Multiculturalism has hindered efforts to build an inclusive British national identity, according to a Demos report written by Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor Vince Cable MP.
Multiculturalism has hindered efforts to build an inclusive British national identity, according to a report published today by Demos, the leading democratic think-tank. Written by Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor Vince Cable MP, Multiple Identities: Living with the new politics of identity argues that Britain must abandon multiculturalism if it is to succeed in building a tolerant and inclusive sense of national identity. The report also proposes that Britain should introduce a managed approach to dealing with immigration based on the US Green Card system.
"Multiculturalism has detracted from the crucial task of creating a shared sense of Britishness," says the report's author Vince Cable. "If we want to establish a truly inclusive and tolerant sense of British identity, we must abandon the myth of multiculturalism. Instead, we must build a tolerant national identity based on the concept of 'multiple identity' – acknowledging that most of us 'belong' to a number of different communities, whether national, ethnic, geographic or religious – combined with a strong commitment to the rights of the individual and law and order."
The report examines the emergence of a new form of politics based on religious, racial and national identity, in the UK and across the globe. It argues that UK policymakers must learn to deal with these forces in a way which protects individual liberties and a tolerant political culture.
"We have to learn to live with the politics of identity which promotes an open and inclusive society," says Vince Cable. "The threat to harmonious social relations in Britain comes from those who insist that multiple identity is not possible: white supremacists, English nationalists, Islamic fundamentalists. This is the opposition and they have to be confronted. An important element in that confrontation is the assertion of a sense of Britishness."
The report sets out a programme of action to foster a new sense of Britishness, combining measures such as language requirements for new Britons with a commitment to upholding the rights of individuals and a strong commitment to law and order.
The report also sets out proposals to introduce a system of managed immigration based on economic need, similar to the 'Green Card' system operated in the United States. A new government body, modelled on the Low Pay Commission would periodically assess the UK's economic need for new migrants. Cable advocates a system whereby quotas would then be auctioned to individuals or employers, building on the success of similar operations in the UK in relation to wireless spectrum and oil exploration.
The report will be launched at Demos on Thursday 8th September at Demos. Vince Cable will give a short lecture introduced by Tom Bentley, Director of Demos.
Notes to editors
- Multiple Identities will be launched on Thursday 8th September, 6-8 pm. The launch event will take place at Demos, Third Floor, Magdalen House, 136 Tooley Street, London, SE1 2TU. Please register for the event by contacting Demos on 020 7367 6340 or email@example.com
- Multiple Identities: Living with the politics of identity, written by Vince Cable, is published by Demos on 8th September 2005. Copies can be downloaded from www.demos.co.uk/publications/multipleidentities or ordered from Central Books on 020 8986 5488.
- Vincent Cable is Member of Parliament for Twickenham and Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor. Multiple Identities revisits his earlier pamphlet The World's New Fissures: Identities in crisis, published by Demos in 1994.
- Demos is an independent think-tank. Multiple Identities marks the first in a series of outputs on politics and identity.