Boris Johnson’s former race adviser has warned of another Stephen Lawrence or Jo Cox tragedy if members of the government continue to inflame the culture wars gripping parts of the nation.
Speaking publicly for the first time since he resigned two months ago, Samuel Kasumu said he feared there were some in government pursuing a strategy of exploiting division for electoral gain that could result in severe consequences for the country.
“There are some people in the government who feel like the right way to win is to pick a fight on the culture war and to exploit division,”
He told the Guardian in an interview. “I worry about that. It seems like people have very short memories, and they’ve already forgotten Jo Cox.”
The man who killed her, he believes, was potentially radicalised and worked into a “frenzy” by the culture war narratives in certain newspapers and pushed by media commentators.
“If I was going to go to William Hill today and place a bet on what the most likely option is, I’d probably say a Jo Cox, a Stephen Lawrence, a Windrush scandal is where we’re headed if you don’t find a way to overcome this cultural moment. I feel like the government must be the ones to try to help drive that change.”
Kasumu’s stark intervention follows the leaking of his resignation letter in February, which accused the Conservatives of pursuing a “politics steeped in division”. He was persuaded to remain in place by Nadhim Zahawi, the vaccines minister, to continue his work on overcoming hesitancy to the Covid-19 jab among certain communities.
In April, Kasumu resigned in the middle of the furore of the government’s racial disparity report, which drew sharp criticism from a range of individuals, including Simon Woolley and Doreen Lawrence, who said it would allow racism to flourish.