The Government recently published Inclusive Britain, a response to the report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (CRED), which was launched as a result of the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests. Our colleagues at ROTA have produced the following response which we fully endorse.
The report of the CRED was criticised for failing to acknowledge systemic racism in the UK, and although Inclusive Britain now accepts that racism exists, it goes out of its way to note that inequality in society should not be “seen solely through the prism of ethnic minority disadvantage”. No one has ever argued that race should be the only lens that disadvantage should be viewed from. Additionally, Inclusive Britain states that White people from deprived backgrounds “continue to be left behind by society”.
Instead of actively pledging to tackle the issues highlighted by the 2020 protests, we fear the Government is continuing to play off communities from marginalised backgrounds, in order to downplay the challenges and barriers faced by Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups in Britain. Of course, some White children face disadvantage, this is not because of their Whiteness though.
While many of the report’s recommendations are cautiously welcomed, we believe these are not far reaching enough. For example, in relation to addressing online racist abuse, the Online Safety Bill, makes no specific mention of the term racism. Additionally, whilst the report refers to the development of a new history curriculum to teach about Britain’s “complex past”, there is no information provided as to which panel of Historians will work towards its development. It also commits to supporting employers who “want to publish their ethnicity pay gap” data, but does not confirm whether it will be a mandatory requirement. The report also calls the term “BAME” unhelpful, and recommends that it is scrapped, as it overlooks key factors that shape an individual’s social outcomes. Simply removing the term “BAME” however, will not address the structural inequalities that these communities continue to face. We will not end systemic racism by adopting a new style guide.
Whilst we welcome in principle some elements within the action plan, considering the Government has had a whole year to publish a response, we believe that the Inclusive Britain action plan demonstrates a lack of ambition in developing a robust race equality strategy to actively drive change for the communities we represent.
In 2020, the nation demanded the Government tackle systemic racism in Britain. The CRED Report and this response are a massive missed opportunity. This will only fuel the fears of those who believe this Government is more concerned with soundbites than genuine change.
This should have been a watershed moment but has instead been a damp squib.