New proposals for action on racial inequality across institutions in Britain – from employment, schools and justice to the NHS, civil service and online – are set out today in a new collection, An agenda for action: Reducing racial inequality in modern Britain, edited by British Future and Bright Blue.
The collection hopes to move forward the debate on race in the UK, which has become mired in polarised arguments about language. There is more scope to build consensus, however, around specific proposals for concrete action to help address racism and racial inequalities. That action needs to come not only from government but from institutions across our society.
Sunder Katwala, Director of British Future, said:
“There is more common ground than we think on race. Most people recognise that discrimination still exists and that it leads to people being denied equal chances in life. There is much public agreement on what we can do about it too, once the debate moves from theory to proposals for action.
“The next cabinet may be the first in history with the three great offices of state occupied by ethnic minority politicians. More diversity at the top of politics is a sign of progress on race in Britain. But voters will judge politicians by what they do and the impact it has on people’s lives.”
Some of the proposals put forward in the collection include:
- More ‘apprenticeship academies’ to reduce school exclusions that affect black pupils disproportionately.
- Tackling perceived unfairness from recruitment agencies towards black job candidates (just 3 in 10 black candidates feel they are treated fairly by agencies).
- Looking at the pay awards of senior NHS leaders who fail to tackle discrimination.
- Increasing the diversity of the senior civil service by ensuring more ethnic minority candidates join the civil service ‘fast stream’.
- Tackling hatred on social media by restricting unverified users’ ability to use features that could be abused, such as tagging or direct messaging someone.
- Deepening the connection between the Monarch and the Commonwealth, particularly those countries with large ethnic minority communities in the UK, through a new post of Commonwealth private secretary to the Queen.
- Teaching all school children the history of Empire, in all its complexity, as a foundation for understanding why our modern, multi-ethnic country looks as it does today.
- Ensuring that our world-class sports heroes – from show-jumping and rowing as well as boxing and running – reflect the diversity of our society, in time for the Brisbane 2032 Olympics, by creating more gateways to elite sport in cities and large towns.
- Reducing the use of ‘Stop and search’, and provide police with better and more consistent training in conducting stop and search respectfully, appropriately and impartially.
- Using major events and commemorations, such as the 75th anniversaries in 2023 of the Windrush and NHS, to tell a story of a shared history between people from different backgrounds in Britain today.
Labour MP Rupa Huq and Conservative Steve Baker have both contributed forewords to the collection. In her foreword, Rupa Huq writes:
“Debate and discussion about race in Britain can be complex and contested. One’s opinion can shift in the space of a day from optimism to a sense that we have barely advanced at all. It is for that reason that we need to move beyond angry exchanges about language to a cool-headed discussion of the changes to policy that could make a real difference to people’s lives.”
In his foreword Steve Baker writes:
“If we can navigate these tricky conversations in a spirit of goodwill, somehow containing malign political actors exploiting division for electoral ends, the prize of a better society in which the colour of one’s skin matters no more than the colour of one’s eyes will be within our grasp. It is a prize worth having.”
Ryan Shorthouse, Director of Bright Blue, said:
“Political debate and attention on racism and racial inequality in the UK is stuck and increasingly polarised. We have a frustratingly circular debate about whether modern Britain is institutionally racist or not.
“Instead of our politics fixating on an academic debate about the terminologies for racism in modern Britain, it is desperately important to instead focus on specific and actionable ideas that will actually mitigate the racism and racial inequalities that manifestly still exist in this country.
“Responsible politics has an obligation to those whose life chances are diminished as a result of racial disparities. The only way to meet that obligation is through action.”