Posted on September 14, 2010

Cuts Could Damage Race Relations, Warns Diane Abbott

BBC News, September 14, 2010

Planned spending cuts could set back race relations by a generation and risk social “instability”, Labour leadership candidate Diane Abbott has warned.

The cuts could hit ethnic minorities and women harder than other groups, she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

And she called for ethnic and gender monitoring to be carried out when public bodies axe jobs.

The five leadership contenders are making their final pitch to Labour MPs, members and trade unionists.

Many will have already cast their vote, with the winner to be announced at Labour’s annual conference later this month.

Ms Abbott, who is seen as the most left-wing of the five candidates, warned that a “last in, first out” approach to redundancies would hit black and female workers particularly hard.

She called for new rules to ensure local authorities and quangos are “mindful” of the race and gender distribution of any job losses announced in response to Treasury-imposed budget restrictions.

Ms Abbott, who was Britain’s first black female MP, said: “Black (people) and ethnic minorities are predominantly employed in the public sector, particularly women.

“My concern is that the progress black and ethnic minority workers have made in employment is relatively recent and if there have to be big cuts, it will be ‘last in, first out’ and these cuts will fall disproportionately not just on women but on black and ethnic minority workers.

“I think the public sector cuts have the potential to set back race relations and black and ethnic minority communities by a generation.”