British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. | TOLGA AKMEN


I promise you I am not one of those dreadful people who either over-rejoice or condemn Britain for being the multi ethnic country it has become over the past decades. Nonetheless, it really does set my teeth on edge when some people and certain organisations like to condemn this country as being overtly racist in all that it does or aspires to do.

Dear reader as someone who was both an activist and attended and marched on many anti-apartheid rallies as a younger man, I really do not need to be lectured by some middle-class, entitled, Oxbridge student as to Britain’s inherent racist attitude to minorities in this country. Because it isn’t true. Yes, there will always be a minority in any country who have a problem with anyone of a different race, colour - or come to that religion - unhappily this has always been the case and will doubtless continue in some form or another until the end of time.

However, it really annoys me that the opinions and activities of a nasty and unpleasant (not to say thick) minority are used as some sort of doubtful evidence to the fact that the United Kingdom is - has been, and continues to be institutionally racist. Indeed, I have this theory that specious claims of racism within our communities do more harm than good when it comes to combating hate towards ethnic minorities. For the fact is - all the time so-called racial slurs are uttered out of innocence by say - the elderly, and loudly condemned by those who should know better, the more that the real racists can go about their vile business, claiming that their own views are completely valid in a modern, liberal, society.

On the opposite side of the debate, I wonder if it has ever occurred to those who like to wring their hands in despair at our supposed illiberal attitude to race have noticed that some very senior black and southern asian politicians hold some high-up roles in modern British politics? Apart from British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak (a proud son of Hampshire!) and Scottish First Minister and Leader of the SNP Humza Yousaf - also the Labour Party Leader in Scotland - a certain Mr Anas Sarwar, both men are of Pakistani heritage.

Indeed, I haven’t finished yet; London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan and at least four current Conservative MPs are senior cabinet ministers and have a very different racial profile of government ministers of times gone by. If I wanted to make a cheap point regarding the Labour Party - I would have to say that they haven’t even managed to elect a female leader yet, let alone anyone of ‘colour’ to their top-tier. In fact, at a guess no country in Europe has such a multi-ethnic political class, something I believe we Brits should be very proud about. So then, whilst being ever-vigilant of the knuckle-dragging racists amongst us, I believe that the United Kingdom is doing its very best to normalise and encourage racial equality.

Perhaps one day I will express my views via this column regarding the current obsession with long past historical events that it seems some elements in society seem determined to lay at the feet of a present generation, even though they took place hundreds of years ago - at a different time and in a very different world.