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The race report

A heated debate about inequality

Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

“So, it’s official,” says Rod Liddle in The Sun. A government-commissioned review into racial inequality has confirmed the obvious: “There is no proof for structural or institutional racism in our country.” A panel chaired by the “brilliant black educationalist” Tony Sewell acknowledged in its report that racism is still a “real force”. But it argues that factors such as family and class have a “more significant impact on life chances”. Britain’s “successful multicultural community”, the report concludes, serves as a “beacon” to the rest of the world.

Naturally, this “heretical conclusion” has prompted apoplexy, says Sherelle Jacobs in The Daily Telegraph. But the woke warriors can’t argue with the report’s “inconvenient facts”. The ethnic pay gap, for example, has shrunk to just 2.3%. At school, black Caribbeans are the only ethnic minority not doing “as well or better than their white counterparts”.

Sorry, but the notion that there is no evidence of institutional racism is simply “delusional”, says Halima Begum in The Guardian. What about the government scheme that orders teachers to report “suspicious” Muslim pupils? Or the fact that young black men are much more likely to be stopped and searched by police, and are “twice as likely to die in custody”? Does Sewell think all this is coincidence?

The report is right to say that things are “better than they used to be”, says Sathnam Sanghera in The Times, but it “loses credibility” by suggesting that Britain’s racial problems are in the past. Not that we should be surprised. Everyone involved in the report’s commissioning – from Boris Johnson to the head of No 10’s policy unit, Munira Mirza, and Sewell himself – had previously “criticised the concept of structural racism”. As Yes Minister’s Sir Humphrey Appleby put it: “Never set up an inquiry unless you know in advance what its finding will be.”

Let’s look on the bright side, says Simon Woolley in The Guardian. Sure, Sewell patronised Black Lives Matter protestors by accusing them of “well-meaning idealism”. But their protests, which prompted the report in the first place, have brought this issue to the fore. Our businesses, our institutions and the public have never been “more receptive” to undoing the scourge of racism. Eventually the government “will be forced to catch up”.