Monday, 30 May 2011

One of the Good Guys?

He’s hardly a megalomaniacal tyrant. An opportunist, yes, but is Nick Clegg's unpopularity among liberal Britain today deserved? Despite a soar in popularity in the build up to last year’s general election, Clegg has become one of the most vilified individuals in the UK since taking the Liberal Democrats into coalition with the Conservatives.

During the election campaign, David Cameron issued the “Vote Clegg, Get Brown” warning, reaffirming many people's view that the First Past the Post system of voting is no longer a viable option. Should Clegg get a significant share of the vote, then we will end up with Gordon Brown in charge for another term, was his message. But instead, we ended up with David Cameron in a position where, despite securing a majority vote, he needed support from Clegg for a coalition government to take shape.

So Clegg sold out and jumped into bed with Cameron. Or did he?

Under Clegg, the Lib Dems scooped 23% of the vote (6,836,824 votes). The Conservatives secured 36.1 % (10,726,614 votes). While the Tories won 307 seats with a gain of 97, the Lib Dems secured only 57, losing 5. So despite initial polls indicating Clegg steaming ahead of the competition, the Lib Dems failed to capitalise miserably come the election. One of Clegg’s iron fist promises in his party's manifesto was the need for a referendum on electoral reform, and the 2010 general election highlighted this brilliantly.

Last week, we had our chance to change the electoral system to AV. This was thanks to Clegg taking the step to form a coalition with the sworn enemy. The general election had shown that the Lib Dems were going nowhere fast. First Past the Post had screwed them over, but left the door to a platform of power tantalisingly open. Clegg waited for contact from Gordon Brown and the Labour Party, but they weren't interested. Even if they were, they would have needed to secure the services of Plaid Cymru, the Greens and the SNP at the very least to ensure a coalition. The only realistic choice for the Liberal Democrat party was to force accept a coalition with the Conservatives. Remember Clegg, like all politicians, is an opportunist above all else.

At first glance Clegg had done the inconceivable; sold liberals votes (the majority of whom are left of centre) to Cameron and the Conservatives. Cue uproar from voters and the Lib Dem backbench. The right wing media saw an opportunity themselves to bury the Lib Dems into the ground for good; images and quotes of Cameron and Clegg buddying and joking together like old friends were suddenly everywhere. The left wing media did their fair share too, prophesising doom for anyone who voted for him. And the public fell for it.

Should Nick Clegg be respected? My vote was ‘sold’ to the Tories but I didn’t vote for them to stop Cameron getting into power. I voted for the Liberal Democrats because I agreed with much of their political manifesto. And yes, I have more respect for him now for taking the brave step into government with the people I voted against. Why? Because I know Clegg isn't actually in a position of any governance. After all, the two most important jobs in the cabinet are taken by Tories; George Osborne and Cameron himself. Clegg, the deputy prime minister, is at the mercy of these two and yet he and his Lib Dem colleagues have successfully instated two thirds of their political manifesto and this is expected to rise to around three quarters – more than the Conservatives own has been implemented. Policies such as patients being given the right to choose a GP without geographical constriction, the raising of the basic income tax threshold to £10,000 and the offering of “a week's respite for the one million carers who spend 50 hours every week looking after a sick relative.” - all policies that champion the rights of individuals. Of course, I would have preferred a Labour-Liberal coalition, but Gordon Brown was never interested in any deal.

Many see the rise in tuition fees as an example of Clegg going against his manifesto, but this isn't entirely fair. Manifestos are a plan of what will be instated should a party be voted into power. Policies within a manifesto are symbiotic in relationship, with each a single brick within a larger blueprint. Had the Lib Dems won outright, they could make all those bricks fit together, but they aren't in charge, the Tories are. However, with influence from the Lib Dems the Tory policy has been diluted to ensure those from the poorest families wishing to study at university are in a more financially viable situation. Maintenance grants have increased, and the threshold for the repayment of loans has gone up by £6000. Also, more scholarship programmes are available to those who have excelled in their studies. Those wishing to commit to study now have more incentive to become the best they can be.

