‘Unhelpful and divisive’ to brand organisations as institutionally racist, says Ipswich MP

PUBLISHED: 11:55 21 October 2020 | UPDATED: 12:04 21 October 2020

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt warned of using the term

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt warned of using the term "institutionally racist". Picture: PARLIAMENT LIVE TV


Ipswich MP Tom Hunt has told his fellow parliamentarians during a Black History Month debate that it was “incredibly unhelpful and divisive” to brand organisations as institutionally racist.

Mr Hunt told MPs that while he agrees that individuals who harbour racist views within key organisations need to be “rooted out”, people should be “a little bit careful” about using the term institutional racism.

Speaking in the Commons debate on Black History Month, Mr Hunt also criticised some leadership figures of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement for “straying into cultural Marxism”.

Mr Hunt told MPs: “Touching upon current issues in the media, like other honourable members, I was appalled by the death of George Floyd. I was absolutely appalled.

“I think that the vast majority of people who have gone on the protests I think are well-meaning and I agree with (Tory MP Steve Baker) that we should listen to their strength of feeling and how they feel.

“But I do think it is unfortunate that some of the leadership figures of BLM have at times strayed beyond what should be a powerful yet simple and unified message in opposition to racism that still exists in our society, straying into cultural Marxism, the abolition of the nuclear family, defunding the police, overthrowing capitalism.

“So in some senses, I find it quite regretful that a message and an agenda that should have been used to unify at times has been allowed to become very divisive.

“But ultimately it is our duty to make sure the right messages are learnt from that horrific incident, and I think it needs to be one of unity and moderation and looking to improve upon the situation we have today where we know that racism still exists.”

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He added: “I’d also, looking at a petition, like to be a little bit careful about the term institutional racism.

“Yes, I think we need to be alive for the fact that there will be individuals who harbour racist views within key institutions, whether they be schools or the police, and they need to be rooted out.

“But I think to smear an entire organisation as being institutionally racist, again I think is incredibly unhelpful and divisive.”

Shadow schools minister Wes Streeting said the UK would not lose anything by telling an accurate story about the nation’s past.

He told the Commons: “I was lucky to go to an inner-city state school here in London, just up the road where children were drawn from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds, but particularly black African and Caribbean communities.

“It’s made me feel entirely, not just comfortable with the diversity of our country, but actively welcoming it, really feeling that I’ve benefited from an education that gave me exposure to people from a wide range of backgrounds, faiths and cultures.”

Equaltiies minister and Saffron Walden MP Kemi Badenoch added that the Black Lives Matter movement is “anti-capitalist” and “political”.

She told MPs: “Some schools have decided to openly support the anti-capitalist Black Lives Matter group – often fully aware that they have the statutory duty to be politically impartial.

“Black lives do matter, of course they do, but we know that the Black Lives Matter movement – capital B, L, M– is political.”

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