Black information Link:

home campaigns act now policy & research press releases links subscribe contact us

black information link The 1990 Trust, human rights for race equality
The 1990 Trust's independent community website for black communities

SECTIONS
2007 Bicentenary of Abolition
America at war
Armed Forces
Arts&Culture
Black Elders
Black Workers
Blink Interview
Broadband
Business
Campaigns
Children
Civil Liberties
Crime & Policing
Disability
Education
Employment
Events
Government
Health
Human Rights
IT
Immigration
International
Ireland
Jobs
Legal
Links
Linux
News Digest
Northern Ireland
People
Politics
Religion
Reparations
Reports
Rural racism
Scotland
Society & Environment
Sports
Stephen Lawrence
The 1990 Trust
UK regions
WCAR
Wales
Women
Youth

One Big Equality Mush

30/11/2004

IN A Guardian article today Karen Chouhan, chief executive of The 1990 Trust, explains why plans for a single equalities body is wrong in principle as well as practice.

Karen Chouhan
Karen Chouhan: it's Labour's misguided notion

Plans for an equalities super-quango, announced in the Queen's speech, were overshadowed by a focus on terrorism and ID cards.

Ironic that these potentially discriminatory measures are being proposed at the same time as a promise to get rid of discrimination.

Proposals for a single body to deal with all equality issues have already been overwhelmingly rejected by black communities and many others concerned with equality issues, but ministers intend to plough ahead regardless.

The merger of race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, religion and human rights into one big “equalities mush” – the Commission for Equalities and Human Rights (CEHR) – comes at a time when overt racism appears to be on the rise; when stop and searches of Asians under anti-terrorist laws are at shocking levels; and when the British National party's rise has been accompanied by rocketing levels of racial attacks, especially on Muslims.

meagre

The government hopes that there will be an “economy of scale” with one combined administration. But, given that they have refused to give any meaningful commitment on funding, they are likely to create seven competing equalities lobbies battling it out for a meagre pot of money.

Your Shout!

Have Your Say

The CRE is already reducing its case workload, which, at fewer than 100 cases per year, is a mere drop in the ocean of all the discrimination claims it receives.

And yet support for individual cases was the biggest single concern of black communities in the government's consultation that preceded the merger decision. 

There is a clear need for a body that understands the dynamics of racism and has the powers to do something about it. The CRE has rarely been popular, or particularly effective, but it is by far the most influential organisation in putting race issues on the national agenda, offering a minority perspective which rarely makes it into the media.

engagement

Reform (not abolition) is the answer, with strengthened powers, more resources for casework, ring-fenced funding for race equality councils, more independence from the Home Office, and much more engagement with black communities.

 - quote - Government hopes there will be an “economy of scale” with one combined administration. But they are likely to create seven competing equalities lobbies battling it out for a meagre pot of money.  - unquote -
Karen Chouhan

The CRE chair, Trevor Phillips, began as a lukewarm supporter of the government's plans. In July he came out against the CEHR as “the wrong proposal and the wrong time”. Following last-minute concessions, we wait to see what the CRE will do now.

The view of black communi ties has remained consistent. Along with Operation Black Vote and the National Assembly Against Racism, the 1990 Trust undertook a nationwide ethnic-minority consultation and found that most black people believe that race equality has even less chance of being delivered by a body with divided priorities.

The CEHR project has sprung from New Labour ideology, which argues that we have multiple identities. To some extent this is true, but it ignores the fact that some identities are more defining than others.

Consider that unemployment for black and Asian people is two and half times greater than that for whites, and the position has got worse for British-born descendants of migrants.

wounding

Over 50% of Pakistani and Bangladeshi households, and one-third of black Caribbean, are in the 10% most deprived wards in England.

Consider also that black African Caribbean people are six times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people, and that racially or religiously aggravated wounding increased 26% in 2002/3.

The original government taskforce set up to advise on the content of the white paper had no minority representatives for race issues. This does not bode well for confidence in the new body among those whose interests it is supposed to represent.

Like it or not, black communities would prefer race discrimination to be tackled by people who look like them, and have some understanding of their experiences, history and culture. Labour's thinking has led to the misguided notion that what's good for one group in society must be good for the other.

It is frustrating that the CRE, which struggled with limited powers and against a hostile Conservative government for the first two decades of its existence, should face the axe under New Labour, just as it is getting to grips with new powers – in the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 – to monitor 43,000 public authorities on their delivery of equality.

We are not opposed to an integrated approach, but this should be achieved through targeted commissions in the six equality areas and a free-standing human rights commission, which collaborate together. To address race equality in Britain we need more specific attention to race, not a dilution of focus.

