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Multiculturalism alive and well even among politicians criticising it

Press release issued: 8 November 2012

New research to be presented today [8 Nov] in the House of Lords claims that a key multiculturalist goal in relation to Britishness is also a goal for many senior Labour and Conservative politicians despite their criticisms of multiculturalism. Interestingly, the research shows a major change in political attitudes towards multi-ethnic Britain among Conservative politicians.

New research to be presented today [8 Nov] in the House of Lords claims that a key multiculturalist goal in relation to Britishness is also a goal for many senior Labour and Conservative politicians despite their criticisms of multiculturalism. Interestingly, the research shows a major change in political attitudes towards multi-ethnic Britain among Conservative politicians.

The findings by Brunel University and the University of Bristol contend that there have been major advances in the Conservative approach to multiculturalism.

Dr Varun Uberoi of Brunel University said: “The Conservative party which historically has fought to preserve traditional ideas of Britishness now has leading figures, even ministers, who talk of a more inclusive national identity with minorities helping to shape it.”

Professor Tariq Modood of the University of Bristol’s School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies, said: “In equating Britishness with Britain's political features and its diversity, the Labour Government promoted what we call a civic multicultural national identity. The Conservatives are now doing the same which is a remarkable change for a Party that once talked about preserving traditional forms of Britishness.”

Dr Uberoi added: “When the Commission for Multi-Ethnic Britain asserted that politicians should help to make Britishness more inclusive in 2000 the media and politicians rejected many of its claims. Politicians accepted that ‘Britishness’ was naturally becoming more inclusive, but not that they needed to do anything to aid this process. But after 2001 the then Labour government and Conservatives in the present government began to advocate this long-held multiculturalist goal of making Britishness more inclusive.”

Professor Modood added: “The Labour Party, which has historically been somewhat uncomfortable with the idea of nationhood, introduced government policies that advocated the importance of Britishness and making it more inclusive. Today, this is not a climate in which, we might think a multiculturalist advance is possible, but this is what has happened.”

An full interview with Professor Modood and Dr Varun Uberoi is available to view on the Huffington Post website.

The paper 'Inclusive Britishness - A Multiculturalist Advance' has now been published by Political Studies.