The Facts

In March 2021, a landmark report from The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities concluded that Britain “no longer” has a system that is rigged against people from ethnic minority origin.

Indeed, No.10 has reported that whilst racism in itself does exist, “too many people in the progressive and anti-racism movements seem reluctant to acknowledge their own past achievements”.

It said that “too often, racism is the catch-all explanation, and can be simply implicitly accepted rather than explicitly examined.”

The report covered a wide range of topics, from employment and education to crime and policing and health, and is over 200 pages in length.

It concluded that “a degree of optimism is justified” and that the reality of “institutional racism” is nuanced and not as binary as campaigners would have people believe.

The report also addressed and criticised campaigners directly, and accused “well-organised single-issue identity lobby groups” of reinforcing “pessimistic narratives about race” through over-emotive, non-data-based approaches to their work.

Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds, of Labour, labelled the report “divisive and disappointing.” Spiked editor Brendan O’Neill described it as “a brilliant blow against the preposterous and divisive politics of identity.”

The report has sparked controversy across the nation and political spectrum. Many see the report as a direct refusal by the government to recognise and acknowledge racial disparities in modern Britain.

Others see it as definitive proof that Britain is not a racist country, which threatens the narratives of some campaign groups, such as Black Lives Matter, whose premise is based upon grievance.

BBC Newsnight discusses the report. Video credit: BBC News

This report should be a welcoming confirmation that Britain, as a whole, is not institutionally racist. However, this isn’t the case and as such, is mind-boggling.

It’s as if people are so desperate for grievances that they wilfully choose to ignore positive reports such as this so as to continue furthering narratives, many of which are based upon grievances of some kind.

It’s important to note that the report did not deny that racism existed; in fact it acknowledged that some communities continue to be “haunted” by historic racism, which leads to distrust and could be a stumbling block to success.

Boris Johnson himself has admitted that “there are very serious issues that our society faces to do with racism that we need to address.” It’s fraudulent to say that the government does not recognise the existence of racism.

However, the report is also so incredibly nuanced that to some it may seem as if their ideological world is collapsing. Nuance is an enemy to the ideologically possessed.

There is serious cognitive dissonance at play if complaining about a positive finding is more mainstream than agreeing with it.

Conservative MP Robert Jenrick disagrees with the idea that the UK is institutionally racist. Video credit: Daily Mail

Of course, this could be a reflection of parts of society. People are used to having something to fight against, so when it’s taken away from them they have existential crises.

In a way, victimhood and grievance defines certain groups, and therefore any attempts to remove said grievance is to remove their identity as individuals.

A criticism about the report, admittedly, is how unapologetic it is. Depending on your perspective, it can be either patronising and insulting or liberating and vindicating. Therefore, accusations of bias by the researchers cannot be ignored.

Nevertheless, there is no denying that it has huge ramifications in society’s current culture war. This report represents more than just petty point-scoring between the left and the right; it’s a piece of literature that threatens

The UK is no innocent party to racism historically and is by no means perfect, but this report at the very least shows progress.

This report made a fatal error…

It expected people to take the recommendations it made seriously even though many believe those recommendations came from a compromised commission.

The commission’s chairman Tony Sewell put it like this: “We no longer see a Britain where the system is deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities.

“The impediments and disparities do exist, they are varied, and ironically very few of them are directly to do with racism.”Too often ‘racism’ is the catch-all explanation, and can be simply implicitly accepted rather than explicitly examined.”

These statements cascaded one on top of each other, each one feeling a gut punch. The report represented a departure from what had been a broad consensus across political isles in the UK for over a decade.

The commission was set up by Munira Mirza, Mr Johnson’s policy chief, who had been the deputy mayor for education and culture when he was mayor of London. She had previously questioned the notion of institutional racism.

When Theresa May, as prime minister, set up a racial disparities audit, Ms Mirza was quoted as saying: “It reinforces this idea that ethnic minorities are being systematically oppressed, that there’s a sort of institutional problem, when in fact what we’ve seen in the last 20 years is a liberalisation, an opening up for many people.”
She suggested the educationalist – and former teacher – Tony Sewell should chair the commission, and the prime minister formally asked him to do so.

Mr Sewell, too, had questioned the existence of systemic racism in the UK. He is well known in the media circuit as someone who didn’t believe in the idea on systemic racism. In fact, In a 2010 article for Prospect magazine, he suggested that “much of the supposed evidence of institutional racism is flimsy”.

One source told the BBC: “This was not an independent report as such. It was very much driven by Munira.” Another said: “This isn’t even the ‘Downing Street’ view. There are different views across No 10. “These views are those of a faction – Munira and her husband Dougie Smith in particular.

They wanted to turn the assumption of Theresa May’s disparities audit on its head.

Essentially, the government asked a group of partisan actors who don’t believe that institutional racism exists to try and find it. Are we shocked that they came back and didn’t?

The report is a political hit job.

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Aaron Fenton-Hewitt is an aspiring journalist and political commentator. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Film from London Metropolitan University, and a Master's in Writing for Creative and Professional Practice from Middlesex University. He wishes to continue his academic career, with a PhD in Politics or related field.

Aaron is also a freelance photographer, an avid foodie and an Arsenal supporter.

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Mike Omoniyi is the Founder and Editor In Chief of The Common Sense Network. He oversees and is responsible for the direction of the Network. Mike is an activist, singer/songwriter and keen athlete. With a degree in Politics Philosophy and Economics, MA in Political Science (Democracy and Elections) and an incoming PhD on a study of Cyber-Balkanisation, Mike is passionate about politics and the study of argumentation. He is also the Managing Director of a number of organisations including, Our God Given Mission, The BAM Project and The Apex Group.

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