Senedd makes a stand against racism

(Title Image: Wales TUC)

The Motion

The Senedd:

  • Supports the global fight to root out racism and strives towards a more equal Wales and also supports the principles of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).
  • Calls on the Assembly Commission on behalf of the Senedd to develop a cross-party declaration embodying the principles of the CERD in consultation with the most appropriate persons and organisations.

Building a strong and diverse society

Deputy Minister without portfolio, Jane Hutt (Lab, Vale of Glamorgan) repeated a call by the New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, following the Christchurch terror attack that there needed to be a global effort to root out racism in all its forms. While the UK passed a law in 1969 outlawing racial prejudice, casual racism remains with us and many people from ethnic minorities may well have come to accept that casual racism should be tolerated.

“….we must continue to build a strong and diverse society, where people of every race, faith and colour are valued for their character and their actions. We want to create a peaceful and harmonious country where our children and future generations can thrive. It’s crucial that encouraging reporting, supporting victims, holding perpetrators to account, continue to be top-level priorities.”
– Deputy Minister without portfolio, Jane Hutt

Some key areas of policy focus include increasing the number of people from ethnic minorities in public life – something the Assembly Commissioner for Equalities, Joyce Watson AM (Lab, Mid & West Wales) – was working on. Also, addressing socio-economic problems, improving racial equality in schools and properly tackling racist hate crimes.

Shadow Communities Minister, Mark Isherwood AM (Con, North Wales) said that while crime has generally fallen, experiences of hate crimes have increased. He applauded work by North Wales Association for Multicultural Integration who have tried to break down barriers by promoting understanding of different cultures – something later echoed by Mohammad Asghar AM (Con, South Wales East) who said education was key to combatting racism.

He didn’t accept, however, a challenge from Leanne Wood AM (Plaid, Rhondda) that comments from the likes of Boris Johnson that Muslim women wearing a full veil “looked like letterboxes” made the situation worse.

“The rise of the far-right should concern us all”

“Sadly, this is against a rising tide of racist incidents outside school. A recent Cytûn analysis highlights a 40% increase in religious hate crime, which has doubled over three years. Islamic communities have been the most targeted, followed by Jewish communities. And the rise of the far right should concern us all.”
– Jenny Rathbone AM (Lab, Cardiff Central)

In her own contribution, Leanne Wood AM said few people would argue that someone was a lesser person due to their race. It was time to call out “poisonous” comments in political debate – like those she mentioned earlier. It was also right to accept Wales and the UK’s involvement in a colonial past which treated people from other races as inferior – a line couldn’t be drawn under that past, but the political will to do something about it was welcome.

Dawn Bowden AM (Lab, Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney) praised the work of the likes of Show Racism The Red Card, using football and sport to promote anti-racism messages amongst young people. John Griffiths AM (Lab, Newport East) always found the cultural richness of Newport neighbourhoods like Pill a great positive, but they retain serious socio-economic problems.

Caroline Jones AM (Ind, South Wales West) bemoaned the rise of far-right politics. However, she didn’t accept any irony having been elected on a UKIP ticket; she decided to leave the party as soon as it embraced far-right elements.

“I’m getting tired of everything being blamed on immigrants. I don’t know how people can look at the NHS and blame problems on immigrants and immigration, because they keep our Welsh NHS going, and it’s political decisions that cause problems with the NHS. When things get tough, we don’t have to turn on our neighbours, because that’s what too many irresponsible politicians are doing nowadays.”
– Neil McEvoy AM (Ind, South Wales Central)

The motion was unanimously approved.

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