Cameron woos Tory Right with call to curb ethnic language

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Thu Aug 25 12:46:42 UTC 2005

Cameron woos Tory Right with call to curb ethnic language
By Toby Helm, Chief Political Correspondent
(Filed: 25/08/2005)

Government bodies and councils should limit the use of ethnic minority
languages on everything from official documents to parking meters to help
to encourage immigrants to learn English, David Cameron, the Conservative
leadership hopeful said yesterday. In a controversial speech that
positioned him firmly on the party's centre-Right, the 38-year-old
education spokesman argued that the increasing use of foreign languages
such as Hindi, Bengali, and Urdu in public settings was undermining
English culture.

Mr Cameron: 'If you don't speak English you can't participate fully in
national life' "We should not allow respect for other cultures to
undermine our shared national culture," he told the Foreign Policy Centre.
At a time when English was becoming the world's number one language of
choice and millions of people in Pakistan and India were desperate to
learn it, a "significant number of our own citizens cannot speak it," he

"We need to ask whether government and other bodies, by allowing other
languages to be used in official settings, can almost encourage the belief
that English is not necessary." He added: "If you don't speak English you
can't participate fully in national life. Government needs to make this
clear and help create incentives for every citizen of this country to
speak our national language."

The comments came in a wide-ranging speech in which Mr Cameron argued that
Britain needs to strengthen its national ties if it is to respond
effectively to the growing threat of Islamist terrorism. They were seen at
Westminster as part of a deliberate attempt to woo Right of centre Tory
MPs who are thinking of lining up behind David Davis, the shadow home
secretary in the race to succeed Michael Howard as Conservative leader.
The contest begins, officially, in October.

In an article in The Daily Telegraph earlier this month, Mr Davis was the
first Tory contender to question the success of multi-culturalism in
Britain, arguing that it was time Muslims began to integrate more into
society. Mr Davis claimed that pride in national values was much stronger
among minorities in America than in this country. Seeking to trump Mr
Davis on his own portfolio subject of security and terrorism, Mr Cameron
said shared British values could be summed up as "freedom under the rule
of law".

A mosque commission, led by Muslims, should be set up, he said, to
"provide proper regulatory oversight" of mosques. He also likened Islamic
"jihadists" pursuing a holy war against the West to the Nazis of the 1930s
and Communists who built totalitarian states. Since he made clear that he
will stand in the leadership race, some Tory MPs have said they have no
idea what he believes and claimed that he is too inexperienced. Others
have painted him as a soft-Left moderniser.

His supporters, however, argue that Mr Cameron is the man to modernise the
Tory party with his blend of centre-Right thinking and compassion, as
effectively as Tony Blair reformed Labour in the 1990s. Mr Cameron again
ruled out standing on a "dream ticket" of experience and youth with
Kenneth Clarke, the former chancellor. "I have great respect for him but
we don't agree about Europe which is a very important issue facing this
country," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Another leadership hopeful, David Willetts, the shadow trade and industry
secretary, said yesterday he had been "very encouraged" by the response to
his possible challenge.

thelm at

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