WE DONT HAVE NO-GO AREAS, SAYS BROWN
By Macer Hall
Wednesday January 9,2008
GORDON Brown risked accusations of being deluded yesterday by declaring there are no no-go areas for non-Muslims in Britain.
The Prime Minister dismissed fears raised by the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, that Islamic extremists are cutting off many communities.
The leading cleric has also argued that Government multi-cultural policies are fostering racial separation and undermining Britains Christian heritage.
But Mr Brown brushed aside the concerns as he answered a question from the Daily Express at his monthly press conference.
His claim is bound to provoke accusations that he is out of touch with the experience of many people.
Mr Brown said: I know that there are pressures in many areas of the country but I dont accept that there are or should be no-go areas in any part of the country.
I do believe that Britains Christian heritage, which underlies the establishment of the Church, is an absolutely critical and essential part of the fabric of our national life.
He said the Government is promoting greater understanding between the faiths.
And he added: So far from people being isolated from each other and never talking to each other, and far from there being no-go areas in the country, I want the coming together of all religions where there are different religions in the community to actually happen.
Last night Tory MP Philip Davies said: The Prime Minister is out of touch if he believes there arent no-go areas for non-Muslims in Britain.
There are certainly areas where non-Christians do not feel they can go to and wont go. For all practical purposes they are no-go areas.
I agree with what the Bishop is saying and urge the Prime Minister to listen.
Mr Brown, questioned on street violence, admitted there had been a surge in knife crime caused by out of control youngsters.
He said the rise in violence over recent months was unacceptable and he promised police action to target crime hot spots.
But he also claimed that violent crime affects a small number of communities in a big way but worries the whole population.
His comments follow a string of fatal stabbings, including two on New Years Eve. Mr Brown said: There are issues we are trying to deal with where kids are out of control.
Some potentially violent youngsters were permitted to be out late by their parents and there was also the issue of gangs.
He added: Weve done more to make it possible for teachers to confiscate knives in schools. We will consider all possible measures to deal with knife crime.
Last night Mr Brown risked new accusations of indulging in spin to boost his image when he met football star David Beckham for more than an hour.
Aides described the meeting as private talks ahead of a visit by Mr Brown to the stars football academy in east London tomorrow.