Racism seen in British politics

Nov. 8, 2008 at 3:07 PM
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LONDON, Nov. 8 (UPI) -- If Barack Obama were British, racism would keep him from becoming prime minister, said the head of Britain's Equalities and Human Rights Commission.

That racism is not among the British electorate, but among the leaders of the political "machine," said Trevor Phillips, adding he believes the public would embrace a black leader.

"I would be very surprised if even somebody as brilliant as him (Obama) would have been able to break through the institutional stranglehold on power within the Labor Party," Phillips told The Daily Telegraph in a story published Saturday.

Despite Obama's success in U.S. politics, Phillips said he believes the United States remains more divided on racial issues than the United Kingdom.

"Here it's more about class. It is about culture, a different way of life and speaking," Phillips said, noting the U.K.'s Muslim community suffers greater discrimination.

"If you asked British voters whether you could have a Muslim prime minister their mouths would drop open, but not with a black one," Phillips said.

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