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Sayeeda Warsi: It's time to deliver the Conservative vision for Community Cohesion

Speaking at the Party conference, Sayeeda Warsi, Shadow Minister for Community Cohesion, said:

"Last week the Commission for Racial Equality published their final report which said that Britain is a more divided nation now than it was ten years ago. This is a disappointing indictment of the last decade.

But we shouldn't lose heart because in Britain we have a proud history of meeting the challenge of bringing people of different backgrounds together.

Community cohesion is how we all live together with ease, how we feel comfortable in our communities and the way in which we bind together as a nation.

It is an issue which we will fundamentally have to get right to ensure a future Britain that is safe and stable. It is why David Cameron has made it a shadow cabinet responsibility. As a party we understand the seriousness of it.

And conference Gordon Brown making a speech with 80 references to Britishness in it does not mean he has the solutions. Infact I was bought up to believe that being British meant you didn't go on about it!

Let me remind you of Labours approach.

Their appalling use of patronage politics, patronising approach to our minority communities by treating them as faceless homogenous block and reliance upon self appointed community leaders, mainly men, have left many in our communities unheard.

Like the Asian women in Dewsbury who I met in 2005, who told me I was the first politician to canvass their views. Women who are the bedrock of our communities. But who too often have been forgotten and left behind.

We will engage with individuals as individuals, as equal members of our society on the issues that impact on their lives and, not on the basis of their colour or religion.

And we will reject that creed of multiculturalism that is peddled by the Government, where the focus is on what divides us rather than what unites us.

We must have a pride in what we stand for and we will start by ensuring the teaching of history in our schools gives a proper sense of the origins of our great democratic institutions.

How else will our children learn of how we came to be as we now are and what it is we all have in common?

And we will ensure that priorities on cohesion are not dictated at the centre but will trust communities to develop their own local approach to social cohesion. Where funding is not earmarked and siloed from the centre and not distributed on the basis of race or religion but on the basis of need and equality.

And we must have these difficult debates, and must not allow political correctness to stifle legitimate discussion and fundamentally we must ensure that all are included in our vision of community cohesion.

Conference I also want to touch on an issue which has impacted upon a community I know well, British Muslims.

And the challenge that we face from terror appallingly incited in the name of a faith and the increasing sense of isolation felt by members of that faith

My home town, Dewsbury, was sadly also home town to Saddique Khan, one of the 7/7 bombers. I knew the family; I knew the community and yet could never have predicted what happened. Indeed the wife of Saddique Khan was unaware of his deadly intentions.

So to suggest, as some do, by simply pointing the finger at British Muslims and saying sort it out - cannot be the way forward.

Or to do what the Government has done - talking tough and eroding our civil liberties - is also not the answer. Labour don't even understand the hearts and minds approach never mind delivering it.

We are all in this together.

But I do have a challenge today for British Muslims. A challenge to create a safety net for young minds that may be being influenced by extremist beliefs.

By coming forward with a voluntary support network, a national foundation , a place for help , support and guidance to whom families and individuals can turn when they pick up on the signs of disenchantment with our country and its democratic ways and institutions.

Something that comes from the community, with an understanding of it's culture and beliefs but as professional and dedicated as any charity.

As a Conservative I believe in localism. I believe communities provide the best solutions when they are trusted to lead.

I believe you can't bully people into being British we have to inspire them. To make all of Britain's whatever background, whatever colour, whichever faith, feel they have a real stake in today's Britain.

It's time to deliver this vision, the Conservative vision, of cohesion.

It's time for change."

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