I addressed a seminar held by the Barrow Cadbury Trust not long ago. You may have seen a letter from dynamic chief exec Sukhvinder Stubbs in Saturday’s Guardian urging a rethink on government policy on citizenship. She is quoted again here at the Economist. The piece is on the “social glue” of community cohesion. It’s not the most elegant of terms and the concept itself has taken a battering in various ways recently from quarters involving the anti-arcbishop brigade and in recent comments by the Bishop of Rochester.

The Economist’s article claims that swimming pools are the new battleground of multicultural Britain. Muslim exclusionists are blamed for this but my pal David T has sounded off about the matter (in the Jewish Chronicle no less) after being denied a family swim and being told that Jewish and Muslims have been responsible for the single sex swimming policy at his local baths in Hackney. Good to see one issue that these two can unite I suppose but they could pick their fights better. David T describes a conversation with pool staff:

The main movers for prime time single sex swimming were the Hassidic jews. She was not racist, she stressed: but they had the advantage of being able to run an effective community-based letter-writing campaign, and of organising politically around the issue.

Fine, I said. And what would the policy be if a group of racists decided that “sensitivity” to their cultural preferences resulted in a whites only swimming session? Why should a public institution subsidise the expression, in a public place, of the gender apartheid practice mandated by a small religious minority at all?

She laughed.

In the meantime the BCT have been doing some really interesting work of late. Findings published by them late last year caused quite a splash by predicting that Birmingham, Slough and Luton are set to follow Leicester by becoming towns where there is no white (or any) majority before long. There could be a dozen such towns by 2020. Has anyone told the still defiant Bishop of Rochester though?

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