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Monday, November 20, 2006 

New Generation Network: a manifesto for our times.

Remember the Euston Manifesto? No, no one else does either. It was the Harry's Placers' and pro-war left's attempt to move on from the war they promoted and have since started to flee from like rats from a sinking ship, or those in Baghdad who've had to become refugees in order to escape the violence there which was helped along by their support. Unfortunately for them, it fell flatter than Tara-Palmer Tompkinson's breasts, and matters weren't helped when such renowned leftists as Michelle Malkin and Bill Kristol found common cause with their sentiments.

Let's hope then that the New Generation Network's manifesto doesn't go the same way. Calling for an entirely new discourse on race relations, ethnic minorities, religious intolerance and more or less everything in-between, the document is full to the brim with level-headed, simple and excellent analysis of where Britain currently is, and where it needs to go, urgently. Masterminded by Sunny Hurndal, who started the Pickled Politics blog and who is also one of the most refreshing and stimulating of those who have risen to a sort-of fame through political blogging, it's little short of excellent.

OK, I may be laying it on a little thickly. It does however echo many of the arguments which Obsolete has been trying to make for a number of months now, as have many other bloggers who have been watching the "debate" over Muslims descend into intolerant and inflammatory attacks from extremists on all sides. Without naming names, the manifesto makes clear that some of the media is playing a dangerous role in what is going on. Sunny, in his accompanying article, mentions the Sun front-page story about the home vandalised in Windsor, which was blamed on Muslim yobs, when the police came to the conclusion that it certainly wasn't, as the Ministry of Truth first exposed, (Obsolete also covered the story at the time with incredulity) and also should have mentioned the way the Express has been demanding a ban on the niqab, justifying its calls with horribly slanted reader-phone in polls. Editors and journalists need to recognise their role both in promoting inter-community relations and in making sure that inaccurate reports are corrected. There has yet to be any such correction to the Sun's story, and Unity didn't even receive a response when he attempted to put the record straight to the Sun journalist responsible for the story. Whether the toothless PCC will do anything about it, as it seems likely that complaints have been made, is another matter.

There is, and already has been some controversy, however. The manifesto makes clear its opposition to unrepresentative lobby groups which have sprung up only in the last decade or so, such as the Muslim Council of Britain, the Hindu Council UK and the Network of Sikh Organisations, to name but three. The Muslim representative groups in particular have come in for criticism of late; MCB and the Muslim Association of Britain were attacked by Martin Bright and some left-liberal commentators over their apparent support for and adherence to the beliefs of the Muslim Brotherhood. While some of this is to an extent true, it shouldn't be a reason on its own to ignore everything those groups say. The MCB especially in the last few months seems to have taken the concerns of some on board, and seems to have moved towards appearing more moderate, both when sought to comment and to appear on discussion panels. This could also be down to the new leadership at the top from Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari who took over from Iqbal Sacranie who had previously voiced his disgust as homosexuality in no uncertain terms. Such moves should be welcomed, while the organisations themselves should be increasingly encouraged to canvass actual opinion in their communities, both in order to make themselves more accountable and to gauge exactly the public thinks their role is or should be.

The six main principles of the New Generation Network are, in brief:

1) An end to communal politics, as dealt with above
2) Against prejudice, against all races and religions
3) For equality
4) We believe in freedom of speech, rightly, as incredibly close to being an absolute. This should not be in contradiction with our views on extremists of all kinds; the way forward is to expose such arguments for what they are: unrepresentative, unworkable, irresponsible and illogical.
5) We are for respecting people's multiple identities
6) A new national conversation about race

All those in mainstream politics should be able to support it. Now's the time to sign and then to build this network. You can add your support at the New Generation Network site, or by emailing signup@new-gen.org with your name and title.

Related posts:
Ministry of Truth - Nice work, Sunny...
New Generation Network - Race and faith - a new agenda - the manifesto in full
Sunny Hurndal - This system of self-appointed leaders can hurt those it should be protecting

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