• Recent Comments

    operationblackvote on The Apprentice: in defence of…
    David Stuart on No, not again: Jimmy Mubenga d…
    David Stuart on National Black Police Ass…
    Marvelous on The Apprentice: in defence of…
    Regina Nyametscher on The Apprentice: in defence of…
    Marcus on The Apprentice: in defence of…
    James Odoi on The Apprentice: in defence of…
  • Recent Posts

  • Categories

  • Advertisements

Why politics must play the ball – not the man – on race

The spate of racism stories affecting all three political parties could be the opening shots of the general election campaign. Lester Holloway hopes not.

The trouble with stories about politicians accused of making a racist gaffe is that these articles most often appear around a time when parties – or at least their media outriders – are scrambling around to win cheap points (and more valuable prizes) at the polls.

Just in the last couple of weeks we’ve had David Jack, a Lib Dem candidate who quit after sending an abusive email to an Asian constiuent.

Next, the Mirror and the New Statesman laid into Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan for referring to President Obama’s “exotic” background.

Then Labour’s general secretary Ray Collins got accused of ‘racism’ against the Scots, for saying he didn’t “speak Glasgowegian.”

Of course, we should be concerned about any individual politician who makes racially-offensive remarks.

We also know that every party has them. And rightly, the body politic demands that anyone exposed for spouting prejudice and hate should be driven out, or at the very least not have the temerity to stand for public office.

Yet we have to ask – 97 days away from the likely date for the general election – why ‘race row’ stories are suddenly making a comeback. And do parties honestly expect such negative campaigning to drive Black communities away from one camp and into another?

Such assumptions would fail to recognise the maturity of Black voters, who know full-well that pots and kettles both need a regular scrub-down to keep them clean.

It’s policies that matter first and foremost; what are they going to do for us as individuals, and collectively as a community?

Obviously, Black political representation is important too; parties that don’t reflect society don’t look convincing, whatever they say.

Yet in an era where you can measure with a stopwatch the number of minutes it takes the hierarchy of all three parties to crash down on any party member accused of racism, we are no longer in an era where the Conservatives, Labour or the Liberal Democrats can realistically be accused of deliberately harbouring and protecting racists in their midst.

The real question is what are these parties are doing enough to promote equality, and break down the barriers facing Black candidates? Clearly all three have much work to do.

But the process of getting the internal equality culture right must not be confused with the ‘race rows’ that pop up in the media around this time.

Mud-throwing – hoping some of it will stick – is the politics of yesteryear.

Sadly that may not prevent the Mirror from jumping on any Conservative, no matter how lowly, who puts their foot in it; or the Mail doing likewise with a Labour or Lib Dem. They can write this stuff but don’t expect us to take any notice.

Genuine equality of opportunity and outcome in politics – now that’s the real story. Actual politics to tackle racism and disadvantage – absolutely.

But manufactured ‘race rows’ about obscure candidates we’ve never heard of before?

That’s so last century.


%d bloggers like this: