I am appalled by the killing of George Floyd, and have watched in horror as the response of President Trump and US law enforcement, far from looking to heal the hurt, has pushed the situation toward disaster.
We have seen excessive force and tear gas used against peaceful protestors, and numerous reports of violence against journalists. These are clear violations of the ideals of and rights to free speech, free assembly, and a free press. For his part, President Trump appears to be intentionally fuelling racial and social divisions with his dangerous rhetoric.
I have therefore written to the Prime Minister to convey the concerns of many about the situation unfolding.
The Black Lives Matter campaign is a challenge to all of us. It is not enough to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters around the world – we need to educate ourselves and challenge ourselves to stand up to racism every day, wherever we are in the world.
I was also pleased to see the Government has now relented and published Public Health England’s report into the vulnerability of ethnic minorities to Covid-19.
The document largely confirms what we already knew – that those in the poorest households and ethnic minorities have been disproportionately impacted. Once age and geography are accounted for, most minority groups would be expected to have fewer deaths per capita than White British people, but this has not been the case.
We still do not know exactly why this is and previous research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies suggests different possible factors (e.g. different rates of self-employment and single earner households) are likely be more relevant for different groups.
When it comes to the question of how we reduce these disparities the report is disappointing as it presents no recommendations. The terms of reference for the review did state that one of the objectives of the process was to “suggest recommendations for further action that should be taken to reduce disparities in risk and outcomes from Covid-19” and it is unfortunate that this has not happened.
The Government has now announced a further review, to be led by the Minister for Women and Equalities. We must not wait any longer to mitigate the risks faced by these communities and must act immediately to protect BAME people who are disproportionately affected by this deadly virus.