And now with the fallout of the failed AV campaign, Nick Clegg has a new pledge. He wants to rebuild the identity of his party within the coalition, as it has been portrayed to the public by the media that now the Tories and the Libs are in cahoots with each other. Clegg has reinforced the fact that “this is a coalition of necessity, not conviction”. Cameron has fought back, however, stating that his party has become “a new and different Conservative party” and he has rubbished the idea that the Liberal Democrats have moderated their policies. This could be a sign that Cameron has realised his party is not too popular with most of Liberal Britain. With a historic victory in Scotland for the SNP, and the implosion of the Liberal seats to just 5 in the Scottish Parliament, Cameron has sensed that he needs to direct antipathy towards his liberal counterpart. As is often the way with politics though, it seems emotionally charged attitudes trumps objective thinking.

However wounded Clegg may be, he has vowed to come out fighting from this. The proposed NHS reforms which would allow hospitals and GP’s more freedom to micro manage budgets and compete for patients and services have been condemned by Clegg, and he has also an ally in Prof. Steve Field who heads the review. With an expert backing him, Clegg has now flexed his muscles in the face of Cameron and has vowed to block the bill unless there is a serious rethink to the reforms. Will the public recognise this act of defiance? And if they do, will it change opinion?

This is just one of many small steps Nick Clegg will have to take in order to get the publics support once again. While he isn’t perfect, we should at least be grateful he is in a position to keep check on the Tories in government. He was punished last week at the polls, and unfortunately the majority of the UK still doesn't see the need for electoral reform and a fairer democracy; something Clegg has long championed. Ironically, First Past the Post got his party into the cabinet, but it's unfortunate his political career and the credibility of the Liberal Democrats may be damaged beyond all recognition.

Public opinion - especially the opinions of those who voted for him - says Clegg sold out. But their vote has actually got the Libs into government. Now while those who voted for him may have been initially sore that he had sold the votes to the Tories, you have to remember that the Liberal Democrats were in dire straits after the election. Although much of their manifesto has been enstated over the past year, their is still an underlying vilification towards Nick Clegg, and this will always tarnish the positives that the Liberal Democrats can still make. Much of this has diverted attention from the facts: "All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome." George Orwell.

Ironically it can pay to be disinterested in things you are interested in so you can take an impartial approach. I’m not saying everyone should heap praise on the man, but I’m arguing he has rescued what might have been wasted votes. The NO2AV vote might have condemned them to a bronze medal in future elections for the foreseeable future, but Cameron is, for now, being kept on a relatively shorter leash than he would like.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Why the World won't end in 2012 (surprisingly)

Believe it or not, when the clock ticks over to December 21st 2012 there will be no armageddon. Instead, there will be lots of people with red faces wondering why the hell they believed something superstitious could bring about the end of the world.

Scientists believe that the sun has entered a period of increased solar activity and it has been suggested in the news recently that this could threaten to damage our infrastructure as the charged solar winds wreak havoc on our electronics. Predictably, believers of the 2012 prophecy have linked this to the Mayan calendar, and as 2012 draws nearer, it's hard to dispute that this increase of solar activity coincides quite nicely with the theory. But this is just one of many 'suggestions' of what might happen on December 21st next year. world.

We know the Mayan calendar stops on that date, but does that mean it's predicting the end of the world? The ancient Mayan civilisation forecast that the end of the current universe would occur at the end of the Mayan long count. Understanding the calendar, and how it works, sheds some light into how the Mayans came about into believing this suggestion.

A calendar is a cycle of time; broken right down to the decimal point. Our modern calendar, based on the ancient Roman calendar, uses a long count (or mythological beginning of time) of base ten. For example, our decimal count would begin at 0.0 and end with 0.9. Ten numbers, and then our cycle would begin once again, with 1.0 to 1.9 and so on. The Mayan calendar instead uses a long count of base 20, and this would go on to include cycles of 20 days, or ‘K’in’, to make up one ‘Uinal’ (a sort of ancient Mayan month) and then 18 ‘Uinals’ would make up a ‘Tun’ which is just short of one solar year. These cycles were devised to fit around mythology and superstition that surrounded the Mayan people. The Mayan calendar can be traced back to around 3114BC, and when you add up all of the base 20 counts it corresponds with the 1 Mayan B’ak’tun, which is the end of their long count and this falls on December 21st 2012.

