Rebranding Britain? Ideological dilemmas in political appeals to “British Multiculturalism”

2014-07-17T10:59:51Z (GMT) by Susan Condor
In this chapter I consider some dilemmatic tensions within contemporary attempts to (re)brand Britain a “multicultural society”. I start out by considering two political speeches in which Labour Party ministers associated British Multiculturalism with the general liberal values of social inclusion, tolerance, human rights, progressive change and cosmopolitan moral and political sensibility. Analysis of the text of these speeches reveals tensions within these arguments. First, the rhetorical formulations that the speakers used to justify the political project of British Multiculturalism tacitly presupposed a natural order in which nations are normally populated by a racially and culturally homogenous folk. Second, British Multiculturalism is presented as a form of brand distinctiveness, differentiating the United Kingdom from other polities, and endowing the British state with commercial and military advantage in the international arena. Finally, far from constituting a post- Anglocentric, post-colonial re-formulation of national identity, the specific narratives used to legitimate the construct of British Multiculturalism closely echo the discursive tropes previously used to promote British Imperialism.