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12 December, D-Day for Black UK.

The UK's general election, set for 12 December, will be the most portentous in most of our lifetimes and its import will affect our children and their children. But diaspora Africans can mould the shape of politics to come, both as leaders and voters.

The tragic-comic farce which British politics has become over the last three years will reach its climax in a general election on 12 December. That, at least, is what the politicians of the various parties who voted for it seem to want.

The campaign, which was launched ominously on the eve of Halloween, when ghoulies and ghosties roam the land, will reach its culmination in the run--in to the traditional pantomime season (though this parliamentary pantomime rarely seems to end).

With enough false shepherds to lead their flocks into a new massacre of the innocents, politicians are already promising voters gifts, the like of which would cause the minds of the nativity Wise Men to boggle.

In this mood, the destiny of the nation will be decided--our future, and that of our children and grand-children. Among the various sub-plots is the fact that it is probably the first general election in which Africans can play the decisive hand.

Yes, I did really write that. Let us look at what has been achieved already, and what can be achieved further.

Gina Miller, the Guyana-born lawyer, has stood out as the one public figure of courage and integrity against a particularly pusillanimous generation of law-makers. She stopped Boris Johnson in his tracks in the Supreme Court as he tried to override Parliament, making Her Majesty his play--thing in the process, as politicians sought ways to accommodate his will to power while seeking to save their own constituency seats.

It is no surprise that there has been an on-line attempt to crowd-fund the fee for a hit--man to assassinate Ms Miller. That is the cowardly tribute weakness pays to moral strength.

Africans are prominent on the other side of the argument as well. Priti Patel, whose parents are Ugandan Asians, as Home Secretary has her finger on the pulse of several of the most contentious social controversies. While she is certainly determined, she is not regarded as being particularly sympathetic.

Like several of her cabinet colleagues, she is not seen to 'do' compassion. Kwasi Kwarteng of Ghanaian parents, well-off, Cambridge-educated and likened by a local paper to a "Black Boris", has been on TV and radio as a spokesman for a hard interpretation of the Brexit argument. When affluence speaks to affluence it has produced, surprisingly, a substantial degree of support from the least affluent.

Chuka Umunna and Sam Gyimah, both with West African parentage, have re-shaped the image of the Liberal Democrats, a party which has been strong on inter-cultural sympathy but weak on inclusion, by joining from Labour and the Conservatives respectively.

They will see whether the move to pastures new will be rewarded by the electorate. It is a litmus test. With success they could redefine the complexion of centre politics, but failure could set back the process and re-set the former boundaries.

Both, however, are favoured by the broadcasting media and should not fail through lack of exposure. The North London socialist coterie of David Lammy, Dawn Butler and Diane Abbott should surf to triumph on the wave of metropolitan popular enthusiasm.

African perspectives are critical

If Brexit can be set to one side--as it was two years ago to the chagrin and disadvantage of then Prime Minister Theresa May--the issues which demand attention will be those which affect the African population to a considerable degree.

The public inquiry report into the Grenfell Tower fire, in which many of the victims were of a cosmopolitan background, has just been published. It will be fresh in the mind, while the injustices of the 'Windrush' generation have never been out of it since the furore broke.

If Africans do not stand up with righteous indignation and get to the polling stations, whatever the winter weather may be, they will not have another chance in this generation (no, perhaps, in any other).

Windrush and Grenfell Tower have provided more than images of victims. Black advocates have come forward to state their case--and state it rather well.

Immediately prior to penning this piece I watched Natasha Elcock, chair of Grenfell United, speaking direct to the television cameras and to the hearts and minds of the public. Africans do not have to rely on European sympathisers, their own soi-disant 'leaders' (who are not even household names in their own households), imported Americans, or amorphous public servants to advocate their cause.

Africans are not speaking for just their own community. The huge pro--Remain and ecologist Extinction Rebellion demonstrations have shown the blending of all strains of British society: we are indeed "all in this together"--at least on one side of the argument--as we shall be when this election is settled. Africans, the poor, women and dissidents will be first in the firing-line for whatever goes wrong.

Though living on the borders of the city I frequently visit our daughter and her family in South London (Brixton) and our son and his wife in North London (Walthamstow). I am impressed by how it is the more cosmopolitan neighbourhoods, with a substantial African population inter-acting in harmony with those around them, that have grasped most comprehensively the international intricacies of modern living.

Primarily because they do have a life, however lacking in certain respects, they are less affected by the (false) nostalgic twaddle to which the May/Johnson government and its compliant media have been prone.

Life beyond politics

A disappointing side-effect of having to report on Brexit and all its works is that I have had to omit, or play down, other worthy stories. These include the record achievements in the marathon, memorable performances in the World Athletics Championships, and a Rugby Union World Cup Final involving South Africa and an England team with African players (which of course, as all sports loving African will know, was won decisively by South Africa). Admittedly these did not happen in London but they were seen on our televisions and inspired the population here.

Nevertheless, the record will not be lost as surely our enthusiastic and sympathetic editor will include at least some of them among the year's Top 100 Africans list. [See 'Most Influential Africans', p. 14.]

For this edition I had intended, on the 25th anniversary of his passing, writing on the life of the groundbreaking medic Dr David Pitt. Born in Grenada, Dr Pitt was sufficiently adept at his profession to be appointed President of the British Medical Council and so concerned for the social welfare of the poor that, when such things were as rare as snow in August, he challenged twice for a Parliamentary seat on behalf of Labour.

He was unsuccessful--racism was a prime feature of the campaign against him--but he took on his opponents on their ground and almost brought it off. David Pitt was elevated to the House of Lords and became the first African to chair the Greater London Council.

So, we are squared up for the election. Will the perceived dithering and lack of strategic acumen of Jeremy Corbyn, and the fantasy failings of Jo Swinson, his two principal opponents (the proverbial 'turkeys voting for Christmas'), who have missed opportunities to score against a government in disarray, confirm Boris Johnson in his belief in a birth-given right to rule?

Has Nigel Farage's gloss turned to dross without the continued burnish of sycophantic media commentators? Or is it all indeed a fantasy, the result of which will turn out quite otherwise? The date, 12 December, has historic import which is not re-assuring. On this date in 1653, the so--called Barebone's Parliament, surrendered its independence and integrity to Oliver Cromwell's 'protectorate'.

Happy Christmas and yes, a prosperous New Year.

Caption: Gina Miller, the Guyana-born lawer, who successfully stopped PM Boris Johnson in his tracks in the Supreme Court as he sought to prevent the UK's Parliament from fully debating Brexit developments in the autumn
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Author:Goodwin, Clayton
Publication:New African
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 1, 2019
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