the extreme case of all the ordinary little 'weaknesses', the flaunting of luxury and the avid acceptance of material and symbolic privileges” (1998: 4). Within the political theatre all the actors are interchangeable in the sense that they can either be 'hero's' or 'villain’s', indeed one's political narrative may see them rise and fall from grace within numerous periods of their political time-line. If we are to consider politics as a game whereby representatives are elected to serve constituents, competing with one another (more so with those in opposition) then the players become so self-conceited to the extent that the competitive nature of politics is what drives their political careers, then the wider public or 'the people' are in a sense forgotten and ejected from the state. This can lead to the rejection of the state and an undermining of the public’s ability to make intellectual semi-political decisions, the people are asked of “no more than obligatory material contributions, and certainly no commitment, no enthusiasm” (1998: 4-5). The citizen is therefore alienated from the political arena; their ability to vote is used as a means to serve their own interests. This form of alienation not only removes the relationship between the state and the citizen but also forces divisions between individuals of different political standpoint (i.e. between left and right). Indeed this is where the issue of class arises in that the distribution of political point of view and associations lend to the identity of class positions; in the most general sense the poor lean left requiring improvements in social policy and financial aid, and the more affluent to the right calling for tax breaks/cuts and government involvement in and promotion of business and enterprise. Bourdieu asserts that the 'left handed' within society (1998:2) – those in professions such as teaching, social work and nursing – have been abandoned by the state and in fact the state has little concern over what the left hand does as long as it makes contributions, for example, in terms of tax’s.

The contracting of government services to private companies has been a recurring feature of governments since the 1980’s; the same excuse offered that the state can no longer afford to maintain high quality standard of public services. Bourdieu explains, “What is considered as a crisis of politics, [referring to the abandonment of the left-handed] antiparliamentarianism is in reality despair at the failure of the state as the guardian of public interests” (1998: 2). If then the concept of class inequalities is introduced to this perspective – although left and right handedness isn’t as absolute as belonging to a particular class i.e. working or middle –what one finds is a disparity between a class of rulers and a class of nurturers. The inequality between these two groups arises not only in economics and power relations but in the conditions of contrasting ideology and ultimately the moral obligations and objectives put in to practice by each. For example the right-handed’s obsession with the privatisation of public services shifts the emphasis of unconditional care for citizens to an unconditional emphasis on price. In addition, as power can be gained through the control of territory – the conquest of space – and through the increased use of money-capital (2008: 175-6), the state and the private sector can cooperate, instilling ‘mercantilism’ within society. For Weber, in mercantilism, “the state is handled as if it consisted exclusively of capitalistic entrepreneurs” (1981: 347) where profit is a means to an end. On the other hand, the states mercantilist policies can conflict with the interests of private for-profit organisations; this is where the relationship becomes strained. Furthermore, “as long as the world is pacified to the degree necessary for pursuing profits, capitalists place self-interest before statecraft and nationalism” (2008: 176). The irony of this situation being that transnational corporations tend to base primary operations within states with low taxation, yet at the same time still require the state have sufficient resources to maintain social order, a strong economic infrastructure and a high level of human capital. Through the taxation of working people the corporations are protected by the state funded services, as Ingham sates, “in return for their investment in state debt, the capitalist received protection for their ventures and interest payment on their loans… [this] produced capitalist society’s typical social structure of two relatively autonomous but interdependent spheres – state and economy” (2008: 177).

Bourdieu has argued that politics – those actively involved within the political sphere – has achieved recognition of its own class, a result of the set conditions available to those who wish to make a career in party politics (1998: 5). Instead of activism within the ranks of political parties, the aspiration for change has been traded for a sense of economic rationality. The right-handed in society obsess over delivering ‘financial equilibrium’ (ibid) while misunderstanding class inequalities and neglecting the costs of restricted public spending. In this sense class is accepted by both the bottom and the top of the social scale as those at the bottom feel abandoned and without, leading to an ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ mentality. There may also be a rejection of the ‘other’s’ culture, the left versus the right, each developing their own unique versions of fairness applicable to all forms of social life. This has a substantial effect on the voting habits of left and right-handed individuals, Bourdieu outlines this behaviour well:

“the distribution of political opinions between right and left should correspond fairly closely to the distribution of classes and class fractions the… propensity to vote on the right increases with the overall volume of the capital possessed and also with the relative weight of economic capital in the capital composition, and the propensity to vote on the left increases in the opposite direction in both cases” (1984, 438).

Bourdieu has authenticated where the fundamental opposition lies between the dominant and the dominated and the importance of the volume of capital each has at its disposal. Also a paradoxical condition where a member of either side may ‘break rank’, and vote with an opposing handedness. For example, artists, intellectuals or teachers socialised within the middle and upper-classes align themselves with those with a low volume of capital and vote leftwards, and lower/working-class individuals who feel betrayed by progressive social programs such as the benefit system and vote on the right; the interpretation of fairness is critical to how individuals identify themselves politically and socially, indeed fairness may even surpass class egotism.

A poignant point made by Bourdieu is what has been called the ‘return to individualism’ which he explains as:

“a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy which tends to destroy the philosophical foundations of the welfare state and in particular the notion of collective responsibility… The return to the individual is also what makes it possible to ‘blame the victim’, who is entirely responsible for his own misfortune, and to preach the gospel for self-help, all of this being justified by the endlessly repeated need to reduce costs for companies” (1998: 7).

The right-handed mentality is exclusionary in nature and although politicians on both sides of the political stage will argue for better living conditions for the poor, the actualisation of this ideal seems lost to the confines of a social subconscious. The individual is objectified and remains the product of their own motivation and merit; the conditions that restrain the progress of individuals of lower class positioning are not proportionally represented in political debate, this will remain as long as a merit-market mentality eats away at liberal principles.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

The Acceptance of Class Inequality: Part 1

Section 1: Bourdieu and the Acceptance of Inequality

1.1 Bourdieu and the Racism of intelligence

Racism in its most communal form exist as a confrontation between individuals belonging to two or more groups or 'peoples' whereby an exchange of powers and battles of ideology produces a relationship based upon an 'un-mutual' acceptance of an 'other'. In a sense people can live within the vicinity of another type or ethnicity of person without acknowledging/accepting their civil liberties and/or cultural qualities. Racism has evolved over time to merge acts of resistance and superiority into more than one's ethnicity or biology – racism acts in process, it requires action and certain provoking trains of thought which appear in other forms of discrimination. Bourdieu took the idea of racism to another realm of social discourse by applying its attributes to class in the form of the racism of intelligence. He asserts that racism is plural, and is used as a tool of justification, a way for groups to vindicate their own existence and indeed the domain in which they exist (i.e. social position). The racism of intelligence accordingly possess similar attributes to that of the racism of one's ethnicity or creed in that a dominant group hold a precedence over another by subjecting them to stigmatisation, falsities and prejudice. Bourdieu seamlessly outlines how the racism of intelligence is characteristic of a dominant class within society, he states:

“This racism is characteristic of a dominant class whose reproduction depends to a large extent on the transmission of cultural capital, an inherited capital that has the property of being embodied, and therefore apparently natural, innate, capital” (1993: 177).

This is where the justification lies, deeply embedded within the object of the dominant class. A way of maintaining social order by deception to prove that power, leadership and privilege are derived from forces outside the control of an individual (i.e. the lottery of being born). Essentially the dominant class feel themselves superior, a higher form of being with the right and authority over life’s up-most complexities and afflictions.

Racism has evolved how as an active force it penetrates sectors of society in which it is to some extent inconspicuous – existing at the unconscious and conscious level – focusing upon an individual’s merit and discriminating on grounds of the superiority of one's education and 'culture'. For Bourdieu a problem exists in the strong censorship of the 'most brutal forms of racism', 'so that the racist impulse can only be expressed in highly euphemised forms' (1993: 177). This becomes apparent in the use of language, using language in the expression of racism, for example using sentiments and metaphor without directly expressing a direct racist view. Racism at this level of consciousness may then be open to interpretation as its euphemistic form manipulates the underlying meaning within an expression of an individual’s point of view. In addition, individuals active in racism can hide their oppressive opinion behind a veil of euphemism, adhering to the forms of censorship which prevent the open expression of sinewy racist views while still getting a message across to the wider audience. What must also be considered here is whether certain individuals take notice of their own racism and to what extent they believe their racism to be real or misrepresentation of their character/psychology.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Should we make Politics a compulsory lesson?

On the day of the Local Elections and The AV referendum turnout is expected to be around 40%.

This is only the second referendum the UK public have been offered in history. In 1975 the public were asked if the UK should join the EEC (later to become the EU) and turnout was 64.5%. Considering the change in the population the figure of 40% in only the second referendum becomes even more shocking.

Voter turnout has been on the slide ever since the 1950's.

Voter apathy is a real problem in 2011. How do we solve this problem? It was mentioned to me today that younger people "do not know enough about politics" and therefore "they just don't care". 

John Rimmer (President of The National Association of Schoolmasters) has suggested that Politics becomes a compulsory class between the ages of 14-16. His hope is that the pupils will become educated at a young age and have a proper understanding of politics before they leave and become disillusioned or (worse) indoctrinated by the spin of Alistair Campbell and the likes. 

Cooking is compulsory. So why not politics?

