The Life and Times of a Very British Man by Kamal Ahmed review – growing up in the Enoch Powell era

The BBC’s economics editor recalls being a mixed-race child in the 1970s, but his memoir is short on personal revelations and takes no risks

“When did you first realise you were white?” I once mischievously asked a friend. She was initially stumped. Until then she had never considered it; she’d never had to. That innocence is a luxury denied to people of colour in the UK. Kamal Ahmed has long known that he was brown, but it took the elevation of Barack Obama in 2008 before the BBC’s economics editor, soon to be its editorial director of news, felt comfortable enough to tick the identity box marked “mixed”.

Ahmed was born in England to a white English mother and black Sudanese father. But he is not English; definitely not. Ahmed identifies as British because, he writes, the term “‘English’ has been manipulated to suggest, with its flags of St ...