Liberal Democrats

F18: Racial Justice Cannot Wait

Motion as passed by conference

Federal Policy Committee

Mover: Christine Jardine MP (Spokesperson for Women & Equalities).

Summation: Dr Mohsin Khan.

Conference notes with deep concern and regret that:

  1. George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was killed by a Minneapolis police officer who knelt on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, sparking overwhelmingly peaceful Black Lives Matter protests in the US, the UK and around the world.
  2. In the UK, too many people's lives are blighted by discrimination and inequality; for example, black and Asian children are more than twice as likely to grow up in persistent poverty as white children and, in the mental health system, black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people have worse outcomes.
  3. The UK has never properly addressed the long shadow of the British Empire; the Windrush Lessons Learned Review identified "poor understanding of Britain's colonial history, the history of inward and outward migration, and the history of black Britons" as one of the reasons the scandal was able to happen, compounded by "a lack of institutional memory" and "an unwillingness or inability to learn from past mistakes, or to engage with experts and local communities".
  4. BAME people are over-represented throughout the criminal justice system, including being more likely to be stopped and searched, and being more likely to be sentenced to prison once convicted of a crime.
  5. BAME people are disproportionately likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act, black people are disproportionately the subjects of the use of force by the police, and people who have died following the use of force are disproportionately from BAME communities.
  6. Gypsy, Roma and Traveller, Black Caribbean and mixed-race children are significantly more likely to be excluded from school than other pupils.
  7. Parts of British society where significant power resides are still disproportionately dominated by white people, including the judiciary, police, senior ranks of the Armed Forces, and corporate boards.
  8. Under the Conservatives' Hostile Environment, people who have every right to live in the UK - disproportionately those from BAME backgrounds - continue to be wrongly denied access to healthcare, made homeless, detained and even deported, as demonstrated by the appalling Windrush Scandal.
  9. BAME communities have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic, both in terms of health outcomes and the economic impact.
  10. The impact of inequality, prejudice, and discrimination is multiplied for BAME women, those who are disabled and those who are LGBT+.

Conference affirms that Black Lives Matter.

Conference believes it is unacceptable that, in the 21st century, people are discriminated against on the basis of their race, and reaffirms the commitment in the Liberal Democrat constitution to uphold the values of individual and social justice, reject all prejudice and discrimination, and oppose all forms of entrenched privilege and inequality.

Conference further reaffirms the Liberal Democrat commitment to combat racism - whether conscious or unconscious, individual or institutional - wherever we find it, including within our own party.

Conference calls on the Government to tackle racial injustice now, including by abolishing the Conservatives' Hostile Environment, ending the disproportionate use of Stop and Search, reducing the number of pupils excluded from school, and exposing and confronting the stereotyping and demagoguing in public life and the media that inflames hatred and leads to spikes in hate crimes.

In particular, conference calls on the Government to:

  1. Address structural inequality by:
    1. Developing a COVID-19 Race Equality Strategy, to form part of a new Social and Race Equality Contract, which should inform all areas of policymaking to ensure fairness and equality.
    2. Implementing in full the recommendations of the Windrush Lessons Learned Review, without further delay.
    3. Immediately repealing the Conservatives' 'Right to Rent' law, which has been shown to cause racial discrimination in access to housing.
    4. Supporting BAME survivors of domestic abuse including by recognising and addressing the additional barriers they face to receiving the help they need.
    5. Requiring organisations with more than ten employees and in receipt of public funds to use name-blind recruitment processes, and requiring all universities to use name-blind student recruitment processes.
    6. Implementing in full the recommendations of the McGregor-Smith Review, including ensuring that all listed companies and businesses employing more than 50 people publish workforce data broken down by race and pay band and publish five-year aspirational diversity targets.
    7. Introducing a larger and more specific range of ethnic group options in ethnicity monitoring surveys, including the Census, to more accurately record individuals’ ethnic backgrounds, including people of mixed heritage, and better understand the ethnic diversity of the UK.
  2. Deliver equality in the justice system by:
    1. Implementing in full the recommendations of the Lammy Review and the Angiolini Review, without further delay.
    2. Repealing Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, which allows police officers to stop and search people without suspicion.
    3. Immediately halting the police's use of facial recognition surveillance, which is most likely to wrongly identify black people and women.
    4. Introducing a national framework of regulations on the use of body-worn cameras by police officers and mandating that all arrests are recorded by them.
    5. Reducing the number of people unnecessarily in prison, including through greater use of pre-charge diversion schemes for young people, effective community sentences and restorative justice where appropriate.
  3. Guarantee equal representation in society by:
    1. Legislating to allow all-BAME shortlists for candidates for public office.
    2. Requiring the police, prison service, judiciary and other public bodies to adopt ambitious targets for improving the diversity of their workforce and make regular reports on their progress to Parliament.
    3. Scrapping Conservative plans to require voters to bring identification with them to vote, which would present a significant barrier to democratic engagement for already marginalised groups, including BAME communities.
  4. Address the suffering and injustice caused by the British Empire and promote reconciliation, including by:
    1. Funding local Citizens' Assemblies to bring people together to learn about and discuss the portrayal of the British Empire in their areas and identify positive actions to address it, including the removal of statues and memorials that commemorate slavery and other racist practices and identifying people and events to be celebrated in their place.
    2. Setting up a commission to establish, through public hearings, the scale and extent of human rights abuses and other wrongdoing committed by the British Empire, and to formally recognise living victims of torture and other forms of ill treatment at its hands and determine appropriate redress for them, while maintaining our support for the Stormont House Agreement in relation to Northern Ireland.
    3. Facilitating a review of the national history curriculum by leading historians and advocates from BAME backgrounds, with the aim of diversifying the syllabus and broadening its remit to cover a much wider range of not only black history but the history of all BAME people, and providing an understanding of the complex history of the British Empire.

Applicability: Federal; except lines 1. c) and d) (lines 65-70), the words 'and requiring ... processes' in 1. e) (lines 73-74), 4. a) (lines 106-112) and 4. c) (lines 120-125), which are England only; and 2. (lines 80-92) and 3. b) (lines 96-99), which are England and Wales.

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