Politics classes at this age would give pupils a better understanding of how UK politics works, but could we keep it non-partisan? This seems to the main criticism levelled at the idea. But if classes could be offered different sides of an argument on the same topic, surely we would benefit in the future from a more politically inclined population - one which could better hold its MPs to account and one which better understood what politics was really about.

Five years ago the Institute of Public Policy and Research called for compulsory voting - like in Australia. But what would be the point if people still knew next to nothing about UK politics.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Immigration - The Real Issues.

Today David Cameron gave a speech on the growing anxiety over immigration in the UK. He attacked the Labour Party for making the subject taboo and overly sensitive (which I believe is correct, it is hard to discuss immigration without being accused of racism, or in fact over-sympthisation).

It seems in the last 12 months immigration has become a hot-topic in the international realm, last year Angela Merkel announced that multiculturalism in Germany had failed. And only this week France banned Muslim women from wearing the Niqab and the Burqa in public places. Both were met with relative public support.

Today marks the turn of the UK to have its say multicultural Britain and the fears the British public seemingly have. Now I'm going to go out on a limb and say that a lot of this tension is not because of mass immigration, but because of "islamification" (which for many reasons is a ridiculous concept, however I'll play along).
Mass immigration in my opinion is not a tension point, don't get me wrong people are aggrieved by the idea. "Bloody foreigners coming over here and stealing our jobs" springs to mind. (Again, a ridiculous myth in most cases) and there is anecdotal evidence that "They bring all their family and sponge of our government", however this is a minority and there is a much greater number of British Nationals doing the exact same thing they criticise immigrants of doing. The irony is not lost.

The tension arises due to "islamification" and the rise of "militant, extreme muslims". The growing number of newspaper reports regarding home-grown terrorists panders to the Daily Mail reading, BNP supporters, who look for somebody to hate to express their inner brute on a sector of society. Like the French, there are some
in Britain who are intimidated by the unknown and those whose religious beliefs differ to theirs. In fact, just today a YouGov poll showed that 66% of Brits polled supported a ban of the Burqa.

How long until we see a Burqa ban in the UK?

Yet, the focus of today was not the wild, racist clammer of 'islamification' but the discussion of high immigration. There is a downside to immigration. The number of workers coming through is simply too high, Britain in many places is already over-populated, the need for immigrant workers needs to come down. The Coalition has announced policies to bring the number down, they are implementing a points system, which decides how beneficial the worker will be to the UK's economy (which is of course what the government looks at when considering its workforce), it also looking into cracking down on sham marriages and the handling of student visas. Immigrants who come to the UK should be highly skilled, adding something that British workers can not, we don't need immigrants to come and do the low level, unskilled jobs, we should be pushing British people to do them. The real problem is benefit culture, many are happy to not work and seek benefits instead of taking a job they do not want to do. Would I want to do an unskilled job? Probably not, would I? If I had to.

As long as we have a benefit system that allows workers to be better off sat on their sofas rather than working we will always have a problem with immigration. The government has announced its plans to curb this
culture, introducing the universal credit and slashing benefits for those who refuse a job. Which is a step in the right direction.

Without the solution the issues of immigration will continue to fester and grow. Cameron talked of those who do not learn English and refuse to intergrate, and he  is right to criticise these people. It seems confusing, even silly that somebody can enter the UK workforce without being able to speak English. It is not about
attempting to make immigrants British (because what is it to be British?) but for them to enter into our societies and learn the basic principals of the western world. Attempts to set up Sharia courts and to not abide by our laws (mistreatment of women) is a slap in the face to the government which has welcomed them
to the UK.

Of course, the UK has benefited enormously from immigration, which has allowed skilled workers into the country and brought new cultures with them. We should also be cracking down on illegal immigration and helping asylum seekers with a legitimate claim to safety.

Quick note on Vince Cable. Keep your criticisms private, stop throwing your toys out of the pram.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Doctors in revolt.

Apologies for the long extended holiday from blogging, I just had a long stint of 'bloggers block', but I've returned now in a blaze of glory, enjoy.

I couldn't make a return to blogging without first talking about the BMA meeting that took place two days ago, where doctors came out against just about every single major part of the Tory Health Bill. I call it the 'Tory' bill because it's now also clear that their partners in coalition object to it as well as everyone in health care.

Here's a selection of the motions that were approved by the meeting:

- That this Meeting believes that the current plans for reform are too extreme and too rushed and will negatively impact on patient care. We call upon the Health Secretary to:- i) call a halt to the proposed top down reorganisation of the NHS; ii) withdraw the Health and Social Care Bill; iii) consider and act on the criticisms and advice from the medical profession that were collected during the White Paper consultation; iv) adopt an approach of evolution not revolution regarding any changes to the NHS in England.

- That this Meeting believes that the proposals in the Health and Social Care Bill were not part of the election manifesto of either of the coalition parties, and calls on the government to accept that:- i) there is no electoral mandate for the introduction of such changes.

