Friday, 13 June 2014

It’s time someone put up a statue of Ray Honeyford, fired 30 years ago for telling the truth about multiculturalism

The recent brouhaha over the alleged attempt by Muslims to turn state schools in Birmingham into madrassas got me thinking about the Bradford headmaster Ray Honeyford, who revealed the baneful effect  of multicultural education policies in an article for a conservative quarterly in 1984. He was suspended from his job for “racism” (obviously), but was reinstated after taking his case to the High Court. Unfortunately an organised campaign of intimidation by leftist thugs and race hucksters (which led to Honeyford having to have police protection) forced him to accept early retirement. He died in 2012, having never taught again.

Comments made after Honeyford's death by some of the creeps who hounded him out of a job suggested that it wasn’t what he said that upset them so much at the time – it was, as one of them put it, “how he said it and the right-wing journal in which he chose to say it.”  You see? If only he hadn’t criticised mulitculturalism and had written for the Guardian, there wouldn’t have been a problem!

Well, I’ve just read his original article for the first time in decades, and now that we’ve had thirty years to test Honeyford’s claims against reality, it’s pretty hard not to conclude that the man was pretty much spot on in every regard. The whole article (apart from the use of the word “negroes” and the fact that most of us now wouldn't be in the least sceptical about the state of affairs he's describing) could have been written yesterday. It’s well worth reading in its entirety (it’s available here), but, in case you're busy, here's the last section, in which he draws conclusions:
These experiences I here report are the tip of an iceberg. Yet they seem to me important since they point up the real educational consequences of the general acceptance of the notion that multi racial inner cities are not only inevitable but, in some sense, desirable.
Specifically, they raise for policy makers and public opinion the question of how the following unique factors now operating in our inner cities can be reconciled to produce that integrated, harmonious society we all affect to cherish:
- A growing number of Asians whose aim is to preserve as intact as possible the values and attitudes of the Indian sub continent within a framework of British social and political privilege, ie to produce Asian ghettoes.
- An influential group of black intellectuals of aggressive disposition, who know little of the British traditions of understatement, civilised discourse and respect for reason.
- A small but growing group of dispossessed, indigenous parents whose schools are as a direct result of the multiracial dimension failing their children.
- The presence in the state education service of a growing number of teachers and advisers who, quite correctly, perceive the professional advantage of supporting the notion of the multi racial curriculum urged by the authorities, and of making colour and race significant, high profile issues in the classroom.
- The successful creation by the race relations lobby of a dubious, officially approved argot which functions to maintain a whole set of questionable beliefs and attitudes about education and race attitudes which have much more to do with professional opportunism than the educational progress of ethnic minority children.
I suspect that these elements, far from helping to produce harmony, are, in reality, operating to produce a sense of fragmentation and discord. And I am no longer convinced that the British genius for compromise, for muddling through, and for good natured tolerance will be sufficient to resolve the inevitable tensions.
As I said, pretty much spot on.

The magazine in which Honeyford’s revelatory article was published was The Salisbury Review, which had been launched by the conservative philosopher, Roger Scruton (my university tutor), in 1982. As regular readers of this blog will know, the Review is still going strong (the summer issue has just been published and is well worth checking out, here).

The unpleasant nonsense going on in Birmingham schools right now – the attempt to foist the sort of intolerant, divisive and utterly alien religious education system more commonly associated with failed Third World tyrannies on non-faith schools in a leading Western liberal democracy – is, of course, not confined to Britain. A broadcasting client I did some work for in Oslo seven years’ ago told me how he’d been forced to remove his son from his state school after it had been flooded by the children of Muslim immigrants who, with the connivance of staff, had tried to inculcate his boy with the philosophy that the main aim of life was to get revenge on those who had done you wrong. (My client, by the way, was an old-fashioned trade union lefty.) An immigrant friend of mine - from a Muslim country - had to remove his son from a state primary school in West London about five years' ago after discovering that the other pupils (almost all of whom were Somalis) were busily filling the lad's head with the sort of intolerant rubbish my highly cultured friend and his wife had been forced to flee (literally) just a few years earlier. (After a fight with the local education authority, who evidently approved of immigrant pupils being shielded from foreign – i.e. British – modes of thought, they got the boy into a Church of England school, where he is evidently thriving).

Honeyford isn’t entirely forgotten today – I was delighted to see him mentioned in an excellent article in the Telegraph by Allison Pearson earlier this week ("Trojan Horse debate: we were wrong, all cultures are not equal") ) but I can’t help feeling that his bravery should be honoured by some form of monument. But then, as the man himself pointed out in 1984, and as Doreen Lawrence’s bizarre prominence in our national life attests, nobody ever did their prospects any harm by climbing aboard the multiculti bandwagon and accusing everyone else - loudly and continuously - of being racist.


  1. You are right about Honeyford not having been entirely forgotten. More than once in the past ten days or so I have seen his name evoked in the comments section of blogs.

    In the 1990s a friend of mine (himself of mixed race) emigrated from the North of England to Canada to escape precisely what Honeyford was writing about and the miserable quality of 'multicultural' schooling that was affecting his own children in Yorkshire.

    1. It's about time the word "brave" was rescued from left-wingers who use it to describe self-satisfied loudmouths proclaiming liberal consensus views which will do nothing but bolster their reputations and career prospects. I'm guessing not.

      Unfortunately Canada also seems to have gone muliculti mad in recent years - just ask Mark Steyn.

  2. Its not easy giving a common sense answer to the leftist penchant for diversity at any cost.
    Perhaps at about the same time as Sonny Liston received a phantom punch from Ali,the young Blair at his privileged school was receiving a real one from a posh fellow pupil and the young Tony decided to get even then and there by stuffing it up the middle classes and what better way than 'enriching' them than by rubbing their noses in multiculturalism.
    Some sporting hacks who should have known better tried to spin what even a twelve year old could see was a fix (as if their first fight was'nt bad enough) but at least Mr.Liston had the grace to return to the dark side.Blair and New Labour's poisonous legacy sits like some monstrous constricting serpent on the shoulders of the long suffering British Public who were played along just as surely as the hapless Liston.