Quotas don’t work in fixing problem of racism: British PM Cameron

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: Jan 31, 2016 22:31 IST

Stating that quotas or other politically contrived ways did not help fix underlying problems of racism and discrimination, British Prime Minister David Cameron on Sunday demanded in a strong attack that elite universities and other institutions should ‘go the extra mile’ to tackle racism.

Britain, he said, had come a long way from the days of blatant racism and open discrimination, but there was still much work needed to be done, since a non-white person was more likely to be in prison today than studying at a top university.

Citing examples that he said should “shame our nation”, Cameron wrote in The Sunday Times: “It’s striking that in 2014, our top university, Oxford, accepted just 27 black men and women out of an intake of more than 2,500”.

“I know the reasons are complex, including poor schooling, but I worry that the university I was so proud to attend is not doing enough to attract talent from across our country”, he wrote, and mentioned that there were no non-white generals in the armed forces and just 4% of chief executives in the FTSE 100 are from ethnic minorities.

“What does this say about modern Britain? Are these just the symptoms of class divisions or a lack of equal opportunity? Or is it something worse — something more ingrained, institutional and insidious? We’ve come a long way — including in my own party”.

“When I became an MP in 2001, I barely had a single colleague from an ethnic minority background. Today our MPs include the sons, daughters and grandchildren of Ghanaians, east African Indians, Iranian dissidents, Pakistanis and Indians. But there is much more to do, and these examples I mention should shame our country and jolt us into action”, he wrote.

Cameron announced new requirements for universities to publish data on admissions, and appointed Labour MP David Lammy to review the overrepresentation of non-white people in the criminal justice system, including possible sentencing and prosecutorial disparity.

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