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Monday, 27 May, 2002, 05:14 GMT 06:14 UK
Labour 'must do more on racism'
David Blunkett heads policy on race relations
One in two people believe Labour has not done enough to combat racism, according to an opinion poll conducted for BBC News Online.

The results suggest that concern about the government's record on racism is shared across white, black and Asian communities.

Indeed, the poll indicates that whites are least satisfied with the government's efforts.

The ICM survey, part of a major BBC News Online series on race relations in the UK, is one of the largest surveys on race conducted in recent years.

Of all those asked, 50% said not enough was being done over racism.

Half those whites asked were of that view, with 47% of blacks and 44% of Asians saying the same.

Twenty-eight percent of all those asked said enough had been done to combat racism.

One in three Asians said they were satisfied along with 30% of blacks and 29% of whites.

However, 35% of those asked felt that the government had improved race relations.


Asians are most happy with ministers' efforts, with 43% of those asked saying Labour had improved race relations compared to 42% of black respondents and 36% of white respondents.

The prospect of a Tory or Labour party leader from an ethnic minority background seems a long way off

Gurbux Singh
Chairman, CRE
Almost one in four people said the government had harmed race relations.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: "We acknowledge that racism and discrimination continue to exist and have done a great deal to address it.

"We know, however, that there remains a great deal to be done."

She pointed to amendments to the Race Relations Act introduced two years ago which widened and strengthened the anti-discrimination provisions.

Party leaders

Respondents rated the chances of people from ethnic minorities being appointed to prominent positions in society.

A total of 46% thought someone from a black or Asian background would one day become Labour Party leader but only 21% felt an MP from an ethnic minority would ever lead the Conservatives.

The position that black and Asian respondents thought it was most likely an ethnic minority person would fill was head of the Metropolitan Police in London, followed by Labour leader and editor of a national newspaper.

Non-white MPs

They felt someone from an ethnic minority was least likely to become Lord Chancellor, Conservative leader or the Archbishop of Canterbury.

One of the frontrunners to fill that post in October this year is the Pakistan-born Archbishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali.

Of all those questioned, 29% thought there would one day be a prime minister from an ethnic minority background, though fewer blacks and Asians felt this way.

The survey also indicates support among more than half those blacks and Asians asked for more non-white MPs.

White respondents were more split on the issue, with 36% saying there should be more non-white MPs and the same proportion saying there were enough.

There was a similar verdict over whether positive action should be taken to increase the number of non-white people in Parliament.

'Hardly suprising'

Most blacks and Asians favour the idea, but 42% of whites oppose the move compared with 36% in favour.

Tony Blair
Many believe Labour must to more to combat racism
Gurbux Singh, chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE), told BBC News Online: "When you consider that there are only 12 black or Asian MPs out of the 659 sitting in the House of Commons, the prospect of a Tory or Labour party leader from an ethnic minority background seems a long way off."

He said the political parties had set a "large, but not impossible" challenge to get more ethnic minority candidates.

"Only time will tell if the political parties' rhetoric becomes reality," he said.

Freedom of speech

The poll also suggests that many people - including around one in three blacks and Asians - feel far-right parties such as the British National Party should have freedom of speech.

Of all those asked 54% said the BNP and other parties with strong views on race and immigration should have the same freedom of speech as other political parties.

That view was backed by 55% of whites, 36% of black respondents and 34% of Asians questioned.

But similar numbers of black and Asian respondents - 39% and 36% respectively, said the BNP should not have freedom of speech.

Of those who are opposed to BNP freedom of speech, 55% said there should be a total ban on the party.

Notes on polling data:

Between 7 -11 May ICM Research interviewed 1,576 people aged 18 and over.

The interviews were conducted face-to-face and quotas were used to ensure that at least 500 interviews were conducted with people from white, black and Asian backgrounds.

The data collected was then weighted to bring it into a balance with a national profile of all adults. The margin of error for the poll is plus or minus 3%.

However this margin increases when the answers are based on smaller groups within the total sample.

For example, when just Asian people are mentioned or when other individual groups are extracted from the total number of people asked.

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Full survey results
What the survey reveals
Findings on justice
Who lives where
Race and immigration
Internet links
Race equality chief Gurbux Singh
Global forum
Talking Point
What makes you British?
Is Britain racist?
Are the police prejudiced?
From BBCi
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CBBC race special
See also:

27 May 02 | UK
07 Feb 02 | UK Politics
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