It is not often that I am inspired by our senior political figures. But I felt inspired after David Cameron’s 2007 visit to Birmingham’s Sparkbrook ward, which I represent as one of three elected Respect councillors.
He stayed in the area for two days and spent a night with a local Muslim family and was so clearly impressed by the experience he wrote in glowing terms in the Observer about what he had learned. He didn’t just churn out lazy cliches a la “I stayed with a Muslim family and they were nice to me shock”, but describes his experiences in terms of the inspiration he drew from Sparkbrook for what a multicultural Britain could be like.
He praised the ward, a deprived, multicultural inner-city area, for its community cohesion and vibrant grassroots community infrastructure. He called for “a concerted attack on racism and soft bigotry”. He described how “we cannot bully people into feeling British”.
Over at Comment is Free, Salma Yaqoob of Respect dissects David Cameron’s rapid turn to the demonisation of Muslims for political gain.