- That this Meeting deplores the government’s use of misleading and inaccurate information to denigrate the NHS, and to justify the Health and Social Care Bill reforms, and believes that:- i) the Health Bill is likely to worsen health outcomes as a result of fragmentation and competition.

As well as these more general points, each individual part of the bill was itself dissected and rejected. And whilst the BMA called for the withdrawal to the bill, it stopped short of opposing it in its entireity. However, people watching the meeting online will have noticed this was more of a result of the Chairman's plea to not tie the negotiators hands rather than any particularly good parts of the bill, the proposer of the motion to oppose the entire motion got the loudest standing ovation of the entire day.

Equally, Andrew Lansley was only spared a No Confidence vote because Hamish Meldrum appealed to the meeting and because the Special Representatives would have no more confidence in whomever replaced Andrew Lansley.

Whilst at the time I was disappointed the tone wasn't more strident from the BMA, I now see it has its benefits. The claim from David Cameron that the BMA is 'just another trade union' is frankly laughable in light of this meeting. The debates held were a million miles from the Punch and Judy politics of the House of Commons and despite being baited by politicians who insisted they would ignore the insights of doctors the BMA insisted on continuing to engage.

Frankly, Parliament could learn a lot from the democracy of the BMA. And they should certainly listen when the people who know the NHS the best say that this will destroy it.

P.s. I noticed that a favourite way to claim doctors were onside was to point to the number of GPs who were already involved in pathfinder schemes. I should make it clear to Lansley, these GPs didn't take part because they like the scheme (at least the majority didn't), most did so because PCT's are in meltdown because of these changes and someone needed to step in to fill the gap or patients would suffer. Unlike Lansley, GPs were simply putting patients before ideology.

Monday, 28 February 2011

Is the Internet sending us backwards?

The internet is becoming ever more prevalent in British politics. The rise of social networks, especially Twitter and YouTube are to thank for this. Modernisation of politics - finally. In the run up to the 2010 general election, all three candidates aimed to use the internet to appeal to younger voters, arguably the Lib Dems and the Tories utilised this new media to their advantage the best.

But the internet isn't all glitz and glamour for politics. In fact, exactly the opposite could be said to true. Is it modernising politics? Or is it reinforcing the old, negative sterotypes of British politics? You know what I'm talking about; the Tories hate the NHS, the poor and anybody else who isn't a billionaire. The same for the Labour party; love benefit culture and do as the unions tell them too. Lib Dems; erm? Irrelevant? I kid.

The easiest target for this reversal of political thinking is obviously the incumbent government. Which just so happens to be the Tories. So what do people do? They criticise them for being like "evil Mrs Thatcher" (by the way, people hate her, yet they still call her Mrs Thatcher - that's respect for you!!!). Cameron's Tories are miles apart from Thatcherism (to the disdain of many Tories right-wingers), but yet still the critics wade in.

Viral posters hammer home the negative sterotypes
Making their misguided criticisms even more absurd is the fact that we are in a Coalition government, with the Lib Dems, who are far from Thatcherite. 

One issue with social media is that it is even more short-termist than the papers. The papers have scandals and stories that go on for days, on Twitter, trends change in hours and people's knowledge is diluted to snippets they read with #hash-tags in front of them.

Constantly bloggers/tweeters criticise the Tories for cutting everything. But lets not forget, 13 years ago, Labour did not inherit a massive deficit from the Tories. It is the Tories who are mopping up the mess left behind. 

Names such as UK Uncut and 38 degrees keep popping up, but as Robin alluded to in a previous post, they must choose their battles wisely. They can not try to save everything, because it is not the Tories fault that everything can't be saved. Cuts are needed. But the Tories aren't cutting everywhere, they have prioritised and people must remember this. Yes things will be tough, but shouting loudly isn't going to get you anywhere, because Labour wouldn't be doing anything differently. 

And if you disagree with that, then simply - you are wrong. Why do you think Ed Miliband hasn't come up with an alternative to New Labour yet? Why do you think Andy Burnham hasn't come up with a different idea to the English Bacc and Academies. Ed Balls is still shouting on about "the deficit he never created". The only person making any noises aren't on the front benches, namely Peter Mandelson and David Miliband. (Read George's post below)

The problem with social networking sites, is that they are littered with Liberals, far too liberal as well. Without making sweeping generalisations, some are anarchists, they like to criticise everything, because that is the easy thing to do. It's like the 10 o'Clock Live Show 24/7 for these people. They have given rise to partisan blogs, including (the very good) Left Foot Forward, (the not so good) Political Scrapbook and gives a voice to many columnists who are so biased their heads must be up their arses not to notice - yes that's you Toynbee! 

