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Trevor Phillips Says 'Liberal Self Delusion' On Race And Immigration Is Making Us 'Sleepwalk Into Catastrophe'

The ex-equalities chief has written an extraordinary essay about diversity and multi-culturalism.

10/05/2016 13:50

The former boss of the equalities watchdog has stunned people with a warning that Britain is "sleepwalking into catastrophe" because of "squeamishness" to acknowledge the problems multi-culturalism can bring.

Writer and broadcaster Trevor Phillips, former chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, says we "we hum to the music of liberal self-delusion" while a "small minority" of arrivals are "actively opposed to values and behaviours that most Europeans take for granted".

Phillips is already known for his caustic views on diversity and integration but his last essay, published by think tank Civitas, may be his most strident comments yet.

In a 61-page essay entitled 'Race And Faith: 'The Deafening Silence', Phillips writes: "Any attempt to ask whether aspects of minority disadvantage may be self-inflicted is denounced as 'blaming the victim'.

"Instead, we prefer to answer any difficult questions by focusing on the historic prejudices of the dominant majority. In short, it's all about white racism.

"This stance just won't do any more. In fact, in today's superdiverse society, it is dangerously misguided."

He observes that Britain is changing at "an extraordinary pace", adding: "We are now remaking our nation at speed."

Johnny Green/PA Archive
Trevor Phillips used to chair the Equalities and Human Rights Commission

Expectations of "non-dominant minority groups" are low, Phillips claims.

"We do little to create incentives for those who do not choose to be citizens to do more than the minimum to cope with living on British soil," it says.

The essay argues that a new era of "superdiversity" - in which different groups of people are arriving in Britain in greater numbers than ever before - calls for a shift away from "organic integration" to a policy of "active integration".

The essay has triggered polarised reaction on Twitter, where Phillips' name began trending on Tuesday morning.

One critic said Phillips was "continuing his bid to kick away the very ladder he climbed up". One user, who described himself as a "Nationalist" in his bio, said: "Trevor Phillips now accepting that we were right all along."

At one point in the essay, Phillips even argues people of different races should not compete in the Olympics.

He writes: "Is it really fair that the descendant of West African slaves like Usain Bolt compete against the descendants of Northern Europeans who, whatever else they are good at, are unlikely to produce a world sprint champion?"

Here are six key points from his essay.

  • 'Our liberal self delusion' is stopping us from recognising the bad part of multi-culturalism
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    'We hum to the music of liberal self-delusion,' Phillips writes. Stories about halal meat being introduced and corruption in municipal elections dominated by one ethnic group fuel "provoke muttering in the pub, or grumbling at the school gate" that "our political and media elites" ignore.
  • Our refusal to face this means 'we are sleepwalking into catastrophe'
    Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
    Being 'squeamish about addressing diversity and its discontents' will lead us to tolerate attitudes of newcomers that will "endorse sexist aggression, suppress freedom of expression, reverse hard-won civil liberties, and undermine liberal democracy".
  • There could be a link between rape and the perpetrator's 'cultural background'
    Lynne Cameron/PA Archive
    Philips describes the sexual abuse of 1,400 girls in the South Yorkshire town of Rotherham - predominantly by men of Pakistani origin - as an example of the "dark side of diversity". He cites a Swedish study that found 85% of those given long prison sentences for rape were foreign born or second-generation immigrants
  • Race is not a 'black and white affair'
    Jupiterimages via Getty Images
    Race should not be approached as a matter of colour but "the different sets of values and behaviours prevalent in some ethnocultural communities" and how this obstructs integration. He adds: "A small minority is actively opposed to values and behaviours that most Europeans take for granted."
  • He draws a parallel between what he says and Enoch Powell's famous speech
    PA/PA Archive
    In one of the most provocative parts of the entire essay, Phillips. In 1968, Conservative Enoch Powell was sacked from the Shadow Cabinet for warning mass immigration would bring "rivers of blood". "The black man will have the whip hand over the white man," he said at the time.
    "This much-studied address is, simultaneously, lauded as an epic example of the use of political rhetoric – and also as a ghastly testament to the power of unbridled free speech," Phillips writes. "Either way, it effectively put an end to Powell’s career as an influential leader. Everyone in British public life learnt the lesson: adopt any strategy possible to avoid saying anything about race, ethnicity (and latterly religion and belief) that is not anodyne and platitudinous."
  • We need 'active integration'
    Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
    Phillips argues we have failed to incentivised people ethnic minorities to integrate. "The problem with our rather feeble efforts over the past 30 years is that so far, most of the traffic has been in one direction – support for greater equality amongst disadvantaged groups, and pressure for open-mindedness amongst the majority," he writes. "Both of these drives have to some extent been successful, though there is some way to go."

    He advocates:

    - Placing a duty on institutions to promote integration, ending the construction of production teams in factories by nationality and ensuring English is the standard working language.
    - Requiring schools to demonstrate they are making efforts to give their pupils a "real experience" of living in a diverse society - spelling an end to "the kind of ethnic takeover of state schools" seen in Birmingham during the "Trojan Horse" scandal.
    - Sweeping away legal curbs on freedom of expression and replacing them with legislation ensuring only speech and gestures that directly encourage physical harm are restricted.

Hope Not Hate, a campaigning group that has fought against groups like the BNP, said "the picture is by no means as grim as Phillips paints".

A spokesman told The Telegraph: "Yes, a diverse society does face problems and yes we do need to talk openly about the issues ahead.

"But people are already talking, across the divide.

"Certainly we believe that the majority of people want to solve the problems our society faces constructively and peacefully, and the Muslim community – or rather, the Muslim communities – are also evolving rapidly."

It is not the first time Phillips' views on diversity have attracted controversy.

Last month, he presented the documentary What Muslims Really Think, which was criticised for polling that was more likely to ask more conservative recent arrivals in Britain for their views on issues.

Last year, he presented a documentary about race in Britain called Things We Won't Say About Race That Are True.

In it, he argued that politicians and journalists were "terrified" of discussing race, leaving multiculturalism to become a "racket" exploited by some to entrench segregation.

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