Norwich MP's Ku Klux Klan tweet criticised by race report authors

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis. Pic: Yui Mok/PA Images

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The authors of a report on racial integration have hit out at Norwich South MP Clive Lewis for tweeting a Ku Klux Klan photo in response to their findings.

After a backlash over the review published by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, the panel issued a statement on Friday night, in which they mentioned a tweet by the Labour MP.

When the report, which said Britain was no longer a country where the "system is deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities", was published, Mr Lewis tweeted the photo with the comment: "Move along. Nothing to see here."

Chairman Dr Tony Sewell had said the review found no evidence of "institutional racism", and the report criticised the way the term had been applied, saying it should not be used as a "catch-all" phrase for any microaggression.

But the panel faced a backlash, with politicians and other public figures describing it as insulting and divisive.

Friday's statement from the commission said: "In some cases fair and robust disagreement with the commission's work has tipped into misrepresentation.

"This misrepresentation risks undermining the purpose of the report - understanding and addressing the causes of inequality in the UK - and any of the positive work that results from it.

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"We have never said that racism does not exist in society or in institutions. We say the contrary: racism is real and we must do more to tackle it."

In a reference to Mr Lewis's tweet, they said: "The deeply personal attacks on many of us by politicians and other public figures are irresponsible and dangerous.

"For example, one MP presented commissioners as members of the KKK. Robust debate we welcome. But to depict us as racism deniers, slavery apologists or worse is unacceptable."

Mr Lewis, who had followed up his tweet by saying "To be crystal clear, this images represents structural racism. Just so we're clear", did not want to comment on the commission's statement.

But he tweeted a link to an article by historian David Olusoga, who said the report would aid the "government’s ceaseless culture war".

And, on Friday, Mr Lewis told this newspaper that he questioned how those on the commission could conclude structural racism did not exist.


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