Could It Happen In Britain?

Sir Trevor Phillips, Head of the equality watchdog delivered a stinging blow to the ears of the British political classes in the wake of the Obama being elected to the presidency of the US. He basically said that black people would be prevented from reaching the higher levels of political achievement in the UK because of Institutional racism and that the British political system was ‘to some extent closed to outsiders’.

A British Barack Obama would be prevented from becoming prime minister by “institutional racism”, He went on to say that although the British public “would rather like” a black leader, following the US election, that “institutional resistance” would block the path of an ethnic minority candidate. “If Barack Obama had lived here I would be very surprised if even somebody as brilliant as him would have been able to break through the institutional stranglehold that there is on power within the Labour party,” he told the Times.

There are 15 non white (ethnic minority) members of parliament: 13 Labour and 2 Conservatives and Phillips actually applauded the Conservatives for making “faster progress” with their selection procedures.

There was a huge furore within the Labour Party with the issuance of these remarks and Phillips later went on to clarify his comments on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, saying Labour had “led the way” with respect to ethnic minority MPs but “the political system is to some extent closed to outsiders”. He said that the problem, as he saw it, was the system and not discrimination by individual party members. “It’s a point about the fact that systems can sometimes work in such a way that, in spite of everybody’s goodwill, in spite of the fact that everybody wants it to change, it doesn’t change,”  Phillips who is not a supporter of all-black shortlists maintains that some form of action was needed to give competent people “a bit of an edge… The parties and unions and think-tanks are all very happy to sign up to the general idea of advancing the cause of minorities but in practice they would like somebody else to do the business. It’s institutional racism,” he told the Times.

There were several Angy denials from labour MPs  and the party was scurrying around for most of the day in a desperate attempt to find some prominent black MP’s to counter Phillips claims. They couldn’t so then they decided they would settle for any MP, known or not. They eventually found one poor, lonely, leaned on low profile “just come” black female MP whose name escapes me for the moment, Oh ye… One Sadiq Khan, (the Labour MP for Tooting) popped up to make a statement to the Times. He said that he fundamentally disagreed with Phillips. He went on to say: “I predict there will be a black or Asian prime minister in my lifetime and all the evidence suggests it will be a Labour prime minister,”

I laughed and laughed and laughed when I heard Sadiq’s words. Am still laughing now as I write this.
In my humble opinion I believe Trevor Phillips is bang on target with this one. I don’t always agree with Trevor but Trevor… Or should I say Sir Trev?. I’m with you on this one mi ol’ son.



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