'Britain has become less racist' think tank director says as he asks how we all live together

30 November 2022, 11:02

Complaining that the UK's largest cities are 'too diverse' is 'unconstructive' says Sunder Katwala

Melissa Fleur Afshar

By Melissa Fleur Afshar

The think tank director said that Brits should think critically and fairly before forming opinions based on the ONS' new data.

The 2021 census results revealed England and Wales have become minority Christian countries for the first time since records began, and that the number of individuals from diverse ethnic backgrounds has risen markedly.

British Future's director Sunder Katwala told LBC that now that the findings are out, attention should be placed on "how we live well together instead of [the statistics] being used as a tug of war."

"It's a symbolic moment," the think tank director told Nick Ferrari.

"The fact is, we are now a society of many faiths and different ethnic backgrounds, but how do we handle that so that people feel it's being handled fairly? It's important for us to talk about the changing society."

Nick Ferrari then questioned Mr Katwala on what Brits should take away from the statistics.

"[We need to think about] how we talk about these findings, and how we develop confidence in a diverse society, [they] are important debates to have," said Mr Katwala.

For Mr Katwala, the new data can serve as an opportunity to foster healthy and productive conversations about multi-culturalism, race, and immigration, particularly for the younger generation.

"We should handle change well and debate policy, and [debate] what we do in our schools to get integration right," Mr Katwala added.

The pair then spent time discussing what the growing rates of diversity could mean for Britain, and whether it could signal the decline of racism.

Mr Katwala was quick to acknowledge the strides that Britain has made over the past few decades in eradicating racism, while noting that the ONS' high figures could still cause "anxiety" within many people about change.

It's for precisely this reason that the think tank director feels the subject of Britain becoming "more secular and ethnically diverse" should be handled with care and consideration, to allow people to discuss and understand the data before jumping to conclusions.

The think tank director then added that while migration figures have also risen recently - which leads to greater ethnic diversity in the UK - that "migration is getting less white, and that [many] people are migrating from outside of Europe."

READ MORE: Christians have become a minority in England and Wales for the first time, official data shows

While the pair dissected the data, Nick Ferrari asked Mr Katwala what in regards to the findings we should be celebrating and what presents as a challenge.

Mr Katwala responded that the nation's changing narrative around immigration can be taken as a positive.

"When my dad arrived from India, it was all about the send them back to their own country debate," said Mr Katwala.

"Now, the debate is on how we make [diverse societies] work, and on who has got to do what to make a diverse society [succeed]".

"If your problem is that Birmingham or London are too diverse, you just have to accept the people who have come here legitimately and their children who have been born here," added Mr Katwala.

On the challenges that the findings could present, Mr Katwala responded:

"There are challenges in a changing society, but I think that we have some confidence rather than complacency in how we handle them, saying that London is too diverse is at best unconstructive and at worst extreme".

The Office For National Statistics figures show a changing demographic in England and Wales:

  • The percentage of the population who are Asian has risen from 7.5% to 9.3%.
  • The percentage of the population who are Black has risen from 3.3% to 4%.
  • The percentage of the population who are of mixed ethnic heritage has risen from 2.2% to 2.9%.
  • The percentage of the population who are of any other ethnic origin has risen from 1% to 2.1%.
  • White Brits have become a minority ethnic group in London.

Sunder Katwala says the recent Census report is a 'symbolic moment'