Shattering Illusions: West Indians in British Politics

Shattering Illusions: West Indians in British Politics

Shattering Illusions: West Indians in British Politics

Shattering Illusions: West Indians in British Politics

Excerpt

If you know your history
Then you would know where you’re coming from,
Then you wouldn’t have to ask me,
Who the heck do I think I am ?

(Bob Marley, Buffalo Soldier)

At the 1984 Notting Hill Carnival, thousands of black people were wearing yellow stickers saying ‘Black people support the Miners’. the miners were nearly half way through their year-long strike to save jobs and preserve their communities. the police brutality they encountered on the picket lines shocked them. But it struck a chord with the black community, who had been dealing with police harassment and intimidation every day for decades. a bond of understanding and common purpose between miners and black people was formed.

A month or so later, the TUC’s annual conference was held and televised as usual. a single black face was visible. There may have been a handful, but the scores more who should have been there were conspicuous only by their absence.

One place black people have been visible over the past thirty years is at the ballot box, voting Labour. Just before the 1984 Labour Party conference, a document was published which confirmed the loyalty of black people to the Labour Party in elections. in a sample of constituencies held by Labour in the 1979 and 1983 General Elections, over 85 per cent of the black vote went to Labour, compared to only half of the white working-class vote. But black people are now being urged to question this support, ironically by leading black Labour Party activists who are campaigning for black sections within the . . .

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