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Upside down politics over single equality body

by Lester Holloway

WESTMINSTER WILL witness topsy-turvy politics tomorrow when Tory positive action plans are rejected by Labour&#39s equality minister.

Trevor Phillips: latest position is opposed to the new single equalities body.

The Conservatives are putting forward proposals to guarentee at least one ethnic minority commissioner on a new equality body board.

But the Tory positive action plan looks set to be rejected by Labour&#39s equality minister Meg Munn.

Last week Ms Munn snubbed the idea of race committees for the proposed Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR).

Commission for Racial Equality chairman Trevor Phillips has turned up the heat on the government by claiming the CEHR would not be able to tackle the challenges Britain faced on race.

Ms Munn plans to abolish the CRE and merge it with the Disability Rights Commission, the gender-specific Equal Opportunities Commission, plus the new areas of sexual orientation, age, religion and human rights.


Tomorrow Conservative the shadow attorney general Dominic Grieve will propose that the CEHR board includes at least one commissioner who is ethnic minority, female, over 65 years in age, and “either gay, lesbian or transgender.”

Meg Munn
Meg Munn: she&#39s being told what&#39s good for the goose of disability is good for the gander of race.

Tory MP&#39s on the Equality Bill standing committee believe they can embarass the government by outflanking them on the left.

A growing number of backbench Labour MP&#39s believe the CEHR should have committees covering all the equality subjects and a guarentee that different interests will be represented on the CEHR board.

Ministers are offering committees and board representation for disability, Scotland and Wales, but not for other areas. Critics argue that genuine equality means all types of equality being treated equally.

Labour are traditionally associated with being more sympathetic to positive action but tomorrow the equality minister Meg Munn will reject Tory proposals saying that once the CEHR is created in 2009 it should set up its&#39 own committees.


Last Friday the government announced the headquarters of the new single equalities body would be in Manchester – currently home to the Equal Opportunities Commission.

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Campaigners believe this signals an &#39out of sight, out of mind&#39 approach which would distance the new body from Westminster and Whitehall decision-making.

On Sunday The Observer reported comments by Mr Phillips that government plans represented a “bargain-basement deal” which would leave the CEHR unable to tackle Britain&#39s race challenges.

Contrary to earlier assurances the government now plan to abolish the CRE-funded network of local race equality councils. Mr Phillips said the body would be &#39bad for race, bad for equality.&#39

“The CEHR will have no credibility with minority communities and no capacity to cope with the difficult race relations challenges that will face the country,” Mr Phillips said.

Rob Neil, deputy director of The 1990 Trust, commented: “We have consistently insisted on a race committee and black representation on the CEHR board as an absolute minimum. Failure to provide that would be a regressive step.”

Simon Woolley, national coordinator of Operation Black Vote, said: “We are pleased Trevor Phillips has come out so strongly against the present proposals, which clearly do not do justice to race and to equality in general.

“Groups like The 1990 Trust, Operation Black Vote and the National Assembly Against Racism have been saying this from the beginning.”

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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

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