Socialist Worker

Inequality that cannot be explained away

Issue No. 1930

DISADVANTAGE SUFFERED by black and Asian people is simply the result of a small number of prejudiced individuals and, in any case, immigrants must share some of the blame for not integrating.

That sums up New Labour’s approach to racism, outlined repeatedly by David Blunkett, who rejected the concept of institutionalised racism last year.

How then can the government explain the stark figures released last week that showed black and Asian workers earning up to £7,000 a year less than white people?

Bangladeshis’ salaries average just £12,220 a year compared with £19,552 for white employees.

Other research shows that African-Caribbean and Pakistani men earn on average £6,500 a year less than their counterparts, even when they all have similar levels of qualifications. These figures cannot be explained by the supposed unwillingness of ethnic minorities to “integrate”.

African-Caribbean people are Britain’s most integrated immigrant grouping. Black people are not only likely to support the English football team—a benchmark of integration set first by Tory bigots and now adopted by New Labour—they are more likely than whites to play for it.

Yet still they lose out spectacularly, despite a slight increase in the numbers in professional or managerial jobs.

The only explanation is structured, institutional racism. Far from confronting that, the government’s response is to tinker round the edges or, worse, to scapegoat those who are on the receiving end of such discrimination.


Poisoned Indians still waiting for justice

THIS WEEK marks the twentieth anniversary of the worst industrial accident in history.

In December 1984 a toxic leak from Union Carbide’s pesticide factory in Bhopal, central India, killed 7,000 people outright.

Many thousands more have died since, over 100,000 people are suffering from chronic illnesses, and hundreds of thousands more have been affected by the persisting poison.

US multinational Union Carbide denied all responsibility. It eventually paid $500 million in compensation to the Indian government in return for immunity from any further claims. Most of that money has since sat in India’s central bank.

The company that bought up Union Carbide, Dow Chemicals, denies any liability.

And still we are told that hope for people in the developing world lies with deregulating their economies and slashing labour standards to attract multinational corporations.


Behaviour that is just not cricket

THE ENGLAND cricket team are in Zimbabwe—cue gnashing of teeth by the press and politicians about Robert Mugabe’s regime.

But there was no such outrage over the decision two weeks ago by the Home Office to restart deportations of Zimbabwean asylum seekers. Between January and November of this year the Home Office denied asylum to 1,825 out of the 2,025 (overwhelmingly black) Zimbabweans who applied for it.

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Sat 4 Dec 2004, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1930
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