The English language and Christian faith will be restored to the centre of public life, ministers are to pledge today.
Eric Pickles will praise the traditions and heritage of ‘the majority’ and describe multiculturalism as the politics of division.
Public bodies should no longer ‘bend over backwards’ to translate documents into dozens of languages and migrants must be asked to learn English and understand the British way of life, the Communities Secretary will say.
Children should be educated in a ‘common culture’, promoting a British identity that crosses class, colour and creed.
Events such as the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics should be used to celebrate traditional culture and ‘fly the flags of Britain’ with pride.
Mr Pickles was speaking exclusively to the Daily Mail ahead of today’s announcement of a new strategy on community cohesion and integration.
He said the last Labour government and Harriet Harman, who was its equalities minister, had ‘encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream’.
The minister said the Coalition celebrated Britain’s tradition as a nation of ‘tolerance’ and insisted he was proud to celebrate the special customs and practices that make communities unique.
'It's right to ask new migrants to show a grasp of the English language and an understanding of British traditions.'
ERIC PICKLES YESTERDAY
‘But it’s sad to see how, in recent years, the idea of tolerance has become twisted,’ Mr Pickles added.
‘A few people, a handful of activists, have insisted that it isn’t enough simply to celebrate the beliefs of minority communities; they want to disown the traditions and heritage of the majority, including the Christian faith and the English language.
‘In recent years we’ve seen public bodies bending over backwards to translate documents up to and including their annual report into a variety of foreign languages.
‘We’ve seen men and women disciplined for wearing modest symbols of Christian faith at work, and we’ve seen legal challenges to councils opening their proceedings with prayers, a tradition that goes back generations, brings comfort to many and hurts no one.
‘This is the politics of division.’
Banner: Mr Pickles said that events such as the Olympics and Diamond Jubilee who be used to fly the flag with pride
Mr Pickles said political correctness had replaced common sense and left millions of people afraid to express legitimate concerns and frustrations. ‘We need a new approach: one that emphasises what we have in common rather than difference,’ he added.
‘Harriet Harman was leading the country down the wrong path. If we are to remain a country where people of different backgrounds feel at ease and get along, we need more confidence in our national traditions. We need to draw a line.
Attack: Mr Pickles said Harriet Harman was leading the country down the wrong path and that Labour had 'encourage people to lead separate lives'
‘We must be unafraid to insist on the common ground and common values we all share.
‘It’s right to stand up for the right of councils who wish to start their proceedings with a prayer.
If we want people of all faiths to feel at home and able to contribute here, the last thing we should be doing is knocking Christianity.
‘By the same token, it’s right to ask new migrants to demonstrate a grasp of the English language and an understanding of British traditions.
It would be plain unkind is to encourage people to come here without the basic skills and understanding that are vital to getting on in a job, in education and the local community.’
Far from seeing religion as a problem that needs to be solved, ministers regard it as part of the solution, according to Government sources.
The days of the state trying to suppress Christianity – and other faiths – should be over, they said, with the Government aiming to use neighbourhood schemes and other projects to bring different faiths together.
Today’s strategy will say the Government believes in certain values and ‘will actively promote them’ – including freedom of speech, freedom of worship, democracy and the rule of law.
'We must be unafraid to insist on the common ground and common values we all share.'
It will pledge to challenge extremism in all its forms and tackle those who spread ‘hatred and division’.
Ministers plan to marginalise extremist behaviour and improve the recording of hate crime against the Muslim and Jewish communities.
Requiring incomers to learn English, ministers will say, will help improve social mobility.
‘We want to help people realise their potential to get on in life. It’s not about where you are from, but where you are going.
We want immigrants to speak the language of their new home,’ said a Government source.
‘People should be educated in elements of a common culture and curriculum.’