The war being waged by the quasi-establishment and quasi-government Left in Britain against the nation's own traditions, values, identity and, perhaps most of all, religion, has been escalated and its battle-lines redefined with a report by a leading Labour Party-aligned think-tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research, recommending that Christmas, which cannot be obliterated, should be down-graded to promote multiculturalism.
The report says that because it would be hard to "expunge" Christmas from the national calendar (although this would apparently be desirable), public organizations must be made to give non-Christian religious festivals equal footing.
Now, the Institute is not some unimportant relic of communist days clinging to existence in a squalid slum attic. On the contrary, it has very close links with the government. The report was commissioned when Nick Pearce, now head of public policy in the Prime Minister's Office, was its director. He was described in an interview on the Australian Broadcasting Commission's "Sunday Profile" recently as "One of the leading policy-makers in Great Britain." Before heading the IPPR he was a special advisor to Labour Home Secretary David Blunkett. It is credited with having shaped many Labour policies, including the institution of compulsory identity cards, litter-bin taxes and road pricing. It is described as one of Prime Minister Gordon Brown's favorite think tanks.
In October IPPR became the first ever think-thank to win the Prospect magazine "Think-Tank of the Year" Award for the second time. IPPR Co-Director Lisa Harker was presented with the award by Schools Secretary Ed Balls MP at a ceremony in the Great Hall at King's College. In other words the IPPR has top government connections and is taken seriously.
The report's recommendations are probably the most radical that have been made so far by a body with real political influence for the destruction of Britain's Christian identity and historic culture.
However, the thrust of its recommendations are really nothing new, and are squarely in line with concerted and unremitting political/culture-war attacks on Christianity and Britain's historic identity which have been going on for at least a decade, not at the level of national Parliamentary government, where an electorate might show its displeasure, but in a shadowy, Gramscian way at quasi-govnmental level and in localized areas with entrenched Labour/left control of councils, Parliamentary seats and other institutions.
Last year it emerged that three out of four employers were no longer putting up Christmas decorations in the workplace for fear of offending political correctness policing, and as I wrote recently Christmas lights are disappearing from High Streets, ostensibly because of the cost of complying with the expanding torrent of health and safety regulations as well as because of enforced political correctness. However, attempts to rename Christmas "Winterval" and/or to remove Easter from the calendar by some local authorities a few years ago were dropped in the face of public protests and defiance.
The report proposes Christening services be replaced by "birth ceremonies" in which the parents of children and the State agree to "work in partnership" to raise children, and that action is taken to "ensure access" by "ethnic minorities" to the countryside which so far remains largely populated by British people. (How? Are they to be shipped forcibly into Vietnamese-style New Economic zones?) The apparent motivation for this is a determination to ensure that nothing of traditional British identity remains. It seems typical of the "soft totalitarianism" that has never been far below the surface in the Britain of New Labour.
The report also proposes an end to "sectarian" religious education -- it is hard to know what this means, or whether it is proposed to go as far as actually banning Christian schools, but it seems likely that it at least means that government support for religious schools would be banned (despite the fact that, apart from anything else, many religious schools provide a far better, and now physically safer, education than many of Britain's ghastly sink-comprehensives). The national flag, the Union Jack, which is made up of the crosses of three Christian Saints, should lose its position.
It says that: "If we are going to continue as a nation to mark Christmas -- and it would be very hard to expunge it from our national life even if we wanted to -- then public organizations should mark other religious festivals too. It then goes on to claim that: "We can no longer define ourselves as a Christian nation, nor an especially religious one in any sense." This is very peculiar, and may be an exercise in wishful thinking on the part of the report's authors because the last census for which figures are available, that of 2001, actually showed 71.6% of the population was Christian, and the total of all religious believers who answered the census was 76.8% of the population. The very large number of Polish immigrants since then have been very largely Catholic and it is possible the Christian percentage has actually increased because of this. There have also been many Christian Baltic immigrants.
The report says further that immigrants should be required to acquire some proficiency in English and other aspects of British culture "if -- but only if -- the settled population is willing to open up national institutions and practices to newcomers and give a more inclusive cast to national narratives and symbols....Even-handedness dictates that we provide public recognition to minority cultures and traditions." I don't think it's Catholic Poles or Protestant Balts they've got in mind here.
Anyway, the report continues to retail the somewhat less-than-fresh news that "The empire is gone, church attendance is at historically low levels [See above -- recently in some areas with heavy Polish immigration the congregations at Catholic churches have been spilling out into the street on Sundays], and the Second World War is inexorably slipping from memory." (Whatever that has got to do with it.)
The report calls on Ministers to launch an "urgent and upfront campaign" promoting something callled a "multicultural understanding of Britishness." It continues that, "Multiculturalism can be shown to provide for a fairer and more liberal society and does not necessarily lead to social division and community conflict, as its critics have claimed."
Compelling data from all over the world now indicates that "Multiculturalism," as it has been promoted, is divisive and destructive. Notwithstanding this, the report continues, with intellectually derriere-garde heavy-handedness that: "Councils must act to ensure children mix and are able to form friendships with pupils from different backgrounds."
What this means in practice has already been shown in many instances. Earlier this year, for example, a young school-girl who asked if she could sit with English-speaking children to do a project was reported by her teacher for racism and arrested at the school by police!
The same day that news of the report leaked out, there was news of another pedagogical flowering of multicultural understanding: a school had compelled teachers dress up as Asians for a day to celebrate a Muslim festival. Children at the school were also told to don Muslim garb even though most are Christians. The morning assembly, it was said, would be open to all parents, but fathers were barred from a women-only party in the afternoon because Muslim husbands would object to wives being allowed to mix with other men. This was in spite of the fact that only two members of staff, a part-time teacher and a teaching assistant, were Muslims.
The report adds: "Any liberal state should recast the civic oaths and national ceremonies, or institutions like Parliament and the monarchy, in a more multi-religious or secular form and make religious education less sectarian." A few years ago a leading light of New Labour, Lady Gavron, said Prince Charles should be told to marry a non-European. It looks like one of those ideas that die hard.
Registering the birth of children should be made a "public rite," where "Parents, their friends and family and the state [would] agree to work in partnership to support and bring up their child."
Sayeeda Warsi, the Conservative spokesman on community cohesion, was quoted as saying that the report shows "a breathtaking misunderstanding of what it is to be British. These proposals could actually damage cohesion....You don't build community cohesion by throwing out our history and denying the fundamental contribution Christianity has played and does play to our nation. As a British Muslim I can see that -- so why others can't just staggers me."
She added: "The thought of Gordon Brown sharing responsibility with me for bringing up my children sends a shiver down my spine. I thought we got rid of communism."
John Midgley, co-founder of the Campaign Against Political Correctness, was quoted as saying: "If they are suggesting that we will be getting more community cohesion if you stop celebrating Christmas in this country then they must be off their politically-correct heads."
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