Tag Archives: racism

12 March 2024 – today’s press releases

  • Stuart’s failure to call out racist Hester comments “jaw-dropping”
  • 1,197 suspected drug deaths in 2023
  • Firefighters face risks as government fails to deliver RAAC register
  • Welsh Lib Dems call for more support for childcare sector in Wales
  • Care leavers shouldn’t be forced to “bear burden of proof” when it comes to accessing housing support
  • Blackie calls on Susan Hall to disown racist Frank Hester remarks

Stuart’s failure to call out racist Hester comments “jaw-dropping”

Responding to Graham Stuarts’ comments this morning on Times Radio where he refused to say Frank Hester’s alleged comments were racist and refused to say the money should be returned, Liberal Democrat Chief Whip Wendy Chamberlain MP said:

Graham Stuart’s refusal to call out these racist comments was simply jaw-dropping.

The Conservative Party has flat out refused to return these donations despite these comments being inexcusable. How low can you go?

Rishi Sunak can bunker down and hide in Downing Street as long as he wants but every day he doesn’t return this money is another damning blow to the Conservative Party’s credibility.

1,197 suspected drug deaths in 2023

Responding to new Police Scotland figures showing that there were 1,197 suspected drug deaths between January and December 2023, which is a 10% increase compared to 2022, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said:

When 100 people a month are dying in Scotland’s drugs deaths emergency, we need to be open to anything that will save them. Each represents a life cut short and a family torn apart by grief.

These numbers are already going in the wrong direction and with the SNP and Greens having pushed through a budget that delivers a real-terms cut to drug services, I am extremely concerned that problems will simply get worse.

Every tool at our disposal needs to be used to reduce harm and save lives. That includes protecting the drug and alcohol budget, integrated drug checking facilities and preparing now for a network of safe consumption rooms because help can’t just be limited to Glasgow.

Well-meaning words won’t stop people dying. Humza Yousaf and his government must deliver swift change and ensure they never take their eye off the ball again.

Firefighters face risks as government fails to deliver RAAC register

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has today urged the Scottish Government to compile a complete list of buildings where the dangerous bubbly concrete known as RAAC is present, as a minister conceded that the presence of the material could present safety implications for firefighters responding to incidents.

In response to a parliamentary question from Mr Cole-Hamilton, community safety minister Siobhian Brown admitting that “Where the material is in poor condition there could be greater risk of weakness or collapse”.

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Facing the facts: a reality check for the Prime Minister

In his recent address the Prime Minister expressed concerns about internal forces threatening our nation’s unity.

This led me to ponder whether these forces include those that fuelled the divisive Brexit atmosphere, spearheaded by figures like Nigel Farage and the 21st-century version of Enoch Powell.

Our country has grappled with division since the Conservative Party’s risky move in Europe, fostering deep-seated animosity. It’s crucial to recognize that this hatred isn’t isolated to a particular group, Palestinian or Israeli; it has festered for over a decade.

Austerity measures, police force cuts, and reductions in vital social services initiated this discord. The poor grew poorer, while the affluent one percent thrived, with media playing a pivotal role in alienating the most marginalized in our society.

Does Mr. Sunak genuinely believe the British people have forgotten his former Home Secretary’s statement. Suella Braverman asserted:

The British people are compassionate. We will always support those genuinely homeless. But our streets cannot be overrun by rows of tents, housing people—many from abroad—living on the streets as a lifestyle choice.

So, I find myself questioning the Prime Minister: Who chooses to be homeless, and who chooses to be born poor? The reality is, no one does.

Under this Conservative government, marginalised society faces relentless attacks. As the party falters, we find ourselves in the grip of a cost-of-living crisis, bringing ordinary folks to their knees. Our most vulnerable can’t afford to heat their homes, facing exorbitant electricity and gas bills. For many, it became a choice between heating or eating.

In a nation like Great Britain, such desperate measures should not be necessary.

The real problem, Mr. Sunak, lies in your party’s jingoism and love for populism. In Great Britain, we celebrate our diversity. When the Prime Minister urges us to face down extremists, will he start with his own party?

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LIb Dems demand that Sunak removes the Whip from Lee Anderson

Lee Anderson has spent most of the past 2 years saying horrible things to excite the Tory right. From telling anyone unhappy with how the UK treats migrants could “f**k off back to France” to saying that people should be able to feed themselves for 30p per day, giving him his “30p Lee” nickname, to horribly transphobic comments about Eddie Izzard, he has been one of the commanders of the Tory culture wars.

Last night, talking to GB News, he took it all a step further by being unambiguously racist and islamophobic about London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan.

From the BBC:

He told GB News Islamists had “got control” of Mr Khan and he had “given our capital city away to his mates”.

