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PRESS RELEASE – Black communities reject Trevor Phillips for top equalities job

5/7/2006

A new poll has found that Black communities overwhelmingly gave the thumbs down to the prospect of CRE chairman Trevor Phillips taking over a new equalities body.

The Commission for Racial Equality chief is believed to have been interviewed this week for the chairmanship of a new ‘single equalities’ organisation, which comes into effect next year.

But a poll on the Blink (www.blink.org.uk) website shows that less than 3% of respondents backed Mr Phillips for the position, compared to a 40% support for Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti.

Anti-racist groups believe the results confirm a widespread view within Black communities that Mr Phillips has damaged the drive for greater race equality since taking over the CRE in 2003.

Today the black-led human rights group, The 1990 Trust, and Operation Black Vote, publish a hard-hitting critique of Mr Phillips’ reign.

This can be found on: /pdescription.asp?key=11964&grp=44&cat=356

They are concerned that the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR) already lacks credibility after consultations showed Black communities rejected the concept of lumping together seven different equalities issues.

If Mr Phillips were appointed as CEHR chair, this would be the final nail in the coffin for the single equalities body, they campaigners conclude.

The 1990 Trust board of trustees said: ‘The internet poll, whilst not scientific by any means, does reflect what we’ve heard from Black communities across Britain. Namely that Trevor has sadly lost the confidence of many within the Black and Muslim communities.

‘We have seen a never-ending stream of headline-grabbing comments from him which do not focus on the issues that matter, and actually do damage to the interests of people who look to the CRE to protect them from race discrimination.’

‘Telling Muslims they need to be more British in the face of rabid Islamaphobia was one of many ill advised comments. From his claim that “multiculturalism is dead”, to the resurrecting of the outmoded term “coloured”, Mr Phillips has given succor to opponents of greater race equality and dismayed many Black people.’

The Blink poll has received over 300 votes. Ms Chakrabarti got 43%, former CRE chairman Lord Herman Ouseley scored 36%, ex-trades union leader Sir Bill Morris 17%, and Mr Phillips trailed on just 4%. Campaigners do not believe Lord Ouseley or Sir Bill have applied for the CEHR chairmanship.

Black community activists believe the poll results reflect a commonly-held view that Mr Phillips pursued a government agenda too closely, while evidence from various studies shows patterns of race inequality getting worse.

A frequent criticism is that Mr Phillips comments around integration and citizenship appears to ‘problematise’ Black communities for not doing enough to integrate, when he should be fighting for policies which would make a real difference in tackling racism in employment and public life.

Mr Phillips’ focus on the integration agenda was evident from the interim report of the Equalities Review (ER) of government policies he leads.

Black groups believe the ER fails to address the root causes of racism and represents yet another missed opportunity to achieve race equality in our lifetime.

It would be a disaster if this agenda was replicated in the new CEHR.

Simon Woolley, of Operation Black Vote, said: ‘This new equalities body cannot work unless we have a chair that can carry all communities and the different equality sectors.

‘Other sectors have reservations about Mr. Phillips but are afraid they will be called racist if they voice their opinions. In terms of race relations under Trevor´s watch – not nearly enough progress has been made.’

FOR MORE INFORMATION CALL SIMON WOOLLEY ON 020 8983 5430 OR DAVID WEAVER, CHAIR OF THE 1990 TRUST ON 020 7582 1990 or 07985 286 229

Notes:

1. The 1990 Trust is described as a Black-led human rights organisation. Operation Black Vote campaigns for greater Black political representation and civil participation.

2. The Blink poll was first published on 28th June, and is still active. Only one vote is allowed as ‘multiple voting’ has been prevented.

3. The results, at 10am today, was Shami Chakrabarti 134 (43%), Lord Herman Ouseley 114 (36%), Sir Bill Morris 53 (17%), Trevor Phillips 10 (4%). There were a total of 311 votes cast.

4. Blink is a Black news website published by The 1990 Trust. It has 1.7m hits per month and it’s editor is Lester Holloway.

5. The 1990 Trust and Operation Black Vote have a long record of voicing the views of Black communities throughout the government process of creating the Commission for Equality and Human Rights.

6. A full list of Blink stories on this subject can be viewed on:

7. The study ‘Our Rights Our Future’ published in June 200, by The 1990 Trust revealed in detail the views of Black communities towards the CEHR proposals. This can be viewed on: /docs/our_rights_our_future.pdf

8. The 1990 Trust carried out two national consultations with Black communities over the proposals, each involving ten regional consultation meetings with hundreds of Black organisations representing thousands of members / users.

9. Mr Phillips began by supporting the CEHR proposals. When anti-racist groups demonstrated Black community opposition to the plans, Mr Phillips changed his mind describing them as “bad for race equality” and a “train wreck waiting to happen.” Given his CEHR candidature one can assume he has traveled full circle and is now back in favour of the proposals.

10. The 1990 Trust campaigned for the CEHR to have a statutory race committee and minimum Black representation on the board. The government rejected these ideas despite granting them to disability.

11. Mr. Phillips did not actively lobby for these demands. He is on record as saying ‘We’ve got to enhance the legal powers we’ve got at the moment. If that isn’t what takes place then I’m not interested.’ In fact the CEHR will have LESS powers to enforce race laws than the present CRE.

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Resources:

pdf Strength in Diversity: A Response from the 1990 Trust and associated organisations

Fuel on the Fire

Supporting Victims of Racist Abuse and Violence

Managing Diversity

Connecting Communities

A Vision of Equality

Race Equality Management Module

The Black to Black Archive

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

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