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Its time for banknotes to reflect Britain’s ethnic diversity

Posted on 16 December 2018 - No Comments

Leading actors and writers, MPs from all parties and leading academics and many other civic society leaders have formed a broad coalition urging the Bank’s Governor to adopt the principle of inclusion and to act upon it next time there is a redesign of a banknote. The campaign was conceived by Zehra Zaidi and Patrick Vernon OBE, who had led campaigns for Noor Inayat Khan or for Mary Seacole to feature on the £50 note.

Economist Susie Symes, chair of the Museum of Immigration, says ‘Britain has been shaped over centuries by inward and outward migration, so its time our central Bank, the world’s oldest, reflects our diversity of heritage and culture’.

Simon Woolley, appointed by the Prime Minister to chair her Race Disparity Unit advisory group, is backing the call, saying ‘showcasing brilliant British diversity on the banknote not only tells relevant stories for all our society, but tells our international visitors this is who we are’.

MPs including David Lammy and Helen Grant, Stella Creasy, David Davis, George Freeman, Kate Green, Caroline Lucas, Clive Lewis,  Tom Tugendhat and Ed Vaizey reflect cross-party support for the initiative. Peers Baroness Floella Benjamin, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Baroness Elizabeth Berridge, Lord Victor Adebowale and Lord Herman Ouseley join leading cultural voices including historians Olivette Otele and David Olusoga, actors Gemma Chan, Adrian Lester, Art Malik and David Oyelowo, writers Meera Syal and Sanjeev Bhakshar. The heads of think-tanks including Runnymede Trust, British Future, Bright Blue, Class, Demos, Fawcett Society, Modern Britain, Operation Black Vote and Tell Mama are supporting the campaign alongside many civic society leaders.

There is a petition to support the campaign, which can be signed at

Letter to the Sunday Times

Since William Shakespeare appeared on the £20 note in 1970, our banknotes have featured figures from our past — those who, in the Bank of England’s words, “have shaped UK society through their thought innovation, leadership or values”.

Ethnic minority communities represent 14% of the British population. We do not lack candidates, and arguably their achievements were the greater for having been made at a time when many careers and were effectively closed to them through colonial rules, racism or the legacy of slavery. However, no one from an ethnic minority has yet featured on a banknote.

Changing this would send a message that the contribution of ethnic minorities to Britain’s history, culture and economy is recognised and valued. What better representation of “global Britain” could there be?

Public institutions should reflect modern Britain. Last year the governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, spoke of the need for inclusiveness. We ask him to stand by those words and actively seek strong ethnic minority candidates to feature on the next reissue of any banknote.

Zehra Zaidi

Patrick Vernon OBE

Susie Symes, Chair of the Museum of Immigration

Omar Khan, Director, Runnymede Trust

Sunder Katwala, Director, British Future

David Oyelowo OBE, actor and producer

Adrian Lester OBE, actor and director

Amma Asante MBE, director and screenwriter

Gemma Chan, actress

Meera Syal CBE

Sanjeev Bhaskar OBE, Actor, Broadcaster and Comedian

Adil Ray OBE, Actor, Writer & Broadcaster

Babou Ceesay, actor

Art Malik, actor

Benjamin Zephaniah, Poet, Novelist, Musician, Actor and Notaphilist

Lemn Sissay MBE, author and broadcaster

June Sarpong MBE

Afua Hirsch, writer, broadcaster, and former barrister

Deeyah Khan (Filmmaker and founder of sister-hood magazine)

Ammo Talwar MBE, CEO Punch Records

Jessica Malik, Producer

Marlon Palmer, Chief Executive, Kush Films

Jermaine Jackman (winner of The Voice 2014)

George The Poet

Sabrina Mahfouz, multi award-winning writer, poet and activist

Salena Godden, poet, performer and author

Shirley J. Thompson, Composer, Artistic Director & Conductor

Michelle Gayle, singer, songwriter, actress and author

Freya Bramble-Carter, Ceramic Artist

Sunny Singh, author and academic

Nikesh Shukla, Writer, Editor and Columnist

Sharmaine Lovegrove, Publisher, Dialogue Books|Little, Brown

Margaret Bugsby OBE, publisher, writer and broadcaster

Patrice Lawrence, Author

Shelina Janmohamed, writer and author of “Love in a Headscarf”