His words, which follow pro-Palestinian protests outside Parliament, have also been condemned by Tories.

Not condemned enough by Tories as the same article reports a Conservative source trying to play down what he had said. The fact that he still had the Tory whip 5 minutes after making these comments is an absolute disgrace. As the hours drag on, this looks increasingly like Rishi Sunak is either too weak to discipline Anderson or he agrees with him.

Anyone with an ounce of decency has called on Rishi Sunak to remove the Conservative whip from Anderson for these comments, including Labour’s Annaliese Dodds and Theresa May’s former Chief of Staff Gavin Barwell. Here’s what Lib Dem MPs have been saying.

Daisy Cooper said:

These comments from a Conservative MP are despicable. Rishi Sunak should remove the Conservative whip. There should be no space for this in our country, let alone in our Parliament.

Tim Farron:

This isn’t dog whistle, it’s fog horn. Sunak will remove the whip for this if he has an ounce of either decency or strength.

Munira Wilson:

Utterly disgusted by Lee Anderson’s racist comments. Stirring up hatred and tension in our great capital city in this way is downright dangerous. If Sunak has an ounce of decency and courage, he will kick Anderson out of the Tory party.

Alistair Carmichael:

This is entirely wrong and harmful from Lee Anderson, and comes after a similarly malign attack by the Conservatives in recent weeks. Criticise Sadiq Khan all you like on policy but these dog whistle arguments about his character have no basis and no justification.

Beyond Westminster, Lib Dem AM Caroline Pidgeon:

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Calling it out

I’ve been called Paki, terrorist, told to “go home”, “go back to where you belong” and one person said he would “bomb me”. Not just online, but to my face.

The problem is that I’ve got so used to it that I don’t react. I don’t get angry anymore. I just accept I will always be attacked.

I’ve learnt a lot the last few days. I’ve cried too. The tensions in the Middle East have impacted me quite personally and I see the ripple effects it has in London acutely. Luckily, I am surrounded by caring friends and family who are compassionate and understand the complexity of what is happening in Israel and Gaza but online there is hatred that is sadly spilling on to our streets.

Last weekend, I was racially abused while I was at my street stall surgery. I decided to report the incident to the police. The only other time that I have reported Islamophobia and racism towards me was when I was candidate in the 2019 election. I had handwritten letters from a resident who attacked me for my religion and race and I had online abuse, so the campaign team dealt with this and I never had to do it personally or without support.

This time I had to do the recount on my own. I wrote to my local ward officer first saying I didn’t want to report it, saying there was no point, and then explained what happened.

I don’t want to explain here all the gruesome details, but the ward officer was immediate and clear in his response. “This is racism, report it. I will send an officer to you now so we can get this logged.” I was actually shocked. His reaction made me realise how complacent I’d been to what I had experienced.

What had I done? I was accepting racism.

His support allowed me to take the steps to make an official report. As I everything down, I realised just how serious it was.

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The Lib Dem connection to the Harry and Meghan Documentary

I was more surprised than I should have been when I watched the first episode of Harry and Meghan’s eponymous Netflix documentary. I jumped (and cheered a bit, not going to lie) when I saw someone I know being interviewed.

James Holt is now the Executive Director of Harry and Meghan’s Archewell Foundation, which aims to “unleash the power of compassion to drive systemic cultural change.”

Liberal Democrats may remember him as the party’s former Head of Media and as a special adviser during the coalition years. He was always one of the most positive and hilarious people to work with. I knew he’d gone off to work in the office of Princes William and Harry but had missed that he had continued his work with Harry and Meghan when they moved abroad.

His old local paper, for which he once worked, the Shropshire Star, reported that he was “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s new right hand man” last year:

He previously served as the couple’s UK spokesman, and has also worked with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

He also worked as head of communications for Sir Nick Clegg during his term as deputy prime minister.

The 38-year-old, who grew up in Shrewsbury, joined as a trainee reporter with the Shropshire Star in 2004, having graduated with a BA in Journalism at Lincoln University. He went on to write for the Star’s sister title, the Shrewsbury Chronicle, and during that time he spent six days embedded with the British Army in Basra.

Writing for both the Star and the Chronicle, he described coming under fire 10 times during his short stay, and learning about the deaths of two soldiers from Shropshire.

I wonder if James is the reason behind Meghan’s endorsement of Miriam Gonzalez Durantez’s brilliant charity Inspiring Girls on her Spotify podcast. . Back in August, Miriam expressed her gratitude to Meghan for doing so. Writing on Instagram, she talked about how difficult it could be to get much needed celebrity endorsements for the charity:

…publicity for the charity is enormously important for us to get as many (and especially as many diverse) role models as possible – and endorsements from famous women bring publicity that translates into many more role models for the girls. But I despair that if I ask a busy nurse or teacher for their support, they normally do it there and then, even though they have little time and resources – and yet if I ask a famous woman with huge teams and endless resources, I often need to beg them for it!

