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Into the Long Grass?

June 16, 2020 11:42 AM

llds (Photo by Unjay Markiewicz on Unsplash)The news that the Prime Minister is creating a new commission on racial inequality which was rushed out via a Daily Telegraph article has all the hallmarks of a policy made on the hoof with no terms of reference, timescales etc etc

The fact that it is being created by a No 10 adviser Munira Mirza who in the past has cast doubt on the existence of institutional racism and condemned previous inquiries for fostering a "culture of grievance" only adds to the feeling that the old Westminster technique of knocking the issue into the long grass where it can be quietly forgotten is underway

The Guardian has a useful summary of the SIX reports there have been into this issue since 1999 with hundreds of recommendations. Four have reported in the past 5 years! ( see https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/15/boris-johnsons-racism-inquiry-have-previous-ones-changed-anything )

Reaction across the political spectrum has been poor

Dr Zubaida Haque, interim director of the Runnymede Trust, a race equality think tank, said the government was "knee deep in evidence about racial inequalities" from its own reviews - including the Race Disparity Audit, established by Theresa May as part of her drive to tackle "burning injustices".

"There's no shortage of recommendations on what to do to close these racial inequality gaps - there's over 200 recommendations out there," Dr Haque told The Independent.

For Labour David Lammy, the shadow justice secretary, accused Mr Johnson of drawing up plans on the "back of a fag packet.

Tory MPs highlighted the need for action, with former chancellor Sajid Javid warning that "shining a light on injustice isn't enough" He added: "We need an action plan to tackle it. The Racial Disparity Audit found the data. The commission must deliver the solutions." whilst Nus Ghani, Tory MP for Wealden, said: "We have the data on obstacles, prejudice and inequalities. We just need to crack on with real practical solutions which will have a positive impact."

Christine Jardine, Liberal Democrat equalities spokesperson, said: "The more we hear about this commission, the more it seems like a botched PR move from Number 10. This is typical of this government - all spin, no substance.

"The fact that there is discrepancy over what the commission is even looking into - whether its the inequalities faced by the Bame community or at wider inequalities in our society - simply shows how little it had been thought through when the prime minister decided to announce it.