Trevor Phillips, OBE

Wanda Wyporska, Executive Director, The Equality Trust

Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, Founder & Director of UK Black Pride

Keith Harris OBE, Managing Director, Keith Harris Music Ltd. and Chair of the UK Music Equality and Diversity Taskforce

Dawn Hill CBE, Chair of Black Cultural Archives

Uzo Iwobi OBE, Chief Executive Officer, Race Council Cymru

Campbell Robb, Chief Executive, Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Housing Trust

Javed Khan, CEO Barnardos

Catherine Anderson, CEO of The Jo Cox Foundation

Karen Blackett OBE, WPP UK Country Manager, Chairwoman MediaCom UK & Ireland

Satbir Singh, Chief Executive, Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI)

Pen Mendonça, Graphic Facilitator, Cartoonist and Academic

Hussein Al-Alak, Editor of Iraq Solidarity News

Lord Victor Adebowale CBE, Chief Executive of Turning Point

Professor Dame Alison Peacock, CEO Chartered College of Teaching

Professor Frank Chinegwundoh MBE

Rob Berkeley MBE, BlackOutUK

Clenton Farquharson MBE, Campaigner for Social Justice and Disability Rights

Kate Edwards, Chief Executive, Seven Stories: The National Centre for Children’s Books

Sir David Carter, Educational Leader (former National Schools Commissioner)

Francesca Klug OBE, Professor Emeritus at the London School of Economics

Professor Jonathan Portes, Professor of Economics and Public Policy at King’s College London and former Chief Economist at Cabinet Office and Department for Work and Pensions

Pinky Lilani CBE DL

Margot Finn, Professor of Modern British History, UCL and President, Royal Historical Society

Michael I. Ohajuru, Senior Fellow, Institute of Commonwealth Studies and The John Blanke Project

Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp CBE, Director, The Africa Centre

Raj Tulsiani, CEO and Co-Founder of Green Park, Executive Search and Interim Management Consultancy

Zrinka Bralo, CEO of Migrants Organise

Miranda Brawn, Founder of The Miranda Brawn Diversity Leadership Foundation

Professor Olivette Otele (first black female professor of history)

Lara Ratnaraja, Cultural Consultant

Iman Atta OBE, Director, Tell MAMA

Fiyaz Mughal OBE, Director, Faith Matters

Binita Kane, Consultant Physician and Lead for the National Partition Commemoration Campaign

Akeela Ahmed MBE, Founder, She Speaks We Hear and Chair of the Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group

Sarah Garrett MBE, Diversity & Inclusion Specialist, CEO & Entrepreneur

Peter Hay CBE, Trustee, Social Care Institute for Excellence

Professor Shirley Anne Tate, Director of Centre for Race and Education, Leeds Beckett University

Catherine Ross, Founder & Director, The National Caribbean Heritage Museum

Lynda-Louise Burrell, Creative Director, The National Caribbean Heritage Museum

Selena Carty, Genealogist & Founder, BlackPoppyRose

Tony Warner, Director, Black History Walks

Jacqueline McKenzie, Windrush Action

Aisha Richards, Director, Shades of Noir

Pran Patel, Educator, Leader & Activist

Amina Lone, Co-Director, The Social Action and Research Foundation

Aisha Ali-Khan, Asian Mums Network

Zubeda Limbada, Director, ConnectFutures

Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, Lawyer and Political & Women’s Rights Activist

Raja Miah, Director, Cities of Hope

Matthew Green, Principal Consultant, PolicyWorks

Jaz Rabadia MBE, Chartered Engineer Manager, Mechanical Engineer, STEM Ambassador, Women of the Future Ambassador

Paul Sesay, Founder of National Diversity Awards/Inclusive Top 50 UK Companies

Professor Jeremy Till, Head of Central Saint Martins, Pro Vice-Chancellor Research, University of the Arts, London

Dan Byrne-Smith, Senior Lecturer in Fine Art, Chelsea College of Arts, University of the Arts London

