‘Liberals hate black people they can’t patronise’

Trevor Phillips talks to Brendan O’Neill about racial identity politics.

Trevor Phillips, writer, broadcaster and former politician, joins spiked’s editor for the latest episode of The Brendan O’Neill Show. They discuss racial disparities and Covid-19, how identity politics harms ethnic minorities, and his expulsion from the Labour Party for ‘Islamophobia’.

Picture by: Getty.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.


Ahmet Musa

24th June 2020 at 5:06 pm

Big respect Mr Phillips, I think being without a party may be a blessing in disguise as it’s given you the freedom to speak some actual truth, which is needed right now like no other time in living memory.

Alan Savage

22nd June 2020 at 2:50 pm

Trevor Phillips is totally wrong in his comparison of British and America’s media. British media – I’m not talking about tabloids here – is regulated for bias by an official body. BBC for example, have to triple check their news stories before reporting them. This is not the case in America, where media outlets like Fox news broadcasts very biased news stories and their sources are nowhere near as scrutinised as in Britain. Trevor talks in this podcast also about left wing reporters twisting the narrative to suit their bias. I think what Trevor really means is, he doesn’t like his views being challenged and taken apart by journalists who dig a bit deeper.

Andrew Shaughnessy

22nd June 2020 at 10:31 am

Historian David Starkey has likened Labour turning on Trevor Phillips to the French Revolutionaries guillotining Robespierre. I see Phillips as being more like Victor Frankenstein. When he introduced the word Islamophobia to common usage in this country he created something that couldn’t be controlled and now seeks to destroy him.

Delia Scales

20th June 2020 at 2:22 pm

Perfect. “The (white, middle class, privately educated) liberal elite hate people that they can’t patronise.”
It’s the same with child abuse etc.
As someone who actually comes from a terrible background, and spent her early years mixing with feminists (white, middle class, privately educated) I totally relate to Trevor’s comments that what the liberals want is a ‘stooge’ they can ‘pity’.
Underneath the cloying pity of these liberals is often prejudice that is just as nasty as the far right.

Jackie Robbins

18th June 2020 at 1:51 am


For Brendan O’Neill, humorous, witty, the reasonable voice of our times


Andrew Levens

17th June 2020 at 6:17 pm

What a rich podcast! so much to consider. I certainly agree that there is a lack of numeracy in political statements. too much assertion of ‘most people think this or that’ without any basis. evident in some comments here too. Has been the case with politics for a long time of course, but why not give it a try? There is a lot of data out there on public opinions, and i don’t mean ‘twitter noise’ . And don’t be afraid to admit that there is no clear consensus on a point. Just explain your point anyway and ask people to consider its merits.

Andrew Dykes

17th June 2020 at 12:56 pm

An excellent interview and as usual TP talks nothing but common sense. There is, though, one elephant in this room which he gets very close to discussing when talking about the Labour Party, but then ducks. That is the creation of a “race relations industry” – which at one level, of course, TP has benefited from himself. It has produced a cadre of people whose careers depend on there being racial issues for them to “solve”. Their best career strategy is to talk up differences, emphasise problems, and whip up hysteria, which they, and they alone as a priestly caste of experts, can resolve. No race problems, no job. I don’t believe that Britain is racist, so why don’t we repeal the laws that make the commission of a crime dependent on how the “victim” perceives it; abolish the farcical and endless verbiage about commitment to “equality” throughout government (esp. local govt.); and repurpose “diversity officers” to front line jobs? My guess is that we’d get a properly integrated society far more quickly that way.

Andrew Shaughnessy

17th June 2020 at 1:58 pm

Quite right. Booker T. Washington (who had first-hand experience of REAL oppression, having been a slave himself) famously said:
“There is another class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs — partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs.”
He died in 1915, but he’d recognise the same people today.

John D Henry

18th June 2020 at 12:28 pm

Good point. And applies to much of the ‘grievance industry’ there is a vested interest in not solving the problems they purport to solve. In another universe this is called ‘conflict of interest’. Add a group of anarchists and other trouble makers into the mix, a culture of silencing the reasonable voices who cite their legitimate concerns; and we end up with perpetual conflict. History tells us we could be on a dangerous path. As one ex policeman recently said on TalkRadio, we could be only one bad cop away from civil war in the UK.

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Brandy Cluster

16th June 2020 at 10:51 pm

I didn’t listen to this because the term “liberals” no longer applies to the Left. Ergo, a false premise right at the git-go.

Bros Bro

17th June 2020 at 12:07 am

It’s not liberals who voted for “Trump”
Hows your man doing?

