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‘No firm lead’ on tackling racism in the UK, says Labour law lord

There has been “no firm lead” on tackling racism within the UK, the author of a seminal report on multiculturalism has claimed.

Bhikhu Parekh, a Labour peer who helped shape the debate on multiculturalism in the early 2000s, said the “vulgar racism” such as that experienced by cricketer Azeem Rafiq had been the result of successive governments’ rejection of multiculturalism.

Lord Parekh, while chairman of the Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain, released the Parekh report in 2000 which acted as a basis for much of the discussion of multiculturalism in the UK. 

It comes as Labour called on the Conservative Party to “get serious” on tackling Islamophobia as statistics showed that nearly half of all religious hate crimes last year targeted Muslims.

Party chairwoman Anneliese Dodds has written to her Tory counterpart Oliver Dowden telling him to not only tackle Islamophobia in society but in his own party ranks.

In the letter, Ms Dodds and Manchester Gorton MP Afzal Khan, chair of Labour’s Muslim Network, said Muslims “remained consistently, and especially, vulnerable to religiously motivated hate crimes – a trend that shows no signs of abating under the Conservative government”.

In an interview with the Guardian, Lord Parekh said: “What we are witnessing is the crudest form of racism that you could ever imagine.

“England has changed quite a bit as a result of Asian presence and black presence. Look at music, drama, theatre, corner shops opening late, family values, all of these things have changed British culture.

“And likewise, Asians have changed as a result of British culture. Those who do not want to accept it resort to this kind of vulgar racism.”

Anneliese Dodds visits Birmingham
Anneliese Dodds said Muslims remain vulnerable to religiously motivated hate crimes (Jacob King/PA)

While saying that much had improved, Lord Parekh added: “No firm lead has been given on race. You need a clear policy on promoting equality, fighting discrimination and disadvantages. I don’t see any such policy.”

Meanwhile, Ms Dodds and Mr Khan, in their letter, questioned whether the Singh Investigation into Islamophobia in the Conservative Party released earlier this year “presented a full picture” and said Labour would be keeping a close watch on the approaching deadlines the party had set itself for responding to the probe.

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