The head of the equalities watchdog in Britain has warned that the country faces the risk of becoming more racist as recession woes increase resentment and division.
Trevor Phillips warning came in a speech to mark the 10th anniversary of the Macpherson inquiry into the fatal stabbing of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence by racist thugs in south London in 1993, which labelled the Metropolitan Police "institutionally racist".
According to The Telegraph, Phillips, the Chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, claimed that while race relations have improved in the last 15 years, that progress could be wiped out by the worsening economic crisis if, for example, poor Britons lose out to better qualified immigrants in the battle for scarce jobs.
He pointed out that Britain's Parliament remains an "outstanding example of racial, gender and disability exclusion", and added that the country is "the best place in Europe to live if you are not white", as attitudes to racial diversity have softened, and that almost one in 10 British children now lives in a mixed-race family.
"We must not allow the legacy of this particular recession to be an angry, embittered permanent underclass looking for targets on whom to vent its rage. We all know that in the wake of the lean times can come resentment and division, all too often along the lines of race and faith. At the very moment when we need to remind ourselves that we are all in this together, for many, every instinct will shriek that it should be every man or woman for themselves; or that people who aren't like us are somehow less worthy of an equal place in society," he was quoted, as saying.
"If this recession lasts more than months we may face a greater danger. It is that we start to turn the clock back on crucial social advances that have been made in the years since Stephen Lawrence died," he added.
He claimed the new Equality Act would simplify red tape on all forms of discrimination including the class divide.