"Things have improved since 1984... things have improved since 1994": Jabeer Butt responds to the British Social Attitudes (BSA) report

Posted on Wed 28 May 2014

"Things have improved since 1984... things have improved since 1994": Jabeer Butt responds to the British Social Attitudes (BSA) report
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Jabeer Butt, Deputy Chief Executive of the Race Equality Foundation, has today responded to reports that the proportion of Britons who admit to being racially prejudiced has risen overall since 2001. The British Social Attitudes survey, carried out by NatCen Social Research, is an annual survey of the British public which seeks to measure attitudes towards issues such as same sex marriage, health, race and gender roles.

Although voicing concern about the report, Jabeer was also quick to temper its findings, arguing that the meaning of prejudice has changed over the last 30 years.  He gave the anecdote of a black older man who 20 years ago, on suffering ill-treatment in a residential care home, said that he would prefer to die at home than suffer racism in care. He said:

"Things have improved since 1984 compared to now, things have improved since 1994."

As well as comparing attitudes in Britain now to those in the past, he also argued that compared to other countries, Britain is, in general, a tolerant nation which welcomes other cultures.

However, he did say that the current political and economic climate has seen an increasing number of debates around the role and apparent burden of immigrants in UK society.  Arguing that many of these debates are ill-informed, Jabeer said that a tendency to blame migrants for the actions of the financial sector also ignores their contribution to the UK economy.  Highlighting in particular the role of migrants in the NHS, Jabeer stated that without migrant workers, many care homes would be unable to function properly.