British think tank calls for black Britons to appear on currency





Black people should appear on bank notes to show how Britain has evolved, a Labour think tank will say this week. A report from the Fabian Society will call for "practical measures" to create a new definition of Britishness which includes blacks and Asians.

One measure recommended includes getting rid of Florence Nightingale, Edward Elgar, and Charles Darwin from notes, or even remove the Queen's face altogether.

In their place could come Victorian black MPs, social pioneers like nurse Mary Seacole, anti-slavery campaigners like William Wilberforce or poets like Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Sunder Katwala of the Fabian Society said: "Our national symbols should reflect the nation we are today. The design of notes is not set in stone.

"Just having a debate about whether there should be a new mix of black and white faces on them would be a positive development."

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Writing in the Fabian Review, historian Linda Colley - an adviser to Tony Blair - also backed the idea.

She said: "Why are the people on British bank notes always white? Why not have Olaudah Equiano, the great 18th century anti-slavery writer, or the first Indian MP?"

The group, which has close links with Downing Street, also called for a written constitution setting down rights and responsibilities. It would also change the traditional coronation into a "multi-faith ceremony".

And it suggests ending an honours system with awards such as the Order of the British Empire and replacing it with an Order of British Citizens.

For younger people it suggests introducing a compulsory community service scheme for 16 and 21-year-olds to ensure they work with youngsters of different backgrounds. The society wants to tackle discrimination in employment and promote a social and ethnic mix in school intakes.



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