There needs to be a sustained and extensive black-led consultation with communities on the future for race equality, bringing together the DTI and any other government departments' initiatives on race – particularly concerning education, health, criminal justice and immigration.

And politicians need to act on the results of these consultations, rather than cherry-pick what they want to hear. Is such a community-led, strategic approach to race equality really too much to ask for?

* This article was first published in The Guardian, 30 November 2004 

Send to a friend
Send to a friend
print document
Print document
Search

Government
London
Reports
Policing
Contact Government
Politics
Monarchy
CRE
Civil Service
Lords
Commons
Prisons
Single Equalities Commission
Citizenship & Integration

Related Stories

CRE turkeys vote for early Christmas Trevor's Rotten Empire UK needs a race-specific body Is this the man who destroyed the CRE? Trevor Phillips appointment as CEHR chairman condemned Trevor Phillips “to join the BNP soon” says mayor Ken Why we're rooting for Shami Batting both ways Fat cat Trevor won't fight for us Rights groups attack Blair's favourite for equality chair Phillips used me, says school experiment boy Equalities body will be a “discriminators charter” Trevor, do you qualify? CEHR chair “must have a record of fighting discrimination” PRESS RELEASE – Black communities reject Trevor Phillips for top equalities job Trevor Phillips would be “final nail in CEHR coffin” The 1990 Trust Response to The Equalities Review Interim Report Six days to influence review into government race policies Anti-racist organisations campaign for 'race committee' and Black representation on the CEHR Local race councils in revolt over merger United we stand Black groups abandon equalities super-body Trevor lobbies MPs for race committee Why we oppose the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights The moment of betrayal Let battle commence Vaz the way to do it Regions unite to demand race recognition in equalities body Sir Bill Morris blasts “one size fits all” agenda Lammy supports race committee for equalities super-body British Democracy failing Black Britain Charles Kennedy considering support for race committee MPs support for race committee grows Last chance to get race on single equalities agenda Jasper unleashed his wrath Lib Dems hold key but which way will they turn? Pump up the volume CEHR “a step backwards” says Diane Abbott Knowing is not believing Lobby MPs over absence of race in single equalities body proposals Upside down politics over single equality body Government shrug off concerns over all-white equality body A funny kind of equality Some more equal than others Time to sound alarm for equality Give us a piece of the pie Equalities merger body radically improved One Big Equality Mush Single equalities body still a dogs dinner Single equalities fudge fails to sweeten sceptics Single equalities body a 'dead duck' as disabilities group say no to merger Black community rejects single equalities merger CRE could survive single equalities merger CRE vote to kill off single equalities plans Trevor Phillips under pressure to oppose single equalities body Another former minister hits out at single equalities body Disappointment over White Paper on the single equalities body – no new powers or cash Government to impose single equalites body even if consultation opposes it Livingstone says single equalities body would be an ‘inaccessible monolith’ ‘Whitewash’ for single equalities body The Eagle has panned it – ex-race relations minister attacks single equalities body Single equalities body may not happen, says CRE chief Enforcement of equality law ‘off the agenda’ in single equalities Stitch-up claims over new single equalities body Squad to design new equalities commission lacks black grassroots credibility War of the equalities Big-guns blast single equalities body Opposition to single equalities body grows

Resources:

Teeth and their use

Improving Opportunity, Strengthening Society: One year On

The Zahid Mubarek Inquiry

pdf Dept. for Communities & Local Government Citizenship Survey

Responses to the Equalities Review Interim Report

The 1990 Trust Response to The Equalities Review Interim Report

Equalities Review Interim Report Briefing – Addressing Race Equality

pdf Our Rights, Our Future

pdf Improving Opportunity, Strengthening Society: The Government's race strategy

CRE response to DTI Statement on Commission for Equality and Human Rights

Equality and Diversity Forum welcomes the progress on a Commission for Equality and Human Rights

Summary of Changes to the CEHR

The 1990 Trust’s response to the CEHR White Paper

pdf Delivering equality and human rights for black and minority ethnic communities

Flush the academic racism in Blunkett’s office down the pan

Jacqui Smith answers questions on the Single Equalities Body

How to Contact your MP

Links:

Race and Faith and Communities

Election Memory

Catalyst Magazine

UNITE TO PROTECT OUR RIGHTS: sign the statement against the erosion of civil liberties and human rights by new anti-terrorism proposals A Black Manifesto No 2 ID FREE FAROUQ PDP ASSOCIATES Power to the People

Published by The 1990 Trust

This website is subject to a disclaimer: Please read


Black Information Link. All rights reserved.

Suite 12 Winchester House 
9 Cranmer Road
London SW9 6EJ
Tel: 020  7582 1990
Fax: 020 7793 8269
Email: blink1990@blink.org.uk

top of pagetop of page

powered by Linux