In part two of a two part series Lee Jasper again joins an overwhelming consensus from our communities and wider society including, academics, politicians, think tanks, professional institutions, priests, and pastors alike in condemning the widely discredited Sewell Report and distils 10 key facts that underline the government’s incompetence
Read Part One here
The report constitutes a straightforward Tory ideological propaganda exercise that laid the basis for the Tory’ anti woke culture wars’. It was an exercise in political chicanery that ultimately blew up in the Government’s face.
In an article I wrote at the time I described how this was largely predictable and a less than satisfactory outcome was always on the cards. From the day Boris Johnson and his now departed sidekick Munira “Misery’ Murza, appointed Tony Sewel, a man who had a long history of denying the existence of systemic racism, the project was always destined to be nothing more than a Tory ideological propaganda “puppy show.”
The other Commissioners who inexplicably allowed themselves to be sullied by this exercise (one can only assume money or inducements were involved) were Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Aftab Chughtai, Keith Fraser, Ajay Kakkar, Naureen Khalid, Dambisa Moyo, Mercy Muroki, Martyn Oliver, Samir Shah and Kunle Olulode.
Once in the public domain, Tony and the Commissioners were publicly traduced due to their open collaboration with this misguided Tory attempt to ‘change the narrative’ on race. As a result, many Commissioners have spent the last year in hiding or running for cover, trying desperately to salvage their battered reputations.
The report, in short, represents the Tory political perspective on racism and a crude and clumsy attempt to provide Black political cover for their denial of the existence of systemic racism. The report is a routine and politically reactionary response to claims of systemic racism being deeply embedded in the UK’s cultural, social, economic, and political fabric.
The Government response to the report published a year later, published in the dead of night and using the Ukraine war as an opportunity to publish bad news
1. 45% of white British pupils attend university after leaving school, the lowest rate of all ethnicities, excluding Gypsy/Roma. However, they have better rates of entering elite universities. Of those who enrol in university, 24% of white British students attend a Russell Group institution, more than most minority ethnic groups. Black African and Pakistani students show the most significant difference between high university attendance and low enrolment in Russell Group. The Sutton Trust 2016
2. A recent investigation by the Guardian newspaper into school exclusions found that black Caribbean students in English schools were up to six times higher than their white peers in some local authorities.
3. Among people aged 16-24, unemployment rates were highest for people from a Black (29%) or Bangladeshi or Pakistani (27%) ethnic background in October 2019-September 2020. This compared to a rate of 11% for people from a White ethnic background.
4. The unemployment rate for people from a minority ethnic background was 9.5% in October-December 2020, up from 5.8% in the same period the year before. The unemployment rate for people from White ethnic backgrounds also rose, from 3.1% to 4.5%.
5. In the 12 months to September 2020, the unemployment rate was highest for people from a Pakistani (9%) or Black (9%) ethnic background. The unemployment rate was lowest for people from a White, Indian (4%), or Chinese (5%) ethnic background. Source 3-6 Unemployment by Ethnic Background. House of Commons library briefing paper number 6385, 4th of March 2021
6. According to research published recently by the TUC, one in three ethnic minority workers say they have been unfairly turned down for a job, compared with just one in five (19%) white workers.
7. Youth justice statistics 2019/20 published by the Ministry of Justice reported that the proportion of Black children cautioned or sentenced has been increasing over the last ten years and is now double what it was in March 2010 (12% compared to 6%).
An article in the Guardian newspaper in a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons identified that;
· About 51% of boys in young offender institutions (YOIs) – prisons for boys aged 15 to 17 and young adult men aged 18 to 21 – identified as being from a BME background, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) found.
· In addition, the inspectorate found 42% of children in secure training centres (STCs) – prisons for children up to the age of 17 – were from a BME background.
· The proportion of BME boys and men behind bars in YOIs in England and Wales is nearly four times the 14% BME proportion of the wider UK population.
9. Ethnic minority communities face a higher risk of falling ill and dying with coronavirus because of the UK’s “colour-blind” vaccine distribution strategy, says the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), a committee of leading doctors that advises the Government.
10. Black women are just over four times more likely to die during pregnancy and childbirth and up to six weeks postpartum, according to research published by the Nuffield Department of Population Health. The University of Oxford.
The report and the pithy Government response slides over issues such as ethnic health inequalities, the ethnic pay gap, rising black youth unemployment, rising poverty rates, homelessness and the scandals of systemic racism within criminal justice and the school exclusion to prison pipeline. They are either superficially covered or ignored.
We should, however, concede that in comparison with some countries, the UK is better on race than many others, but as the report freely admits, there is still one hell of a way to go.
Lee Jasper is the Vice-Chair for Black & Asian Lawyers for Justice, co-founder of BARAC UK and Former Equality lead for the London Criminal Justice Board
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