'Theorists' have taken this information and decided our world will end on this date. Some believe there will be a polar shift (which is impossible) or an alignment of planets that will rip Earth to pieces. Because gravity is the weakest of the four forces of nature, it’s just not going to happen; in the same way that a ‘Supermoon’ did not cause the recent earthquake near Japan. The Mayans (who created the calendar, I might reinforce) believe that this will be a date for great celebration when a new cycle will begin, more prosperous than the previous.

Most poignant about this calendar, is that the base 20 system for creating it was devised because a human has ten fingers and ten toes. So if you believe we've all got less than two years left, you think someone’s index finger, pinkie or big toe can forecast the destruction of the universe.

The looming apocalypse is just one of countless 'ideas', 'theories' and supposed ‘truths’ that defy logic and common sense, relying on sensationalism to misinform the public. We, as a species, have a hunger for the outrageous; stories and ideas that are huge and go against the norm. Conspiracy theories such as the faked moon landing seem to draw people in with outlandish claims absent of rational thought. The 2012 suggestion can hardly be considered a conspiracy; it is a premeditated event prophecised from a higher being. It's less credible than conspiracy, yet some people are genuinely terrified by it.

So to all those who are still in cold sweats: if the world ends on December 21st 2012, I’ll buy you all a pint.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Any Clearer on Nuclear?

Nuclear is a scary word. Shrouded in mystery and misconception, it has captured the minds of scientists, politicians, activists and tyrants. The word still conjures up the worst images and ideas that humankind has to offer, even though we are in some way indebted to nuclear energy whether it is something so local such as powering our homes or something on a massive scale like our existence on this planet. A nuclear reaction is the starting block for human life in the core of a star and yet a nuclear reaction also has the power to take the lives of millions. I am in awe of this word.

Next month we will be remembering the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl accident. A partial meltdown of the reactor core at the plant occurred, leading to an explosion of the core causing plumes of irradiated smoke and ash to smother a large area around the Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. Although disputed, over 50 people were killed as a direct result of the accident. However, the total number of people affected by the fallout from the accident is believed to be anywhere from 20,000 to 1million. We have also been witness to the recent nuclear crisis at the Fukushima plant in Japan in the aftermath of the earthquake on March 11th. Because of this, there is much political stigma and divided opinion over whether nuclear is a viable option and the debate has once again reached a head. Do the potential dangers, waste and legacy left from these power plants outweigh the colossal amounts of power that could be generated from nuclear fuel?

Before plunging head first into the debate, I think it is important to know some facts about Nuclear energy and why it is used. Firstly, we have to look at the current state of the energy industry, and our reliance on fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas. In the UK alone, there are around 70 fossil fuel power stations currently operating, providing the majority of the UKs power. Only 7 Nuclear reactors are currently operating, and renewable energy such as wind turbines, tidal power and biomass only provides a tiny fraction of the power that fossil fuel reactors are capable. We are so reliant, in fact, that should all fossil reactors be shut down we would need to construct roughly 30 more nuclear reactors operating at around 2000MW to meet the current power requirements.

A recent study from scientists at the Oil Depletion Analysis Centre in London believes that our oil production will have reached a peak this year. As known reserves of oil begin to dry up, there will be a race between the major companies to claim what little oil there is left, thus increasing the rate of depletion even further. Within the next 15-20 years, there will be very little, if any, oil left. In order to preserve the precious black gold, we need to look elsewhere when it comes to fuelling power plants. Coal is simply out of the question now; the amount of waste and harmful gasses produced from the coal fired plant severely damages the atmosphere and health of anyone unfortunate enough to be living near one. And since our natural gas reserves are being depleted and even used for oil extraction, we are realistically left with two options; Renewable energy, and nuclear.

We all know how wind turbines, hydroelectricity and biomass works. And we know that unfortunately the amount of power produced from these methods is significantly less than the power produced from fossil fuels. However, there is much misconception and mystery surrounding nuclear energy. A number of people I have spoken to have absolutely no idea how power can be produced from nuclear fuel or what happens in the event of a meltdown. It is this uncertainty, as it has been prevalent during the ongoing Fukushima crisis that polarizes the debate between pro and anti nuclear preference.