Weyland Smith

17th June 2020 at 12:16 pm

I think it’s well worth a listen, notwithstanding your dislike of the ‘liberal’ tag – you might be pleasantly surprised 🙂

john branson

16th June 2020 at 10:35 pm

Trevor Phillips, lots of respect, thanks

a watson

16th June 2020 at 9:36 pm

They also hate working class men they cannot patronise. In fact they also fear them.

Brandy Cluster

16th June 2020 at 10:52 pm

And THIS is the definition of “liberals”? Ah, I don’t think so.

Mike Coops

16th June 2020 at 9:11 pm

Mr Phillips is spot on…thank you Brendan…

Rosie Maxima

16th June 2020 at 8:08 pm

Hate is a strong word but there is an element of truth to it…see the manufactured faux outrage Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special Sticks and Stones got.


The truth is (and I say this as someone with black family and friends) black people are not so PC-minded as their white liberal counter-parts. I’m British but live and work in the Caribbean and a white British police officer posted out here said something to the effect of that to gain respect from her Caribbean male colleagues she started dealing with them as roughly as they would deal with her because she recognized that they were clearly not worried about being PC or constantly saying the right thing so as not to offend her as a woman. As a very light complexioned mixed race girl (In American terms “white-passing”), or at any rate somewhat racially ambiguous, I have both been the subject of blatant un-PC statements as well as heard Caribbean women talk about colour straight up, no dressing it up or making it safe-sounding or whatever. They apply labels very freely to people of different shades, religion and culture. I don’t believe this comes from a place of racism (bigotry perhaps and cultural ignorance, against the background of their own historical legacy etc etc) but it does emphasise the nonsense of those liberals who go to such lengths to cosset other ethnicities as helpless victims as well as to claim to speak on their behalf in every situation and have the patent on what is racist or not racist. People of colour are more free to some degree to perhaps use language and stereotypes by virtue of their own experiences as the underdog in many societies. The Caribbean itself is kind of a lawless society (or at least does not have the same amount of regulation as Europe) and it’s a place where black people know that they live in their “own” country, so I think this inevitably plays a role also.

Christopher Tyson

16th June 2020 at 8:02 pm

I think that Trevor Phillips contradicts himself, he criticises the excesses of identity politics, but can’t quite bring himself to leave it behind. Given his opening statement about covid -19, about how little we know, there seems to be no particular reason for an investigation into its ethnic effects, unless there is a political motive. Trevor says that if ethnicity is a factor we need to know. But isn’t he accepting the identitarian view of race as causality? Surely covid-19 is not related to the colour of your skin or unless you are a racial genetic essentialist, your race itself can not be the causal factor. But people of colour are also male or female, rich or poor, working class or middle class, or have underlying health conditions. High blood pressure and diabetes are known to be disproportionate amongst certain ethnic groups, so is the causality the ethnicity or the underlying health condition? I would say the latter.
I often write to the Voice newspaper and they usually ignore me, but on one occasion the edition replied to me below the line, I was surprised and appreciated that he did this. I responded to an article they published saying that black people had been disenfranchised by the 2019 election. I pointed out that Labour were still the opposition party and taking their figure of 70% of black people voting for labour ( I don’t knok if this takes into account non voters, or 70% of those who voted). I pointed out that 30% who didn’t vote labour were a significant minority.
He said that race was the main causal factor for black voters supporting the Labour Party. I pointed out that there may be a correlation between race and voting, but that this was different from a cause, but really I don’t really know what he meant and I suspect that he didn’t either. A vote is a conscious act on the basis of a any number of subjective factors, to say that your vote was caused by your race, is to denigrate your subjective agency. The misuse of science for political purposes, and history too, by black activists, is something that Trevor might want to think about.

Christopher Tyson

16th June 2020 at 8:12 pm

If someone hostile to ethnic minorities had said that ethnic minorities were responsible for spreading the virus and should be shielded, I’m sure the BAME activists would have been concerned about the racialisation. They are also racializing, but what is important to them is control of the narrative.

Cedar Grove

19th June 2020 at 10:05 pm

A racist geneticist essentialist? Do you mean a scientist?

Research is showing that men are more badly affected than women; & people with type A blood more likely to succumb to Covid-19 than those with Type O – blood types are about the particular structure of the antigens you carry, so they affect immune response.

Older people die more often, so do the overweight & those with some prior health conditions.

Race comes into this when we consider that people with poor diets in crowded housing are at a disadvantage for any disease, & some ethnic minorities may be disproportionately poor. . But it also interfaces with the factors I’ve outlined above.

Bros Bro

16th June 2020 at 7:54 pm

Why do conservatives only like black/ Asian people who are seen as sell outs by their community?

