“At the beginning of his tenure, Blair embarked on a privatisation spree that saw much of our public service sector shift from state ownership and control to those of a cluster of private businesses. Going further than Thatcher herself, he set about privatising schools, hospitals, transport and the mail, scrapping the university grant and breaking the backs of countless students with ever rising tuition fees. Seizing, like his Hobbesian allies across the Atlantic, 9/11’s immense opportunities, he then turned to Britain’s legal corpus with a vengeance, waging endless battles against judges and civil liberties associations.
“Today Blair seeks to destroy another age-old British tradition, multiculturalism, as though it were a passing affliction that could be dispensed with at his royal whim. As they use all the tricks in new Labour’s book of spin to force us into line, he and his ‘communities minister’ ought to bear the following historical fact in mind. Britain’s multiculturalism was not born today or yesterday with the coming of Muslims from the Indian subcontinent: it is intrinsic to the fabric of British society, which is made up of a multitude of races, creeds and sects: Scots, Irish, Welsh, English, Catholics, Protestants and Jews, along with myriad other groups.
“Blair, who would be more comfortable reading the Daily Telegraph than the Guardian, has adopted an extreme discourse that plays on our basic instincts of fear, insecurity and national pride. In so doing, he has shifted a nauseating rhetoric that had long been confined to the British National party and its ilk into the government, and thence to the mainstream of public opinion. That 53% of Britons now see Muslims as a threat is thus hardly surprising. This has been a victory for no one in Britain except the far right….
“Those who cite France as a role model for Britain do not know what they’re talking about. What is shielding France from our 7/7 is not its abysmal record with its minorities, but its more reasoned foreign policy and the distance it has maintained from Bush’s insane wars of aggression.”
Soumaya Ghannoushi at the Guardian’s Comment is Free, 29 August 2006