Labour demands ‘basic answers’ on Boris Johnson’s new racial inequality commission


"If the prime minister really meant it when he said there is much more to do then why doesn’t he just get on and do it?” asked shadow women and equalities secretary Marsha de Cordova.
"If the prime minister really meant it when he said there is much more to do then why doesn’t he just get on and do it?” asked shadow women and equalities secretary Marsha de Cordova.

THE LABOUR PARTY has accused the government of announcing “review after review” but doing “precious little with recommendations” as it called for clarity on Boris Johnson’s new racial inequality commission.

In mid-June, following massive anti-racism protests, the prime minister had announced “a new cross-government commission to look at what is going on for black and minority ethnic groups, and to champion their success”.

“We have to look at discrimination in the education system, in health, in the criminal justice system, we have to look at all ways in which it affects black and minority ethnic groups,” he had said at that time.

“And so, we’re going have a big, big effort, which we will be announcing very shortly.”

One month on, the Labour Party highlighted in a statement there were still no details on “who will lead it [the commission], who its members will be, what its terms of reference are, and what it will be called”.

Notably, news about No.10 policy unit head Munira Mirza leading the new commission had left critics fuming, with a Labour MP calling the panel “dead on arrival”.

The prime minister’s office, however, had clarified that an “independent figure” would lead the commission, adding that details will be made available soon.

Shadow women and equalities secretary Marsha de Cordova wondered why there was a delay in getting “even the most basic answers about what will happen next”, stressing that it was “vital that the government provides clarity” on the new commission.

“This is urgent, to allow our Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities to be able to properly scrutinise and hold this government to account on any action that is taken,” she said.

“Over the last few years this government has commissioned review after review but done precious little with the recommendations: four reviews in particular give us over 200 recommendations and it is far from clear just how many of those have actually been properly implemented.

“If the prime minister really meant it when he said there is much more to do then why doesn’t he just get on and do it?”

The Labour statement noted that “structural racism” continued to be “a serious problem” in Britain, adding that it was “a question of life and death” for some people.

“In school Black Caribbean and mixed-white and Black Caribbean children have rates of permanent exclusion about three times that of the pupil population as a whole; at work Black workers with degrees earn 23.1 per cent less on average than white workers; and Black people in England and Wales are more than nine times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police than their white counterparts,” it said.

The party also underscored that the “decade of austerity under the Conservatives widened racial inequalities”, pointing to the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on BAME communities.