A new report today commissioned by Downing Street has concluded that the UK should be seen as an institutional exemplar of racial equality. The 264 page report came with 24 recommendations and has brushed aside the consequences of deep-seated structural racism and inequalities embedded in British society rather putting them down to a “deep mistrust” in the system.
The commission’s chairman, Dr Tony Sewell said that whilst racism does indeed exist in the UK there is a lack of “actual institutional racism”.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4, he said: “What we have seen is that the term ‘institutional racism’ is sometimes wrongly applied and it’s been a sort of a catch-all phrase for microaggressions or acts of racial abuse. Also people use it interchangeably – systematic racism, structural racism are just being used wrongly.”
A summary of the report that was released earlier this week has contributed to, and changed the present-day debate on race.
According to the report, there are numerous reasons as to why the UK should be seen as a model for other white-majority countries.
One of the reasons cited, is the achievements of ethnic minority children in schools.
However, speaking on The Today Programme this morning, Matthew Ryder QC, a former deputy Mayor of London and a lawyer has pointed to 2019 research from the University of Aberdeen that says that even though white working class boys leave school with less qualifications than their ethnic minority counterparts they still have better access to jobs and greater earning potential.
The report concludes that there is no structural racism in the UK, but it does concede that the word BAME is not entirely useful in the sense that it minimises and uniforms the varying experiences of the many different ethnic groups it refers to.
Whilst it may be true that the UK does not have as high levels of racism as the rest of Europe, it has been considered a stretch to refer to the country as a “beacon” and it has caused outcry on social media as well as amongst racial equality groups.
The chief executive of the Runnymede Trust, Halima Begum, said: “As we saw in the early days of the pandemic, 60% of the first NHS doctors and nurses to die were from our BAME communities. For Boris Johnson to look the grieving families of those brave dead in the eye and say there is no evidence of institutional racism in the UK is nothing short of a gross offence.”