Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

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Yasmin Alibhai-Brown is a writer for The Independent and the Evening Standard, and is Senior Researcher at the Foreign Policy Centre (patron Tony Blair). She was previously Research Fellow with the IPPR which published her ‘True Colours’ on the role of government on racial attitudes. Tony Blair launched the book in March 1999.[1] She is also an advisor to Editorial Intelligence, an organisation which promotes networking between journalists and the P.R. industry.[2]


According to a biographical note:

'Yasmin Alibhai-Brown came to this country in 1972 from Uganda. She completed her M.Phil. in literature at Oxford in 1975. She is a journalist who has written for The Guardian, Observer, The New York Times, Time Magazine, Newsweek, The Evening Standard, The Mail and other newspapers and is now a regular columnist on The Independent and London’s Evening Standard. She is also a radio and television broadcaster and author of several books... From 1996 to 2001 she was a Research Fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research which published True Colours on the role of government on racial attitudes. Tony Blair launched the book in March 1999. She is a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Centre... She is also a regular international public speaker in Britain, other European countries, North America and Asian nations... In June 1999, she received an honorary degree from the Open University for her contributions to social justice. She is a Vice President of the United Nations Association, UK and has also agreed to be a special ambassador for the Samaritans. She is the President of the Institute of Family Therapy' [3]

She is also part of a similar venture to EI with Bob Geldof's 'Know Comment', part of his Ten Alps business (a PR, Broadcast and Television company, whose current (2007) client list includes the Road Haulage Association, British Chambers of Commerce, Association of British Insurers.[4] In 2005 it listed BP, GlaxoSmithkline, Microsoft, the British Foreign Office,[5] EMI, UBS, Ford and NCR)[6]

In the wake of the Steven Lawrence campaign she served on the Home Office Race Forum.[7]


Melanie McDonagh, has questioned the value of Alibhai-Bown's ubiquity as a 'self-proclaimed champion of the ethnic minorities':

There was one thing you could have bet on about the commission behind the Runnymede report - the one which had those challenging ideas about Britishness - before you ever saw its conclusions. Its brief was to consider matters of race, religion and ethnicity: ergo, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown would be a member. And sure enough, there she was.
In the curious little world from which commissions are drawn, there is a golden circle in which journalism leads to quangos, which lead to think-tanks, which lead to radio and telly punditry, which leads to newspaper columns which lead to a curious kind of public status which in turn translates into books and further quangos, until the unstoppable momentum of the whole cycle brings the lucky pundit to a seat in the House of Lords, without ever having troubled an electorate. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown has yet to get a peerage (although it can only be a matter of time), but there is no question that she is everywhere.[8]

McDonagh continues:

But in general, her world-view is benign to the point of banality. One is grateful that she speaks out on the question of forced marriage (she is against), but it is a little alarming that this should be presented (by Alibhai-Brown) as a courageous thing to do. How much influence does she exercise? Discussing the question of black representation within the Labour Party, in an interview with an American journal, she remarks cheerfully: 'I have actually gained a huge amount of influence in the inner Labour sanctums, as well as in terms of credibility within the communities where I spend a lot of time.'
Clarity, however, is not perhaps her strong point. It is, at times, difficult to identify precisely what her agenda is, beyond a commitment to having more non-whites on Radio 4 and in the Civil Service; an insistence that all ethnic identities are complex (as she is fond of pointing out: 'Anglo-Saxon is a hyphenated identity'); strong feelings about colonialism; and an antipathy to Conservatism. Her most interesting and distinctive view is that the Commission for Racial Equality should be subsumed in a general Human Rights Commission, which would comprehend discrimination based on age, sex and religion, as well as race.
Does she think that Britain is a racist society? Well, in the Daily Mail, she writes: 'Today I rise - an unexpected warrior fighting for that threatened British national identity. When I arrived here in 1972, racist abuse . . . was a fact of life. Thirty years on, I am a citizen of a multi-ethnic country which appears at ease with itself.' Yet much of her book Who Do We Think We Are? is spent identifying the origins of British racism and ends up praising the Macpherson report for identifying institutional racism in Britain.[9]


Opposed to Devolution

At the FPC she opposed devolution, taking an alarmist view of the consequences for Scotland and Wales:

"Yasmin headed the Centre's Global Britons programme and could be seen across the country instigating debate over the devolution process: a process she opposed as she felt that the establishment of regional governments in Scotland and Wales would unleash a dangerous form of nationalism that would further exclude Britain's ethnic minorities." [10]

On Iraq she has confessed that "I am ashamed to admit that there have been times when I wanted more chaos, more shocks, more disorder to teach our side a lesson."[11] According to her own account 'In 2001 she was appointed an MBE for services to journalism in the New Year’s honours list... In 2003 she returned her MBE as a protest against the new empire in Iraq and a growing republicanism.'[12]

No Link Between London Bombings And Iraq

She also denies any causal link between Iraq and the London bombings. "The police do have to stop and search our men and boys. It’s deeply upsetting, but this is the fate forced on us by the fanatics. To be honest, I too am nervous on public transport around males who look like members of my family or my close Asian or Arab friends. I accept this discrimination. I have to, in the interests of national security... I don't believe there is a simple causal connection between the Iraq occupation and the London bombs." [13]


References, Resources and Contact

External Resources


  1. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown Who am I, accessed 28 February 2008.
  2. Contributing Editors, Editorial Intelligence, accessed 21 August 2008.
  3. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, "Who Am I?" alibhai-brown.com 2006. Accessed 6th October 2007.
  4. Customer publishing leagues, Marketing December 19, 2007 SECTION: MARKETING LEAGUE TABLE; Pg. 23
  5. Bob Geldof; Worldbeaters.; Biography, New Internationalist January 1, 2006, SECTION: Pg. 27(1) No. 386 ISSN: 0305-9529
  6. Company News Feed formerly Regulatory News Service, Ten Alps Comms. PLC - Final Results, June 13, 2005 Monday 7:00 AM GMT
  7. Yasbin Alibhai-Brown profile, Contemporary Africa Database, 17 Sep 2003, by Dorcas Erskine, via the Internet Archive.
  8. Melanie McDonagh The New Statesman Profile - Yasmin Alibhai-Brown; She is everywhere, this self-proclaimed champion of the ethnic minorities. But can she really speak for them? Yasmin Alibhai-Brown profiled by Melanie McDonagh New Statesman October 23, 2000
  9. Melanie McDonagh The New Statesman Profile - Yasmin Alibhai-Brown; She is everywhere, this self-proclaimed champion of the ethnic minorities. But can she really speak for them? Yasmin Alibhai-Brown profiled by Melanie McDonagh New Statesman October 23, 2000
  10. Dorcas Erskine, "Yasmin Alibhai-Brown Main Page" Contemporary Africa Database, 17 September 2003. (Accessed 6 October 2007)
  11. Norman Geras, "Yasmin rides again" normblog 29th June 2004. Accessed 6th October 2007
  12. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown profile "Comment is Free" Guardian Unlimited Accessed 15 September 2007
  13. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, "Living with the Bombs:Rethinking what it means to be a British Muslim" Time Europe 7 August 2005. (Accessed 6 October 2007)
  14. Rachel Stevenson, "Geldof Group Lines Up Pundits To Plug Scotland" The Independent, 17 June 2003