UUP & Multiculturalism: for or against?

The UUP has an interesting and expansive line on Northern Ireland as a multicultural society. There’s some evidence that it is popular with the younger elements in the party. But what worries the blogger over at About EU is the party’s call to restrict the number of places given to overseas students in UK universities. Along with Sinn Fein’s Davy Hyland’s remarks, it begs the question as to how far any of the local parties have got in thinking through emergent (non constitutional) issues.

  • Thomas

    Not only overseas, but on all non-UK students, which I understand means that students coming from the RoI and the rest of the EU should face restricting quotas to study in the UK.

  • The Watchman

    Trust the failed Westminster hopeful Michael McGimpsey to nail his colours to multiculturalism just as the concept is being rapidly discredited in Great Britain.

    I believe in multiracialism, but that to me is different from multiculturalism, which involves denigrating the host culture whilst separating people into groups who will naturally compete with each other.


    Remind me again…..

    When councilor Crowe was denying Moslems the right to build a mosque, claiming that they were the enemies, which party did he belong to?

    And what action did the party take over his disgraceful comments?

    As a unionist, it pains me to say this, but Sinn Fein are the only party I have seen say anything about different ethnic groups and sound as if they really meant it.

    (sure, it’s just a pity that they want to get rid of us)

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    Two points. Firstly in what sense are students from overseas part of a multicultural movement? If someone comes to temporarily reside in NI to study for X years before going back to their originating country then in what way do they influence the culture of the host society for that time period? Besides the financial requirements of most universities require the presence of overseas students to cover costs by charging higher fees. So unless people want to start living with the $34,000 a year tuition costs that people get to enjoy at US Universities count your blessings.

    Secondly. How does one shed ones culture to become part of a multiracial society? Assuming that the comment is not intended to advocate a policy of no immigration then surely those that come to the UK, whilst trying to incorporate themselves into British society, will always carry a residual amount of their own cultural heritage. How should they shed that? Why should they have to? Isn’t UK cultural history a product of organic development through waves of immigration by different cultural groups? It might seem to be a defense of British culture to talk of multiracialism but surely it is impossible to separate out cultural influences. Watchman you are the historian any suggestions?

  • Gonzo

    UUP call for foreign-student quota criticised

    25 August 2005
    STUDENT leaders last night correct dismissed unionist calls for a quota system to restrict the number of foreign undergraduates studying at UK universities.

    UUP MLA Ken Robinson demanded new rules for the allocation of places after reports that many students face stiff competition to secure a university place.

    But the National Union of Students-University Students Ireland said education must be available to all, regardless of nationality.

    The fight for places is being blamed on a rush by prospective students to avoid paying top-up fees of up to £3,000-a-year from next September.

    Mr Robinson said applications have risen by 8.2% nationally but in some universities the figure has been as high as 29%.

    The East Antrim MLA said: “This scramble inevitably raises the issue of how many places at our universities are being filled by non-UK students and whether or not the current free-for-all with students pouring in from overseas can be allowed to continue.

    “While the cosmopolitan mix of students is one of the important aspects of university life, it must not lead to a situation which excludes UK students from even gaining a place in these institutions.

    “Since universities are funded overwhelmingly from the public purse, students from this country must have a first call on university places.

    “The time has surely come for some sort of quota or more balanced system to be devised for EU and non-EU students at UK universities.

    “There’s a lot of talk about how much universities raise from non-public sources. However, the vast bulk of their income still comes from the taxpayer and the UK taxpayer wants our school leavers given priority in the quest for university places.”

    Damien Kavanagh, convenor of the NUS-USI, said:

    Mr Kavanagh said: “We would endorse the principle that education is available for all.

    “In an increasingly European society we’d like to hear people commenting less about UK citizens and more about European citizens.”

    “We’d like to see a better admissions system coupled with increased funding.”


  • Alexander Bowman

    Whatever they do it’s never enough, is it?

    ‘…multiculturalism…involves denigrating the host culture whilst separating people into groups who will naturally compete with each other.’

    How? I suspect your beef with multiculturaliism and this ludakris notion of denigration centres on the tendency for groups who maintain their own cultural identity to be insufficiently deferential or even subservient to what you describe as the host culture.

    Check out Simon Louvish’s great book on the Marx Brothers where he defines the essence of their humour as being that of (only) the newest wave of immigrants mocking the pretensions of the previous wave to have arrived over with the Mayflower.

    I guess I’m just asking: how do you define a host culture? Do get back to me, cher ami.

  • Sean Fear

    I imagine that what The Watchman has in mind is the tendency for some local authorities in London and other urban centres to promote the cultures of ethnic minority groups vigorously, through grants and publicity, while trying to play down anything that is seen as traditionally British (such as dropping nativity plays from schools, renaming Christmas “Winterval”, removing bibles from hospitals, barring market traders from displaying the Union Flag and so forth) on the ground that it might be “offensive” to ethnic minorities.

  • The Watchman

    Indeed, Sean Fear. I’ve been asked some difficult questions and my full reply to the above is on its way.

  • Biffo

    Duncan Shipley Dalton

    “Isn’t UK cultural history a product of organic development through waves of immigration by different cultural groups”.

    No, it’s the opposite. It’s the product of the forceful impostion of the culture of the economically and politically dominant English on those different cultural groups – Just to keep you right.

  • The Watchman

    Have to be brief here.

    The culture of the UK state is to do with things like liberty, the rule of law and equality before it, non-arbitrary power, an independent judiciary, and freedom of expression and of religion.

    English history is indeed marked by waves of immigration. Until the 1960s, these resulted into eventual assimilation into the existing population. They left their mark on the laws and customs of England, but you could not say, even with the Norman conquest, that there was any overthrow of English society. The Plantagenate kings may have spoken Norman French but most say themselves as part of a distinctively English tradition and at least one revered Edward the Confessor, the last Saxon king. Assimiliation is about identifying yourself with the ethos of a new country, without abandoning your old values unless they conflict with the ones mentioned above, in the case of Britain.

    Multiculturalism is about celebrating diversity and a self-loathing of Britain and its values. A belief in nationhood is an inherently conservative concept, so no wonder the Butskellite ruling class of the post-war years, wracked as it was by post-imperial guilt, hated it. The unprecedented number of immigrants who would come to Britain seeking a better life for themselves arrived in a country unsure of itself. Who could assimilate into that if it was deemed inherently “racist”? (A good example of this self-loathing is the virtual disappearance from school History curricula of anything much to do with the British Empire.)

    20 years ago, Ray Honeyford was hounded from his job for trying to get his schoolchildren to integrate together, Now Trevor Phillips, a pillar of the Race Relations industry, has sounded the death knell for multiculturalism. And who could have imagined that a Labour government would introduce citizenship ceremonies or that John Ware would take an ethnic representative group to task for not confronting the extremists in its midst?

    Outside Merseyside, anti-Catholicism has been a virtual dead issue in England for 2 centuries. Once there was no prospect of internal subversion or external threat to the realm from Roman Catholicism, old animosities could die out. I suspect British Muslims have difficult decisions ahead. If their spokespersons continue to identify themselves with a culture of grievance and if they fail to stop others inside their tent from building an Islamic state within a state then there are problems ahead.

  • Sean Fear

    Another aspect of multiculturalism is communal politics. Jobs and grants are distributed through the medium of self-appointed “community leaders,” who, in return, deliver blocks of votes to the Party (usually, but not exclusively, Labour) which distributes these. Sometimes, the methods used to deliver these votes are extremely dubious, as we’ve seen recently in Birmingham.