Vivian Darkbloom

16th June 2020 at 8:44 pm

Bros Bro: That short gnomic statement is very hard to unpick. Please expand:

Do you mean large “C” or small “c” conservatives? What do you mean by “conservative”? What do you mean by “like”? How would you define the black/Asian community i.e. do black people and asian people form a single community as your statement suggests? What do you mean by Asian? Living where? In what sense is the, say, Japanese community seen as a sell-out by their fellows? What do you mean by a sell-out?

Are you a racial essentialist? Are you a racist? Do you believe in the separation of the so-called races?

Please expand; I hope you have much more to say on this as it’s a fascinating subject. You have the floor; this is a free-speech site. Regards.


Vivian Darkbloom

16th June 2020 at 8:46 pm

Bros Bro: Apologies; too many questions. I’ll trim them done to one: what, in your view, is a sell-out?

Bros Bro

16th June 2020 at 11:28 pm

In the case of Trevor, it’s someone who has become a darling of the Right, due to his blatant Islamophobia. A phobia not shared by the majority of people who look like him.

Why do you think the “Right” love him and defend him all of a sudden?

Vivian Darkbloom

17th June 2020 at 1:38 am

Bros Bro: Thank you kindly for your reply. I still don’t understand. What do you mean by “the right”? Who are the people who “look like him”? Please expand your thoughts, which, with respect, seem somewhat incoherent. At this point in our discourse it is necessary that we must, as Voltaire said, define our terms. I’m genuinely interested in what you have to say.

I have absolutely no idea why the “right” love Trevor Philips. I’m not very interested in Trevor Philips. I’m interested in you.

OK, an additional question: why did you put “the Right” in scare quotes? It implies that you think “the Right” are not a real and actual entity, rather an abstract ideology with little relation to concrete reality. I don’t wish to put words in your mouth and I’m sorry if that comes across as a leading question but again I ask you: what do you mean by the Right?

As to Islamophobia, yes, that’s an interesting question. Like most liberals, Mr Philips is against Islam but to reject the basic principles of the faith which put family and tradition before any other consideration is his choice. The core principles of the faith are congruent with conventional conservative thinking and clash with progressive mores. Do you yourself accept or reject the core principles of the faith with its emphasis on family and social solidarity and rejection of decadent Western nihilism and self-indulgence?

Thanks. Perhaps a few too many questions but it’s complicated! Looking forward to your reply.

Totally Karen

16th June 2020 at 8:52 pm

Why do Left wing people only like black/ Asian people who agree with their talking points ?

We can play this game all day.
P.S TREVOR PHILLIPS was appointed to his job by Labour and is probably more qualified and experienced both professionally and personally to talk about race than anyone. Why don’t we listen to what he is saying?

Bros Bro

16th June 2020 at 11:42 pm

Because his views are not representative of what BAME people think. He has been chosen precisely due to the colour of his skin to give credibility to a report which will in all likelihood say what the government wants it to say.
Why does a black person have to look into this issue anyway? Is he the most suitable scientist they could find of any colour?

Bros Bro

17th June 2020 at 12:10 am

Why do Left wing people only like black/ Asian people who agree with their talking points ?

Because they speak for the overwhelming majority of black/Asian people.
Thank you for attending the shortest Ted talk ever.

Brandy Cluster

16th June 2020 at 10:53 pm

Because it means they’ve migrated far away from GROUPTHINK.

Vivian Darkbloom

17th June 2020 at 2:01 am

Apologies Bros Bro, I’m fascinated by you and I have so many questions. You say “his views are not representative of what BAME people think.” How do you know this? Have you canvassed the opinions of millions? Perhaps you’re right, but so what? Is he an individual or an insignificant part of a mass?

“He has been chosen precisely due to the colour of his skin.” Well, would you prefer, um, someone, um, how shall I put this delicately, lighter?

“to give credibility to a report which will in all likelihood say what the government wants it to say.” Likelihood? I don’t mean to be rude, but that’s the desired result of every single government inquiry. The whole point of a government inquiry is to report back to the government exactly what it wants to hear. You don’t honestly think otherwise, do you?

“Why does a black person have to look into this issue anyway? Is he the most suitable scientist they could find of any colour?” Hmm, I can’t really begin to unpick this except to say “why not a black person”; “Why not a cat or a giraffe or a drunken lunatic picked off the street.” And Philips isn’t a scientist. Please explain yourself; I can’t wait.

Bros Bro

17th June 2020 at 3:49 am

I have a question for you.
In the message sent at 1.38am.
In paragraph 3 What does “mores” mean? Apologies for writing this word in “scare quotes”

Vivian Darkbloom

17th June 2020 at 1:31 pm

Bros Bro:

Mores are basically social norms; they determine the acceptability of certain morals or behaviours within a society, culture, or community. The term is often used in the field of sociology. The Oxford dictionary defines mores as “the essential or characteristic customs and conventions of a society or community”. Pronounced something like MAW-res or MAW-rays.