It is super-unusual in the world of social causes to find somebody with international projection who, as Meghan Markle did this week in her podcast website, will showcase a charity like Inspiring Girls without having even been asked for it. British newspapers have criticised her podcast as per usual. But I take my hat off to her for her generosity – if only other women at her level would act more like her on this!

I am sure it will surprise none of you that I have a lot of time for Meghan and Harry. What is not to love about a fellow liberal minded feminist? I think the way that Meghan in particular is being demonised in the press is disgraceful and rooted in misogyny and racism. Honestly, if you think that Meghan is our biggest problem at the moment and not the divisive, demonising, witch-hunting political culture stoked by the worst government we have had in our lifetimes then I seriously question your values and priorities.

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There has never been a place for racism: “We are all children under god’s sun”

This day cannot pass without commenting on those comments by a now ex member of the royal household.

I am sure I am not alone in having wanted to throw a brick at my radio, in my case an Alexa, listening to Radio 4 PM last night. The racist comments by Lady Susan Hussey were enough to make anyone angry. And then Petronella Wyatt defended her ladyship on the programme. It was sickening. There is no defence for racism. Wyatt’s defence was that Lady Hussey was old and that somehow excused it. No. It doesn’t. Many of my friends are elderly to the point of being ancient. They don’t have a racist thought in their heads.

Racism has no place in society.

 

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We Stand Together Against Racism

NationalHCAW has been running National Hate Crime Awareness Week in October every year since 2012.  NationalHCAW aims to “encourage the authorities (Government, Police and Councils), key partners (the anti-hate crime sector and voluntary sector), and communities affected by hate crime to work together to tackle hate crime across the UK“.

For 2022/23, the theme is “We Stand Together Against Racism”. The Candle of Hope and Remembrance was lit in St Paul Cathedral on Sunday 9th October with a special dedication to Chinese, East and Southeast Asian victims of hate crime. The speakers included myself and Claire Waxman OBE (Victims’ Commissioner, London Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime).

As can be seen in the table below, police recorded hate crime has increased year on year.

Hate crime, England and Wales, 2021 to 2022 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

In fact, hate crime has been increasing steadily since 2014.  The 26% increase from 2020/21 to 2021/22 “was the biggest percentage increase in hate crimes since year ending March 2017, when there was a 29 per cent rise”.

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LibLink: Rabina Khan: Life as a British Muslim changed forever on 9/11

Writing in the Independent, Lib Dem Tower Hamlets Councillor Rabina Khan reflects on how 9/11 changed things for British Muslims.

She described her reaction on the day. Like our editor Caron Lindsay, she was cradling her baby as she watched events unfold on the television:

She described her sadness, and anger at that the perpetrators had done but also fear about what was coming for Muslims as a result of the actions of a few extremists who would be held to represent an entire religion:

At the same time, I felt anxious, knowing that some people would assume that all Muslims harboured the same views as the terrorists. Extremists are not Muslims and have deliberately skewed the texts to fit their homicidal agenda. They are murderers.

America’s response to that fateful day rewrote not just its own democracy but reshaped our world and the way we live. Our world witnessed the invasion of Afghanistan, Iraq, secret surveillance, increased dawn raids on Muslim homes, the way our children and young people were monitored at school. It became an era of fear and mistrust.

And it was that fear which had a profound effect on her daily life:

How can I forget the countless times I saw the look of dread and panic on people’s faces when I reached for my phone from my bag on the tube or the time when my rosary fell out of my bag during Ramadan? I remember a little after the terror attack my elderly gran’s beloved Adhan clock (the call to prayer) went off in her bag and people in the queue in a shop ran for the door.

Oblivious to the lingering, uncomfortable and judgmental stares in the shop from staff, my gran dressed in her crisp cotton white sari and head covered with a shawl, turned off the alarm, picked up the toy a parent had dropped and handed it back to the cashier. Recently, I was travelling on the tube in London when I was called a “f****** Muslim whore” by another passenger, but there were people who stood up for me.

Things have got worse in the meantime and she’s not optimistic for the future:

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LibLink: Christine Jardine: Football racism shows why those who oppose taking the knee are wrong

In her column for the Scotsman this week, Christine Jardine tackled the racism we saw against the three England footballers after the Euro 2020 final.

A young colleague told me that some black friends had abuse shouted at them while making their way home from the England-Italy game. “It’s always your kind that lets us down.” We all knew it was there, simmering amongst those who booed any team taking the knee this summer.

But watching it boil over against fans, footballers and someone who has made a real and determined difference to the well-being of vulnerable children should be a wake-up call for all of us.

