The jaw-dropping response from a Tory minister to a call for ethnic equality

Kemi Badenoch
Tracy Keeling

A parliamentary debate about the disparities in the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic took place on 4 June. It followed the release of a government report on the higher risks that Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups face from the disease. During the debate, Labour MP Zarah Sultana asked the minister responding for the government to “commit to a race equality strategy” that would tackle “the underlying inequalities and systemic injustice that coronavirus has so brutally laid bare”.

The answer she got was jaw-dropping, particularly in light of the report and the recent death of George Floyd in the US.

Pride

Sultana prefaced her question by saying:

The coronavirus does not discriminate, but the system in which it is spreading does. Higher rates of poverty, overcrowded housing, precarious work and jobs on the frontline mean that if you are black or Asian you are more likely to catch the virus and to be hit worse if you do. “Black lives matter” is not a slogan. We are owed more than confirmation that our communities are suffering; we are owed justice.

She then posed her question. And as she explained on Twitter, here’s the answer she got from equalities minister Kemi Badenoch:

To offer a fuller picture, after asserting that the government is doing “every single thing” it can to “eliminate” the disparities it’s “seeing” due to coronavirus, Badenoch said:

I am not going to take any lessons from the hon. Lady on race and what I should be doing on that. I think the Government have a record to be proud of.

Shame

As Sultana pointed out, however, the evidence shows that successive Conservative governments have nothing to be proud of in relation to ethnic equality – quite the opposite in fact. From the shocking response to the Grenfell fire (and the careless policy-making that led to it) to the deportation of many people from the Windrush generation, the record of most Conservative governments on ethnic equality is shameful.

The current government is no exception to that. Boris Johnson has consistently used racist language, both in his career before politics and during it. As someone pointed out in response to Sultana’s tweet, he’s even been caught on camera greeting everyone in a front row at a party conference except the two Black people there:

The racist words and actions of numerous Conservative MPs, councillors, and party members through the years reveal just how appalling the party’s record is. Meanwhile, Conservative politicians also expend their energy defending and ‘cosying up’ to neo-fascists and racists. As The Canary‘s Ed Sykes reported in February:

The Conservatives have been particularly close to [Hungarian prime minister] Viktor Orbán. For example, when the EU sought to sanction Orbán regarding accusations of antisemitism, Islamophobia, and attacking press freedoms, the Conservative Party joined far-right politicians in voting that Orbán didn’t pose a “clear risk of a serious breach of the EU founding values”.

So, no – the Conservative government’s record is not one it should be proud of. It illustrates exactly what Sultana was warning parliament about: ethnic inequality and systemic injustice.

Featured image via The Telegraph/YouTube

We need your help ...

The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.

Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.

We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.

Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?

The Canary Support us
  • Show Comments
    1. Are the writers at The Canary a special kind of stupid? The Labour Party has become the nasty party, riddled with anti semites and race baiters. The sooner it splits the better.
      Anyone who knows Badenoch’s childhood history would understand her repsonse. She is a great MP and showed both the Labour Party and the SNP up as a bunch of buffoons in this sitting. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her as a future head of the Conservative party. A party that’s already had 2 female leaders whilst the Labour Party went with the white, multi millionaire male rather than any of the 3 female candidates in the latest leadership farce. 2 BAME chancellors, a BAME Home Secretary, I could go on. Labour is all fart and no poo when it comes to racism. Oh hang on, they’re full of shit.

      1. Riddled with? What evidence do you have? Out of a membership of c 500,000 how many would need to be racist for your “riddled with” to make sense? How many have been accused? To date, c 2,000. About 0.5% of the membership. But that’s the accused, not those found guilty of racism. Many of the cases are in limbo. Further, many of the cases are obviously factitious. Presumably you’re aware of the case of Audrey White, the member of Riverside CLP falsely accused of anti-Semitism and awarded a substantial payout by the press complaints body who found against the Jewish Chronicle. What in fact happened is that a foreign power, through its UK proxies intervened in our politics to help ensure a life-long anti-racist could not be PM. Straight out of Orwell. An anti-racist PM would be a disaster for the wealthy and powerful. Our economic system was built out of colonialism and that is racist. Churchill was a racist. He supported using poisoned gas against “uncivilised tribes” in particular “recalcitrant Arabs”. Lloyd George was a racist who argued for “reserving the right to bomb niggers”. Tony Blair is a racist: the war in Iraq was an obviously racist endeavour. Racism is what makes the modern world go round. If racial equality were established world wide, there would be a huge shift of wealth and power to Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Arab countries. That is why Corbyn had to be stopped. He’s a real anti-racist not an erzast one like the tokenists in the Tory Party. There are very few anti-Semites in the Labour Party, but there are a lot of anti-Palestinians. That is the touchstone of anti-racism in the modern world. Those who defend Israel against the Palestinians are the racists. Chaim Weizman put it simply: “There is a qualitative difference between a Jew and an Arab.” Racism. Writing in Nekudah on 3rd September 1982 Yedidia Segal opines: “God is sorry he created the Ishmaelites and the Gentiles (that’s us) are people like a donkey.” “There is no relation” he writes, “between the law of Israel and the atheistic modern humanism…one must destroy, kill and eliminate men, women and children…there is no place for humanistic considerations.” If you’re looking for something “riddled” with racism, look no further than ethno-political Zionism and the policies of the Israeli State. It was because Corbyn was willing to taken them on he had to be destroyed. And racism marches on.

      2. I sure am glad we have a Murdoch-reader like you turning up to explain racism to us.

        Next you’ll be explaining how the Tories reduce poverty while Corbyn would have increased it.

        Needless to say, how Thatchers selling off of Council Houses increased social housing, of Utilities that reduced bills, and how leaving the EU will increase freedoms and Rights.

        When you notice the rain falling upwards, do you ever wonder if you were dropped on your head?

    2. Tory minister outed as bourgeois fascist captalist racist imperialist pig.
      Scientific world makes earth-shaking discovery; bears defecate in forest.
      Shock revelation shakes Cartholic Church; “I am Catholic” reveals Pope.

    3. Racism is only one form of institutionalised prejudice, just as nationalism is merely one form of pride. There was, I am told, a specialised scabbard for daggers that sharpened the weapon each time it was drawn and replaced. In those days the class/caste system in Merrie England was more obvious than now – although the peasants (the vast majority), much as they do now, subdivided themselves into an array of self-defined status groups who aped the bad manners of ‘their betters’ in a pathetic and futile attempt to seperate themselves from their immediate community – so that the wearing of swords or the wearing of daggers was a class statement. Daggers were seen as less honourable because they were all the peasants could purchase. So it was that the self-sharpening scabbard was commonly referred to as a ‘cunt’. I’m not sure whether diana’s right shoe was capable of sharpening daggers so I’m confuse as to why the Troll uses that particular moniker…? PS I’m with the impressive magicmancunian on this one; you ignore elizabethan self sharpening dagger scabbards at your peril ; ) that’s not say that I’m extremely disappointed with the modern labour party. I wonder what John Smith wouild have said had he not died SUDDENLY AND UNEXPECTEDLY two years before the Labour victory, which was an odds winner on even in 1995.

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.