Broadcast 27 November 2022. Posted 29 November 2022
It is too easy to overlook how far Britain has come on racial integration over my lifetime. I chose this as the topic for my 71st “Thought for the Week” on BBC Radio Manchester last Sunday.
In my view, no country in Europe comes close to the UK when considering the representation of ethnic minorities at the top levels of politics, media and the professions.
Since the pandemic started, I have prerecorded the "Thought for the Week" and sent it to the BBC in advance.
Although BBC Radio Manchester has now reopened to visiting contributors, their new format of transmitting the "Thought for the Week" of just after 06:00 and again just after 08:00 requires it to be prerecorded. The discussion normally takes place over Zoom, as it did on 27 November 2022, although for my previous appearance on 2 October 2022 I chose to make my first post-pandemic visit to the studios to meet the new programme presenter Asma Younus in person.
You can hear my recording below.
It’s always hard to see ourselves as others see us. That is true for our weaknesses but also true for our strengths.
I had a powerful example of this in 1999.
I took a taxi south over London Bridge, to return to my firm’s office at Number 1, London Bridge. Although I had been there many times before, something made me see the building through the eyes of a stranger.
I realised just how impressive the building looked, especially with its massive PricewaterhouseCoopers sign. It was awe inspiring. You can find lots of images of the building on the internet.
The same thing applies to how we see our country. Many people care about the fact that there is still racism in our society. I certainly do, for obvious reasons.
When you care about racism, it can stop you seeing just how far ahead we are compared with other countries in Europe, or indeed in most of the world.
We have a Prime Minister who is ethnically Indian, and whose religion is Hinduism.
The four people who were Chancellor of the Exchequer before Jeremy Hunt were called Kwasi Kwarteng, Nadhim Zahawi, Rishi Sunak, and Sajid Javid. For the avoidance of doubt, none of them were white British!
With every year, there are more people from ethnic minorities at the highest levels in the media, the professions, and in business, as well as in politics like the previous examples.
No other country in Europe comes remotely close to us. We should celebrate this with pride, while recognising that we still have further to go.
I heard my "Thought for the Week" being transmitted as I waited for my Zoom discussion with Asma Younus. As I listened to it, I realised that a few words had been cut out by the BBC from the sound file I had sent them.
They were the words "I realised just how impressive the building looked, especially with its massive PricewaterhouseCoopers sign."
With hindsight, I can see that mentioning the name of PricewaterhouseCoopers probably violated some BCC internal rule about not allowing commercial products or services to be mentioned! I have left the original version above as it is more complete. In particular, the large sign was part of the impact of the building on me.