Nine: Ethnic inequalities under New Labour: progress or entrenchment?

The New Labour party elected to government in 1997 came to power inheriting a legacy of ethnic inequalities in housing, education, employment, health and criminal justice outcomes. The early research evidence from the First Survey of Ethnic Minorities carried out in the mid-1960s documented racialised disadvantage and discrimination in the lives of all minority ethnic groups, most of whom had arrived from Britain’s colonial territories to fill job vacancies in the post-war period (Daniel, 1968). Since the mid-1970s, however, while the broad pattern of ethnic inequalities has persisted, there has also been considerable differentiation, with those of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin, and to a lesser extent those of black origin, generally faring worse than those of Indian and Chinese origin (see, for example, Smith, 1977; Jones, 1993; Modood et al, 1997). While the earlier period provided unequivocal evidence of both direct and indirect racial discrimination, the empirical research has additionally, over the intervening years, accumulated to reveal a complex interplay of socioeconomic, demographic, institutional, structural and cultural factors as contributing to the less favourable outcomes for minority ethnic groups.

In its first period of office, New Labour’s policy response to ethnic inequalities was framed by the public inquiry into the Metropolitan Police Service’s investigation of the racist murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence in 1993. The government is to be applauded for fully endorsing the inquiry team’s findings that ‘institutional racism’ had played a part in the flawed police investigation, and that it was endemic to public organisations such as the police, schools and government departments.

Content Metrics

May 2022 onwards Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 214 214 10
Full Text Views 1 1 0
PDF Downloads 0 0 0


You are not currently authorised to access the full text of this chapter or article.
Access options
To access the full chapter or article then please choose one of the options below.
Pay to access content (PDF download and unlimited online access)
Other access options
Redeem Token
Institutional Login
Log in via Open Athens or Shibboleth. Please contact your librarian if you need any help.
Login with Institutional Access
Personal Login
Login to your BUP account with your individual credentials.
Login with BUP account

Institutional librarians can find more information about free trials here