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London: credit where credit Is due

PrintAfter a tough few months of juggling work, looking after my sister, doing the CLP website and social media for Sadiq’s campaign and of course door-knocking plus observing the most boring count ever – I took off the weekend to relax. But as a self-confessed Twitter addict, I could not resist to have a quick peek in the evening only to find almost everyone on my timeline was engaged in an argument of who was responsible for Labour’s success in London. Was it Sadiq? Was it Corbyn?

Was this debate for real? Absent in this debate were two important factors that I feel is where credit needs to be attributed for what Labour achieved in London.

First, it was thanks to the thousands of Labour members who volunteered hours of their time and Labour party staff who hardly slept that won this election. From Momentum to Progress, from Labour Students to the list candidates, from members who have been with us for decades to those who have only been with us for a few months. They were out in force to get the message out Labour was the right choice to take charge of City Hall.

It meant knocking on doors, leafleting in the snow, standing at Tube stations handing out leaflets in the rain and talking directly to voters. It meant having to have conversations with people about tough issues of immigration, housing, policing and Islamophobia.

It meant having leaflets piled up in your house and car, taking time off work and giving up time normally spent with family. For some, it meant giving up the use of their home for a day, having hundreds of activists walking in and out of your home, using your toilet, taking powernaps on your sofa, activists who needed feeding and cups of tea.

For many behind the scenes running CLPs voluntarily it meant organising fundraisers and begging members to donate to pay for the £3,000 per a CLP levy to the campaign. It meant processing invoices, keeping the website and social media running and encouraging members to get involved even if just to get the boxes of leaflets out of your home so you could see the television again.

It meant party staff, including borough organisers replying to emails at midnight, travelling across the capital from early in the morning to late at night and still needing to give attention to other issues including the EU Referendum and standard membership queries.

It is was physically and mentally demanding, time consuming and tough. But they did it.

Secondly, next year will mark 30 years since Labour had its first elected Black and Asian MPs. Many people who were involved in the Labour Black Sections movement are still around today and can tell you that the concept of Black and Asian MPs was not something the party establishment welcomed. The Black Sections were labelled as Militant, threatened with expulsion and met with severe hostility.

If the role existed 30 years ago, I believe no BAME member would have succeeded in being selected.

For Labour less than 30 years later to have 5 BAME candidates out of the 8 who stood to choose from and then to be chosen by the whole membership is a testament to how the party has progressed. That is an achievement not just for Black people or Black party members, it is an achievement for us all as people and as a movement.

The progression of people of colour both in politics and other parts of society would never have been possible if it were not for the struggle of people before us. The Labour Black Section’s ability to self-organise, fight, persevere and lay the foundations that made even considering a BAME candidate should not go without some recognition.

Not one member worked hard to receive credit, but if it is on offer – the least we can do is allocate it accurately.

Seema is the Constituency Labour Party Secretary for Tottenham

5 Comments

  1. Bazza says:

    Yes Seema it was down to the Labour Party and its members plus a hard working candidate.
    As a white working class social housing tenant socialist who was the first in my family to go to university and got a Masters Degree I am proud of Sadiq being Lord Mayor and great that he is a Muslim too.
    So Labour must continue to recruit Muslims, Hindus (some are being courted by the Tories), Sikhs, Jewish people (and all diverse working people) including the white working class, the progressive middle class and LGBT plus Disabled people as well as trying to politicise the general middle class in our direction.
    A great result for Labour Londoners and all of us and I say that from up North!
    Well done everyone & solidarity!
    Together we can transform the World!

    1. Paul Dias says:

      Hear, hear!

  2. john Reid says:

    Paul Boateng was against labour having its own black section the fact it was judged racist didn’t help and then there was the idea that Bernie Grant and diane Abbott spoke for black people in both the party and general, witness black people protesting against Grant at Haringey council,and then him calling his mates in the police to have them removed

    I know a large amount of BAME people who backed either Christian wolmar, Gareth Thomas or Tessa jowell as well

    I wonder how many CLPs will get in debt with the £3,000 levy and how many, will blame the party

    1. Bobby Joseph says:

      And the point you are making is what?

      1. John P Reid says:

        All of what this is,about if this article being innacurate if it think it reflects, labour and the BAME vote

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