Skip Content

Unequal Britain: 60 years of equalities policy

Thursday 25 March 2010, 7.00pm - 8:30pm The British Academy, 10 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1

For the first time, the Government was proposing legislation that bans discrimination on socio-economic grounds.

The Equality Bill was now before Parliament. It proposed that public authorities take account of the inequalities experienced both by members of their workforce, and the communities that they serve. The Bill also banned discrimination on the grounds of these inequalities.

Why is it now possible for a government to credibly propose such a statutory duty? How and why have these changes happened? Why are they still incomplete? What are the continuing obstacles to change? Can history help us to understand how further change can come about?

To mark the publication of Unequal Britain: Equalities in Great Britain since 1945, edited by Pat Thane, a panel of high profile speakers came together to explore equalities in Great Britain in current and historical contexts. The panel sought to discover what the most important driver for change may be.

The book developed from a project led by Professor Thane and colleagues in the Centre for Contemporary British History and History & Policy. The Equalities Review, chaired by Trevor Phillips, wanted to explore what had changed and why, for disadvantaged groups in Britain since World War II, and to understand what the obstacles were to change. The resulting report, Equalities in Great Britain, 1946-2006, informed the establishment of the Equality and Human Rights Commission in 2007 and the single Equalities Bill, now going through Parliament.


Chair: Rob Berkeley, Director of the Runnymede Trust and Chair of Naz Project London

Pat Thane FBA, Professor of Contemporary British History & Co-founder of History & Policy

Judith Okely, Emeritus Professor of Social Anthropology, Hull University and Deputy Director, International Gender Studies Centre, Oxford University

Peter Tatchell, coordinator of the LGBT rights group OutRage! and Green Party human rights spokesperson

Baroness (Sally) Greengross, Equality and Human Rights Commissioner and Chief Executive of the International Longevity Centre

Trevor Phillips, Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission