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Monday, Oct 19, 2020

New commission on racial inequality is 'back of a fag packet' plan, Labour says

The Labour Party have slammed Boris Johnson’s announcement of a new cross-government team to look into racial inequality as a ‘back of a fag packet’ plan.
Shadow justice secretary David Lammy said the proposal was drawn up to ‘assuage the Black Lives Matter protest’.

He argued that without any details on the plan there was nothing to separate it from other reviews into racism in recent years – and amounts to saying ‘we want figures, data – but we don’t want action’.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, the prime minister said the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities will look at ‘all aspects of inequality – in employment, in health outcomes, in academic and all other walks of life’.

An independent chairperson will lead the team, which will include people ‘with a mix of ethnic, social and professional backgrounds’, and will be overseen by Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch.

Mr Lammy told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I don’t know why he’s announced a commission behind a paywall, in the Telegraph, buried in the middle of yet another article about Churchill.

‘If he was serious, why are there no details about how it will be staffed, its remit, its terms of reference, its timetable? That’s the question.’

He said it is ‘deeply worrying’ that the country is still ‘having a conversation about whether racism actually exists’ and that the Tories want a ‘culture war because they want to distract from the central issue’.

The MP for Tottenham added: ‘And, frankly, when you watch a man die like we did in eight minutes and 46 seconds – I’d like to ask Boris Johnson why he thinks the way to commemorate his death is to announce yet another commission, and why he insists on talking about statues.’

Mr Johnson told broadcasters today: ‘What I really want to do as Prime Minister is change the narrative so we stop the sense of victimisation and discrimination.

‘We stamp out racism and we start to have a real sense of expectation of success. That’s where I want to get to but it won’t be easy.’

Lord Woolley of Woodford, a crossbencher who leads the advisory group to the government’s Race Disparity Unit, said what the PM was referring to is ‘real discrimination’ and that some of his language is ‘frankly unhelpful’.

David Isaac, chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission called for ‘urgent action’ rather than more reviews.

He said: ‘We know the scale of the problems we face to tackle the entrenched racial inequality in our country. It is not new. There have been countless reports and the data exists exposing all the issues.’
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