It's not just the left that does the bashing, the right are at it as well. Guido Fawkes for example. Letting Boris Johnson write in The Telegraph is like asking a 6 year old how we should fix the deficit - with ice cream please.

Rant over - for now.

MultiCUTural Britain

What is Multiculturalism? Its hard to define such a term as it has a multitude of meanings focused around Class, Gender, Ethnicity and Economics. Recently David Cameron has attacked multiculturalism for 'failing to deliver' what it promised decades ago. Personally I don't agree with Dave but I'm not going to then attack his opinions, otherwise a cycle of disagreement will occur and nothing will really be said. However a study published in the Guardian today has revealed some interesting statistics showing just how decided the population of Britain is over the effects and benefits of multiculturalism.

The study grouped individuals into one of six groups, and are as follows:

• Confident multiculturalists, comprising 8% of the population, who are most likely to be graduates and entirely comfortable with Britain's multicultural society.

• Mainstream liberals, 16% of the population, who are educated and "see immigration as a net benefit" to Britain and only differ from the first group in their enthusiasm about multiculturalism, according to the report.

• Identity ambivalents, 28% of the population, who come from less affluent backgrounds and include black minority ethnic groups. "They are more likely to be working class, to live in social housing and to view immigration through the prism of its economic impact on their opportunities and the social impact on their communities," the report says. This group tend to identify with Labour.

• Cultural integrationists, 24% of the population, who are older and more prosperous. They are likely to have concerns about the "impact of immigration on national identity and about immigrants' willingness to integrate". They are more likely to identify with the Tories.

• Latent hostiles, 10% of the population, who are more likely to be older and not educated to university level. "For them, immigration has undermined British culture, public services and their own economic prospects," the report says.

• Active enmity, 13% of the population, who tend to be unemployed and unskilled. They tend to be "opposed to all ethnicities or religions other than their own", the report says.

I find the figures interesting but not at all surprising in 2011 Britain, what I would like to focus on briefly is the reasons given for why individuals are or are not prejudice. One of the main reasons given for a disparity in the acceptance of multiculturalism is a University education (or at least further education). Now, many arguments have been made that education is not above all the protagonist of defeating ignorance, and maybe so, but it defiantly works in ways which gives individuals a broader outlook on culture and a greater understanding of immigration. Additionally attending a university - such as Lancaster - which has a high intake of foreign students, provides a value experience of how act and react to differences in cultural ideology.

So what am I getting at exactly? Well I believe that as a student I have been given a superb opportunity to investigate race and the politics of race, also to have day to day interactions with individuals who don't share my background or upbringing but still share the value of learning and positive critical thinking. In this sense I think that I and universities have a responsibly to help people in the 4th-6th groups above to understand what multiculturalism is and what benefits it provides not just Britain but a contemporary globalised world. As of September next year students will be required to pay up too £9000 a year for their education and so I believe that students should be reimbursed not only in the increase of the standard of education that their chosen university provides but in 'improving' the society that they will be contributing towards after they leave higher education (hopefully). Therefore universities could provided free services to non graduates including lectures and seminars surrounding multiculturalism and educating those who wish to learn more about others cultures. 23% of the people surveyed in the study are 'unskilled' and/or 'uneducated' and many of an older generation where racism existed in free flow.

Ignorance is cruel, it isolates and is intolerant, is it not worth paying taxes for education and integration, even economist and conservatives can see the potential benefits of a society which works together.

Friday, 25 February 2011

The Cuts Campaigners Need to Improve their Game

If the anti-cuts campaigners want to be successful they need to do three things.
  1. Pick their battles
  2. Stick to the facts
  3. Talk persuasively, not just loudly

Picking Battles

Anti-cuts campaigners need to realise there are going to be cuts, and they are going to be big. That does not mean that they should give up, there are cuts which can be uncut, policy reversals which can be forced. The policy turnarounds on school sport and forests shows battles can be won, but only the right ones. From now on anti-cuts campaigners need to pick areas where a wide base of support can be built, where the issue speaks to as many people as possible. Those are the battles where the coalition see that the loss of face that comes with a U-turn is better than continued negative headlines and loss of support.

One quick nod to scepticism here: it should be noted that Gove managed to cut £50,000,000 from school sports funding and leave anti-cuts campaigners feeling like they'd won a resounding victory. Hmm

Sticking to the Facts

There are enough things wrong with the way this government is cutting that the anti-cuts campaign shouldn't need to make things up. This week a report by website False Economy claimed that the NHS is to loose 50,000 jobs over the next four years. That's pretty eye-catching and certainly shocking. It's also a gross abuse of statistics; for example the report counts doctors moving hospitals as job cuts. The way the government proposes to reform the workings of the NHS may not be all rosy but its funding commitment is solid, funding for the NHS will increase in real terms.

