Monday, May 07, 2007

Political Correctness Stifling Debate

Professor Ted Cantle, a government advisor, has said that political correctness is preventing a proper debate over so-called "white flight". The statement comes because BBC is due to air a Panorama documentary tonight about the issue in Blackburn. (read full story here)

The producer of the Panorama programme said:

We found a great nervousness - people didn't feel able to speak openly about their unease about the way things were changing and about the gulf between the two communities. We were very struck by that. They struggled to find a way to say they didn't want to be taken over. They had no way of expressing it. They were afraid of saying the wrong thing and coming across as racist.
A Home Office spokesman said that the laws only banned speech in which the speaker deliberately intended to cause hatred.

The problem here isn't the laws themselves; it is the perception of them. The climate of political correctness has become so ingrained that people no longer feel able to express their opinions. This situation must be tackled. We need our MPs to be brave enough to speak frankly and openly. Not only will that openness allow others to be open but when people see their politicians being honest and open it may even improve the level of trust between MPs and the public.

However, this requires true effort. When Jack Straw dared to speak openly about the veil he was vilified and many of his colleagues refused to back his right to say what he said. In the end, though, he forced it through and there was some proper debate on the topic. And, what's more, the subject is no longer taboo.

We need more MPs with that courage to talk about other issues.