Britain’s Political Landscape has changed forever and the 28th April 2010 will be seen as a historic watershed in Black British and mainstream politics.
This has been a good election for our community. Although race equality issues were virtually ignored by the mainstream news, we managed to break through into the mainstream debate. Of course the real focus of the white dominated media newsrooms was immigration. A media whose deeply jaundiced view of the country has contributed toward the continual marginalisation the black community. Happy to cover minority black failure, hopeless at covering majority black successes.
With an election that was focused in the main on the three Party leaders and in particularly the 3 live TV debates it was always going to be difficult to get any other messages out. And yet despite the media boycott Black groups, and the wider community did just that.
Post election we will have to deal with the continuing disservice done to the black community by a media whose quite obvious racism is reflected in the type of coverage we do and don’t get. This is an important issue we are going to have to tackle in the future.
But back to this election and despite the best efforts of the press to ignore our issues we produced a comprehensive and detailed Black policy manifesto. This document has established a range of key demands in the important policy areas. Having consulted on the manifesto with many communities throughout the UK this unique process has served to ensure that not only do we have a coherent politically focused vision, but has also enabled us to outline those challenges and solutions to our political class.
As a result, Labour and the Lib Dem’s felt duty bound to write their own Black manifesto’s outlining how they would tackle race inequality. This is the first time they have felt it necessary to do so and that was no accident.
The Conservatives not wanting to get left behind made two policy announcements at Black community events including the Central London Rally. The first was David Cameron’s pledge that he would change the law to give head teachers the right to sack BNP members from their staff, secondly they would role out an internship programme across Whitehall for BME graduates with the aid of OBV. What we are witnessing here is the growing power of the black vote.
These parties have finally recognised that the days of huge landslide electoral majorities are over and that every vote now counts. As such their policy agenda’s are now beginning to change albeit at first slowly and without much real substance but changing inevitably for the better. They know that our vote can only increase in power and importance.
The central OBV London “Black Britain Decides” rally was the biggest black rally of the whole election campaign with detailed messages via video link from Clegg and Cameron and Harman, Cable and Osborne all addressing a 2500 strong Black audience in feisty mood.
The news coverage from that event alone went out to sky, Channel 4, BBC six o’clock news, and ITN. The Guardian newspaper covered the event live through their web broadcast as well as printing full page news spread of the event and comment articles too.
Around the country too several other Black community events took place in Leicester, Bradford, Manchester, Bristol, and Leeds.
The BME media ran a hugely successful campaign and came of age. With blanket wall to wall coverage form BME broadcast; print and Internet outlets the BME media spoke with a single and coherent voice. The Voice Newspaper ran unprecedented series of stories about the ‘Power of the Black Vote’ with their high profile “Voice It and Vote campaign continually for 6 weeks.
The hugely influential Ben TV broadcast a broad range of political discussion programmes and showed the event live. Others such as the popular Colourtelly, Colorful Radio and newly launched OHTV all broadcast programmes focused on the issues of democratic participation and why this election was so important to our communities.
And when we have asked our communities to respond that response has been overwhelming. Whether it’s in London, Bradford, Birmingham or Bristol the turnout and support have been phenomenal. We have witnesses a sea change in the way in which our communities have woken up to the fact that we have real electoral clout.
The mainstream parties fully realise this and were forced to pay homage to the black vote in any way that was unprecedented in British political history. The leaders failed to turn up to the debate, which was disappointing and frankly insulting to our communities choosing to send their Deputies instead. Despite their absence history was made and the real reality is that from here on no leader of any mainstream party will be able to refuse such an invite.
The rally seen in its proper historical context the rally heralded the dawning of a new age of political maturity and as such has raised the bar in relation to Black and Ethnic Minority politics in the UK. Prior to this event we could not get the cleaner from Tory central office much less George Osborne.
So as the dust settles on this tight election race we can be proud that we have finally seen the sleeping giant of the black vote stir from its enforced slumber and take those first faltering steps. And so begins the long march toward our Obama moment with destiny.