Campaigners need to focus on what Lansley and Gove will do to the NHS and to education. Lying just gives the pro-cut lobby ammunition whilst distracting from the real arguments.

Talking persuasively, not just loudly

Last week, 10 weeks after the university tuition fees rise passed through parliament, I was canvassed by a group of anti-tuition fees campaigners: complete with music, shouting and leaflet thrusting. The leaflets reiterated the same arguments about the changes to the tuition fees system, I'm not going to discuss those arguments again, the problem here is that the debate around tuition fees, and cuts in general, has to move on.

In the coming weeks university leadership will be meeting to decide what fees their universities will charge students from September 2012. This is where anti-fees campaigners should now be focusing their efforts. But I don't think this is a battle where mass protest will be effective; instead student leaders need to be sitting down with both the politicians who will have to approve fees changes, and with the university managements themselves. Campaigners need to ensure that future students get the best deal out the system, like it or not, will be in place from September 2012. This will only be achieved through giving the management and politicians reasons to help, it won't be achieved by shouting at them.

The case against cuts can be made. But, it must be done so in a way which targets those cuts which are unfair, unjust, or foolish. Nor can the campaign be distracted by publishing misleading stories which allow the proponents of cuts to attack when they should be justifying the policies. Finally if campaigners are going to shout to get attention, they should make the most of our attention once they have it by making clear, persuasive arguments for their positions.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Voting Yes in May is the only real option.

On the 5th May the people of Britain will return to the polling booth for local elections. These elections will no doubt cripple the Liberal Democrats at a local level, still riding the wave of contempt from the public over Tuition Fees, the VAT rise and public sector cuts.

But all this is seemingly irrelevant to the online community, the big issue on the 5th May is the vote for the Alternative Vote. I know that I (and many other people) have spoken about this issue before, but I thought I'd try and put across the reasons why I feel AV should be the way to go and perhaps more importantly why and where the No 2 AV campaign is going wrong.

For anybody who hasn't read about AV before, here is a simply guide to how it works.

Why Vote Yes?

FPTP allows candidates to win their seat with only 3 votes in 10. AV would mean that candidates would need over 50%.

It encourages a stronger constituency link, MPs have to work hard to appeal to their constituents to make sure they get the higher percentage of votes.

It encourages moderated debates, extremists views are unlikely to be popular across the spectrum of a constituency.

AV isn't perfect, but it is a step in the right direction.

Why the No Campaign is wrong?

AV will cost £250m - Erm, how do I put this? .. Ah yes, this is a complete lie. AV will not cost £250m.
The referendum on AV will cost £82m. Let me just stress that point, the referendum will cost £82m, regardless if the Yes vote wins. So it will cost us £82m to keep FPTP if the No vote wins. The outcome is irrelevant to this cost. Strike one for No2Av. The rest of this "cost" comes from electronic voting machines, which will cost up to £130m. Guess what? Strike two. We don't need these machines. The rest of the money is made up in educating voters, but their estimates are on a totally different voting system. Strike three and this No2AV lie is out of here.
No2AV - This is how the "cost" of AV should be spent. Truly disgusting campaigning.
Next on the list of lies mis-truths - Voting Yes2AV will help the BNP. This is actually quite funny. Firstly because of course it is a lie. But secondly because the BNP are campaigning against AV. Their supporters are being encouraged to vote No2AV. 

Allowing voters to rank their preferences is apparently going to benefit the BNP more than any other party in the No2AV fantasy land. Voters can rank up to five candidates, but they don't have to, they can just vote for one candidate and one candidate only. Meaning only BNP supporters will rank them at all. But no, the No2AV see it differently.

I can imagine it now. A supporter of the Liberal Democrats walking into the voting booth and putting Lib Dem's as their first choice because they support the idea of immigration amnesty that was brought up in the 2010 Election only to decide that they'd like the BNP as their second choice because, you know what, I don't like immigrants here, they'd like to give them £50,000 to "get out of their country". Hmm, then again, maybe not.

AV is a confusing system. How many of you think ranking something 1-5 is confusing? It is an insult to the intelligence of the British public.

FPTP is a British tradition. So was slavery. *bangs head on wall*.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Pierre Bourdieu on Right-handed mentality.

