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  • The war over race

    by Sunny
    26th November, 2006 at 3:59 am    

    Well this should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone who has been following the “race-relations industry” for a while. Oh most of you haven’t? I’m not surprised, it is actually rather boring and banal. Allow me to bring you up to speed.

    Lee Jasper and Trevor Phillips hate each other. In fact, I’m told, they try and avoid being in the same room as each other. Actually the London Mayor and Jasper together hate Phillips. Today’s Observer says all out war has been declared.

    A furious clash over multiculturalism has erupted after the Mayor of London accused Trevor Phillips, head of Britain’s race equality watchdog, of peddling falsehoods and failing victims of racism.

    Ken Livingstone is refusing to attend a two-day conference this week on race relations being organised by Phillips, casting a shadow over what was meant to be a celebration of 30 years of anti-discrimination law.

    The mayor’s adviser on equality, Lee Jasper, has also signed a letter sent to speakers at the event, which takes place tomorrow and on Tuesday, urging them to stage a boycott. The letter accuses the Commission for Racial Equality, which Phillips chairs, of fuelling ‘general hostility’ towards ethnic minorities by attacking the principle of multiculturalism.

    Actually this clash is rather old and has been brewing ever since the “death of multi-culturalism” speech and exacerbated by the “sleep-walking to segregation” speech by Phillips. Lee Jasper, and his chums from 1990 Trust’s bone of contention is that:

    In a private letter to Phillips seen by The Observer, Livingstone refused an invitation to the conference and accused the race relations head of putting out ‘factually false information’ about whether British communities are becoming more separate. Objecting to workshops with titles such as ‘Rivers of blood: Did Enoch Powell get it right?’, he accused Phillips of trying to ‘grab alarmist headlines, rather than develop discourse.’

    Fair enough. I too have a problem with Trevor Phillips’ alarmist speeches and we state clearly in the New Generation Network manifesto that we reject his assertion that we are “sleep-walking into segregation” and that riots will break out everytime there is a controversy.

    This approach has also been criticised by Q-News managing editor Fareena Alam in the latest Newsweek:

    Coming a year after similar riots in Paris, Phillips’s warning reinforced a widespread impression that Britain’s Muslim communities are pressure cookers waiting to explode, that they are somehow incapable of participating peacefully in democracy and therefore require special rules.

    Again, I agree with her frustrations.

    Saying that, I’m neither a fan of the 1990 Trust nor Lee Jasper. The latter has a habit of insinuating, in every single multi-culturalism debate I’ve been at, that British ethnic minorities can never be proper citizens until racism has been sorted out. This is absurd; we are British whether or not there is racism. We deal with it and counter it together as British citizens, not with this standoff-ish attitude.

    And the 1990 Trust… well I don’t have much faith in them either to be honest. They’ve lost plenty of credibility since they started happily going on marches alongside Hizb ut-Tahrir and the likes of Yvonne Ridley.

    And this is why we launched the New Generation Network: we are neither pessimistic about the state of race relations, but neither do we want to march alongside bigots in solidarity to fight prejudice.

    This war between Jasper and Phillips will no doubt continue for a while. The former will remain alongside Livingstone if he’s re-elected while the latter is heading up CEHR. The more they fight the better because it just shows the farcical nature of this “race-relations industry” and why a new way is needed.

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    Filed in: Race politics

    4 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs

    1. El Cid — on 26th November, 2006 at 9:19 am  

      Agreed. It also highlights the belligerent and futile dogmatism that sometimes undermines left-wing debate and means Ken is actually closer to the BNP than he thinks.
      Will you be attending Sunny?

    2. Tilling — on 27th November, 2006 at 7:50 am  

      If Lee Jasper and Ken Livingstone hate you, then you must be doing something right.

    3. faizal — on 28th November, 2006 at 11:53 am  

      I heard less than 10 people showed up for the boycott.

      this arguement is at the behest of communities that need elected representatives who are not on their own personnal power trip.

    4. faizal — on 30th November, 2006 at 12:02 pm  

      Well, well. Cameron backs Trevor…..

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