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Covid-19 is disproportionately killing black people. So why all the outrage over a black man being asked to investigate that?

Damian Wilson
Damian Wilson
is a UK journalist, ex-Fleet Street editor, financial industry consultant and political communications special advisor in the UK and EU.
is a UK journalist, ex-Fleet Street editor, financial industry consultant and political communications special advisor in the UK and EU.
Covid-19 is disproportionately killing black people. So why all the outrage over a black man being asked to investigate that?
It makes perfect sense for Public Health England to appoint Trevor Phillips to lead a probe into why more people from certain ethnic minorities are dying of the disease. But the left just can’t stand his alleged Islamophobia.

For some reason, the former Labour Party politician really winds up the far left, and his appointment this week as the head of an investigation looking at the unsettling fact that black people are dying from Covid-19 at twice the rate of white people in the UK has unleashed the foulest bigots on social media to spew their toxic bile.

The investigation won’t be probing only deaths in the black community, however – it will take in the effect of coronavirus on every BAME person in the country. Yet, somehow, this is viewed as an insult and Phillips is somehow to blame.

Ignoring the alarming statistics would be shocking. But asking the former chair of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission – who admitted the virus death data “stops you in your tracks” – to investigate them is apparently shocking too.

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Because, while Phillips is a high-profile member of the BAME community, it seems from the ignorant outrage on social media that he’s the wrong sort of BAME. The reaction from some corners was as if he’d suggested the cancellation of Ramadan.

“He’s an absolute danger. Anti-blackness, islamophobia, antisemitism – I could go on,” tweeted @JAACable.

This is one mindless troll I never want to come across. But when there’s outrage to be had, the keyboard warriors of the left are ready to pile in.

Mr Phillips’ crime, for them, is that he’s been a brave and outspoken critic of the behavior of some British Muslims – for not assimilating, for failing to wear poppies for Remembrance Sunday, and for showing sympathy for Islamic terrorists who carry out attacks in Western nations. This alleged “Islamophobia” got him suspended from the Labour Party in March.

Thankfully, there were some supporting his new appointment. Claire Fox, the former Brexit Party MEP and one of the more sensible commentators on the left, defended him, saying: “OTT reaction to appointment of Trevor Phillips is bonkers. He has long-standing interest in science & won't be swayed by orthodoxy.”

And here’s the science bit. Thanks to some clever analysis of the Covid-19 deaths, The Times found that mortality rates per 100,000 people in the UK were 23 for white British, 27 for Asian and a shocking 43 for black people.

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And before everyone starts screaming about Muslims and socio-economic injustice, and frontline workers having to slog away at lower-paid jobs, blah, blah, blah… note that the death rate among the Bangladeshi community, who are among the poorest households by weekly income in the country, was actually 20 per 100,000. Meanwhile, the rate for those of Caribbean heritage was 69. And it’s not solely a British issue, either, because the same disproportionate impact has also been noted in the United States.

So, in comes Trevor Phillips, and his appointment makes perfect sense. As Fox points out, he’s interested in science, but he also calls it as he sees it, and he won’t be intimidated by the loony left, who already had him suspended from the Labour Party in a disgraceful episode last month.

He is exactly what this investigation needs. How can it be that, as those statistics show, a black person is twice as likely to die from the coronavirus as a white person? While, in the US, deprivation and overcrowding might well be the cause, can that be the case in the UK too? Or is it even more straightforward, that it’s the result of the numbers of British black people working in frontline jobs?

Who knows, and I wouldn’t even attempt a guess. But I guarantee that when Trevor Phillips finishes his investigation, however long it takes and no matter who it upsets, we will all have the answer. Whether the trolls like it or not.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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