While reading Pierre Bourdieu's work on class and inequities I recently came across his book (a collection of interviews and essays) titled 'Acts of Resistance: Against the Tyranny of the Market', where I discovered a fantastic quote which really encapsulates how the British centre-right think and act. Bourdieu states:
"The opinion of people who write in the newspapers, intellectuals who advocate the 'minimal state' and who are rather too quick to bury the notion of the public and the public's interests... We see there a typical example of the effect of shared belief which removes from discussion ideas which are perfectly worth discussing. One would need to analyse the work of the 'new intellectuals', which has created a climate favourable to the withdrawal of the state and, more broadly, to submission to the values of the economy. I'm thinking of what has been called the 'return of individualism', a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy which tends to destroy the philosophical foundations of the welfare state and in particular the notion of collective responsibility (towards industrial accidents, sickness or poverty) which has been a fundamental achievement of of social (and sociological) thought. The return to the individual is also what makes it possible to 'blame the victim', who is entirely responsible for his or her own misfortune, and to preach the gospel of self-help, all of this being justified by the endlessly repeated need to reduce cost for companies". (1998: 7)

For me this really epitomises the coalition government we live under today and their unjustifiable policies surrounding education and the NHS.

Friday, 18 February 2011

AV... No thanks I'm HDMI

Recently there has been a great deal of emphasis placed upon the Alternative Voting System, and its possible role in the future of British politics. When the system was brought to light by Nick Clegg during the previous election campaign I was intrigued and wanted to investigate further. At the time I was of the opinion that the AV system was fairer and a much more representable way of voting (although I was guilty of letting a few Lib Dem policies rest in my subconscious just as long as the Tories were kept from power). Now I'm not sure what to think as there are advantages and disadvantages on both sides of the argument.

Here is a simple explanation of the system from the BBC News Website

HOW IT WORKS: Voters rank the candidates in order of preference (i.e., 1,2,3,4 instead of 'x'). If no candidate gets more than half the votes cast, the one who has fewest first preference votes has his or her votes reallocated, according to voters' second preferences. This continues until one candidate has more than half.

PROS: Retains the constituency link. Majority support at the local level, not just nationally.

CONS: Constituencies may be decided by the second preferences of the voters who supported the least popular candidate. Why should it be their second preferences which swing the constituency?

Available at:

Too be honest I believe that the AV system is one of the only strong policies the Lib Dems have left and even if implemented, it would be more to do with just changing the voting system - scoring a political point - than actually benefiting constituents. I'm also afraid that people may rank far right groups such as the BNP as a second or third preference in passing, not understanding the full consequences of their actions at the time.

I don't believe that the First-Past-the-Post system is particularly fair and I hope that there is a change to the political stage at some point in the near future. But is this it? I guess only time will tell.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Hypocrisy in the House of Lords.

There are moments in politics that I find myself chuckling away when I read what is happening - today is such a day. (I am aware this is possibly the uncoolest statement made by a 19 year old)

Regardless, I'll continue. The debate on the Alternative Vote (AV) has been raging for a while now, the Liberal Democrats made it one of their four key policies in their manifesto and would have refused to join the Coalition without "a bankable" offer from the Tories on an AV referendum (public vote).


Under the AV system, voters rank candidates in their constituency in order of preference.
Anyone getting more than 50% of first-preference votes is elected.
If no-one gets 50% of votes, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and their backers' second choices allocated to those remaining.
This process continues until one candidate has at least 50% of all votes in that round.
BBC News

Why do the Lib Dem's want it so badly? AV is a more representative of people's votes, currently we use a First Past The Post (FPTP) system which means one candidate can win with less than 50% of the popular vote. Crucially for the Lib Dem's they feel the FPTP is hurting them, in 2010 they won 23% of the popular vote, but they didn't receive anywhere near 1 in 4 seats - closer to 1 in 10 in fact.

Vote Yes on May 5th

In May when the Coalition was formed, the Tories gave the Lib Dem's their assurance that a referendum would be held on AV. But it has been anything but easy since then. The House of Lords has refused to pass the bill as it stands and yesterday announced that they have given their support to the bill, only on the condition that 40% of the electorate votes on it. Meaning 4 in 10 people most vote (either way) on 5th May 2011.

Firstly, this makes the job of the No2AV campaigners unbelievably simple, if they can convince enough people to NOT vote at all, they'll "win". It doesn't matter if 39% of the electorate turn out and ALL vote yes. The AV bill still won't "be legitimate" and will count for nothing. So Yes2AV campaigners really have to step up their game, especially on the back of an announcement by YouGov that AV and FPTP are neck and neck in the polls.

Finally, lets get back to the title - hypocrisy. Yes, the hypocrites in the House of Lords have decided that the AV vote isn't safe for us mere mortals to have - but for them, it is fair game. A hereditary peer has sadly died and because he was important in the House of Lords, all 786 peers will have their chance to vote and rank in order their preference for a new peer to replace him.

One rule for one, but sadly not for all.

