February 4, 2021

Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain (2000) – 107 recommendations

The Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain was set up by the RunnymedeTrust – an independent think tank committed to racial equality – in January 1998.The aim of the Commission was to,

… analyse the current state of multi-ethnic Britain and to propose ways of countering racial discrimination and disadvantage and making Britain a confident and vibrant multicultural society at ease with its rich diversity (Parekh, 2000: VIII).

According to the Commission, this would require:

  • Rethinking the national story and national identity.
  • Understanding that all identities are in a process of transition.
  • Developing a balance between cohesion, equality and difference.
  • Addressing and eliminating all forms of racism.
  • Reducing material inequalities.
  • Building a pluralistic human rights culture.To this end, the Commission considered a wide-range of issues, alongside the role of key institutions.This included:
  • Police and policing.
  • The wider criminal justice system.
  • Education.
  • Arts, media and sport.
  • Health and welfare.
  • Employment.
  • Immigration and asylum.
  • Politics and representation.
  • Religion and belief.When considering strategies for change at the national, regional, local and institutional level, the Commission focused on issues of government leadership, legislation and enforcement, and organisational change. When putting forward its recommendations, the Commission argued that, ‘In most instances, it is up to a government department or agency at Cardiff,Holyrood orWestminster to take the first initiative’(See p.xxii).At the same time, the Commission also stated that,…it is frequently not necessary or even desirable for other bodies to wait for government action.All individuals and organisations can be involved in advocating and lobbying for the implementation of the recommendations made in this report, and can set up pilot projects and feasibility studies at local and institutional levels
    (See p. xxii).
    Community Cohesion:A Report of the Independent Review Team Chaired by Ted Cantle (2001) – 67 recommendationsIn 2001, the Home Secretary established an independent review team led by Ted Cantle to carry out an inquiry into the disturbances that had occurred in towns and cities in England that summer.The primary aim of the Community Cohesion Review Team (CCRT) was to ‘identify good practice, key policy issues and new and innovative thinking in the field of community cohesion’ and ‘focus on the lessons for national policy and practice’ (p.5). In order to do so, the CCRT visited Oldham, Burnley and Bradford, as well as Southall, Birmingham,Leicester and Sheffield, meeting with ‘local community leaders, voluntary and faith organisations, the CRE and BME organisations, government Offices including officials tasked with delivering regeneration programmes, and youth and community workers’ (See p. 5).The main findings from the aforementioned visits include (See pp. 9–10):
    • Surprise at ‘depth of polarisation of our towns and cities’, with ‘Separate educational arrangements, community and voluntary bodies, employment, places of worship, language, social and cultural networks, means that many communities operate on the basis of a series of parallel lives’.
    • ‘Some agencies were not used to working together, or had not even met together previously’.
    • ‘We found little evidence of such a debate and rather, a reluctance to confront the issues and to find solutions. It was evident that this failure ran through most institutions, including the political parties and even voluntary organisations’.
    • ‘There has been little attempt to develop clear values which focus on what it means to be a citizen of a modern multi-racial Britain’.
    • ‘The programmes devised to tackle the needs of many disadvantaged and disaffected groups, whilst being well intentioned and sometimes inspirational, often seemed to institutionalise the problems’.
    • ‘Area-based regeneration initiatives clearly have a role to play, but in many cases they again reinforced the separation of communities and we saw few attempts to tackle problems on a thematic basis, which could have served to unite different groups’.
  • ‘We recognised that some communities felt particularly disadvantaged and that the lack of hope and the frustration borne out of the poverty and deprivation all around them, meant that disaffection would grow…For example, some black and ethnic minorities felt that they werealways identified without sufficient differentiation and “problematised” as a result. Similarly, some poorer white communities felt left out completely’.
  • ‘Opportunities are also far from equal, with many differences in real terms, in respect of housing, employment and education…The same observation can be made in respect of policing, where there was not only inconsistency in their approach but also in the extent to which they felt supported and part of a positive vision for the local area’.
  • ‘Good practice could be found and obstacles were generally overcome where there was the will to do so.This was not always evident and the means to develop and spread good practice did not generally exist’.With a view to bringing about structural change, as well as ensuring that community cohesion processes are ‘mainstreamed’, the CCRT put forward a body of proposals in relation to the following themes:
  • 1. Peoples and values.
    2. Political and community leadership.
    3. Political organisations.
    4. Strategic partnerships.
    5. Regeneration programmes, initiatives and funding. 
  • 6. Integration and segregation.
    7. Younger people.
    8. Education.
    9. Community organisations.10. Disadvantaged and disaffected communities. 
  • 11. Policing.
    12. Housing.
    13. Employment.
  • 14. The press and media.

You can download the full report from this page:

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