IT is reprehensible that PM David Cameron should pick a security conference on the day of the EDL march in Luton to condemn multiculturalism.
Multiculturalism is precisely that, different cultures living side by side, at times overlapping, at times intermixing and maintaining their own identity, which is what we enjoy in Huddersfield.
In calling for the demise of multiculturalism he panders to the most negative and at times dangerous elements of the human psyche.
How does he expect Muslims to integrate? Does he demand that they go to church on a Sunday and get drunk on a Friday night? Does he not realise that the majority Muslim community harbour no sectarian or extreme intention but merely wish to get on with their lives, lives that still hold dear the values of hard work and family life that have been lost to large sections of the white community?
Do those Muslims who work or go to college not interact with the wider community and is not a tendency to ignorance and insularity not common to many communities, both immigrant and indigenous?
Contrary to Mr Cameron’s assertion there is no one British identity. The culture of a northern working class estate is markedly different from the middle England commuter belt of the city of London. This is the way of the world: diversity.
Mr Cameron’s comments represent nothing more than an attempt to distract people from the crimes of his government, to reinforce the image of the ‘other’, the enemy without and within as a smokescreen to the damage that is been done by the political elite to the very fabric of our society and to millions of lives irrespective of origin, colour or religion.
His comments are of the worst hypocrisy, considering that it has been British foreign policy in the Middle East and Afghanistan that has stoked the fires of extremism, as we warned they would. It is his policies now that run the risk of creating a lost generation devoid of opportunities or hope.
We are all different and all the same united by our love for our children and fear of the future with more in common than different. To attempt to portray all Muslims as terrorists is as insane as suggesting that the bulk of English people live up to the stereotype of drunkenness and football hooliganism.
The complexities of multiculturalism are difficult for some who want simple answers and not to have to fathom such detail, yet in those complexities lay a rich warp and weft of society that emblazons the tapestry of life with a brighter hue.
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A shared country
MR Cameron’s speech on multiculturalism is bound to generate much racist rhetoric.
This country was built upon the blood, sweat, tears and mineral wealth of our whole empire. And Indians, Pakistanis, Africans, Poles etc of many religions all fought alongside us as we struggled in World War II.
As far as I am concerned, this country must be shared, and I will do my best to make multiculturalism work.
Meltham ‘hijack’ bid
THE letters in the Examiner about the Meltham LDF consultation are incredible.
I went along with my daughter, Clr Nicola Turner, just to observe and have been astonished at the subsequent reports. What actually happened at the meeting was that a handful of campaigners tried to hijack the meeting. Councillors had decided that the best way to obtain the maximum number of representations from the public was to provide one-to-one discussion with planning officers.
Documents were available for people to write down objections and comments for analysis and consideration by the planners when finalising the strategy. The chairman, Clr Nicola Turner, explained the reasons for the style of consultation. The idea was that everyone could have their say, not just the vociferous few. The anti-LDF campaigners did not like this idea.
It looked as if the meeting could dissolve into chaos but Clr Turner stood her ground and 40 people sat round the tables and proceeded happily with the consultation. Ten or a dozen people retired to the back of the hall to sulk, aided and abetted by Clrs Simms and Firth. Clr Turner then announced that after the first hour the protesters would be given their way and an open session would follow at 8pm. The officers were not too happy about this, saying that there would be no mechanism for recording opinions expressed so they could not be analysed later along with the written comments.
I saw only one person leave ‘in disgust’. He presumably represented the ‘lots of people’ as reported by Clr Simms.
Clr Terry Lyons’ comment that people were not getting to ask their questions was mind-boggling. Everyone in the room, including all those who are reticent about speaking up before a crowd, was able to ask questions! The ones who were prepared to cooperate had their views documented. Protesters were heard in the open forum but presumably not recorded. The only ‘control’ was against the anti-LDF campaigners who wanted to dominate the proceedings and do things their own way from the start. In the open session the council officers cooperated fully and answered questions clearly and competently.
One protagonist who interrupted the question and answer session by shouting without having been called upon by the chair began to pour abuse on the planning officers but was put down firmly and admirably by Clr Turner. Otherwise, people asked questions and stated opinions in an orderly and reasonable manner.
My impression was that a small group of people were there merely to campaign against the LDF without any willingness to listen and without having grasped what the LDF is really about.
Their failure to hijack the meeting made them very angry and they are now venting their spleen on Clr Turner by referring to the Standards Committee.
She is as keen as anyone to preserve the green belt and the ethos of the valleys. Clr Turner was determined that as many people as possible would have their voices heard. She felt that many written comments would have more significance for the planners than any amount of ranting and raving in an open meeting. (My words, not hers). She cares passionately about preserving the valleys and fears that a lack of a strategy would lead to ad hoc development without proper consideration of the infrastructure or local feeling.
Unlike our MP Jason McCartney and certain Tory councillors, she and her Lib/Dem colleagues are not prepared to get into bed with a few noisy NIMBYs for political advantage. Her determination to maintain a fair, balanced and objective view means she has had to take a lot of very nasty personal abuse over many months and now apparently, certain councillors who should themselves be supporting the consultation procedure seem to be doing everything they can to undermine it.
THE attitude of Kirklees planners regarding the overwhelmingly unpopular LDF, as reported by many irate Examiner correspondents, only goes to illustrate that nothing has changed since the last election.
They have continually shown an arrogant disregard for overwhelming public opinion against their proposals; and will carry on doing so for as long as they can get away with it.
Why should they worry about our disappearing green belt and green field land; or whether an already stretched infrastructure can bear ever more houses, when as Philip Reynolds of Skelmanthorpe so rightly wrote in his letter (Mailbag, February 7), they can just walk away from the mess they create?
Those of us who have witnessed at first hand their utter disdain for those directly affected by their schemes can only wonder what we must do to make them take notice. Do we have to take to the streets as we have seen the people of Egypt doing in the last week or so?
Of course as Kirklees is fully aware, or should be, we do have the option to vote them out when the time comes. But how much irreparable damage will their policies have done by then?
Time running out
AS an avid objector to the LDF proposals for any number of reasons, I have read with interest the scores of letters on this subject which have been printed recently in Mailbag.
I am aware of the various groups set up to oppose the plans in many of the communities directly affected by these proposals and wholly support their efforts.
It is a fact that the majority of people in Kirklees are blissfully unaware of what is going on (not everyone reads this newspaper) and when mentioned many who were previously aware think the idea was scrapped in 2009.
Having said this I am totally bewildered by the fact that the number of objections and /or support registered on the Kirklees LDF website is only a fraction of the number of members of the various action groups, and not a great deal more than the number of letters published on this page.
I know that the whole LDF website is as user-unfriendly as possible, but with persistence it can be navigated. Obviously it is far easier to raise objections and /or support online but if internet access is not available, a good old-fashioned letter will carry as much weight.
Time however is quickly running out and I would therefore like to make these two methods of making readers’ pro- or anti-LDF views known. Online: http://www.kirklees.gov.uk/business/planning/localdevelopment/localdev.shtml
Postal: Local Development Framework, Strategic Investment Service, PO Box B93, Civic Centre 3, Huddersfield,HD1 2JR.
An incorrect email address crept into a letter from Kathy Moore in last Friday’s Mailbag. Kathy, who lost pictures of her sons, footballers Gary and Jason, in a flood, and was appealing for photos and newspaper clippings of them. Her phone number is 01484 665839 and her email is firstname.lastname@example.org