Show Racism the Red Card speech 2014

Show Racism the Red Card speech 2014

Stephen Cavalier, Thomspons Solicitors, spoke on behalf of Show Racism the Red Card, at the unionlearn conference 2014.

Chair, comrades, thank you the opportunity to speak to your conference today. I am Stephen Cavalier, Chief Executive of Thompsons solicitors, proud supporters of Show Racism The Red Card (SRTRC). And I am speaking to you today as an ambassador of SRTRC.

Stephen Cavalier, Show Racism the Red Card
Stephen Cavalier © Jess Hurd/

Your speaker today was supposed to be Rachel Yankey, footballer with Arsenal and 125 caps for England. So when they chose a replacement they chose me as the person least like her – white, middle-aged bloke who supports Spurs and – unaccountably – has no caps for England.

SRTRC is the UK's leading provider of anti-racism educational resources. Using the power and influence of football and footballers to combat racism and to educate.

Here's how SRTRC started 18 years ago: Shaka Hislop, who is from Trinidad, was the goalkeeper for Newcastle United FC. He was filling up his car in a petrol station when he was racially abused by some white youths. When they realised who he was, they stopped abusing him and asked him for his autograph. He refused.

The incident sparked Shaka to contact Ged Grebby and they set up SRTRC, to tackle racism and use the celebrity of footballers to educate that racism is wrong and unacceptable.

Yet racism still exists in football. At White Hart Lane last season, I was still hearing anti-semitic chanting by away fans. Elsewhere, there is still racism, Islamaphobia, homophobia. All issues that SRTRC works to tackle.

And we are here today during the World Cup. An international celebration of football. Of diversity. Of all nationalities. Although sadly not England for much longer.

And football is a great advert for diversity. An advert to young people and to all those watching the game. In the same way that in a diverse city like London, UKIP's vote was low, in a diverse environment like football there is no place for UKIP's scaremongering and racism.

Because it is racist of Nigel Farage to say he wouldn't want to live next to a Romanian family and to say 'you know what I mean'. Yes, we do know what he means.

A few days after those comments, I was at White Hart Lane for a match. There were Romanians and Bulgarians playing, along with many other nationalities. I didn't hear anybody saying, "Look at those Romanians, coming over here, taking our corners".

And this is how football also shows the value of migration. Of workers coming to this country to exercise their trade, to use their skills. And to be valued for it.

And this is the pernicious effect of UKIP. Their language and policies, making people feel they have permission to be racist. We can see that in the voting in elections and in the language of the press.

We must tackle that. And that is what SRTRC is here to do. To combat the issue with young people. With trade unionists. Using the power of education.

And, as trade unionists, don't forget that UKIP would take away workers' right, would scrap discrimination laws, job security and maternity rights.

And also don't forget that this government. This government of Tories and of Lib Dems. Has already slashed workers' rights. Bringing in fees for Employment Tribunals so it costs £1200 to bring a case to enforce your rights if you have been discriminated against. And scrapping discrimination questionnaires. The questionnaires that you can send to an employer if you feel you have been discriminated against, so that you know whether you have evidence to bring a claim. Making it even more difficult to bring a claim. Hurting those who have been discriminated against. Protecting those that discriminate. That is what this government is about.

So, I urge you all to tackle racism in your workplace, to support SRTRC, to make use of their excellent resources, to visit their stall at this conference, to attend the SRTRC workshops this afternoon and to affiliate your union branch to SRTRC.

It is time for all of us to Show Racism The Red Card.

Thank you.