She expressed her admiration for Marcus Rashford and the other players:

A young man, hugely successful, who doesn’t just remember where he came from but carries it with pride and channels his success into making a difference.

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Racism in football still hasn’t been kicked out

It’s been 27 years since the establishment of Kick It Out, English football’s equality and inclusion organisation, which works with the football, education and community sectors to challenge discrimination and encourage inclusive practices.

Sadly, racism, abuse and discrimination are still rife in society, but the very nature of chanting in football stadiums makes some believe it is a licence to hurl insults at team players.

On Saturday 5 December 2020, at a Millwall home match against Derby County, some of the 2,000 fans booed players who “took the knee” before the start of the game. Although players, officials and staff at Premier League and English Football League games have been taking the knee before games since June, Saturday’s match was the first to host fans since the second lockdown was lifted. Boos were also heard amongst the 1,000 fans in the JobServe Community Stadium, Colchester, prior to the match between Colchester United and Grimsby Town.

Although Millwall’s supporters’ club claimed that the motives behind the booing were not racist, no other explanation was given as to what the motive was. As Kick It Out Chairman, Sanjay Bhandari said, “Racists rarely admit they are racists — they try to hide their backlash under a seemingly respectable cloak.”

On Monday 30 November, BBC One aired the documentary Anton Ferdinand: Football, Racism and Me, in which the now retired Queens Park Rangers’ footballer spoke about the constant racial abuse that he suffered, including an on-pitch incident in 2011 in which Chelsea player, John Terry, used racially abusive language. Terry was eventually found guilty, fined £220,0000 and banned for just four matches by the FA. Ferdinand also received bullets in the post and missiles were thrown at this mothers’ house.

A House of Lords’ Library Briefing earlier this year (Racism in Football: Tackling Abusive Behaviour) showed that there has been an increase in the number of racist incidents reported in professional and grassroots football in recent years.

According to the Public Order Act 1986, a person is guilty of an offence if, with intent to cause a person harassment, alarm or distress, he uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting, thereby causing that or another person harassment, alarm or distress.

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Why I didn’t announce that I was pregnant before the end of the regional selection process

In August, my husband James, and I had the wonderful surprise of discovering that we were expecting a baby. We were over the moon as we were waiting for this little bundle of joy for a certain time.

After the emotion and the joy came quickly in my mind the question of “When should I announce it to everybody?” Obviously, the close family will know soon enough but a bigger shadow came to hover over my head.

At that time, I was in the middle of my regional selection process for next year’s Scottish election. It took me a lot of confidence and preparation to get where I was and I was scared that the announcement of my pregnancy would deter some of our own members to vote for me.

Being a “young” woman in politics (I would thank some members of the Scottish Young Liberals to have labelled me as such – they will recognise themselves) is not an easy task and full of hurdles even within your own party. When you get passed the idea of being young equals not having enough experience (which qualifies as “ageism” – yes, it goes two ways). When you overcome stereotypes such as “being a woman doesn’t give you enough gravitas/charisma” (I am not going into what I heard the last couple of leadership elections) or “you are over ambitious” (yes, for real). And let’s not talk of the casual sexism of “you should smile more”, “dress less/more lurid” (do you remember the press scandal over the talk between Theresa May and Nicola Surgeon more about their dress code than the content?) you can hear in the media but even by some members of your own party.

With all those comments, my thoughts were how a certain part of our membership is going to react when I announce that I am pregnant?  How will it influence their votes? Unfortunately, pregnancy discrimination is still rooted in our society and in politics. I remember one of our candidates being told by a member of the public in October last year that she was a bad mother to go campaigning with a baby. That remark shocked me and made me wonder how society is still judgemental and discriminatory towards women and mothers. The worst feeling was: it was a woman who made this comment!

One thing is certain in my mind is: YES, I am going to run to be a constituency MSP in Dunfermline and as a regional MSP (if the votes are on my favour) in Mid Scotland and Fife. And, NO, it won’t hinder my passion and my motivation to be the voice for my future constituents and one of the torchbearers of our Liberal Democrat values in the Scottish Parliament.

After all, I have good role models to look to.

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Lib Dem Councillor Julia Ogiehor “devastated” at acquittal of men accused of racially harassing her on tube

Last year we reported on Haringey Liberal Democrat Councillor Julia Ogiehor’s description of being racially abused while she was travelling on the London Underground.

At the time, she said:

“One of them called me uneducated, and looked like I didn’t go to university,” Ogiehor said. “I had my hands up saying I do not want to speak to you any more, then one of the guys tried to pull my hands down and demanded I get out of his sight.

