GMB: Ranvir grills Gillian Keegan on Kasumu’s resignation
Gillian Keegan, the Under-Secretary of State for Apprenticeships and Skills was invited onto Good Morning Britain today and her interview occurred just after the news had broken about Samuel Kasumu – Boris Johnson’s most senior black aide has quit his role in government following the results of a report into institutional racism were released. Presenters Ranvir Singh and Charlotte Hawkins were keen to ask her why Kasumu had left his position but the MP was adamant it was nothing something she was going to discuss, claiming it was a “professional” and “personal matter”.
“It’s a personal matter, so it’s not up to me to comment,” Keegan remarked.
Singh said Kasumu “wanted to resign in February but was talked out of it” he apparently agreed “politics was steep in division” before stating his resignation was a “public matter”.
“I disagree,” Keegan said. “If someone resigns, it’s a public matter. You would need to get the comment of why he’s resigning from him – that letter is not a comment from him.”
“You seem very defensive on this, it’s not a very good look from the government,” the presenter commented.
“No, I’m not defensive at all, I’m saying it’s a matter for him and I can’t defend or talk about why he’s resigned.” the guest explained.
In terms of the report though, it is an important report. It’s an independent report, so it’s not a government report… Of course, it has a lot of detail in there – 285 pages, I haven’t read all of it, but I’ve read a lot of it now – the Government is obviously considering that report and will respond to it.”
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Hawkins then asked: “There’s this claim that there isn’t institutional racism anymore – do you agree?”
“You must read the report and not the reports of the report. I think that’s the most important thing,” Keegan replied.
“What they do, is they down to a very detailed data level and they look at what is happening, they look at disparities, they look at inequality, they do say there is racism.
“There is a lot of criticism in the report, there’s a lot of recommendations in the report as well.
“They do basically say there are a lot of disparities and inequalities and we need to do something about them. But the report has recognised all of these things,” she added.
“The 10 commissioners have spent a lot of time and effort, spoken to thousands of people and the minimum we can do is take this report seriously and read it and look at the recommendations and respond to it.”
GMB: Keegan was grilled by the presenters
Asked what is the reason Black Caribbean students are six times more likely to be excluded from school if it’s not systemic, Keegan added: “One of the things that I thought was interesting about the report is that we should not use this term BAME, we should look down into very individual differences.
“And for example, they pointed out the difference in Bangladeshi boys’ educational outcomes in London versus Bradford, how different they were.
“So they were saying sometimes there are other factors as well – geography is a factor, the socio-economic background is a factor, family history is a factor.
“So they looked at many different reasons and what they found was it wasn’t a uniformed picture by race, by different ethnicities, there were different things, and actually the most important thing is to get to policy – to solve the inequalities and the disparities – is you have to be able to act.
“And what actually the report does is get down to that level of detail where it isn’t actually high level,” she said.
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GMB: Keegan refused to comment
In 2018, 5,084 Caribbean hopefuls applied for the Civil Service fast stream and none succeeded.
Keegan commented: “It’s not good enough… When you say structural racism it makes it out that there’s something there in the structure.
“When you have big differences based on geography, it doesn’t really support structural racism, it supports more nuanced differences.
“Are there occasions where people don’t get all the opportunities that they should, from different ethnic backgrounds? 100 percent there are. And do we need to do more about it? Yes, we do.”
“Do we need to offer more apprenticeships, apprenticeships are something I’m responsible for?
“We do have groups that look very much at how to encourage more from people of ethnic minorities to take up apprenticeships, they’re a massive social mobility tool and brilliant at getting you on in your careers, but we do need to make sure there is more awareness, that’s one of the recommendations in the report – we need to do more, definitely,” GMB viewers heard the MP say.
Commenting on the immediate review of safeguarding in schools and the new NSPCC helpline following the social movement of the Everyone’s Invited website where over 11,500 students have shared their experiences of sexual abuse, and asked why was nothing done after a similar report back in 2016, Keegan explained: “It’s not true to say nothing’s been done.
“We have updated our relationship, health and sexual education curriculum and that was introduced in May 2019, it became compulsory in schools from September 2020.
“We’ve also updated our keeping children safe in education guidance.”
Pressed that not enough has been done, Keegan went on: “…the Secretary of State has said he wants Ofsted to do a systematic review to understand what is working and what is not working well.
“The majority of schools take this very, very seriously and will have excellent processes and procedures in place, but we obviously do want to check that.
“There are distressing reports, but in addition there is a lot of other activity as well. We’ve got an Online Safety Bill going through Parliament at the moment, we’ve got a Violence Against Girls and Women bill going through Parliament at the moment,” she commented.
Good Morning Britain airs weekdays at 6am on ITV.