Iain Dale presents the evening show on LBC Radio and the For the Many podcast with Jacqui Smith.
The report from the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities has certainly caused a lot of comment over the last 48 hours. Much of it has been ill-informed twaddle.
The number of people who castigated and slammed it within minutes of its release can’t possibly have read all of its 258 pages. They just jerked their knees in the time-honoured fashion.
Basically, the criticism was based on the fact that Boris Johnson had commissioned it, ergo it must be biased, useless or bad, or all three.
What its critics couldn’t stand is that it actually had some positive things to say about race relations in this country. And you know what? Those positive conclusions were based on fact.
Take educational achievement, for example. The report compared GCSE achievement for the different ethnic groups and found that all of them surpassed the achievements of white kids, with the one exception of children of black Caribbean backgrounds. Black Africans achieved higher exam grades, as did kids from Indian or Bangladeshi heritage.
The pay gap between white and ethnic minority employees has shrunk to just 2.3 per cent, and for the under 30s there is no gap at all. Now can someone please tell me why these two facts shouldn’t have been pointed out?
Race relations have come along way in the last twenty years in Britain. Can other countries say the same? America? France? I don’t think so. But it doesn’t suit the victim mentality of the Left to admit this. It suits their agenda to portray a Britain at war with itself over race.
The Left tried to keep the working classes in their place, almost as a client state of the Left. Margaret Thatcher exposed that and we’re now at a point where 47 per cent of working-class Brits vote Tory, and only 35 per cent vote Labour. The challenge for the Right is to break through among British Asians and in the Black vote. The opportunity is there, but the Left will fight it tooth and nail.
On the other side of the coin – you know I liked to be balanced – there is still a long way to go before many black or brown Britons feel they will get a fair crack of the whip, and the report rightly makes this clear. Equality in educational achievement may be a positive sign, but it’s still the case that black Caribbean kids are much more likely to be excluded from the classroom.
And in the workplace there is still a long way to go. Too many people feel they have to anglicise their names to get a fair crack of the whip.
You can’t ignore the evidence that you’re more likely to get a job interview if you’re called Michael Bookham, than if your name is Ndaboningi Nwoykoye or Mohammed Abdullah. All the surveys into this phenomenon show us that there is a conscious or subconscious bias present in many of our recruitment practices.
Look at the way we are policed. The same phenomenon is there in the policing and justice systems. Just examine the statistics and it becomes self-evident. To deny it is to deny that racism exists, whether it is institutional or not.
Britain as a country is not institutionally racist. Like in every other country, we have racists among us, and no doubt always will have. But the report was right to say that the UK is not institutionally rigged against ethnic minorities.
Indeed, the Commission members – all 12 of whom are from ethnic minorities, and people of stature in their own fields – were courageous to point that out, given they must have known that the Left would come for them.
I was disappointed that Lord Simon Woolley, the long-time campaigner for more black participation in the democratic system, called the report, or the authors of the report, “disingenuous”. Disagree with a report’s conclusions all you like, but it’s almost tantamount to accusing the commission’s members of being dishonest or having been bought off.
Over the last few years there have been no fewer than nine commissions or reports into different aspects of racial equality in this country. Most of them have sat on shelves gathering dust.
David Lammy complains that the 35 recommendations contained in his report into the criminal justice system have not been implemented. The Government say most of them have or are in the process of being implemented. And never the twain shall meet.
There are 24 conclusions and recommendations contained in this latest report. Admittedly most of them are fairly innocuous and minor, and to that extent I think it hasn’t been particularly brave.
But then again, Downing Street hasn’t been very brave either. It should have had ministers out on the airwaves on Wednesday, most especially Kemi Badenoch, the Equalities Minister.
If they think they’ve got a good story to tell, for God’s sake tell it. We put in a bid for her for my evening show on Wednesday. We got a straight “no” from Number 10 (as usual) on the basis that no one was doing media on it. Why the hell not?
If you commission a report you surely ought to be able to put up a minister to comment on its conclusions, especially as they were so benign. I say again, if the Government won’t talk about or explain its position, who the hell do they is going to do it for them?
The comms approach at Number 10 could be dubbed an Ostrich strategy. Stick your head in the sand and just make it all go away.
I had thought that when Dominic Cummings departed the stage, things would change. But they haven’t. Hey ho. Not my problem.