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Things have only got whiter

marc-wadsworth1Political parties have failed Black communities. There are few Black MPs and even less action to combat discrimination in society. Marc Wadsworth says the situation is intolerable

Should I have been astounded when I read in the London Evening Standard newspaper that the biggest black event in the British calendar generates more than £90m and supports the equivalent of 3,000 full-time jobs?

Carnival plays a key economic role in London, in addition to its significant cultural and social benefits. Europe’s largest street festival neatly demonstrates the contribution made to the UK by millions of African, Caribbean and Asian citizens.

As workers, taxpayers and consumers they enrich this country by billions of pounds but are not rewarded with their fair share of the economic or political cake.

Bernie Grant

Bernie Grant: became an MP with the help of Labour black sections

Ruling Labour, the opposition Conservatives, and the Liberal Democrats, have rolled back the race equality advances fought for and won by activists, including my comrades in the Labour Party Black Sections movement – four of whom made it into parliament in 1987.

For instance, in the awarding of lucrative contracts for the staging of the 2012 London Olympics African, Caribbean and Asian businesses have been left in the starting blocks while white ones have run off with rich pickings.

It was eight years ago that a top selling Sunday newspaper devoted a full page to my article about the dumping by Tony Blair’s New Labour of the race equality agenda. The feature was headlined “Things have only got whiter”.

Today the situation is not much better. There are a couple more African, Caribbean and Asian MPs. But the only Black person left in the Cabinet – under-fire Attorney General Baroness Scotland – is an unelected peer accountable only to her political master, the prime minister.

The Liberal Democrats, since the defeat of Parmjit Singh Gill in Leicester South, have no Black MPs, and the Conservatives just two, making a total, for all the parties of 15 when, proportionally, there should be more than 60.

When our representatives do get into power, too often, most of them toe the party line in the hope of being able to jump on the ministerial gravy train rather than fight for the interests of the communities from which they came.

Yet there is much for them to do. Boys of African, Caribbean and Bangladeshi descent are still doing less well at secondary school than their white peers. And the unemployment rate for Black people, particularly men, is higher than for white people.

The poverty rate for the United Kingdom’s minority ethnic groups stands at 40 per cent, double the 20 per cent found amongst white British people, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRT).

Minority ethnic groups are also being paid lower wages, despite improvements in their education and qualifications. The research highlights the differences between minority ethnic groups with 45 per cent of Africans and 30 per cent of Indians and Caribbeans living in poverty.

More than half of African children in the UK are growing up in poverty. The JRT study shows that people from minority ethnic groups who have higher educational achievements do not receive the same rewards as those from white British backgrounds with similar qualifications.

The research highlights how the government needs to implement targeted policies to get rid of racial inequality. According to a TUC report people from African, Caribbean and Asian groups are far more likely to be unemployed than the white population, despite having the required skills and qualifications.

The rate of unemployment among the white population is 11 per cent, but among African and Caribbean groups it is 13 per cent, mixed-race 15 per cent, Indian seven per cent, Pakistani 15 per cent and Bangladeshi 17 per cent.

Both racist crime and youth on youth crime continues to blight black communities. Numerous deaths in police custody of Black men have spawned a general distrust of police amongst urban black people. Racist attacks have shown a disturbing rise too. And Islamaphobia is widespread.

What should be done? As Black people – African, Caribbean and Asian – we have to abandon the Thatcherite ideology that individualism is the route to success; a capitalist notion that disastrously all three main parties have bought into.

We need to return to collective action – political self-organisation we used to call it – make our demands and fight for them like we did before.

Marc Wadsworth is a former leader of the Labour Party Black Sections movement. He is a writer, broadcaster and editor of http://www.the-latest.com

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One Response

  1. Great article marc! i totally agree with you. black people are smart too.(Wink)

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