|Sir Bill Morris: says governments equalities agenda is all wrong
Sir Bill said the proposed new super-equalities body – the Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR) – was a “backward step.”
His criticisms come as the government face growing pressure from black and Asian MPs to include race in the new body.
Sir Bill spent a decade at the helm of one of the country's most influential trade unions, the TGWU, and has been one of the most high-profile black members of the Labour movement.
He told Blink that “one size fits all” did not work when it came to anti-discrimination measures and has added his name to a statement drawn up by anti-racist groups, already been supported by 130 organisations and individuals.
Sir Bill said: “It (the statement) reflects the broad thrust of popular opinion in the Black community everywhere. People are basically saying that race shouldn't just be dumped in without any mechanism to look at the special aspect of race. Some of the other committees are supported by very extensive lobbying.
“The proposition that we can have equal rights and human rights linked together without any structural provision is a backward step. One of my concerns is you can't treat all aspects of discrimination alike. One aspect does not fit all.
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“The Government is signaling that race is no longer quite its concern. It sends out an extremely negative signal.”
Sir Bill added that discrimination against Black people is rampant in workplaces and public services.
He added: “I never supported the proposition anyway. Now with no structures to focus on, it’s a backward step.”
Sir Bill’s stinging criticism comes as the Government continues to ignore race while setting up the proposed CEHR.
Ministers plan to abolish the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) and merge race with current commissions covering disability and gender, plus the new areas of sexual orientation, religion, age and human rights.
The government have no plans to include a race committee within CEHR, or guarentee BME representation on the CEHR board, or to ring-fence money for tackling racism.
Sir Bill has launched other blistering attacks on the Blair government, including over employment rights. His outspoken stance on private sector involvement in public services and claims that Labour's asylum policy panders to racists have put him in direct opposition to the party leadership.
The joint statement has also been signed by Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, Doreen Lawrence OBE, Lesbian and Gay Coalition Against Racism and the Muslim Association of Britain, plus Operation Black Vote, The 1990 Trust, the National Assembly Against Racism and a host of other bodies.