London, Sept.27 : Britain's Shadow Home Secretary, Dominic Grieve, has claimed that the introduction of multiculturalism in the country has left a "terrible" legacy, and created a vacuum that has been filled by extremists from across the political spectrum.
In an interview with the Guardian on the eve of the Conservative party conference, Grieve says that "long-term inhabitants" have been left fearful, while second- and third- generation immigrants have felt alienated and unsure what British values stand for.
"We've actually done something terrible to ourselves in Britain. In the name of trying to prepare people for some new multicultural society, we've encouraged people, particularly the sort of long-term inhabitants, to say 'well your cultural background isn't really very important'" he said
"In this vacuum, the BNP rise and Hizb ut-Tahrir rises. They're two very similar phenomena of people who are experiencing a form of cultural despair about themselves, their identity. And it's terribly easy to latch on to confrontational and aggressive variants of their cultural background as being the only way to sort of reassure themselves that they can survive and have an identity," he added.
"The idea behind it (multiculturalism) was [to] create the melting pot. But the melting pot needs the ingredients of people's confidence in themselves as they come together. And if it isn't there I think we've done ourselves huge damage," Grieve said.
While praising the contribution all the major religions to Britain, he, however, said that people should not forget the country's Christian heritage.
"The role of Christianity is really rather important. It can't just be magicked out of the script. It colours many of the fundamental viewpoints of British people, including many who've never been in a church," he said.
His remarks come as an ICM poll for the Guardian shows that Labour has narrowed the gap on the Tories, whose lead over the government is now into single figures - the lowest since April. The survey puts the Conservatives on 41 percent, down three points from last month. Labour is up three on 32 percent with the Liberal Democrats on 18 percent. The poll - the first to be carried out after the end of the Labour conference and the resignation of Ruth Kelly - suggests that voters may be returning to Labour amid fears of a worldwide economic crash, and will underline fears in the Tory party that it has yet to "seal the deal" with the electorate.
Based on this poll, the Conservatives would struggle to win an overall majority at an immediate general election.
Tory leader David Cameron, therefore, knows he needs to outline how the Tories would address the economic crisis and make a difference in government.
ICM interviewed a random sample of 1,012 adults aged 18+ by telephone between September 24 and 25. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults.