David Lammy has warned that “the time for review is over and the time for action is now”, urging the government to take action on racism and implement the recommendations of previous studies into race issues.
In an interview with the Today programme this morning, the Shadow Justice Secretary discussed the commission announced this weekend by Boris Johnson to look into racism and the disparities experienced by minority ethnic groups in the UK.
The Tottenham MP highlighted the lack of detail outlined by the Prime Minister, declaring that the announcement had been “written on the back of a fag packet yesterday to assuage the Black Lives Matter protests”.
Lammy said: “If he was serious, why are there no details about how it will be staffed, its remit, its terms of reference, its timetable? That’s the question.”
He queried the Prime Minister’s decision to announce the review behind a paywall in The Telegraph, “buried in the middle of yet another article about Churchill”, and criticised his focus on the issue of statues.
He said: “The Labour Party isn’t talking about statues, the Lib Dems aren’t calling for Winston Churchill’s statue to be removed, neither are the Greens.
“The only person that wants to focus on Winston Churchill’s statue is the Conservative Party and, frankly, it is bizarre.
“They want a culture war because they want to distract from the central issue. Implement the reviews: do something, change it, you’re in power, you’ve been in power for a decade.”
Lammy spoke about the previous reviews carried out by the government on race issues, urging the Prime Minister to focus on implementing the recommendations already made.
Commenting on the various studies, he said: “The question we’ve got to ask ourselves is — is this really the extent of our ambition, after all of the reviews?”
Listing several, he added: “The Macpherson report in 1999 into institutional racism in policing. Boris asked Baroness McGregor-Smith to review workplace discrimination. Theresa May’s disparity audit in 2017. My own review. The Wendy Williams Windrush lessons review.
“You can understand like it feels that yet again in the UK, we want figures and data, but we don’t want action.”
Johnson used his column in The Telegraph on Sunday to announce the commission, but also defended the statue of Winston Churchill and warned against “purging the record” by removing memorials to historical figures.
Several statues have been targeted by protesters across the country during the Black Lives Matter demonstrations, sparked by the killing of George Floyd by police officers in the US.
The bronze memorial to a 17th-century slave trader Edward Colston was toppled in Bristol, while the words “is a racist” were painted on the statue of Churchill in Westminster.
Labour leader Keir Starmer said that it was “completely wrong” for protesters to pull down the statue in Bristol, but added that it “should have been taken down a long, long time ago”.