Yes to fairer votes. Yes to Av.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Lockerbie Bomber & The Day Justice Died.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines justice as "fairness in the way people are dealt with"

Yet today we found out that Labour had traded any type of justice for the families of the 270 victims that were killed in the Lockerbie Bombing for commercial reasons (specifically oil)

Headlines today make highly disturbing reading:

The Guardian: Labour government did 'all it could to secure release of Lockerbie bomber'.
The Telegraph: Cameron attacks Labour after report finds government aided bomber release.
The Independent: Labour 'did all it could' for Libya.
BBC: Ministers 'wanted Lockerbie bomber released'

I could go on and on. It is irrefutable that Labour (and more specifically it seems, David Milliband) played a massive role in the release of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi. Megrahi was sentenced to life imprisonment after being the only person charged with the terrorist attack. He appealed the verdict on separate occasions, only to have his appeal quashed. 

Yet in August 2009 he was released on compassionate grounds as his doctors informed the authorities that he had three months to live, as he was dying from terminal prostate cancer. At the time, the majority of Scottish people disagreed with the release of Megrahi, whilst in the UK the 45% of people believed the release was more to do with oil than compassion.

The decision was ultimately made by the Scottish Justice Minister, but Jack Straw the then UK Justice Minister had said that Megrahi shouldn't have been allowed to be up for release, but quickly changed his tune when he realised it "wasn't in the UK's best interests".

The shocking notion that this was more to do with oil than compassion isn't just fantasy, Liberian leader Colonel Gadaffi's own son admitted that there was an "obvious" link between trade and the release. 

David Cameron said at the time:
"But if this is about genuine release on compassionate grounds, I think it is wrong.
"This man was convicted of murdering 270 people. He showed no compassion to them. They weren't allowed to go home and die with their relatives in their own bed. And I think this is a very bad decision."
The report released today (commissioned by David Cameron) "showed UK ministers changed their position on Megrahi due to commercial considerations, including lobbying by BP, in Libya." - strangely enough, the lobbying by BP was always denied by all parties (what a surprise, BP doing something bad!) Ministers still argue that they were not affected by any external pressures. Yet the report goes on to say:

"..every area of government were attempting to facilitate the release of Mr al-Megrahi's release to go back home to Libya."
Cameron concluded on the report by saying:
"For my part, I repeat - I believe it was profoundly wrong.
"The fact that 18 months later the Lockerbie bomber is today living, at liberty, in Tripoli, only serves to underline that."

Vile celebrations were held when Megrahi returned home.

For those of you who wondered, injustice is defined as "a situation where there is no fairness or justice" - harrowing in its appropriateness.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

A vision of true multiculturalism.

Speaking in Berlin yesterday David Cameron launched his most scathing attack yet on multiculturalism in Britain, saying that we should use 'muscular liberalism' to enforce equality, law, and freedom across society. Whilst the message about enforcing equality and freedom is one I think we can all sign up to, I do question the manner, the tone, and indeed the timing of this speech, and wonder if it wasn't a little reckless.

Multiculuralism isn't an experiment, it's a way of life.
The reason I question the speech is that whilst the aims are noble, he has targeted the rhetoric towards a minority in an unfair and lazy way, which could fuel ignorance and hatred of other cultures. When an EDL leader welcomes your speech, you should pause for thought.

An example of this is his insistence that no Muslim group should recieve state funding unless they endorse women's rights and promote integration. Now, neither of these are bad things, but again the targetting is the part I have an issue with. Why Muslim groups in particular? Will he put the same onus on the Catholic church as it refuses to acknowledge women priests, or as it condemns homosexuals? If you're going to enforce equality, then do it across all groups, you cannot single out one bad apple from a rotten orchard.

I fear that all this speech will do, rather than setting out any new solutions to the problem of integration, will fuel the ignorance of far-right groups who like to pretend that Islam is the problem, the sole problem, and being rid of it will solve all our nations problems. Assigning blame to Muslims for not integrating whilst completely ignoring those factions within British society who are generally far more violent (such as the EDL, who had a major rally on the day of the speech) is reckless, and will do nothing to benefit anyone.

Multiculturalism is not something that can fail or succeed, it is not an experiment, it is simply a description of the current state of affairs of our nation, where we have a range of cultures living side by side. Cameron himself said in 2007 that, 'We wouldn't be half the country we are without immigration.' The answer is not to bully people into adopting one culture and one culture only, it is to allow a state of affairs where we have different cultures, but not distinct social identities, where cultures overlap and you are free to move between them.

Paul Vallely in the Independent gives a simple example of this from a school in Moss Side, Manchester. Children there are encouraged to embrace other cultures as well as their own with the result that 37 nationalities can learn harmoniously, and you have 'black children there doing irish dancing, and white kids play in a jamaican steel band'.

This is the kind of multiculturalism I'd like to see, where you have the best of all cultures, living not only side by side but interspersed with one another. Where you break down barriers and stereotypes at the very youngest age. And I don't think David Cameron's ill-judged attempt to appease the right wing of his party, by suggesting we churn out clones who all share the same culture, is the right way to build a society, or indeed to solve any problems currently present.