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A BACKLASH over the government’s “divisive” race report escalated today after experts, identified as stakeholders, said they were “never consulted” — and the PM’s top black adviser quit.
Two historians said they were “horrified” today to find their names included on a list of stakeholders thanked for giving evidence to the widely condemned report.
Stephen Bourne, who has published books about the history of Britain’s black community, claims he was “manipulated” into being involved with the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities’ 258-page report.
Published on Wednesday, the report concluded that Britain was no longer a country where the system is deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities, sparking a fierce backlash from MPs, trade unions and equality campaigners.
Mr Bourne said he was invited to Downing Street last year by No 10’s special adviser Samuel Kasumu — who has quit his role amid the row — for a meeting with other black historians.
The author claims he was not told the meeting was related to the commission, only realising the true nature of the event afterwards.
“The whole thing is so manipulated and my experience bears that out. While I was in No 10 at this meeting with the commission, I honestly, hand on heart, did not know who they were,” he told Politics Home.
“None of it was explained to me and I didn’t know. And now that I’m named in the report I’m not happy at all.”
Historian and author S I Martin also said he found himself listed in the report despite having “no contact” with the commission.
He told Politics Home he is the “last person they would think of asking,” describing his inclusion in the report as a “disgraceful attempt to use the names of black writers, public thinkers and academics as a fig leaf to perpetrate these enormities.”
Number 10 has since said that Mr Martin was named in error while Mr Bourne was included as a “courtesy” for participating in the Downing Street meeting.
It’s unclear how many other stakeholders listed were not consulted, however three academics named in the report who were approached by the Morning Star said they knowingly gave evidence to the commission.
Government ministers and the commission continued to face criticism today as it emerged that Mr Kasume, the PM’s most senior black adviser, has quit.
PM Boris Johnson insisted today that Mr Kasume’s departure was “absolutely nothing to do” with the report and that he had notified ministers of his resignation last week.
But shadow women and equalities secretary Marsha Cordova said the resignation shortly after the report’s publication “is telling of how far removed the Tories are from the everyday lived experiences of Black, Asian and ethnic minority people.”
She said: “Their divisive report appears to glorify slavery and suggests that institutional racism does not exist despite the evidence to the contrary. It is no wonder they are losing the expertise from their team.”
Authors of the government-backed race report claimed they had found “no evidence” for institutional racism in Britain, and that factors such as socioeconomic background, culture and religion had a “more significant impact on life chances.”
A passage suggesting that the slave period was “not only about profit and suffering” has led to accusation from Labour that it glorifies slavery.
Doreen Lawrence, who fought for justice for almost two decades after her son Stephen was murdered by neonazis, said the report gives racists the “green light.”
In the spirit of April Fools Day, Black Activists Rising Against Cuts announced it was going to cease operations in response to the government’s declaration that institutional racism no longer exists.
The mock statement reads: “There is no purpose for our organisation which has apparently spent the past 11 years campaigning … for absolutely no reason as the racism we wrongly imagined existed was all in our minds and all in the past.”
Benefits charity Turn2Us also pointed out today that the report omits the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on ethnic minority communities, who are more likely to have lost their jobs during Covid-19 than white workers.
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