Britain has 'new attitude to race'
Monday 19 January 2009
Attitudes towards different races have changed "dramatically" since the findings of the landmark inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence and it is now time to move on to new challenges, a leading equality campaigner said.
Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, (EHRC), said there was still work to do but he believed Britain was now in a "different place" since the 1999 inquiry into the teenager's death labelled the Metropolitan Police "institutionally racist".
"The Macpherson inquiry, the Stephen Lawrence inquiry 10 years ago, was a great shock to the system, it shook people out of their complacency," he told BBC Breakfast.
"It meant that we had new laws and I think we have had a new attitude. That means, for example, that the police have changed in their behaviour quite dramatically. Nothing is perfect, there is still a lot of work to do, but we are in a different place to where we were before."
Mr Phillips's comments were made in advance of a keynote speech he will give in central London marking the 10th anniversary into the inquiry into the 1993 racist murder of the black teenager at a bus stop in Eltham, south east London.
His views have been expressed after the EHRC commissioned research showing that one in 10 children in the UK is now part of a mixed-race family. The study predicted that, if current trends continued, some ethnic minorities may disappear as people from mixed-race backgrounds become increasingly common.
Mr Phillips said Britain is in a "new situation" and is a more diverse country.He said attitudes between individuals were "much better" than any other country in Europe.
Mr Phillips was asked to comment about the controversy surrounding Prince Harry over his use of the term "Paki" three years ago to describe a Pakistani platoon member.
"On the issues of language, you know we can get a little bit out of shape here on the particular issue of the young Household Cavalry officer that everybody is concerned about," he told BBC Breakfast. "I think the Army has got pretty good disciplinary methods, they will deal with this.
"What it does tell us is that in some places there is a kind of old-fashioned attitude which essentially through what Samuel Johnson once called a 'thousand acts of unkindness' can create an atmosphere or a culture that puts people at a disadvantage. We have to move on from that too."
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