Totally Karen

17th June 2020 at 8:56 am

His views aren’t representative of BAME people?
Have you asked them all? Do they have to think the same way? Regardless, he’s entitled to his opinion.

You say he’s been picked to give credence to a report that will say what the Tory’s want it to say and in another you refer to him as a scientist and then you talk about his Islamophobia. All of which seems to suggest that you are just regurgitating far left talking points and have no idea who Trevor Phillips actually is.

He’s nothing to do with the Tory party. He’s not been appointed to or asked to do anything by the Tory Party.
He’s an ex Labour politician who’s spent most of his life working on race relations. He was appointed head of Equality and Human Rights Commission by Labour in 2003 and has been a part time member of it (now ECHR) since 2009. He was given an OBE (nominated by Labour) for his services on race relations. He advises around the world. He’s written over 46 peer reviewed books, journals and reports on race and equality. He’s in favour of hate speech laws and vocally opposed to the far right. He’s a lefty through and through you silly boy. How old are you, 16?

As for his Islamophobia. That controversy is due to him supporting Charlie Hebdo and anyone’s right to draw cartoons or criticise ANY religion without being murdered. That scary “far right” belief in free speech. He’s only come into trouble because he deigned to criticise Corbyn and his cult of madness. And that doesn’t make him Far right either. That just makes him sane.

Next time you criticise somebody, make sure you have actually listened to what he’s saying and have ANY knowledge of the person you’re criticising, instead of just drawing up a bogey man and getting all your facts wrong.

Totally Karen

17th June 2020 at 9:09 am

He’s also friends with David Lammy and Diane Abbot, those well known darlings of the ‘Far Right’. Did you do even the most cursory investigation of who Trevor Phillips is before going off on him as a far right scientist stooge for the Tory party? Are you confusing him with somebody else? Are you just trolling?

Vivian Darkbloom

17th June 2020 at 9:07 pm

Karen, I hope Bros Bro hangs around on this site; there are too many commentators here with whom I agree and I like my viewpoint and ideas to be challenged; I relish it, actually. Bros Bro so far has regurgitated the talking points to be seen on establishment sites such as the Guardian but offered scant insight. When conventional views are challenged by the counter-culture they often run away, which is a testament to the weakness of the ideas someone else has implanted in their minds.

John D Henry

18th June 2020 at 12:44 pm

TP comes across as a highly intelligent man. A voice that certainly well worth listening to, who makes reasonable points on a range of issues revolving around race relations. There are those in the liberal left that appear not to tolerate any deviation or discussion from their (ever changing) group think. TP now has business interests, which gives him more freedom to voice more diverse views – which has clearly rattled much of the ‘woke’ brigade.

Cedar Grove

19th June 2020 at 10:14 pm

Do you actually know who Trevor Phillips is? I suggest you spend a little time reading about his work before you make pronouncements about him.

Grown-ups are happy to engage with all opinions & consider their merits, but prefer it when opinions are informed & supported by evidence. Just shouting inane insults at people who’ve contributed substantially to the development of equal rights in this country isn’t sufficient.

Totally Karen

16th June 2020 at 7:46 pm

Why? Is Trevor Phillips as a black man and 3x head of the equalities commission, not allowed to have an opinion? Is he the wring type of black man if he doesn’t hold the correct opinion that you agree with ZP?

You’re proving his entire point.

Totally Karen

16th June 2020 at 7:47 pm

That was supposed to be a reply to ZP.


16th June 2020 at 9:33 pm

Utter cra p, Karen. Phillips can say anything he wants in a free society and I can respond in any way I choose, in a free society. I don’t think it’s true that ‘liberals’ hate all BAME people who disagree with them. In any case, there is no such thing as ‘liberals’ since they are all individuals with widely varying opinions.

John D Henry

18th June 2020 at 12:33 pm

Please keep this civil ZENOBIA PALMYRA, Totally Karen made reasonable points, and is entitled to her views without foul mouthed retorts. Ditto for yourself.


16th June 2020 at 6:19 pm

‘Liberals hate black people they can’t patronise’ — Nothing like an absurd generalisation to stoke the fires of pointless polemic.

Jolly Roger

16th June 2020 at 8:35 pm

Well, I think he’s right. Pointless polemic and all.


16th June 2020 at 9:31 pm

Shiver me timbers.

R Rodd

16th June 2020 at 11:55 pm

That’s a throw-away comment. Tell us why the generalisation is absurd.

Neil McCaughan

17th June 2020 at 12:50 pm

How is it absurd, poppet? Is everyone and everything that contradicts your monstrous bigotry “absurd”? or do you – for once – have a reasoned objection?

Margaret McGill

19th June 2020 at 9:51 pm

Why is it pointless? More practically, have you actually listened to the podcast?

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