The Government's 'integration tsar' has criticised councils for "over worrying" about political correctness, citing the example of a manager who put up a "festive tree" instead of a Christmas tree.
The Sunday Telegraph reported recent
comments to council leaders by Dame Louise Casey, who is overseeing a
year-long, wide-ranging government study into integration.
Referring to one "incredibly well meaning white manager" who barred
use of the description "Christmas tree", Dame Louise said: "What offence
did he think he was causing? What did we ever think would be offensive
about celebrating Christmas with a tree?"
She went on: "I have become convinced that it is only the upholding
of our core British laws, cultures, values and traditions that will
offer us the route map through the different and complex challenge of
creating a cohesive society."
In comments that will be seen as a swipe at the concept of Sharia law
in the UK, Dame Louise also said that Britain must be bolder in
standing up for British laws which are "specifically intended to help
define how we live together".
She said: "One set of laws democratically
decided and with the intention that they are upheld by every community
in the land, new or old. We need to be much bolder in not just
celebrating our history, heritage and culture, but standing up for our
democratically decided upon laws of the land and standing up to those
that undermine them."
Dame Louise called for a change of attitude among councillors. "It is
easy to say the easy things, to make excuses," she said. "It's tougher
to tell the truth and find the solutions."
In a defence of those who are concerned about immigration, she added:
"It is not racist to say that the pace and rate of immigration has
created a lot of change in Britain and for some people that feels too
much. Or that when a large number of people from a different ethnic or
religious background suddenly move into an area that it can be
unsettling for those already resident there; or that when a school has a
large religious minority population, it can change its character quite
quickly. Not talking about this and the issues that arise from it only
creates more tensions."
Dame Louise, a civil servant, also served under Tony Blair as a homelessness tsar, respect tsar and ASBO tsar.