Tom Slater Tom Slater

Nottingham university’s shameful treatment of Tony Sewell

Tony Sowell (photo: BBC)

If you want a glimpse of how toxic the UK’s race debate has become, take a look at the treatment of Tony Sewell.

Sewell has devoted much of his working life to improving the lives of ethnic-minority Brits. The charity he chairs, Generating Genius, has been helping some of the most deprived young people get into high-paying Stem fields for more than 15 years.

Here is a man who truly walks the walk, amid a race-relations industry that is full of solution-free, identitarian jabber.

The cowardice here is breath-taking

And yet, he has been thoroughly demonised. As chair of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, he produced the now infamous 2021 race report, which dared to argue that, while racism is still an issue in Britain that must be confronted, our society is not ‘institutionally racist’.

For his trouble, Sewell has been called a ‘token black man’, likened to a Klansman and – to complete the set – is now being shamed by his old university. In 2019, the University of Nottingham – where he earned his PhD – selected him for an honorary degree. But it was withdrawn last December, following the backlash to his report.

Word got out about this last month. A Nottingham spokesman said the ‘political controversy’ around Sewell meant the degree award was no longer appropriate. The university claimed not to be ‘making any judgement on Mr Sewell personally or expressing a view on his work’, but sadly the ‘criteria preclude us from awarding [honorary degrees] to figures who become the subject of political controversy’.

In response to fierce criticism from some commentators and MPs, Nottingham is now doubling down – while shifting the blame from its rules to its students. Dropping Sewell, the university has now said, is necessary ‘to ensure our graduates do not have a potential distraction overshadow their celebration’.

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