26 September 2023

UNITED KINGDOM: Archives show Blair canned equality plan

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Newly-released United Kingdom Government papers have revealed that Home Office-driven plans for a wide-ranging, 10-year strategy aimed at improving race relations were shelved in 1998.

Then Prime Minister, Tony Blair believed the initiative would descend into a “regulation nightmare”.

Proposals for a White Paper floated by Home Secretary, Jack Straw required Departments to put race equality at the heart of their policy-making, with the Public Service committed to offering true opportunity in all their employment practices.

The White Paper also sought to introduce “systematic monitoring” of the impact of policies and service delivery on ethnic minorities; the measures were expected to be underpinned by a new statutory duty to promote race equality within the Public Service.

Mr Straw (pictured) was keen for Mr Blair to announce the White Paper shortly after the publication of the Macpherson Report into the 1993 murder of black teenager, Stephen Lawrence and wanted job opportunities in the Public Service to be a core element.

A response briefing for Mr Blair, written by Home Affairs Adviser, Liz Lloyd questioned whether a White Paper was the right approach to advancing race equality.

Ms Lloyd wrote that Mr Straw’s team appeared to be pinning their hopes on legislation.

“They have not shown why this is the best route given the burdens it will impose,” Ms Lloyd said.

In a handwritten comment, Mr Blair wrote: “I agree…I really don’t want a regulation nightmare out of this.”

London, 8 January 2022

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