Cameron woos Tory Right with call to curb ethnic language

Anthea Fraser Gupta A.F.Gupta at
Thu Aug 25 14:19:43 UTC 2005

The Labour Party are sending out similar messages too. There have been a
number of attacks from a range of quarters on multiculturalism, and many
calls for making sure that everyone who comes to live in the UK can
speak English. Figures have been bandied about (without any real grounds
for rhem) such as that only 25% of people of South Asian ethnicity in
the UK regard themselves as fluent in English. It has also been
suggested that the wearing of certain kinds of distinctive clothing is
unbritish (this despite the startling range of dress styles manifested
in the white British community!).

It goes without saying that the London bombers of July 2005 appear to
have been proficient in English. The politicians do not explain the
means by which terrorism can be prevented by the learning of English.
There is no reliable information on who does know English, but it
appears that among the South Asian communities those least likely to
have useful English are pre-school children, the very old, and women who
are brought to the UK as brides. None of these groups are very visible
in any sort of disorder.


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Anthea Fraser Gupta (Dr)
School of English, University of Leeds, LS2 9JT
NB: Reply to a.f.gupta at
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