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

CEHR “a step backwards” says Diane Abbott

by Diane Abbott MP
1/12/2005

LABOUR MP Diane Abbott, writing in The Guardian today, says the proposed single equalities body is a backward step for race equality.

 - quote - The government's flagship policy for fighting inequality will soon take shape in the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR).

But most black people regard its emergence, and the abolition of the Commission for Racial Equality, as a step backwards for the politics of race. This view is strongly held, despite the fact that the CRE has been functionally useless for 20 years.

Black people hold this view partly because there is a deal of sentimental regard among us for the CRE. It emerged following the era of Martin Luther King and the American struggle for civil rights, and is bathed in the same rosy glow.

It absorbed many of the brightest of the earliest generation of black community activists, and it comes hard to the well-brought-up working-class West Indians (that most of us are) to disrespect our elders.

Above all, the constant attacks on the CRE by racists have forced black people to rally around it on the principle that “my enemy's enemy is my friend”.

There is every reason for black people to fear that race will be marginalised in the new organisation. The taskforce set up to advise government on its development had 25 members, but only three from visible minorities.

In a debate on the new body in parliament, hardly any MP of any party mentioned race. Disabled people will have a disability commission and a disability commissioner.

Black and Asian people have no such guarantees and no specific funding. It will have weaker powers than the CRE in some areas. Above all, while the CRE has an annual budget of £20m, the CEHR will have a budget of £70m.

And this is supposed to cover discrimination on the grounds of race, sex, religion, age and sexual orientation, plus institutional support for human rights – things do not look good for black people.
But there are arguments for the CEHR.

David Blunkett was said to be vehemently against it. And the case for a single, unified equalities structure, with a single point of contact for the public, is unanswerable. It is true that many good people fought for racial equality under the banner of the old CRE and its predecessors.

But as an institution, it has been crippled by its closeness to government. Among the big race issues of recent years have been the government's shameful treatment of asylum seekers; Belmarsh; and control orders.

All of these impact most brutally on racial minorities, and on all of them the CRE has been eerily silent. Instead, it has concentrated on attacking multiculturalism and a sub-Blunkett agenda of “citizenship” and “integration”.

These themes avoid conflict with government, and lay the blame firmly with black and Asian people for their own plight. A lot could still go wrong with the CEHR. It needs to be properly funded.

There must be structural protection for work on race. And putting it in Manchester, when more than half of Britain's black and minority ethnic people live in London and the south-east, is plain silly.

The “war on terror” makes this a frightening time to be black or Asian. It was purely fortuitous that the Tory MPs David Davis and Dominic Grieve were prepared to take the Tory party through the lobbies with the Labour left to defeat the 90-day detention plan.

Under David Cameron, the Tories would give unswerving support to the government's anti-civil-liberties agenda. With the CRE busy complaining that white people will not invite us to their dinner parties, it may prove to be that human rights and the rule of law are the best protection black and Asian people have.

So, with one last respectful nod to the history of struggle the CRE represents, we must throw our lot in with the CEHR and hope for the best. - unquote -

Diane Abbott is the Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington. This article first appeared in The Guardian

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