BLM: A Voice for Black Britons?

Dr Rakib Ehsan

MOST black British people believe the UK is a fundamentally racist society, but only a fraction think tearing down statues is a legitimate form of protest, research published today by the Henry Jackson Society suggests.

New figures indicate that the hard-left elements of the Black Lives Matter movement are at odds with much of wider black British society in how to tackle systemic injustice.

Our research found that while 29 per cent of the British population believe the UK is a racist society, this rises two-fold to 58 per cent among people from black British backgrounds.

Similarly, 52 per cent of black British people disagree with the view that police brutality is not a problem in the UK compared to just 22 per cent of the wider population.

There is far less consensus, however, on the type of tactics employed by activists during a wave of protests in Britain last summer in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Only 16 per cent of black British people believe tearing down statues is a legitimate form of protest, dropping to just five per cent when it comes to using direct force against the police, the research, commissioned by the Henry Jackson Society, found.

There was widespread criticism last June when protesters tore down a statue of Edward Colston, the British slave trader, in Bristol during a BLM protest and threw it into a river.

The organisation which claims to be the face of the Black Lives Matter movement in the UK, meanwhile, has previously espoused radical politics with which few black British people agree, according to the findings.

A fundraising page set up in the name of BLM UK last year said the “coalition of black activists and organisers” were “guided by a commitment to dismantle imperialism, capitalism, white-supremacy, patriarchy and the state structures that disproportionately harm black people in Britain”.

In the US, the Black Lives Matter movement has also lobbied to “defund the police”.

But the latest research suggests fewer than one in five black British people support reducing investment for their own police force, while only 25 per cent support replacing capitalism with a socialist economy, compared to 23 per cent of the wider population.

The research, presented in a report called ‘BLM: A voice for all black Britons?’, compared a nationally representative UK general population poll of 1,000 respondents with a black British booster sample of 558 respondents.




In the words of the author:

“2020 was undoubtedly a turning point, with race relations now at the forefront of British civil discourse. With nearly 6 in 10 Black Britons believing that the UK has a fundamentally racist society, improvements must be made to strengthen our multi-racial democracy. 

While much work has to done on social cohesion, equality of opportunity, and police-community relations, the radical views associated with the BLM movement are unrepresentative of mainstream Black British opinion. 

The dismantling of market capitalism and defunding police forces are far beyond the traditional racial-fairness issues we need to address as a nation.” 


– Dr Rakib Ehsan, Research Fellow at The Henry Jackson Society



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