Livingstone and Phillips are old foes. At Question Time in October Elizabeth Howlett provided an opportunity for Livingstone to put the boot in:
Elizabeth Howlett: Why does the Mayor feel that the Commission for Equality and Human Rights will be unable to ensure that all groups are protected? Is it a failure of legislation or staffing?
Ken Livingstone: I have been consistant, through the legislative framework, in my views on how the CEHR can best serve London's equalities agenda and develop arrangements that best fit the unique London equalities landscape. Specifically I would wish to see a separate statutory race committee and other strand specific committees to address the broad areas of discrimination while maintaining expertise, focus and remedies for each equality strand. There has been little to convince me that this type of framework is being put in place.
Closure of the CRE is, in my view, a mistake. Recent comments by Trevor Phillips, the new chair and only permanent appointment in the CEHR so far, regarding the veil, education and more broadly multiculturalism are a disgrace and will, I believe set equalities back years. Trevor Phillips has used the CRE as a platform to discredit multiculturalism and alienate black communities and has had limited impact in effective enforcement of race relations legislation during his time as chair of the CRE.