Afsana Lachaux, Women’s Rights Campaigner

Chris Doyle, Director, Caabu (Council for Arab-British Understanding)

Joseph Willits, Parliamentary and Events Officer, Caabu (Council for Arab-British Understanding)

H.A. Hellyer, Senior Associate Fellow, Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies, London

Tariq Modood MBE, Professor of Sociology, Politics and Public Policy, University of Bristol and founding director of the Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship

Kasia Murawska-Muthesius, Art Historian

Mariam Khan, Editor of “It’s Not About the Burqa”

Henna Rai, Director and Founder, WARN: Women Against Radicalisation Network

Hifsa Haroon-Iqbal MBE DL, Association of British Muslims

Yasmin Rehman, Women’s Rights Activist

Ali Harris, Chief Executive, Equality and Diversity Forum

Julie Jaye Charles, CEO of the Equalities National Council

Mohammed Abbasi, Association of British Muslims

Joel Blake OBE, businessman

Shaista Gohir OBE, Executive Director, Muslim Women’s Network UK

Nazmin Akthar, Chair of Muslim Women’s Network UK

Mustafa Field MBE, Director, Faiths Forum for London

Hayyan Ayaz Bhabha, Executive Director of Muslims in WW1 and Co-Founder of the APPG for British Muslims

Irfan Malik, GP, WW1 Historian & World Wars Muslim Memorial Trustee

Qari Muhammad Asim, Imam, Makkah Mosque

Shrabani Basu, Author, Historian & Chair of the Noor Inayat Khan Memorial Trust

Nasar Iqbal, Director, Black Country Innovate C.I.C.

Dilwar Hussain, Chair, New Horizons in British Islam

Rabiha Hannan, Co-Founder & Trustee of New Horizons in British Islam

Naved Siddiqi, Trustee, New Horizons in British Islam

Professor Damien Page, Dean of Carnegie School of Education, Leeds Beckett University

Zita Holbourne, National Co-Chair of Black Activists Rising Against The Cuts (BARAC) UK

Ebinehita Iyere, Youth Worker and Campaigner

Alison Kriel, Education and Leadership Consultant

Gwen Moulster OBE, Consultant LD Nurse

Christopher Goodey, Historian

Nicola Wright, Assistant Professor in Mental Health Nursing, University of Nottingham

Seamus Oates CBE, Chief Executive Officer, TBAP Multi-Academy Trust

Linda Jordon, Campaigner for Social Justice

Hannah Wilson, Executive Headteacher, Aureus School & Aureus Primary School

Sameena Choudry, Founder of Equitable Education Ltd and National Leader, Womened

Vivienne Porritt, Vice-President, Chartered College of Teaching, National Leader, Womened

Sylvan Baker, Artist, Lecturer and Applied Arts Researcher in Social Justice and Black Studies

Viv Grant, Executive Coach and Director of Integrity Coaching

Nadine Benjamin, Soprano singer

Jessica Kingsley, Publisher

Faith Gordon, Academic and Director, International Youth Justice Network

John Mayford, Director, Olmec

Junior Smart, Founder of SOS Project (St Giles Trust), Academic, Social Entrepreneur & Innovator

Professor Imogen Tyler, Social Theorist and Sociologist

Jim Thomas, Director, Longhouse Management and Music Managers Forum UK Committee

Tina Coldham, Mental Health Campaigner, Chair of NIHR (National Institute for Health Research) Involve Advisory Group

Abda Khan, Author and Lawyer

Ruth Ibegbuna, Founder Reclaim Project and Roots Programme

Minh Dang, Executive Director of Survivor Alliance, Advocate and Artist, Member of University of Nottingham Rights Lab

Sajda Mughal OBE, CEO JAN Trust

Leroy Logan MBE

Gillian Evans, WeAreAllWindrush Campaign

Fola Evans-Akingbola, WeAreAllWindrush Campaign

Professor Sir Geoff Palmer DSc OBE

Carolyn Robson CBE, CEO of the Mead Educational Trust, National Leader of Education

Ame Ekhaguere, Diverse Histories

Joyce Fraser, Chair of Black Heroes Foundation

Marika Sherwood, Chair, BASA

Elwaldo Romeo, Chair of Windrush Action Professor Uduak Archibong MBE, Professor of Diversity, Centre for Inclusion and Diversity, Bradford University

Carrie Symonds, Ocean Conservationist

Nick Denys, Co-Founder, Tory Workers

Marion Wadibia, CEO, NAZ Project London

Iolanda Banu Viegas, Portuguese Consul General for Wales and Director of CLPW

Mete Coban, CEO, Mylifemysay

Abdi Omar, Motivational Speaker, Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) Specialist

Annette Neary, Consultant General Physician

Shauket Fazil, Principal, Birmingham Quran Academy

Abdullah Rehman MBE, Bahu Trust

Elizabeth Henry, National Adviser, The Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns (CMEAC), Church of England

Friar Timothy Radcliffe OP, Consultor to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, The Vatican

Kanwal Toor, Creative Director, Jadau

Professor Imran Awan, Deputy Director of the Centre for Applied Criminology, Birmingham City University

Dr Sariya Cheruvallil-Contractor, Research Fellow in Faith and Peaceful Relations, Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations (CTPSR), Coventry University

Penny Rabiger, BAMEed, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Educators

Amjad Ali, BAMEed, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Educators

Allana Gay, BAMEed, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Educators

Saqib Bhatti, President of the Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce

Carol Stewart, Chairperson, Medway African and Carribean Association

Alison Kriel, Education Leader

Nicholas Webb, Policy & Public Relations Consultant

Susan James , Pobl Academy Lead, Pobl Group

Meena Patel, Southall Black Sisters

Nazek Ramadan, Director, Migrant Voice

Tamina Mir, Women Buzz Net

Adam Sykes, Managing Director of Liverpoint Software Solutions Ltd.

Mary Macleod

The Rt Hon Ed Vaizey MP, former Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy

Tom Tugendhat MP, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi

Baroness Elizabeth Berridge

George Freeman MP, Founder of Big Tent Ideas Festival

The Rt. Hon. David Davis MP

Helen Grant MP, Conservative Party Vice Chairman (Communities)

Syed Kamall MEP

Rachel Stone, Chief of Staff to Syed Kamall MEP

Lord Herman Ouseley and Chairman of Kick It Out

The Rt Hon David Lammy MP

Clive Lewis MP

Stella Creasy MP

Kate Green OBE MP

Shaista Aziz, Labour Councillor (Oxford), Journalist & Equalities Campaigner

Layla Moran MP

Baroness Floella Benjamin, OBE

Caroline Lucas MP

Lord Mayor of Bristol, Councillor Cleo Lake

Hannah Peaker, Chief of Staff of the Women’s Equality Party

Sandi Toksvig, Co-founder of the Women’s Equality Party, comedian and broadcaster

Catherine Mayer, President and Co-founder of the Women’s Equality Party

Harini Iyengar, Spokesperson for the Women’s Equality Party

Cathy Newman, Journalist, Presenter of Channel 4 News and Author of “Bloody Brilliant Women”

Jane Merrick, Political Commentator

David Aaronovitch, Journalist and Broadcaster

Matthew d’Ancona, Editor-in-Chief, Drugstore Culture and political columnist

Ayesha Hazarika MBE, Broadcaster, Columnist & Comedian

Yasmin Alibhai Brown, Journalist & Author

Marcus Ryder, Chief International Editor, CGTN Digital

Stephen Bush, Politics Editor, New Statesman

Sunny Hundal, editor-in-chief, Barfi Culture

Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff, Editor of gal-dem

Samantha Asumadu, Media Diversified

Sam Smethers, Chief Executive Fawcett Society

Simon Woolley, Director, Operation Black Vote

Fazia Shaheen, Director of CLASS

David Goodhart, Founder of the Integration Hub, Policy Exchange

Polly Mackenzie, Chief Executive, Demos

Ryan Shorthouse, CEO, Bright Blue

Caroline Squire, Director, Conservative Friends of International Development

Kulveer Ranger, Co-founder of Modern Britain

Binita Mehta-Parmar, Director, Modern Britain



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