East Devon constituency: Readers’ questions answered - race relations
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East Devon constituency candidates for the General Election answer readers’ questions
Do you think that the race relations law is outdated, needs to be scrapped, and that the UK is ‘colour blind’?
Andrew Chapman (UKIP)
UKIP is ‘colour blind’ and so am I, but the same cannot be said of everyone in Britain. All being well when attitudes generally have changed for the better nationwide, we may be able to repeal the Race Relations Laws, but sadly they are still needed in some circumstances at the moment. Building integrated communities and absorbing newcomers into our British way of life of mutual respect and tolerance within the common law is the challenge that must be overcome if attitudes are to change.
Stuart Mole (Liberal Democrats)
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Since the first Race Relations Act of 1965, there has been considerable progress in making the UK a more equal and tolerant society, particularly as regards colour and ethnicity. As the years have passed, other aspects of discrimination have been highlighted whether on grounds of gender, disability or sexual orientation. We now have the 2010 Equality Act, consolidating a range of previous anti-discrimination legislation. But the battle is far from won and, sadly, there are numerous incidents which demonstrate that we are not yet ‘colour blind’. Until that happens, the backing of the law will remain necessary.
Stephen Race (Labour)
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I do not, and I would challenge anyone who does believe this to talk to people who still face racism in social and occupational situations to this day. I’m proud that Labour is the party of equality for all communities, and we will continue to be so. Over the last five years, for example, youth unemployment in the BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) community has risen by 48 per cent, and cuts to public services and welfare have hit women hardest. Two thirds of people hit by the bedroom tax are disabled. A Labour Government wants a better future for us all - we will abolish the bedroom tax, strengthen the law on hate crime, overhaul Work Capability Assessments, and appoint an International Envoy for LGBT Rights.
Hugo Swire (Conservative)
Scrapping race relations laws is a UKIP idea but it is wrong and desperate. It would mean employers would have the right to discriminate on the basis of nationality. These laws are there to protect people from racial discrimination and they work. Mr Farage claims his party is ‘colour blind’ but ideas such as these prove he is not. Britain is a stronger country because of the rich coexistence of people of different faiths, backgrounds and ethnicities. It is what makes this country what it is: a country we can be proud of. We want to secure a better and brighter future for everyone who lives in Britain – whatever their background.
Claire Wright (Independent)
No, I do not favour scrapping the Race Relations law. Considerable progress has been made in this country in the last few years but the act is still needed and the country is not ‘colour blind’. Attitudes vary around the country and, particularly, where integration has not occurred. I fear that scrapping the Race Relations Act would result in increased unacceptable discrimination.