• Date and time: Thursday 11 February 2016, 6.30pm to 8.00pm
  • Location: Bowland auditorium, Berrick Saul building
  • Admission: is by free ticket only. Please book below.

Event details

York Union event

For decades, multiculturalism has been an integral part of British society, but underneath this image of unity, respect and understanding there are rumblings which indicate it is beginning to crumble as its failure has become apparent. 

Are critics of multiculturalism correct in arguing that it has largely harmed society? And does the recent rise of parties and movements from UKIP to the EDL and ‘Britain First’ suggest that multiculturalism has failed? With David Cameron declaring state multiculturalism as “dead” and a 2015 YouGov poll stating that half of Britons believe Islam is a threat to liberal democracy, it would seem that public opinion is turning against ideas of acceptance and toleration.

Yet is this the end of a failed ‘social experiment’ which has kept communities separate from each other, or are the apparent failures of multiculturalism exaggerated by a disenchanted, vocal minority?

To discuss whether multiculturalism really has failed in Britain, the York Union is assembling a special panel debate featuring some of the biggest names in politics.


Speaking for the motion:

Trevor Phillips OBE – for ten years Phillips helped to create Britain's equality laws and was their enforcer. He led the Equalities and Human Rights Commission and in 2004 famously called for the Labour government to disown its policy of multiculturalism. Phillips is now a broadcaster, having presented last year the controversial Channel 4 documentary "The Things We Won't Say About Race That Are True". He is also president of the John Lewis partnership council, the company's first non-internal appointment since 1928.

David Goodhart – director of think tank Demos, journalist and author of bestselling book “The British Dream: The Successes and Failures of Post-war Immigration”. Goodhart was also the founder and editor of Progress magazine. 



Professor Tariq Modood – a leading multiculturalist, Modood is director of the Centre for Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship at the University of Bristol, having recently published “Still Not Easy Being British: Struggles for a Multicultural Citizenship”. Modood contributed to the Parekh Report for the Commission on Multi-Ethnic Britain in 2000.

Zoe Williams – with The Guardian since 2000, Williams is an award-winning national newspaper columnist. She was nominated for the Orwell Prize in 2012.


Join the debate before and during the event on Twitter @YorkUnion #MulticulturalismYork.

To cover the expenses of hosting this event, we have a suggested donation of £2 from students and £4 from members of the public. The York Union is a strictly not-for-profit organisation run by a small group of volunteers.

Trevor Phillips OBE, David Goodhart, Professor Tariq Modood and Zoe Williams
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