“I recoiled and said please do not touch me, as he kept saying I had no common sense and that I was uneducated at the top of his voice. I was the only black person in the carriage and he seemed to expect everyone would be on their side. They seemed to be a little taken aback when that was not the case.”

She added: “They had such a sense of entitlement and sounded offended that I refused to go into my heritage and did indeed come from London.”

And Julie talked about the importance of showing solidarity when you see others under attack:

The fact I was helped is what gave me the courage to defend myself,” she said. “Hate crime is under-reported, so please speak up. They are the minority, and we need to stand up to bigotry.

Yesterday, Julia wrote on Twitter that she was devastated after the two men responsible had been acquitted of racially aggravated harassment.

She said that she felt that justice had not been on her side “How could it be when nobody on the jury looked anything like me?” She added that she had no regrets about reporting the incident and would continue to report racism every time.

The Ham and High reported on the court hearing:

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Thank Goodness! The Real McCoy back – and I’m not talking about the Crisps!

I have never agreed with the debate around TV censorship, these past few weeks with the broadcasters initially pulling and then u-turning on a string of British comedy programs previously deemed offensive.

Many of you would have noticed the return of the 1990s TV Series “The Real McCoy” which was mysteriously “lost” and then subsequently “found” now being shown on BBC iPlayer. The show is a satirical take on Black British culture and the lived experiences of the children of the Windrush generation.

The BBC joined other media outlets in removing content found to be racially insensitive in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests, with ‘Little Britain’ removed from iPlayer due to its portrayal of minority characters.

A 1975 episode of Fawlty Towers was also temporarily removed by BBC subsidiary UKTV for racist language, and The League of Gentlemen was taken down by Netflix over concerns about a character in blackface make-up.
As someone who grew up in 1970s Britain, watching programmes like “The Black and White Minstrel Show”, “Till Death Us Do Part” with the infamous “Alf Garnett” character; and others like ‘Love Thy Neighbour’, ‘Mind Your Language’, and “Rising Damp”, I struggle to see what this memory-holing problematic culture demonstrates other than our inability to deal with own uncomfortable past.

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We don’t talk – really talk – enough about race

We don’t talk enough about race. Properly talk, that is.

It’s become obvious, as the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has come to the fore with the murder of George Floyd in the United States, that, whilst many of us who consider ourselves liberals have a desire to be anti-racist and create a society where your skin colour does not determine your life chances, we lack the language and the understanding of how to achieve this.

We excel, instead, in talking around the edges of it: about statues, colonial history and political history.

If you agree, I would heartily recommend the book: “Me and White Supremacy” by Layla F Saad – as an essential read, whether you are white or not. It has given me a language, terms and understanding of issues around race and discussing race that have long troubled me, that I have had no easy way to express.

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16 July 2020 – today’s press releases

  • We need a proper Green Recovery Plan to protect jobs
  • People deserve better than this Government’s NHS Test and Trace system
  • Government must not use commission as an excuse to stall on tackling racism
  • Government’s half-baked merger plan is threat to international aid

We need a proper Green Recovery Plan to protect jobs

Responding to ONS unemployment figures showing that the number of workers on payrolls has fallen by 649,000 between March and June, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

Every single person losing their job reminds us that coronavirus is a tragedy that cuts across every aspect of people’s lives. Managing this health and economic crisis demands the best possible leadership at the top of our country.

The Conservative Government’s shambolic handling of the pandemic has made the economic challenge we are facing far worse than it need have been. We need much better political leaders than Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings if we are going to help those losing their jobs.

With this sharp rise in job losses, the Chancellor must urgently look at additional support, otherwise there will be an unemployment tsunami in October.

And we need a real vision for creating new jobs and the jobs of the future. The Chancellor’s summer statement offered little more than a sticking plaster. The Liberal Democrats are instead calling for a major £150bn Green Recovery Plan that will create millions of good quality jobs, safeguarding the UK’s future.

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Taking on persistent discrimination and racism

As we reflect with horror on the murder of George Floyd we must now consider what can be done to address the racism and structural discrimination that continue to affect the lives of members of our BAME communities. The strength of feeling and the protests internationally during the four weeks since George Floyd’s murder have provided a call to action and a stark reminder of racial discrimination.  This comes in the wake of research identifying the greater vulnerabilities of BAME communities to Covid-19.  Racism that has persisted stubbornly for years has been brought to the fore by the Black Lives Matter protests and counter-protests last weekend.

We need to acknowledge the mistakes made in the past and we need to implement effective measures to tackle racism in our society today. I listened to Ed Davey in the House of Commons ask the Prime Minister about the discrimination behind suspicion-less stop and search.  If you are a black person you are 47 times more likely than a white person to be subject to stop and search.

The Government must move further and faster to redress institutional racism in the criminal justice system and many other parts of our society.

