The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), using its ‘statutory duty to advise government’, has written a letter to all political parties inviting them to discuss how to maintain an inclusive society in Britain during the current political climate. The authors note the disturbing rise in hate crimes, including homophobic attacks and the racist murder of Arkadiusz Jozwick in Harlow. They go on to implicate some political groups in legitimising hate. In particular they raise the ‘ambivalent reception towards anti-Semitism’, which is aimed at Labour, as well as the policy to name and shame companies that employ immigrants and the discussion over checking the ages of migrant children from Calais, which is aimed at the Tory Government.
While the EHRC welcome the Government’s Hate Crime Action Plan, it goes on to ask whether current policy is working and requests an assessment on its impact.
The letter, co-authored by the Chair and CEO of the EHRC, David Isaac and Rebecca Hilsenrath respectively, contains the view that the majority of the voters who chose Brexit had no discriminatory intent, implying that those few who are driven by hate have been inspired by political rhetoric.
Tony Fenwick, CEO of Schools out UK, said “I wrote to Theresa May as Home Secretary on the 30th of June this year raising our concerns about the effects of the terms politicians were using in the wake of the murder of Jo Cox and the Orlando massacre. At the time she was in a process of literal transition but the Home Office replied that is was concerned too and was doing all that it could. I welcome this call from the EHRC as it refers to particular acts that it believes were unhelpful or even inciteful, but I kind of wish it could have come sooner. I think it crucial to review the impact of hate crime legislation and to publicise it. There’s not much point in having enhanced sentences for criminals whose crimes are motivated by hate if people are not made aware of them”.
The full EHRC Letter can be accessed here