- Trevor Phillips was head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission
- Branded his ten years working to end racial discrimination as ‘wrong’
- Anti-racism doctrine has encouraged abuse and endangered lives, he says
A former equality chief has branded his years working to stamp out racial discrimination as ‘utterly wrong’.
Writer and broadcaster Trevor Phillips said efforts made under the Blair government turned anti-racism into an ‘ugly new doctrine’.
Mr Phillips is the former chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission and has waged a 30-year campaign to tackle issues around discrimination and equality.
In an upcoming Channel 4 documentary, called Things We Won’t Say About Race That Are True, he says attempts to stop prejudice instead encouraged abuse and endangered lives as well as contributed to the rise of parties like Ukip.
In the 75-minute documentary, he delves into Britain’s racial tensions and stereotypes as well as hostilities towards immigrants.
He explains: ‘It was my job to to make sure that different racial and religious groups got on.
‘Campaigners like me seriously believed that if we could prevent people expressing prejudiced ideas then eventually they would stop thinking them.
‘But now I’m convinced we were utterly wrong.’
Mr Phillips, a Labour party member, says anti-racism began with good intentions but turned into ‘thought control’.
He says the London 2005 bombing by British Muslims, forced him to do rethink his views.
Now, he insists that only a willingness to talk more openly about race, despite risk of causing offence, will help those in need.
In the documentary, which airs on March 19, Mr Phillips asks Nigel Farage whether attempts to embrace diversity have led to the rise of Ukip.
He also also talks to Tony Blair about how the work begun by New Labour in support of diversity and equality can be revived.
Former England footballer Les Ferdinand will also feature in the documentary to highlight racial issues in the sport.
And former home secretary Jack Straw, who is also interviewed, tells Mr Phillips that many MPs are wary of expressing their views for fear of being branded racist.
But Mr Phillips insists people should be free to use racial stereotypes, such as that many Jews are rich or that black people are more likely to be convicted for robbery, because they are true.
Explaining the issue, he said: ‘The dividing lines of race, religion and culture are probably the most dangerous flashpoints in Britain today, but they’re also the ones we find hardest to talk about in public.
‘This film points to ways in which we can say what’s on our minds without being accused of being bigots.’
Channel 4 head of specialist factual David Glover, who commissioned the documentary, said: ‘This film contains some very uncomfortable facts about race.
‘Trevor Phillips now strongly believes that it’s important to get them out there, so ultimately we can understand and tackle them.
‘Trevor is arguably the best-qualified person in the country to examine these issues,’ he continued.
‘What’s fascinating is that having thought so deeply about them, he now has a very different approach to the subject than he used to.’