Charity leaders call on Boris Johnson to reject findings of recent race report 

07 Apr 2021 News

Boris Johnson

Flickr: Financial Times

Several charity leaders have urged the prime minister to withdraw last week's report on racism in the UK through an open letter coordinated by Runnymede.

The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities published its report last week, which concluded that the UK does not have a systemic problem with racism.

It was chaired by Tony Sewell, an education consultant and head of the charity Generating Genius. However, its findings have been widely criticised and the report has been dubbed “deeply troubling” and “disturbing” by charities.

 Runnymede, an independent race equality think tank, has coordinated the letter asking Boris Johnson to reject the report and instead implement the recommendations from previous reviews. 

The deadline to sign the letter is 23:59 this Thursday.

'This Commission has failed on even the most basic level'

So far the letter has been signed by representatives from Black Lives Matter UK, #CharitySoWhite, Phyll Opoku-Gymah the executive director of Black Pride, and many other civil society leaders.

It reads: “Should you and your government be genuinely committed to acknowledging and addressing the issue of racial equity in the UK, we would call on you to repudiate the commission’s findings immediately and withdraw its report.”

It notes that several people cited as in the report have confirmed their counsel was either not sought or was misrepresented in scope, and are now requesting their names be entirely disassociated from the commission.

It continues: “This commission has failed on even the most basic level, for instance in acknowledging the fundamental rights of Black and minoritised communities, and the impact of hostile environment policies that have threatened the citizenship and status of the Windrush generation and their descendants.

“Disingenuous claims, including the commission’s assertion that its research found no evidence of institutional racism in the UK, have provoked public incredulity and national indignation. The danger is that a report so lacking in credibility will be left to circulate and take us back to the ‘colour bar’ of the 1960s.

“While we note your apparently equivocal response to Dr Sewell’s findings, to be absolutely clear, the record shows that evidence of structural and institutional racism was provided to the commission by organisations across civil society.”

The Runnymede letter says: “Wilfully or not, it would seem reasonable to conclude that either evidence of institutional racism was ignored by the Commissioners, or they have seen fit to put their names to a false declaration.”

It concludes: “We also call on you to take immediate steps to combat racism based on the findings of multiple rigorous investigations conducted over the last 20 years, including the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, Lammy, McGregor Smith and Windrush Lessons Learned reviews, and to do so by convening a genuinely credible Prime Ministerial Task Force that, as a first step, would implement the recommendations of these long-standing investigations.

“Such actions would feasibly offer legitimate cause for the UK to indeed regard itself as 'A model for white majority countries' - an aspiration that we have no doubt unites the citizens of this country regardless of their ethnicity.”

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