MPs warn of a lack of political voice for young black people

Black MPs, young people

Young black people are not involved

Black MPs are urging organisations to boost the involvement of young people with a Caribbean heritage in decisions that affect their future.

MPs David Lammy, Dawn Butler, Clive Lewis, and from the House of Lords, Baroness Rosalind Howells spoke at a meeting of around 60 people at the British Caribbean Association (BCA) at the House of Commons on 20 March.

BCA Vice- Chair, David Lammy, warned that young black people are losing their connection to the Caribbean and do not have a political voice.

Speakers, including BCA deputy chairman and Black Police Association founder, David Michael, also noted that they were over-represented in the criminal justice system, suffering school exclusions and had too many poor exam results and were still, generally, at the bottom of society.

Tottenham MP, David Lammy said: “I have traveled to other parts of the country and met Caribbean organisations. One thing that’s happening is that the Windrush generation is getting older and was more politically engaged than the younger generation.

“Even the Caribbean high commissions are struggling with the numbers of people who attend their events. There’s a real challenge with the younger generation and I have yet to see an organisation that has got that right.

“In a hundred years time, people may say that there used to be a Caribbean community in the UK

No consequences for racism

Member of the Lords, Baroness Howells of St Davids told the meeting how the BCA was formed after the 1958 Notting Hill riots by committed Caribbean people such as Leonard Smith and MPs from different parties.

It had contacts with the high commissions, promoted racial harmony and funnelled proposals to improve the opportunities for Caribbean people to MPs. But today, it is also having issues in engaging with young people, she said.

Labour’s Norwich South MP, Clive Lewis commented on the declining political influence of the Caribbean population.

He said: “When I first went into Parliament, I was shocked about the treatment of black MPs by the Parliamentary Labour Party. There’s now a vacuum and there is no consequences for being racist.”

Debate on racism needed

Dawn Butler, MP for Brent Central, said she was supporting a new organisation that will encourage young people to join the Labour Party.

She added that she was planning activities to mark the UN International Decade for People of African Descent and plans to have a Parliamentary debate on racism.

“It’s an uncomfortable debate but we need to have it,” she said.

The meeting called on the BCA to reach out to the African community and black student bodies, better use social media to publicise what it is doing and promote positive role models.

Further information

The British Caribbean Association seeks to achieve four objectives by:
1. Providing a meeting place and Forum for Discussions for responsible people involved in Caribbean Affairs and Race Relations and an opportunity for formal Social gatherings. Members meetings are usually held in the House of Commons.
2. Sponsoring lectures, Conferences and other Meetings to educate the wider Public and to improve mutual understanding between the Caribbean and British people.
3. Influencing Government Policy in the long-term interests of the Caribbean People both in their Countries and in Britain.
4. To give advice, help and assistance to Members, if and when required.

David Michael is BCA Deputy Chairman, retired Scotland Yard Detective Chief Inspector and founder of the Black Police Association.

Baroness Howells is a BCA is Life Vice President. Conservative Party MP for South Holland and The Deepings, the Rt Hon John Hayes CBE is chairman of BCA.

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