Suella Braverman: stop making people feel guilty for being white

Suella Braverman shared family pictures of herself camping with her parents in the 1980s as she spoke out about her positive experiences of the countryside
Suella Braverman shared family pictures of herself camping with her parents in the 1980s as she spoke about her positive experiences of the countryside - Paul Grover for the Telegraph
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White people must not be made to feel guilty for being white, Suella Braverman has said amid a row over claims that the countryside is racist.

In an article for The Telegraph, the former home secretary says that suggesting the countryside is not welcoming to ethnic minorities because it is a “predominantly white environment” is wrong, dangerous and disempowering.

Her comments come after a group of wildlife charities, said that the British countryside was a “racist and colonial” space where people of colour were often framed as “out of place”.

The Telegraph revealed that some members of Wildlife and Countryside Link, a charity umbrella group, said that a perception that green spaces were “dominated by white people can prevent people from ethnic minority backgrounds from using [them]”.

Mrs Braverman says: “This [view] is not just wrong but dangerous. We need to stop making white people feel guilty for being white.”

She adds: “It’s wholly disempowering for ethnic minorities to be judged by skin colour rather than by character.”

The former home secretary hit out at critics of Britain's colonial past in her time in office - Paul Grover

Wildlife and Countryside Link, which has 80 member organisations, made the claim last week in evidence provided to Parliament on racism and its influence on the natural world.

The report stated: “Cultural barriers reflect that in the UK, it is white British cultural values that have been embedded into the design and management of green spaces and into society’s expectations of how people should engage with them.

“Racist colonial legacies that frame nature as a ‘white space’ create further barriers, suggesting that people of colour are not legitimate users of green spaces.”

Mrs Braverman, 43, whose parents are of Indian origin and came to Britain in the 1960s, said that in 30 years of regular holidays camping in the British countryside, she had “not once” experienced hostility. On the rare occasions she had faced racism, it was in urban rather than rural settings.

Her comments echo her previous criticism of Left-wing politicians for being “ashamed” of Britain’s colonial past, saying that she was “proud” of the British Empire. Last year she said white people should not feel any sense of “collective guilt” over their historical role in slavery.

The report by Wildlife Link follows in the footsteps of many institutions that have sought to reassess their work to consider race and diversity issues. Museums have in recent years reviewed and relabelled their collections to reflect links to slavery and universities have been criticised for efforts to “decolonise” their curriculums.

Mrs Braverman branded the groups’ claims naive, based on a Beatrix Potter vision of the countryside, when in fact rural communities suffered poverty and deprivation as acute as urban areas.

She says: “To claim that the countryside is racist is one of the most ridiculous examples of Left-wing identity politics. It’s a symptom of a deeper problem within our society – the urge to constantly view everything through the lens of race or gender, plead victimhood and point the finger at an oppressor.

“Whether it’s the patriarchy, or colonial masters, this desperation to divide society is ripping through our institutions, creating a culture of fear and self-censorship. This is why it’s essential to challenge this ideology relentlessly, wherever we see it.”

Read full interview

Suella Braverman: Calling the countryside racist is ridiculous 'Left-wing militancy

Click here

To demonstrate her love of the countryside, Mrs Braverman has shared family pictures of herself camping with her parents in the 1980s, from riding horses in the Brecon Beacons to hiking in the Lake District and battling blizzards in the Cairngorms.

As home secretary, she was outspoken about the threat to the UK from mass immigration and controversially claimed that multiculturalism had failed.

Her criticism of the Wildlife and Countryside Link was backed by Wilfred Emmanuel Jones, founder of the Black Farmer Food range, who said people researching alleged racism tended to be from “white liberal backgrounds” and were “always pushing the narrative that blacks are victims”.

Nihal Arthanayake, a presenter on BBC Radio 5 Live who has previously said he struggled with having too many white colleagues, said: “To brand the entirety of Britain as being racist and colonial does not help encourage people from ethnic minorities to go into the countryside.”

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article reported that the National Trust, RSPCA and World Wildlife Fund said the countryside was a ‘racist and colonial space’ based on the report by Wildlife and Countryside Link provided to Parliament. It was incorrect to attribute the words in the report directly to each charity as they were not signatories to the report. We are happy to clarify.

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