Nuclear fission is the process that extracts energy from a heavy and naturally fissile element, such as uranium. In order to do this, you must breakdown the nucleus of the atom by bombarding it with a smaller sub atomic particle, causing the nucleus to change. When the nucleus of a uranium atom splits, it produces a lot of thermal energy. This energy can be used to heat water to create steam, and ultimately power a turbine to create electricity. A nuclear reaction is a chain reaction; once it starts you cannot stop it altogether, you can only control it. As the reaction progresses over time, more heat is produced and more radioactive elements are emitted so it is important to regulate this by keeping the overall temperature down using water as a coolant. Control rods made from boron are used to ‘interfere’ with the reaction. Boron absorbs the neutrons emitted from the uranium, helping to control the reaction. However, it will not keep the temperature of the reactor down. If the uranium rods are exposed to air, they react faster and produce more heat which is why it is so important to keep the rods submerged at all times. Should the cooling process be compromised, you could potentially end up with a meltdown.

Imagine filling and boiling a kettle for a cup of coffee. The element inside the kettle reaches a certain temperature and then cuts out, leaving you with boiling water and steam. This temperature is regulated to a degree by the water inside; should you boil the kettle continually with no water, then the element inside will burn through the plastic case of the kettle. Replace the element of the kettle with uranium rods and the plastic cover with steel reinforced concrete and the same process will happen on a grander scale. This is a meltdown; it is not a nuclear explosion however it is just as dangerous. Explosions at nuclear plants are caused by a build up of pressure within the core. This is usually vented harmlessly into the atmosphere. However, if the uranium rods are exposed to air, there will be a build up of hydrogen inside the core. If large quantities of hydrogen react with oxygen in the air, it will explode so venting this becomes very dangerous. A steam explosion could occur, rupturing the outer containment of the reactor and the reactor building. However, this could prevent a total meltdown of the core, as we have witnessed at the Fukushima plant.

With regards to the current Fukushima incident, the facts are continually shown to us through the news and there is a continual comparison with the Chernobyl accident that seems to be causing so much uncertainty. Of course there is always the possibility of a meltdown; it should never be ruled out. However, the public seem more glued to the screens and the blanket coverage of the crisis rather than taking it upon themselves to do the research. Dr Josef Oehman, a scientist working with MIT in the US, has posted a thread online explaining why he believes the reactor will not meltdown in a Chernobyl style incident, and how the radiation currently emitted from the damaged reactor will not be harmful to humans, since the majority of radioactive elements released including the noble gasses decay within seconds. Other scientists are more concerned, saying that so long as fuel rods are exposed to air there is always a potential for a meltdown. We know that the pool surrounding the old rods are drying up, but the Japanese authorities are doing everything they can to keep water levels at reasonable levels.

But what the public are failing to understand above all is that this is a crisis caused by an enormous earthquake and tsunami; a freak weather event that knocked out the auxiliary power systems that meant coolant could not flow to the reactor. A chain of unfortunate events led to the disaster that under normal working conditions would never have happened. The majority of Japan’s power plants use nuclear fuel, and no other plant has been in trouble to the same extent as the one at Fukushima. So perhaps there is an argument when it comes to building reactors in volatile regions. The one thing that has been most troubling with this incident, however, is the ineptitude of the Japanese authorities communicating with the power companies and the international community. Across the Pacific, US pharmacists are running low on iodine tablets as the public believe that the radioactive particles from the plant will actually affect them. And in China, stocks of salt tablets are running low as the public are misinformed that this will protect you from radiation sickness. The record must be set straight.

This confliction in theory undermines the facts and leads to uncertainty, so the public tend to take a cautious view when thinking about nuclear power. I believe that nuclear should not be used as a long term solution to our problems; however it really is the only viable option alongside renewable energy in the short term. Cynics will argue that the power companies operating the plants are deliberately withholding information when it comes to renewable sources in order to make more money. However, there is so much money in renewable energy, with solar panels, small wind turbines and biomass fuel that it is economically and environmentally more friendly for the consumer, and the corporations. But we need nuclear to power our infrastructure while the changes are made; changes such as new homes being built with the ability to produce their own energy from renewable sources.

While many people will disagree with my stance on nuclear energy, particularly while events in Japan continue to unfold, most would agree that there needs to be more clarity and understanding when it comes to nuclear energy. If you want to read the thread from Dr Josef Oehman, you can read it here:

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Music Progression Gone Stale

The following link is a piece I wrote looking at the current state of music; how it has developed over the years and how it is, in my opinion, reaching a dead end in terms of revolutionary genres and acts. This is partly down to the (lack of) social and cultural revolution, technological advances and possibly due to a 'comfort zone' that many artists and producers are afraid to stray from.

