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Tasks: Speeches about Multiculturalism in the UK

Below you will find excerpts from two famous speeches about multiculturalism in Britain. Read the excerpts and answer the questions.

Excerpt 1:

Excerpt from speech by the then Foreign Secretary Robin Cook from 2001. Read the excerpt and answer the questions.

Today’s London is a perfect hub of the globe. It is home to over 30 ethnic communities of at least 10,000 residents each. In this city tonight, over 300 languages will be spoken by families over their evening meal at home.

This pluralism is not a burden we must reluctantly accept. It is an immense asset that contributes to the cultural and economic vitality of our nation.


Our cultural diversity is one of the reasons why Britain continues to be the preferred location for multinational companies setting up in Europe. The national airline of a major European country has recently relocated its booking operation to London precisely because of the linguistic variety of the staff whom it can recruit here.

  1. What view of multiculturalism is shown in this speech?
  2. What benefits does Robin Cook claim multiculturalism has for Britain?
  3. How do you react to what is said in the excerpt?
  4. This speech is from 2001; do you think Cook's description of multicultural Britain is still relevant today?

If you want, you can read more of the speech here: Transcript of Robin Cook's speech published in the newspaper the Guardian.

Excerpt 2:

Excerpt from speech by the then Prime Minister David Cameron from 2011. Read the excerpt and answer the questions.

In the speech David Cameron stated that he believed the United Kingdom has failed to provide immigrants and the children of immigrants with:

"a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong […] a clear sense of shared national identity that is open to everyone […] Frankly, we need a lot less of the passive tolerance of recent years and a much more active, muscular liberalism. A passively tolerant society says to its citizens, as long as you obey the law we will just leave you alone. It stands neutral between different values. But I believe a genuinely liberal country does much more; it believes in certain values and actively promotes them. Freedom of speech, freedom of worship, democracy, the rule of law, equal rights regardless of race, sex or sexuality. It says to its citizens, this is what defines us as a society: to belong here is to believe in these things.

  1. What view of multiculturalism is seen in the speech?
  2. Is it reasonable that all citizens in a country share certain core values? - Explain why / why not.

  3. How would such a speech be received in Norway?

  4. How do you react to what is said in the excerpt?

If you want to read the full speech you can follow this link: Transcript of David Cameron's 2011 speech about multiculturalism.

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CC BY-SASkrevet av Tone Hesjedal.
Sist faglig oppdatert 21.09.2020


Immigration and Multiculturalism