The Liberal Democrats have joined with BAME communities in calling for a government-wide race equality strategy, so Boris Johnson’s Commission on Racial Inequality is a welcome first step. It shows that the Black Lives Matter campaign has had an impact which is to the credit of everyone who has raised their voice against racial injustice over the last month.

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15 June 2020 – the overnight press releases

  • Govt must not use new commission to avoid tackling racism straight away
  • Govt must support struggling families

Govt must not use new commission to avoid tackling racism straight away

Responding to the Government’s announcement of a cross-governmental commission to address the inequalities that BAME communities face, Liberal Democrat Equalities Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

Too many people’s lives are blighted by discrimination, inequality and injustice. The Government must move further and faster to redress institutional racism in the criminal justice system and many other parts of our society.

The Liberal Democrats have joined with BAME communities in calling for a government-wide race equality strategy, so this

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The realities of everyday racism – Lib Dem Federal Board member Joyce Onstad shares her story

Liberal Democrat Federal Board member Joyce Onstad had a video chat with her minister in which she describes some of the realities of everyday racism that she has had to deal with in her life.

She describes first becoming aware of racism in this country when she came to live here 24 years ago. She heard of black children being told that they should aim to be footballers rather than doctors.

She went on to describe how she would apply for jobs in her own name – and get rejection letters. When she applied under her married name, she got interviews.

Watch the conversation here.

Conversation with Joyce Onstad on Racism and Racial Injustice from St Paul’s Ealing on Vimeo.

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Daily View 2×2: 2 June 2020

2 big stories

The controversy over the death of George Floyd continues and the Chair of the Liberal Democrat Campaign for Race Equality, Roderick Lynch, notes;

Just as we have a moral obligation to speak out against the injustice we’re witnessing in the US, we also can’t ignore the failings here in the UK. In the UK 26% of instances of police using firearms are against black people, despite black people making up only 3.3% of the population. 51% of young men in custody in the UK are from black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds, despite these groups making up only

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Ed Davey: We have a duty to fight and extinguish racism

Ed Davey has spoken out on the horrific events in the US. He argues that the sort of structural racism we see in the US is prevalent here too.

The Lib Dem Campaign for Race Equality has tweeted this powerful poster which shows that white people have to stand up against racism wherever we find it:

It is worth joining them to learn about how you can support and contribute to their work.

Lib Dem Councillor and race equality adviser Rabina Khan has written an article for the Huffington Post in which she warns that the stress of lockdown  could exacerbate similar tensions here.

In George Floyd’s case, it was evident the behaviour of the police was appalling but as the lockdown gradually eases, the UK’s focus must be on what challenges community policing will inevitably face in a post-lockdown era.

This is a difficult situation as the police also fear for their own lives, particularly when we look to the epidemic of knife crime that continues to plague the UK’s biggest cities. The police are already fearing an explosion of violent crime as rival drug gangs try to re-establish their dominance across London following the lockdown.

There needs to be a meaningful discussion ahead of time about the positive measures that could be taken to reduce the risk of this happening in the future – both in terms of police training and guidelines, and helping and supporting those often black and minority ethnic communities who are most at risk from this type of crime, and being lured into carrying out this type of crime.

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The Dawn of Webinars

Whilst we have been physically isolating due to Covid19, the virtual world has turned into a global village. Not a day passes without seeing news of another virtual conference or webinar.

A less propitious phenomenon, however, has been the alarming rise in hate crime towards British Chinese and other East Asian communities due to the pandemic. This has exposed deep seated racism against those who look Chinese in our society. Meanwhile misinformation in the media, whether deliberate or unintentional, has heightened fears and bigotry, leading to harassment, abuse and in some cases physical attacks.

To better understand the history of the …

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14 October 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Jane Dodds: TV License changes detrimental to dementia sufferers
  • Swinson: Queen’s speech is a charade
  • Fifa and UEFA must take action against racist abuse of players

Jane Dodds: TV License changes detrimental to dementia sufferers

Jane Dodds, MP for Brecon and Radnorshire, is calling on the Government to restore BBC funding in order to protect free TV licenses.

The BBC recently announced that, due to budget cuts from the UK Government, they are moving to scrap the blanket free TV licenses for over-75s and instead only offering them to people claiming Pension Credit.

These licenses have been provided by the BBC since 2000 and approximately 4.5 …

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Lib Dem Councillor Julia Ogiehor speaks out after being racially abused on the Tube

Haringey Lib Dem Councillor Julia Ogiehor has described, in a very disturbing Twitter thread, how she suffered disgusting racial abuse on the tube earlier this week:

She also spoke to the Guardian about her ordeal:

According to Ogiehor, the two white men said they were from Liverpool after a fellow commuter intervened and sat next to her, before the men accused her of being “ashamed” of where she was from.

“One of them called me uneducated, and looked like I didn’t go to university,” Ogiehor said. “I had my hands up saying I do not want to speak to you any more, then one of the guys tried to pull my hands down and demanded I get out of his sight.

“I recoiled and said please do not touch me, as he kept saying I had no common sense and that I was uneducated at the top of his voice. I was the only black person in the carriage and he seemed to expect everyone would be on their side. They seemed to be a little taken aback when that was not the case.”

She added: “They had such a sense of entitlement and sounded offended that I refused to go into my heritage and did indeed come from London.”

And Julie talked about the importance of showing solidarity when you see others under attack:

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What are you doing today to challenge bigotry?

I’m back from a wonderful, blissful and restorative two weeks in my favourite place. Thanks to the team who have worked so hard to keep the site running while I’ve been away.

I’m catching up on all the things I’ve missed while I’ve been reading utter trash and walking up and down the wonderful Rosemarkie Beach with the dog. This story from the Dundee Courier caught my eye.

Lib Dem Councillor Ben Lawrie described a vicious racist verbal assault on his girlfriend, Scottish Environment Spokesperson Mariam Mahmood:

“Mariam told me about incidents of racism that she’s faced growing up – how after 9/11 people threw bricks through her house window in what they must have thought was some sort of revenge attack,” he said.

“I witnessed it for myself earlier this year when the two of us were walking through Dundee and a young woman approached us and screamed the n-word in Mariam’s face.

“It broke my heart. I was even more shocked than her because, sadly, she’s used to it by now.”

Mariam said: “I’ve grown up with this throughout my life when people would use racial slurs almost as ammo against you but Ben had never witnessed it so the bus station incident was shocking for him.

“This girl was standing with a group of friends and just walked over and screamed it right in my face.

“Her friends didn’t look that impressed – but none of them called her out. It’s very disheartening.

“While I thought I was ok at the time, when we got back to the flat I was really quite upset.

“I have a little sister who is just ten years old and I don’t want her to have to endure this sort of thing.”

Ben added: “We can use this experience to shine a light on this sort of thing and in my comments to the committee I was trying to emphasise that if we are to teach our young people to respect one another, we have to start by leading by example.”

I don’t know one single person of colour who doesn’t have to put up with this sort of crap. And when people in the public eye – I’m looking at you, Boris Johnson – make ill-advised comments, the people who carry out this abuse on the street feel legitimised and emboldened.

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Vince: Bigots are not welcome in the Liberal Democrats

You can barely turn on the telly these days without seeing some politician or commentator taking a swipe at a marginalised group. If we think things are bad here, it’s exponentially worse in the US where Pod Save America host Jon Lovett described Fox News in the evenings as wall to wall white nationalism.

So it’s refreshing to see a party leader jump into the middle and say “No. This will not stand.”

Vince, in a piece on the main party website, said:

The Liberal Democrats have always been at the forefront of the fight for equality, and we have a record on these issues of which we’re very proud.

But sadly, the truth is that a very small minority of our own members do hold some views that are fundamentally incompatible with our values.

Our party’s constitution is clear:

We reject all prejudice and discrimination based upon race, colour, religion, age, disability, sex or sexual orientation and oppose all forms of entrenched privilege and inequality.

As a liberal, I respect people’s rights to hold different views to my own, but my message to everyone is that racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, sexism, transphobia and bigotry are not welcome, and not tolerated, in the Liberal Democrats.

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You can tell Boris has been hanging around with Steve Bannon…

So, Boris’s mask slips.

A couple of weeks after it was reported he was hanging around with racist populist Steve Bannon, he comes out with all sorts of racist guff about women wearing burkas and niqabs.

The worst of his comments is this:

If a constituent came to my MP’s surgery with her face obscured, I should feel fully entitled – like Jack Straw – to ask her to remove it so that I could talk to her properly.

If an MP can’t talk to a constituent who has come to make representations to them or who has come looking for their help, then, frankly, they should get better social skills.

Bragging about your sense of entitlement is not a good look.

Why is it always women that get this stuff? From “witches” who in the end of the day were just women whose beliefs strayed from the “norm”, to women who wear Islamic dress, we are considered fair game in a way that men aren’t. Why is it ok that Jack Straw and Boris should be able to tell women how to dress? Why can’t they just make up their own minds?

I find it hard to reconcile a world where women who choose to wear a veil are subjugated and women who come under pressure to be thin, cellulite free, perfectly groomed and available for sex at all times aren’t. Just look at any magazine marketed to women and you’ll see what I mean. Yes, progress has been made, but the world, all of it, is still very much run for men by men.