It was written for a website, 'Dreaming Genius'; a site 'committed to creating a watering hole for independent creative talent'. I would strongly urge anybody who is interested in independent film, writing and creative arts to get involved and contribute.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Why I hate iPhones

DISCLAIMER – This piece might leave you pissed off.

Anyone who knows me well will know that I have a strong hate of iPhones. These smug little gadgets gnaw away at my brain like some pestilent disease whenever I see a room full of them. Whenever anyone challenges my opinion I usually struggle to put into words just how much I hate them. So anyone who wants to know why I hate them so much and why my opinion about these is so against the grain then read on. If you’re the sort of person who is easily offended or might actually consider ritually burning the thing after you have digested this then you have been warned.

iPhones are technically brilliant things. They look sleek, and have a crisp, clear, and relatively user friendly touchscreen. And, it is not made by Microsoft so you don’t have to wait an eternity for the thing to boot and it won’t inconveniently shut itself off just for it to update its software. There are a few minor issues when it comes to uploading music to the device and trying to set music as a ringtone or whatever but that is a trait of buying something from a company that is desperately trying to assert itself as THE market brand for all things technological. The HD video camera is good, the screen is big enough, it’s quite heavy so you know when it’s in your pocket and from what I hear the after care service is pretty good. Great stuff, but it still does not make me warm to it.

For a start, the iphone is so pretentious if it actually had a voice and an arse it would demand to be licked at every possible opportunity. It’s called an ‘i’Phone for fucks sake. Straightaway I’m thinking of socio connotations. It sounds like it should be a high maintenance, self centred, early twenty something’s, preppy right wing toffs remote control into a more perfect and elitist existence. But the more I’ve thought about it the more I’m thinking about a mentally deficient child who’s just figured out how to call their mother in the next room: “Look mummy!!...iiiiii-Phooooonnnnne yooouuuuuuuu!!!”

Apps, like all games are a way of escapism. At least if you’re in the company of other app users then you can escape reality together as you slash pieces of fruit with your finger, or projectile two dimensional creatures, destroying some scaffolding, and believing that they are in some way saving the virtual species of some pissed off birds. So I have rebranded apps with a new term: Conversation Replacement Apathy Products, or Crap for short. More and more useless and malignant Crap can be downloaded for free or for a small price. And the primary function of this isn’t done to help pass time by some new creative means, it’s so the user can show off their new Crap finds with mates like some pioneering virtual Crap explorer.

If you don’t have an iPhone, then that makes you a loser. No two ways about it. A new Nokia N8 or HTC just isn’t cool enough I’m afraid. Even though you get nearly exactly the same Crap as an iPhone you are alienated from the masses and pitied like some ageing, arthritic dog begging not to be put down. There is no way in to the VIP section of the iPhone elite until you get one; your just left breathing heavily and your nose pressed hard against the window looking into some morbid virtual dreamworld. “What the fuck is Angry Birds all about, please tell me more? Have I seen the Crap that ages you? Yes, I’ve got the picture on my Facebook somewhere, it made me laugh for about 30 seconds before I had to remind myself that because I don’t have an iPhone I’m not allowed to be amused by it. Instead I’m far too poor and stressed so I make do by smoking ten a day in the hope I’ll have REAL crows’ feet appearing soon.

The problem for me is that I really have no need for an iPhone and all the promises of downloadable Crap. But this means I’ll have no common ground with the iPhoners. All I want in a phone is something that will easily connect to the internet, reads e-mails, takes basic pictures and text. Oh, and of course makes phone calls, something that the latest generation of iPhones seems to struggle with.

Apparently the genius designers at Apple did not take into account that some mentally superior and articulate individuals in the world are left handed. The iPhone 4 has a stainless steel case which acts as the antenna of the phone itself. By holding the phone in the bottom left hand corner you effectively ‘bridge’ the gap between two sections of the antenna therefore cutting reception. Apple claim that all mobile phones have sensitive areas where firm contact may possibly interfere with a phones performance. Well if they knew this, why didn’t they think to resolve the issue before releasing it for sale? Oh yeah, silly me. They can make more money from it by selling rubber johnnies to go around the phone.

