Since 2017, Runnymede has been collaborating with the Centre for Labour and Social Studies to research race and class inequality in the UK and foreground a new way of talking about these issues so that:
- we build solidarity across struggles, sectors and movements
- we are better equipped to tackle structural race and class inequality
The Race and Class Messaging Toolkit (2019) is an ongoing project aimed at providing language to build solidarity across difference and challenge ‘divide and rule’ narratives, for both advocates and the general public.
Many of us – advocates for race, class and/or immigration justice in the UK – have unintentionally reinforced the narratives of our opponents by discussing our issues in isolation. Building on race and class messaging and framing work in the UK and US, as well as our own research, this checklist identifies 12 common traps on both the content and the form of our conversations on race, class and/or immigration. To any of those traps, we propose alternatives for strong messaging to engage our supporters and persuade those who can be.
The reason why ‘divide and rule’ narratives are so powerful is that they get relayed into our daily conversations and come to be perceived as common sense. We have all heard things like ‘These people come here and take our jobs’ or ‘They profit from the NHS on the back of the British who pay for it’. For many of us, this is uncomfortable and disheartening yet we often don’t know how to respond. This guide is aimed at providing tools for everyone to stand up against the ongoing blaming of BME, migrant and working-class communities for issues experienced by society across the board. It is crucial for us to focus efforts and resources towards concrete solutions to injustice and inequality.
We Are Ghosts - Race, Class and Institutional Prejudice (2019) is the result of a year-long qualitative research project and collaboration between The Runnymede Trust and the Centre for Labour and Social Studies. Conducted over 2018, interviews and focus groups with 78 people highlighted a growingly punitive culture of services experienced across working-class, BME and migrant communities, despite such groups being repeatedly pitched against each other in mainstream media and political discourse. Rather than the ‘white working class’ and ‘ethnic or migrant working class’ living different or separate lives, we found significant overlap in everyday lived experiences, which we analysed by using 4 Ps: precariousness, power, place and prejudice.
The report makes the case that the working class is not white but multi-ethnic and has always included migrants. Working-class communities, white or otherwise, struggle with precarious work (loss of traditional industries and the rise of the low-paid gig economy), with the minority ethnic working class also grappling with another form of precariousness – the struggle to prove their right to live and work here, as the Windrush scandal has highlighted.
The Runnymede Trust and CLASS are calling for:
-An inclusive working-class narrative, one that does not pitch everyday people against each other and acknowledges the legacy of colonialism in shaping modern-day Britain
-Policy-makers to re-embed dignity at the core of policy and re-build the safety net for all working-classes
-Ending the ‘hostile environment’ and designing universal public services with the basic premise that people deserve to be treated with care and dignity when navigating the system
-Strengthening working-class voice and participation across all institutions, including through co-production of services and fostering workers’ bargaining power
Minority Report: Race and Class in post-Brexit Britain (2017) is an edited volume outlining the evidence on race and class inequality post Brexit referendum, gathering contributions from several race and class authors and scholars.
The report argues that the 'white working class' label is distracting policy-makers from solutions that will actually help working-class people of all backgrounds. The label also ignores the ethnic minority working class, whose economic circumstances and voice have been similarly ignored by policymakers for decades. These communities have close shared interests and would benefit equally from policies aimed at all low income groups.
Read our Director's blog in Huffington Post, Who cares about the white working class?