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By Baroness Smith of Llanfaes
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David Lammy Says Landmark Diversity Report Is An Insult To Those Who Have Suffered Institutional Racism

David Lammy has hit out at the Prime Minister over the report (Baldo Sciacca)

3 min read

The shadow justice secretary has accused Boris Johnson of "slamming the door" on people who have called for action to tackle institutional racism following the publication of a landmark diversity report.

The Labour MP has hit out at the Prime Minister for "standing in the way" of those working to tackle racism after selected conclusions from a new report by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities were released last night.

The 264-page report, set to be published later today, claimed there was no evidence of institutional racism in the UK and that the country was a "model to the world" on diversity.

The report, commissioned by Johnson in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests, also concluded that attainment in education was the "single most emphatic success story of the British ethnic minority experience".

But speaking on Wednesday, Lammy said the "rushed" report would "divide us once more and keep us debating the existence of racism rather than doing anything about it".

"British people, white and black, are dying to turn the page on racism. They are working in food banks to support the marginalised. They are teaching in after school clubs to raise awareness," he said on his LBC Radio show.

"They are working in rehab centers to end the cycle of disproportionate mass incarceration.

"Boris Johnson has just slammed the door in their faces, by telling them they are idealists, they are wasting their time. He has let an entire generation of white and black British people down.

He added: "Let's not forget this report was rushed out in response to the overwhelming desire for change after the murder of George Floyd, where thousands of people rallied for the black men, women and children, suffering, still, excluded in this country because of institution racism.

"This report could have been a turning point, and a moment to come together. Instead, it has chosen to divide us once more and keep us debating the existence of racism rather than doing anything about it."

Meanwhile, the shadow minister said the report's findings were a "insult to everybody and anybody across this country who experiences institutional racism".

"It is an insult to a generation of white and black Britons who have come together, determined, walking and sitting together, so many teachers trying to go into schools to turn the page on this," he added.

"I tell myself that the arc of the moral universe bends towards justice, and I know that thousands of you are right there beside me. It would help, frankly, if this government were not so determined to bend the arc backwards."

Meanwhile, Dr Halima Begum, chief executive of the Runnymede Trust, said she felt "deeply, massively let down" by the findings.

"Institutionally, we are still racist, and for a government-appointed commission to look into racism, to deny its existence is deeply, deeply worrying.

"We feel that if the best this government can do is come up with a style guide on BAME terminology, or what we should do about unconscious bias training, or extend a few school hours, then I'm afraid this government doesn't carry the confidence of black and ethnic minority communities any longer, certainly not on race."

Speaking earlier, Tony Sewell, the commission's chairman, said while there was evidence of "overt" prejudice in some areas, there was no data to suggest the UK was "institutionally racist".

"No-one denies and no-one is saying racism doesn't exist", he told BBC's Today programme.

"We found anecdotal evidence of this. However, evidence of actual institutional racism? No, that wasn't there, we didn't find that."

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