No 10 responds after UN group says racism report 'tries to normalise white supremacy'

19 April 2021, 17:19

Number 10 hit back at a UN group's criticism of a race report
Number 10 hit back at a UN group's criticism of a race report. Picture: WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto/PA Images

By Will Taylor

Downing Street has rejected criticism that a report into racial disparities attempts to "normalise white supremacy".

The findings of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (Cred), which were widely criticised on publication, should be rejected by the Government, according to the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent.

The report said racism is a "real force" but the UK is no longer a country where the "system is deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities", while Cred’s chairman said it found no evidence of institutional racism.

Downing Street said on Monday afternoon the report "in no way condones racist behaviour" after the UN group’s hard-hitting criticism, which called for Cred to be "disbanded or reconstituted".

Read more: Racism is 'diminishing', co-author of UK race report tells LBC

Read more: Race report accused of 'glorifying' slave trade by Labour MP

Experts said its report "repackages racist tropes and stereotypes into fact, twisting data and misapplying statistics and studies", in a statement released by the UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner.

They added: "The report cites dubious evidence to make claims that rationalise white supremacy by using the familiar arguments that have always justified racial hierarchy.

"This attempt to normalise white supremacy despite considerable research and evidence of institutional racism is an unfortunate sidestepping of the opportunity to acknowledge the atrocities of the past and the contributions of all in order to move forward."

The UN group criticised Cred's finding that evidence suggests different experiences of family life can explain many disparities in education outcomes and crime.

Read more: 'Our experiences are not a myth': John Amaechi's rousing reaction to UK's race report

The UN experts said the suggestion that family structure rather than institutionalised discrimination is a central part of the black experience is a "tone-deaf attempt at rejecting the lived realities of people of African descent and other ethnic minorities in the UK".

In response, a spokesman for Boris Johnson said: "Our view is that this report misrepresents the findings.

"We remain proud of the UK's long history as a human rights champion and we encourage everyone to read the original report in full."

In response to the claim that the Cred report attempts to "normalise white supremacy", the No 10 spokesman said: "Absolutely not.

"This report in no way condones racist behaviour and in fact it highlights that racism and inequality are still problems for our country."

Mr Johnson has previously called the review a "very interesting piece of work" but admitted more needed to be done to address racism.

"I don't say the Government is going to agree with absolutely everything in it, but it has some original and stimulating work in it that I think people need to read and to consider," Mr Johnson said.

Cred's report, published on March 31, was attacked for "putting a positive spin on slavery and empire" and the UN group said it gave a "mythical representation of enslavement is an attempt to sanitise the history of the trade in enslaved Africans".

The commission previously said any suggestion it would play down such an atrocity was "as absurd as it is offensive".