Towards race equality: Lib Dem task force reports

Equality under the law and equal opportunity is at the heart of Liberal Democracy. So begins the first report of the task force appointed by Nick Clegg early in 2012, charged with identifying effective measures to tackle inequality, discrimination and under‐representation affecting Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities and individuals.

Focusing on education and employment, no fewer than 30 recommendations are offered, notably including opposition to changes to the Equality Act and EHRC, previously covered here at Liberal Democrat Voice. The Guardian reports equality reforms condemned by Lib Dem task force.

The Task Force recommends maintaining the wider role of the EHRC to enable the organisation to play a leading role in changing attitudes…

The Task Force further recommends reinstating funding to the EHRC to 2010 levels and that meaningful resources are allocated to each equality strand within the EHRC to ensure that attention is focussed on all strands.

The Task Force further recommends that action is taken to ensure that the EHRC’s independence from government is upheld and not undermined.

We recommend that Liberal Democrats oppose all attempts to weaken the Equality Act, and further to demand full implementation of the Act…

While these bombshells will grab the headlines, there is food for thought throughout the report. Recommendation 25, for example, addresses the lack of progress in access to private sector employment for BAME applicants. It suggests “contract conditions to ensure suppliers improve their practices, and we recommend that government establish a public sector-wide procurement policy to use more robust pre‐qualification questions and contract conditions to promote race equality in the workplace. It should do this in a way that does not impose undue burdens on small companies.”

This is a challenge. Bidding for public sector contracts as a small business already represents a minefield of boxes to tick. So how do we establish this policy without compounding the unfairness to small business? Answers on a postcard please.

Nick Clegg’s forward to the report concludes

The ideas in this report are not Government policy or Liberal Democrat policy, and I don’t necessarily agree with every individual recommendation in these pages. But the questions, challenges and issues that this report raises are important ones for all Liberal Democrats that share my goal of ensuring that we build a fairer society in a stronger economy enabling everybody to get on in life.

And you can read here some of the regular contributions to Liberal Democrat Voice from task force members Meral Ece, Merlene Emerson, Issan Ghazni and Lester Holloway.

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7 Comments

  • Jonathan Hunt 4th Jun '13 - 2:39pm

    I must congratulate my EMLD colleagues on a formidable report on race in education and parts of employment, with thousands of words leading to some 30 recommendations. As Meral Ece said, the group could not hope to cover every aspect.

    And nor has it. I am rather disappointed about what it has missed, but am pleased to receive reassurance that those important topics will be revisited in the next EMLD task force.

    I have spent the best part of the last five years as EMLD secretary keeping two able chairs focussed on the problems of EMLD and turning round and creating an organisation that is becomeing more respected both within the party and without. So I have no wish to be critical. Quite the reverse

    But so many black and minority ethnic young people depend on the vocational route for learning and acquiring skills and qualifications that I believe it deserves more than the 13 lines and 170 words it was accorded in the report.

    I hope that when the next phase gets underway, those from a vocational background will come forward and contribute to the evidence, helping to achieve the parity of esteem that is long missing. Too many academics are only too ready to kick away the crutches of those already failed by the education system.

  • R Uduwerage-Perera 23rd Sep '16 - 10:41am

    Dear Sisters, Brothers, Colleagues, Supporters and Friends,

    The ‘Towards Race Equality’ report was excellent in its own right and if enacted it would demonstrate the Liberal Democrats commitment to combatting race inequality.

    Let us lift this report of the top shelf and blow off the dust and get down to business for we are the Party of ‘equality, fairness and justice’ and we have a history of doing what is right simply because it is right.

    If we cannot start the process of eradicating the indignity of racism now, when are we going to start?

    Namaste,

    Ruwan Uduwerage-Perera
    Chair – Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats

    ‘If not now, when?’

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