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CRE turkeys vote for early Christmas

Exclusive by Lester Holloway

BRITAIN'S PREMIER RACE body, the Commission for Racial Equality, want to abolish themselves two years early, a leaked memo has revealed.

Leaked memo spells the end of 30 years of the CRE.

Less than a year after chairman Trevor Phillips brokered a deal giving the CRE an extra two years' life, his board have voted to scrap that arrangement and close the £20m institution in October 2007.

The deal to keep the CRE going until 2009 was done when Phillips opposed the creation of the new single equalities body, the Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR), which he described as a “train wreck waiting to happen.”

Turncoat Trevor then changed his mind and earlier this month was appointed chairman of the new super-equalities body. Last Wednesday the CRE commissioners voted to end 30 years of history and turn off the lights at the same time as the CEHR comes into being.


Under the heading 'What has been agreed', the memo from Maxine Ayton of Internal Communications reads: “Commissioners decided that the advantages of a simultaneous entry clearly out-weigh the disadvantages of late entry.

Execution date now set for CRE is October 2007.

“It was therefore unamimously agreed that the advice to the Secretary of State for DCLG [Ruth Kelly] should be a common entry date of October 2007.”

The memo adds: “The CRE's previous reasons for late entry had mostly been resolved with the creation of the DCLG [Department of Communities and Local Government] and the Commission for Integration and Cohesion.”

Some anti-racist campaigners believe the CRE's change of heart has more to do with Phillips doing a deal with Ruth Kelly to lead the new CEHR and follow a government agenda.


Before Kelly's appointment, and the creation of the DCLG, Phillips was widely assumed to be out of the running for CEHR chairman.

Ruth Kelly
Ruth Kelly is expected to keep the CEHR on a short leash.

Tony Blair offered the job to House of Lords leader Baroness Valerie Amos during the last government reshuffle but she turned it down to remain Britain's only black Cabinet minister.

Before the reshuffle Phillips opposed the CEHR's creation and former Trade Secretary Patricia Hewitt, who was then in charge of the process, viewed Phillips with suspicion, insiders claim.

With the newly-appointed Communities Secretary Kelly handed responsibility for setting up the new body, Phillips suddenly came into the frame. Kelly extended the recruitment timetable in order to give Phillips time to get his application form in.

There was a meeting of minds over multiculturalism, and Kelly pushed the creation of a time-limited commission to look into integration up the Whitehall agenda. Prior to her appointment the idea of an integration study was seen as a low priority.

Many of Phillips critics believe that the previous deal to give the CRE an extra two years life was misguided. They argue he should have been pushing for a statutory race committee and guarenteed black representation in the CEHR instead.

Last week Blink revealed that the government were intending to cut one year off the CRE's life anyway, so that it would wind up in 2008.

We also revealed a damning report into the failure of the CRE, under Phillips' chairmanship, to make sure the private sector comply with race laws and duties.

A letter from Kelly to Phillips makes clear she believes the government should set the CEHR's agenda. At the same time Kelly intends to slash the CEHR budget from the promised £70m to just £57m.

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