Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:26 pm on 21st April 2021.

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Photo of Lord Woolley of Woodford Lord Woolley of Woodford Crossbench 1:26 pm, 21st April 2021

My Lords, yesterday was a momentous day. Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd. President Biden responded by stating that we must acknowledge and confront systemic racism. In spite of the overwhelming evidence from many, including the medical association, representing 150,000 doctors, Dr Sewell’s report stated that the evidence they found did not show systemic racism. Furthermore, hundreds of thousands of black and white young people who took to the streets to protest for Black Lives Matter were dismissed in the report as well-meaning idealists but wrong in their assertion of systemic racism.

Yesterday the government Minister Kemi Badenoch, who seemed to attack anyone who did not agree with her, including the excellent race equality organisation the Runnymede Trust, none the less stated, to my great relief, that no one, not least the Government, is denying institutional racism as distinct from verbal racism. She went on to say that it is not everywhere, and I think we can all agree with that. But the report said, and the Minister confirmed, that Dr Sewell and his commissioners did not find systemic racism in this report from the deluge of evidence, including from myself. Given that dramatic but welcome U-turn in acknowledging systemic race inequalities, were the commissioners incompetent or in wilful denial?