I love the irony in that telephones were designed to make communication easier, yet the iPhone has done the complete polar opposite. Not only has it not addressed a major technical issue with the reception, but if you sit in a room full of iPhone users talking to each other about real life issues, then at some stage the conversation reaches a brief period of awkward silence where perhaps reality becomes just a little too scary. Then they will simultaneously get their iPhones out to escape the nightmare before it gets too much, and you are left to make your own entertainment with your pathetic Nokia. But for all non iPhone users you can take pleasure in the knowledge that for the next 15 minutes while you are alienated from this ritual, you will remain psychologically and mentally pure while they will all become absorbed in their Crap.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Liberalism, not 'Multiculturalism'.

David Cameron has spoken out over how ‘Multiculturalism’ has ruined Britain.

The timing of these words could not have been worse. The revolution across Egypt and his plea for a transition to a ‘westernized’ democracy seriously devalued the shit coming from his mouth. It seems our imperialist ideals in telling the rest of the world how to behave are a little hard to shake. Oh, and the statement was made, as our very own ironic Nazi group stages one of its largest demonstrations in Luton on Saturday. Cue anger and allegations of propaganda for the English Defence League from the far left.

Mr Cameron’s statement is certainly radical, and a change from the previous, so called ‘softly softly’ approach to the number one divisive issue.

He believes that ethnic minorities are living secular lives from the rest of society, and are failing to assimilate into our culture. Yeah, fair point. The cause for all this, apparently, is because ethnic minorities are not prepared to learn and accept British values and beliefs. Erm, hang on...

In his speech he talks about the need for a new policy of ‘muscular liberalism’. Aside from sounding like the physical after-effects of a severe stroke, it is a typically British and moody style of liberalism where the apparent open minded individual doesn't care for another opinion. A ‘muscular liberalism’ policy means that anyone coming to the UK would be forced to learn English, accept our laws and our right to freedom of speech (which we don’t have). To me, this doesn’t sound particularly liberal. ‘By all means come and live among us, but leave your heritage and beliefs at the door’.

Paul Vallely, writing for the Independent, effectively sums up the problem with these new liberal types. He says: “Multiculturalism was never popular with the Little Englanders of the right. But in recent years it has increasingly been attacked by the liberal left...

“(after 9/11) many of those who like to think of themselves as liberals then began exhibiting a new intolerance, demanding that minorities should assimilate more. Multiculturalism must not be allowed, as the Prime Minister now says, to encourage different cultures to live separate lives, sometimes behaving in ways that run counter to ‘our’ values.”

Aside from multiculturalism, what are ‘our’ values? A society that polices the world to our benefit, licks the arse of America and pays gross sums of money to a head of state who does fuck all?

I think the problem does not lie with policies set out previously by new Labour. Many people, including these ‘muscular liberals’ like to think that they are accommodating and prepared to accept and learn about other cultures. However, the idea that these minorities should integrate into our system is verging on monoculturalist, and the notion will breed further secularity within our society.

Mr Cameron refers to ‘state multiculturalism’ as the catalyst for ethnic minorities to live separately from the rest of society. Minority groups have always tried to integrate within our society. However many British nationals have been so unaccommodating towards minority groups that they are forced to live in segregation.

The race riots in St Pauls, Bristol, is one argument supporting this. Bristol has the largest Somalian minority population living in the UK. St Pauls, in Bristol, was one of the most deprived areas of the city, and the neglect of buildings and a lack of community services there meant that it became a residency for black and white working class individuals. On April 2 1980, a riot broke out in St Pauls after growing apathy at the state of the borough and the alienation of its residents, particularly the black youth. 25 people were hospitalised and 130 people were arrested. Understandably, tensions would remain high between the residents and the police for years to come.

The next morning, The Daily Telegraph carried the headline “19 Police Hurt in Black Riot”.

This is exactly the sort of mentality that needs to change if minority groups are to successfully integrate within society. Or, is this the sort of mentality that needs to change if WE are to successfully integrate with other cultures?

In an attempt to gently introduce this issue, Cameron cites extremism as the fundamental issue causing the division. However, Islamic extremism has only come to the forefront of society and minorities have had difficulty integrating long before 9/11. The problem lies with nationalist, narrow minded individuals afraid of anything that is not white, bland and made in China.

It is not multiculturalism we should be defending, it is liberalism.