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Vince Cable talks about his mother’s mental illness, his father’s racism and overcoming prejudice in a moving and candid interview

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You probably don’t know that Vince Cable was on Radio 5 Live as the birthday guest on Sunday night because it’s not really been reported anywhere. It’s worth catching up on it though because it’s one of the most open, personal  and moving interviews I’ve heard him give. He’s mentioned the racism he and his first wife Olympia faced as a mixed race couple before but in this

Vince was 75 last week but he said that he was both physically and mentally fit – he was introduced as a dancer and black run skier. His age isn’t an issue, he says. He says he’s well received amongst audiences of young people and derided by older people.

He said there was a period in politics when it was important to be youthful, citing Kennedy, Blair and Cameron but talks about a blend of youthful innovation and experience is necessary.

Growing up in York to ambitious working class parents, he learned about aspiration and ambition. He says he was a bit lonely when his brother arrived at 11. HIs mother suffered post natal depression and spent some time in hospital as a result. He has talked before of the role of adult education in helping her recover from that. His brother was fostered for a while and his father had to look after him.  He said people were quite cruel about it and taunted him about is mother going to the “loony bin.” He says we’ve made some progress with that sort of attitude.

The idea of women working when he was growing up was frowned upon. He sees this as adding to his mother’s loneliness. His father was a very traditional person who had campaigned to stop women teaching and who believed in a hierarchy of races.

He talked of forming a “little liberal cell” in his house with his mum, who defied the instructions to vote Conservative she received from her husband.

It was playing Macbeth in the school play which helped him overcome his awkwardness as a teenager and he spoke of how his involvement in a drama group led to his first relationship – with Lady Macbeth.

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Nigel Farage proves that he is the ultimate media tart

My photo, taken last week, of the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery, through the water of the fountain in Court Square, where Black slaves were bought and sold.

I have to say that the news that Nigel Farage is backing an extreme right-wing candidate in a Republican primary (mark that: it’s a party primary – not even a general election!) in Alabama, USA takes secure possession of a whole plethora of biscuits. Does this man stop at nothing to get some media coverage?

I was in Alabama this time last week, so I feel the urge to comment on this, if not having the qualification of detailed knowledge of the situation.

First of all, Farage is taking no risks here. Roy Moore, the candidate he is speaking for tonight, is going to win the Republican nomination for the US Senate seat which was vacated by Jeff Sessions when he became US Attorney General. So Farage is saddling up on a horse which is already going to win.

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Javid’s oath is nothing but dog whistle displacement activity

With barely a trace of irony, a minister in the Government which has just passed the most illiberal snooping legislation talked about defending freedom in an article in the Sunday Times (£) today. Not only that, but he seems to think that the answer to  any problems harming community cohesion could be resolved by holders of public office swearing an oath committing them to so-called British values of “equality, democracy and the democratic process.”

He spends the first 8 paragraphs of his article having a real go at Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities, setting up the scapegoats while using the language of tolerance as a fig leaf in which to wrap the dog whistle.

This is a government, struggling to get a grip on Brexit – trying to distract us by scapegoating an entire community of people, reinforcing the horribly divisive rhetoric of the referendum. Does that sound tolerant to you?

As an aside, the phrase “British values” makes me wince – as if respect for the democratic process or support for freedom of speech was a uniquely British thing that stopped at our borders. You can’t confine a basic human instinct to a tiny little blob on the map. These universal values are exercised every day in every part of the world – and often with great courage and bravery. The women in Saudi who defy the law and drive. The people who marched in places like Myanmar and Teheran for democracy. The people who attend gay pride rallies in places where being gay is punishable by imprisonment or even death. 

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The Language of the Left – and how it alienates progressives from their own causes

 

“Privilege”, “trigger warnings”, “safe spaces”, “mansplaining”, “tone policing” and “cultural appropriation”. These terms are the Language of the Left. Anyone who has talked politics with lefties will be familiar with the way that they are thrown around in discussions willy-nilly. And each of them describes a problem which should be taken seriously.

Take “mansplaining” for example: when men explain things in a patronizing way to women, because of an imagined authority on a certain subject. This happens all the time. It happens in offices; at dinner tables; on television; in politics. If you haven’t seen this in action you’re just not looking hard enough. And “trigger warnings” serve an important purpose as well. People who suffer from PTSD after sexual assault can be severely distressed when reading descriptions of rape, for example. Flagging this up to avoid aggravating their condition is no different from warning epileptics when there will be flashing images on TV. It’s completely sensible.

But once these terms become trump cards which can automatically win arguments and shut down discussions, then mission creep seeps in, as people use them more and more lazily. People don’t just use trigger warnings to flag up distressing content any more. They splash them in front of any Daily Mail article which they disagree with, and claim they are triggered every time they hear an opinion which they don’t like.

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