‘Racism would stop a British Obama’

November 8th, 2008 - 8:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaLondon, Nov 8 (IANS) A British Barack Obama wouldn’t have made it as prime minister because of institutional racism, the head of Britain’s apex race body said.”If Barack Obama had lived here I would be very surprised if even somebody as brilliant as him would have been able to break through the institutional stranglehold that there is on power within the Labour Party,” said Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

“The parties and unions and think-tanks are all very happy to sign up to the general idea of advancing the cause of minorities but in practice they would like somebody else to do the business. It’s institutional racism,” he said.

“The problem is not the electorate; the problem is the machine,” he told The Times.

Phillips claimed the opposition Tory Party had outperformed Labour at increasing the number of black and Asian candidates.

“They (the Tories) are less democratic. They are happier to impose candidates on the local parties,” he said.

Ruling Labour, on the other hand, was too closely tied in with “the trade unions, the socialist societies, the left intelligentsia, and until you get them to accept that they have got a responsibility to do something it is almost impossible for the party leadership to make progress.”

But Phillips said Britain was less racially divided than the US.

He said: “Here it’s more about class. It is about culture, a different way of life and speaking. The Muslim community occupies the space that black Americans have in the United States. If you asked British voters whether you could have a Muslim prime minister their mouths would drop open, but not with a black one.”

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