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Fleet Street’s post-racial deception

Sections of the press suggested that the Government’s communities minister had declared Britain a post-racial society. Only he didn’t say that.

But even though Denham was not saying that class had ‘replaced’ race, Fleet Street’s finest refused to let facts get in the way of spin.

The Daily Mail ran the headline “Class has replaced race as the main cause of discrimination in Britain, claims Labour

But the same article quoted the communities minister as saying:

There is a lot still to be done before we are a genuinely equal society but we should take comfort from real progress. We maintain our commitment to tackling racism and racial discrimination.

We can also recognise, though, that disadvantage can be because of social class and that can affect people from black backgrounds, Asian backgrounds or white backgrounds.

“We are determined to tackle inequality that comes from social class with all the vigour that we tackle inequality that comes from race.’

The chasm between the ministers speech – where he is saying that tackling class disadvantage is equally as important as tackling racism – is clear for all to see.

And while there is a very real argument that the Government have not been tackling racism with all the vigour Denham implies,he is certainly not claiming that class has replaced race.

Neither does the document he was launching, Tackling Race Inequality: A Statement on Race.

The department’s press release goes even further, quoting Denham as saying:

“We are committed to tackling inequality and disadvantage wherever it exists. If the cause is racism and discrimination we will challenge racism and discrimination.

If the cause of disadvantage is social class, we will promote opportunity. And if the cause is a combination of racism and social class we will tackle both together.”

It is a travesty that this has been spun into “class has replaced race”, giving the impression that the Government is claiming in a post-racial society.

The level of spin is nothing less than a bald deception, and a highly damaging one at that. We have received many calls today from people furious at what they thought Denham has said.

The fear is that press headlines will set a ‘post-racial’ agenda even though the evidence (disproportionate rates of BME unemployment, homelessness, criminialisation etc) do not support it.

The likes of the Mail have gone a long way to establishing a myth which has no basis in reality.

Whether the press dreamt up this deliberate misinformation on their own, or whether they were briefed by official sources to pursue this line, a question we may never know the answer to.

We can only hope that the impact of “class replacing race” headlines will be fleeting, but somehow I doubt it.

By Lester Holloway



One Response

  1. I strongly disagree. I think this Government has failed black communities and that for once on this occasion the press have it about right, The headlines in the Mail and other right wing newspapers is precisely what the Government intended. This is dog whistle politics of the subtlest kind. This Government has virtually discarded any commitment to race equality. Institutional racism as a concept is dead. The irony is that racial inequalities for the vast majority of black and ethnic minority communities have widened even by the Governments own assessments.

    This is crass electioneering in the hope of winning back some of the core Labour vote lost to the BNP. The current economic recession is and will continue to further increase racism. The rise of the BNP tells its own story racial have increased, stop and search increased, numbers in jail increased, teenage pregnancies increase, adult black male unemployment increased, black homelessness has increased, mental health incarceration increased, pensioner and child poverty have increased and social mobility has decreased, I could go on but you get the point

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