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Brown praises OBV

Gordon-Brown-BHMGordon Brown praised an Operation Black Vote voter registration campaign as a shining example of the message people need to hear between now and the next general election

Speaking to a star-studded gathering of almost 300 black movers and shakers in Downing Street, the Prime Minister pointed out OBV’s director Simon Woolley and recalled a poster campaign the non-partisan organisation ran ahead of the 1997 general election.

The OBV voter drive, called “We’re too young to vote, what’s your excuse” featured a group of Black children, and was a reminder to everyone who was able to cast a vote that democratic rights were hard fought-for and we should not take them for granted.

Brown said: “There’s a slogan that you have developed [pointing to Simon Woolley]. “I’m too young to vote, what’s your excuse?” And I think we’ve got to remember, over the next few months, however people vote, they must be persuaded not to vote for racist and non-democratic parties such as the British National Party. And I hope that whatever peoples politics we can work together to achieve that over the next few months.”

The event was organised to both mark Black History Month, and also launch this year’s PowerList, which celebrates the most powerful black people in Britain today.

tooyoungtovote

OBV's poster

One attendee believed that 10 Downing Street had never before seen so many black people in the building at the same time.

Guests included comedian Stephen K Amos, City boss Damon Buffini, MOBO chief Kanya King, Channel 4 executive Oona King, and a black politicians from all parties including Conservative Wilfred Emmanuel Jones.

‘Some will no doubt wonder whether we will see another gathering of this kind again’, said one source, contemplating the possible outcome of next years’ general election. ‘I certainly hope so’, he added.

Brown told his audience, on Wednesday night, there was a need for mainstream politicians to work together in order to defeat the British National Party’s politics of hate.

A shortened version of Brown’s speech

First of all can I say welcome to everyone who is here this evening. Each of you here has changed the world in one way or another. I want first of all to congratulate Valerie Amos, the new High Commissioner to Australia {applause}. We’re lucky we’ve chosen this date today because she leaves for Australia next wednesday. And she’s done a brilliant job on behalf of our country.

I want to say, secondly, that its a great pleasure to host both the Black History Month celebration and the opening of the Powerlist.

Since I talked last year there have been two major events. One is a great, brilliant, and epoch-making event, the other one is a difficult event.

First of all Barack Obama’s election…{applause}. It’s a privilage to have had him here in London. It’s a privilage to work with him. It’s a privilage that he shares the views that we share about the future of our world. And its a great honour for us that he has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize {applause}.

Now there’s a second event this year, and that is the election of BNP members to the European Parliament. And we must think about how together we can expose this politics of discrimination, this politics of racism, this politics that celebrates injustice and inequality. And I hope that we will all work together.

There’s a slogan that you have developed [pointing to Simon Woolley]. “I’m too young to vote, what’s your excuse?” And I think we’ve got to remember, over the next few months, however people vote, they must be persuaded not to vote for racist and non-democratic parties such as the British National Party. And I hope that whatever peoples’ politics, we can work together to achieve that over the next few months.

This is our chance to celebrate your contribution to British society. It’s our chance to recognise that we have not yet done enough to remove the barriers of inequality and injustice that exists in our society.

Barack Obama’s election as president shows that injustice is not the final word on the human condition, that we can actually beat prejudice, beat discrimination, and beat injustice and inequality, and that is why I want us to work and achieve together.

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