As a gay black man born of a working class family in Liverpool, most would assume my natural allies would be those to the left of British Politics. Don’t get me wrong, I honestly believe the Conservatives ‘are’ the nasty party of mainstream politics and do nothing to help people like me.
Equally, some of the people I love the most in this world are ‘left’ and have spent their entire adult lives fighting for the causes that most would not.
However, this doesn’t mean my vote as a Brit because of who and what I am is a given to the Labour Party. That said, I have more chance of visiting the moon than voting Lib Dems and well UKIP is just UKIP.
This week though opened-up my eyes a lot, especially about left/left of centre (whatever you want to call it) politics.
I got in a public spat arguing against Will Straw, who wants to become a Labour MP in Lancashire. It involved him defending the use of white men in the county blackening-up their faces, and who have a golliwog-type mascot.
I don’t for one moment think Will is a racist and we are going to meet privately to talk about the issues and our differences of opinion, but, this is where I believe he went wrong as a Labour candidate. We can all learn.
Unlike the Tory MP Jake Berry who also had his photo taken with the Britannia Coconutters of Bacup, Will went on the defensive and for these reasons in part hit the international headlines. My own displeasure with him, making The New York Times and Huffington Post UK.
Berry, the current sitting Conservative who Will hopes to oust, had his picture taken and then smartly kept his mouth shut. Now, that’s what I call politics. But, Will called those like me (a black man, who was offended) ignorant. Like, he has walked the walk I have with all that comes with having brown skin in Modern Britain.
As a result of challenging Will, I was bombarded with racist abuse online.
Yes, I challenge a prospective Labour MP and those to the right of politics abuse me. Sort of weird, really. But one of the questions that will be asked, did he know what he was doing when he appeared with the Coconutters? Was it just about more votes?
My view, it was a PR disaster for him and the left. Yes, a disaster.
IF any party in the UK is going to look after my best interests as a black and gay man, I’d hope it would be Labour.
I’m probably seen as an easy vote. Well, that all changed this week.
My vote in the UK General Election 2015 has to be earned, not guaranteed.
Crucially, it is of no surprise that none of the so-called left commentators have addressed the blackening-up matter involving Will publicly like the average guy like me has. I’ve asked Owen Jones about his view, which has fallen on deaf ears.
Do those on the left of politics really believe the Coconutters are a British tradition, that doesn’t offend?
That’s the problem with left politics, you’ve got to have integrity without fear or favour.
I know if the left shoe was on the right foot, those like Owen would have had a field day with them by now. But, Will is a Labour candidate and I’m guessing everyone hopes this just goes away.
Well, it’s not that easy. I am, nobody’s fool.
If you’ve read any of my blogs, I’m critical of David Cameron and the Conservatives especially to do with their ‘multiculturalism’ crap writing for Operation Black Vote and the likes. However, Ed Miliband equally needs to get his own house in order. Especially, if he truly wants to be the next British Prime Minister.
I know Will Straw was an easy target for the right of centre press, I wasn’t born yesterday. He’s had a privileged life and that’s not to begrudge him, being President of ‘Oxford’ University Student Union and working at Her Majesty’s Treasury. And not forgetting, his dad being the former UK Foreign and Home Secretaries.
But, like I said to him yesterday this isn’t about his dad or his past – this, is about him listening to all the voices including those like mine and the young black people who have contacted me having been offended.
By not doing so, it could be the difference between making and breaking a politician.
Anyway, take care, Max.