Oliver Letwin: Privilege, power and prejudice


I don’t always agree with Trevor Phillips, but his comments today in regards to Oliver Letwin’s deplorable comments 30 years ago were spot on when he said as sickening as Letwin’s comments were, if we want redemption he should push his boss, the Prime Minister to deliver on his 20-20 vision on tackling persistent race inequality.

Letwin’s Cabinet comments that were released today under the 30 year disclosure rule, came in the aftermath of the 1985 riots, which were caused in no small measure by high Black unemployment and a corrupt and brutally racist police force that was criminalising many young Black men under the SUS laws.

Letwin said of the Black community:

Riots, criminality and social disintegration are caused solely by individual characters and attitudes. So long as bad moral attitudes remain, all efforts to improve the inner cities will founder."

Commenting about a policy initiative that could help Black entrepreneurs, Letwin added:

New –Black -entrepreneurs will set up in the disco and drug trade.”

Letwin was part of white privileged, prejudiced, and powerful elite who not only refused to see racial injustice but went on to perpetuate it with negative policies towards Black people.

Not surprisingly there are calls from some that the Prime Minister David Cameron should sack his Cabinet Minister, and whilst he probably deserves sacking, I think it would have the opposite effect, leading many to see Letwin as a victim given that it occurred 30 years ago. Phillips asserted today on Radio 4’s Today programme, that rather than sack him, Letwin could use his present power and privilege to demand his Government deliver on its promise of tackling persistent race inequality by 20-20, as the Prime Minister declared only a few months ago.

The Prime Minister should also take the opportunity to review his Cabinet members to ensure none of these views are remotely head by his people in power.

Today’s revelations are a timely reminder about what happens when you have that heady cocktail of power, privilege and prejudice.

Simon Woolley