The hostile reception to Tony Sewell’s report into race in Britain shows the scale of the fight ahead
We have entered the opening phase of a vicious new culture war. A Government-commissioned review, launched in the wake of last summer’s Black Lives Matters protests, has come to the heretical conclusion that race is less important than family and class in explaining the outcomes of different groups. The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities report is a forensic and unapologetic challenge to the liberal-Left conviction that the UK is structurally bigoted. It finds no evidence that institutional racism exists in Britain. In fact, it points out that, in some areas, such as education, particular ethnic minorities outperform their white counterparts. Even more boldly it ventures that UK should be seen as a model for other white-majority nations.
Hours before the report was even published, it had already been trashed by the Left-wing activists who dominate discourse on race in Britain. Maurice Mcleod, the chief executive of Race on the Agenda, blasted the report as “government level gaslighting”. Halima Begum, head of the Runnymede Trust, called it a “gross offence” to grieving families of ethnic minorities who have died of Covid. Black Lives Matter, which has bloomed from a grassroots rabble into a slick establishment operation, snipped that it was “perplexed” by the report’s methodology and “disappointed” by oversight of police racism.
A hostile reception is, on one level, a good sign. The report is a brave first step in confronting the Neo-Marxist ideology that has poisoned conversations about race. Its emphasis on concrete evidence rather than patronising theories – from critical race to unconcious bias – is radical. It is a deep rejection of “political blackness” – a post-communist doctrine seeded in the civil rights solidarity of 1960s, which lumps minorities together in a battle against capitalist white privilege. The inquiry’s jettisoning of the term BAME is not merely “semantics”, but the start of a fierce academic battle. The cliched acronym epitomises the 30-year colonisation of the cultural mainstream by the hard-Left, travelling from radicalised anthropology departments to executive boardrooms, public bodies, and media outfits.
Tony Sewell – the Brixton-born educationalist who led the Commission – is trying to shift the debate away from victimising meta-theories towards a more nuanced discussion about race. His investigation is barbed with inconvenient facts. The ethnic pay gap has shrunk to 2.3 per cent overall and barely registers for employees under 30. Diversity is improving in professions like medicine and law.