The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities Report – CLD Response

April 10, 2021 9:00 AM
By Dr Yeow Poon, Chair of CLDs

CRED Report April 2021CLD was one of the 325 organisations and 2,004 individuals who responded in good faith to an open consultation in November 2020 by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities.

The Commission was established by Prime Minster Boris Johnson to investigate race and ethnic disparities in the UK and the state of race relations today. Although the report made some sensible recommendations its overall tone and the conclusion that there is no evidence of institutional racism, structural racism or white privilege in the UK is wrong. The report has been utterly rejected by increasing numbers of academics, anti-racism organisations, health professionals and even professional bodies, like the Royal Institute of British Architects and the British Sociological Association. The report has been criticised for cherry picking data to suit a pre-determined narrative and ignoring huge swathes of research.

The open consultation consisted of 10 questions. Other than the first question which asked about the causes of racial and ethnic disparities in the UK, the other 9 questions were focused on what can be done to improve matters in areas such as education, health, employment and police relations. Although CLD responses were from a Chinese, East and Southeast Asian perspective, they are mostly equally applicable to all minority communities. We stated that there is a 'lack of recognition of the problem of white bigotry and racial prejudice'. We agree with the statement from Isabelle Parasram, Vice President of the Liberal Democrats that 'the evidence and impact of racism in the UK is overwhelming - ethnic minority communities are at a disadvantage in almost all sectors of society, most notably in education, healthcare, criminal justice, housing and employment.'

The report's contention that 'geography, family influence, socio-economic background, culture and religion have more significant impact on life chances than the existence of racism' misses one crucial point, that is, these factors are themselves negatively impacted by racism. Sir Michael Marmot, the UK's leading public health expert and professor of epidemiology at University College London commented that social conditions 'are themselves the result of longstanding inequalities and structural racism' and 'there are health differences between races that are not fully explained by class … these two issues may overlap but they are not the same thing.'

The Runnymede Trust has written an open letter calling the Prime Minister to repudiate the Commission's findings, withdraw the report and take immediate steps to implement the recommendations from previous work. CLD also calls for the Prime Minister to withdraw the report and to acknowledge that there are institutional and structural racism that affects inequality and disparity. The Prime Minister should then focus on determining the concrete recommendations made in both the report and in previous enquiries - from the 1999 Macpherson Report to the Build Back Fairer report in 2020 - that can be usefully and practically implemented.