Labour, Lewisham and the BNP

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As previously featured on LDV, Duwayne Brooks was running to be a Liberal Democrat councillor in one of yesterday’s by-elections. Duwayne, along with fellow candidate Jenni Clutten, won. Congratulations to them both.

Labour’s campaign was at times, shall we say, unusual, with a heavy emphasis in their leaflets of a plan of their to have the Union Jack* flying over Lewisham Town Hall. As Dave Hill has written over on The Guardian:

How does that work for you? It made me a little queasy. Shouldn’t Labour concentrate on exposing the BNP for what it is rather than pandering to the nationalism it exploits?

You can read his full post here.

* Pedants may wish to point out that as Lewisham Town Hall is not a ship, or even a canal boat, it wouldn’t be the Union Jack but the Union Flag. But I can out-pedant you by pointing to the BBC’s policy, though of course in return you can out-pedant me by highlighting that the BBC uses a different capitalisation policy from this post. But let’s just agree not to fly it upside down. And thank goodness the quote in Dave Hill’s piece is correct.

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8 Comments

  • Is it true they (Labour) put out a leaflet saying the BNP were on the verge of winning and people should vote Labour to stop them?

    If you run the authority and want to fly the Union Flag over buildings then go ahead and do it. That’s what we did in Oldham back in 2002 (AIUI the advice we had at the time was there were no restrictions)

    There is also the St George’s day good morning I wrote….

  • Dan Houghton 21st Feb '09 - 9:23am

    The killer quote though, from the 2nd or 3rd Labour leaflet, is this:

    “Many people are beginning to think of this election as a referendum on getting our flag over the town hall and sending a message to the softies who are ashamed of our union jack”

    Beneath this quote was a pic of one of the labour candidates wearing a suit with a pit-bull on a leash.

    Dog whistle stuff, eh?

  • I have left this comment on Dave Hills Guardian blog but republish it here because I feel so strongly about the issue.

    I see a lot of Labour Party by election campaigns across the country, but particularly in London. I see campaigns where the Labour Party is defending seats, challenging for seats or simply put up a ‘token’ candidate. I see Labour campaigns in areas where they control the council, where they are the official opposition and where they have little or no representation.

    This is the first time I have seen Labour campaign material that not once, not twice but three times made a big play of a campaign to fly the Union flag over the Town Hall in Lewisham. Lewisham Town Hall – a building and council that the Labour Party has controlled for over 20 years.

    So instead of campaigning on how good they are at running the council, or dog sh*t, ort trees, or protecting the local environment or any other of the local issues that council by-election campaigns are normally about, the Labour Party decides to campaign on having the Union flag flying over the Town Hall. Was that really THE issue in Lewisham at this time?

    And the difference in this by-election? An opposition Party – who held the ward anyway – had as one of their candidates a black man standing for them. The temerity of it!

    Hugh Muir had a very good article in today’s Guardian about the state of race relations ten years after the publication of the Macpherson report. I suggest today, that in Lewisham Labour Party, and probably the senior echelons of the London Labour party (at least) there should be people examining their consciences over the by-election campaign run in Downham ward Lewisham.

    Why? Because one of the victorious candidates on Thursday night was Duwayne Brooks. Thats Duwayne Brooks the (then) boy who was with Stephen Lawrence on the night he was murdered by racists in south east London.

    Just think about it all you apologists for the Labour Party. Imagine what you would be saying if the Conservatives had run a campaign like that which the Labour party ran in Downham ward in the last four weeks? The campaign wasn’t about Union flags; it was about sending dog whistle messages to certain sections of the electorate in Downham. You set back the campaigning efforts of John Cruddus and others and give encouragement to racist parties. Thank god the tactics failed, and failed miserably.

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