Labour and Conservative Greater London Assembly (GLA) candidates clashed on whether Britain is racist and how stop and search harms BAME individuals.
Current West Central Assembly member and Westminster City councillor Tony Devenish supports the landmark race disparity report published by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities this year, which found no evidence of institutional racism in the UK.
Bangladeshi Labour candidate and fellow Westminster City councillor Rita Begum who’s had first-hand experience of institutional racism, disagreed with Devenish and joins the MPs, charities, unions, and campaigners who condemn the report’s findings.
When asked if he thinks Britain is racist, Devenish said: “It’s nonsense, I don’t accept it at all.
“We should acknowledge there is racism in individuals, but this frankly is a Marxist idea that society is racist.”
Begum responded: “There’s racism everywhere, and as a BAME person I have to deal with it every day of my life.
“It’s not the same for Tony Devenish, because he’s a white person, and he has the privilege of not going through what we have.”
In a statement, United Nations human rights experts called the race report: “A tone-deaf attempt at rejecting the lived realities of people of African descent and other ethnic minorities in the UK.”
Begum noted being racially abused at school and being discriminated against in interviews for jobs, sharing upsetting experiences of her husband being followed home by police and BAME colleagues being stopped and searched for no reason.
She said: “It is upsetting and it’s such a waste of police time.”
Current Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan wants to submit the Met Police to more scrutiny over stop and search, as it was found that Black people are disproportionately affected, and Begum supported Khan’s approach to ‘being tough on the causes of crime’.
Begum said: “As a young mother of four, I really support everything that Sadiq Khan has pledged for more youth opportunities.”
Conservative mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey aims to ‘increase and enhance’ stop and search, despite being stopped and searched himself as a Black man.
Devenish said: “Shaun Bailey will really focus on supporting the Metropolitan Police who have the operational responsibility by giving them the tools to do the job.
“He is a man of total integrity, and yes the devil is in the detail, but I think the Met Police have gotten much better in recent years.”