Un International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:47 pm on 8th April 2019.

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Photo of Dawn Butler Dawn Butler Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities 8:47 pm, 8th April 2019

I know that there is not a lot of time left to sum up—you may need to stop me if I get close to time, Mr Deputy Speaker—but I want to thank and congratulate my hon. Friend Faisal Rashid on today’s excellent debate. If we look at the diversity around the House, we can see that there are lots of people who want to contribute. I also thank the Backbench Business Committee for allowing the debate to take place. It is a shame that we do not have enough time to really do it justice, which is why we must ensure that next time the debate takes place in Government time.

As my hon. Friend mentioned, the theme for today is mitigating and countering rising nationalist populism and extreme supremacist ideologies. We all have to work harder, through our actions and our words, if we are to combat that. Do we say things that are inclusive or dismissive when we speak? Is the environment that we create embracing or hostile? Why is that important? It is important because if we create a hostile environment, we fuel hate and right-wing ideologies. We have to underscore the dangers of populism on both the left and the right. National populism must keep sight of the ways in which multiple intersecting identities transform the experience of racial discrimination.

We have heard some great speeches today from across the House. My hon. Friend Imran Hussain talked about the growth of young right wingers and how dangerous they are.

I want to take a moment to talk about Dylann Roof, 25, who shot nine black people dead in a church; Alex Fields, 20, who killed Heather Heyer. Robert Bowers was an exception as he was 46 when he killed 11 Jewish worshippers in a synagogue; Brenton Tarrant, 28, was responsible for the Christchurch, New Zealand shootings, murdering 50 people and attempting to murder 39; Thomas Mair shot and killed our friend Jo Cox; and Jack Renshaw, just 23, a convicted paedophile tried to kill my hon. Friend Rosie Cooper. Hope not Hate saved her life. Jack Coulson, 19, is in prison for the threats made against Luciana Berger. These are all young white right-wing extremists. Both here and in the US we have sadly witnessed a surge of intolerance, a growth of the far right and increasing hate crime towards minority communities. We must not become complacent in the fight for equality or allow any of our hard-fought rights to be rolled back.

Almost every piece of progressive legislation in the UK was delivered by a Labour Government, including the Race Relations Act 1968 and the Human Rights Act 1998. Meanwhile, current legislation means that people can only bring a discrimination claim on the grounds of one aspect of their identity. We must do better. Section 14 of the Equality Act 2010 must be enacted so we can bring forward cases on multiple grounds of discrimination.

There are challenges, but it is important to celebrate our diversities and most people have used this opportunity to celebrate in their own constituencies. We must strive not for tolerance in society, but for acceptance. Too much have we talked about tolerance.

I know time is very short, but the words and language of Members in this House is so important. The N word is never acceptable. I am still waiting for an explanation as to why the N word was used at a particular meeting. As I say, we must be very careful. We must be exemplary in our attitudes in this place. Nationalists and populist Governments often deploy a range of tactics to disen- franchise groups portrayed as outsiders, including racial and ethnic minorities. We, including the Government, have to do better.

There are so many things I would like to mention, but I know I have to take my seat. I thank all Members for mentioning my constituent Raheem Sterling and the work that he has been doing to call out racism in football and society. He is saying that when we talk about racism and hate crimes we must talk about these issues fairly. There is no point in the names I read out being referred to as people with mental health illnesses and other people as terrorists. They are all terrorists. They are all evil nasty people.

Stephen Kerr quoted Martin Luther King—one of my favourite quotes—on the interrelated structure of reality, but I will end on something else that Martin Luther King said:

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

He also said, and I hope we can take a bit of this away with us today:

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”