Over a dozen Black community groups are urging London Mayoral candidates to tackle systemic racism and racial inequalities by adopting policies from their ‘Black manifesto’ ahead of the 6 May election.
The All Black Coalition (ABC), created in the UK last July following the Black Lives Matter protests, has created a six-point manifesto, based on recommendations from previous government-backed probes such as the Lammy Review (2017) and Windrush Lessons Learned Review (2020).
The open letter includes motions to identify information to be redacted from case information passed on to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) by the police, allowing the CPS to make race-blind decisions, and an independent review into the use of tasers by the Metropolitan police force.
In the areas that sit outside the London Mayor’s power, the successful candidate should commit to using their influence to push for positive change, the group said.
“The last year has seen the whole world turned upside down and life as we know it changed forever as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Whilst it was this crisis which brought the world together to focus on racial inequality, it has been challenging to implement real change in relation to these issues when the world is still in so much chaos,” an ABC spokesperson told The Independent.
“This campaign aims to bring the issues front and centre so that we can establish whether there is actual political will amongst the London Mayoral candidates to bring about change for the long-suffering Black community.”
The community groups which have backed the letter include: #EthnicityPayGap Campaign, The Black Association For Arts, African Diaspora Public Affairs Committee CIC, The Midi Music Company, Croydon BME Forum and Noire Wellness.
A spokesperson for London Labour candidate Sadiq Khan, who last year declared City Hall an anti-racist organisation, told The Independent: “Sadiq has always been clear about the need to acknowledge structural racism and listen to the lived experience of Black communities as we work to dismantle it.
“Sadiq is absolutely committed to ensuring every Londoner is able to fulfil their potential. If re-elected Sadiq will continue working to challenge structural inequalities in justice, healthcare and education and will continue to state that Black lives matter, because they do.”
Responding to ABC’s call to action, Conservative mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey insisted that he will “champion Black excellence”.
He also pledged to close the ethnicity pay gap, starting at City Hall, and introduce a new apprenticeship scheme to “uncover the Black executives of tomorrow”.
“As a working class Black man and former youth worker, I know how important it is that young people from our community receive opportunities to succeed,” he told The Independent.
“When a young Black woman is turned down for a job because she doesn’t have the right accent, that shuts down opportunities for everyone. Injustice anywhere, a great American once said, is a threat to justice everywhere.
“This manifesto highlights real challenges for our community that I will work at City Hall to address as a priority. We can build a city where young people are limited only by their dreams, not by their surroundings.”
The Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate, Luisa Porritt, praised ABC’s manifesto, adding that “diversity is its greatest strength” and her party is “determined to tackle racism in all its forms”.
“We welcome All Black Coalition’s manifesto and stand with them as they keep this important conversation alive. After the Black Lives Matter protests last summer, we now need meaningful action to end racial inequality,” she told The Independent.
“In our manifesto, we have a section dedicated to how we will make our capital a proudly anti-racist city. In it, we commit to things the Mayor can do directly, such as changing the culture and practices of the Metropolitan Police. This includes ending the use of Section 60 suspicion-less stop and search and blocking the rollout of facial recognition technology.
Young Black men in London are 19 times more likely to be stopped and searched than the overall population, a study of official data by University College London shows.