The report ‘The Future of Multi-ethnic Britain’ back in the year 2000, stated: “The history of a nation often has a tendency to be written in an exclusive manner, stressing some groups or traditions at the expense of others. It is therefore always a contested site and constantly rewritten.”
The report also said that “Race cannot be ghettoised” and recommended that all government departments should take full account of it and that we should evolve an inter-departmental co-ordinating mechanism located, perhaps, in the Cabinet Office. It demanded important changes are also needed in the police service, the wider criminal justice system, political representation, education, attitudes to asylum seekers and so on.
The report also concluded that although Britain had made considerable progress, which was greater than many other European countries, but still had a long way to go.
Two decades later, following the allegations and personal account of cricketer Azeem Rafiq being racially abused by the Yorkshire Cricket Club, it has been confirmed that 36 individuals have emailed the Yorkshire County Cricket Club whistle blower hotline since it became operational on Monday 15 November.
Are racism and such vivid accounts of abuse new to Britain? Think again. Former British Prime Minister David Cameron had denounced multiculturalism in his very first major speech as the prime minister. The same sentiment resonated with Angela Merkel.
21 years ago, Lord Bhikhu Parekh, the then Chairman of the Commission on the Future of Multi-ethnic Britain who served as president of the Academy of Social Sciences from 2003 to 2008 had gone on record, said: “What we are witnessing is the crudest form of racism that you could ever imagine.
“England has changed quite a bit as a result of Asian presence and black presence. Look at music, drama, theatre, corner shops opening late, family values, all of these things have changed British culture. And likewise, Asians have changed as a result of British culture. Those who do not want to accept it resort to this kind of vulgar racism.”
21 years later, while Lord Parekh told The Guardian that there is “not a direct link” between Rafiq’s case and multiculturalism, he did say that he “can imagine people being one but not the other and can easily see how it is easy to slide from one manner of thinking into the other.” He further expressed that Britain is not racist, but it is trying to “fight and conquer, with uneven success, the legacy of its imperial past.”
Resenting the racial disparity report that came out earlier this year, Lord Parekh further added, that while he was a little surprised that racism continued to plague different sections of society, “at the same time … the changes that have come about the last 20 years have been absolutely remarkable. Look at the number of MPs, not only from different ethnic minority groups but also Muslims, Hindus and others.”
According to him, multiculturalism means that no culture is perfect, and it is a process of mutual learning.
On 22 November, the Cricket Club has announced that Mohinderpal Sethi QC of Littleton Chambers – who has been appointed to lead the independent investigation process to consider complaints that are lodged through the newly installed whistleblowing hotline – has now confirmed the terms of reference for his investigation.
Professor The Lord Patel of Bradford OBE, Chair of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, said, “It is essential that those who have experienced or witnessed racism, discrimination and abuse are able to come forward to share their experiences. I thank all of those who have contacted the hotline so far.
“Lasting and authentic change, particularly in the face of a complex and systemic issue, takes consideration and time, and cannot happen without the voices of those who have suffered. Only through committing to listen, and to believe, those who have bravely shared their experiences – and those still to do so – can we truly understand the scale of the issue”.
All communications received by hotline are being reviewed, and Mr Sethi’s team will communicate directly with those who have made contact.
The club is committed to transparency regarding the volume of contact to the hotline and will share updates regularly, initially weekly.
For anyone wishing to lodge a formal complaint about any form of discrimination that they have suffered as a result of any act or omission of the Club, the terms of reference have been published on the dedicated website page: www.yorkshireccc.com/whistleblower.
An excerpt from the 2000 report might unfortunately still resonate with many British Asians in 2021. It is as follows: “Racial discrimination continues to disfigure many areas of life, and racial prejudices are easily aroused, as was seen recently in the case of the asylum seekers. Ethnic minorities do not enjoy full equality of opportunity, and valuable talents are wasted.”