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View from The Voice: Progress we should be proud of

PROUD: Marsha de Cordova

AMIDST THE confusion of last week’s hung parliament election result, the African and Caribbean community had much to celebrate as five new black MPs were elected to the House of Commons to join the other 13 who were already there from the 2015 elections.

With 18 MPs of African and Caribbean descent now in the seat of power, it is our largest representation and comes 30 years after the first four were elected in 1987.

It is significant also that Diane Abbott, the history-making Labour MP from 1987, retained her rock solid seat in Hackney North and Stoke Newington by an increased majority to celebrate her own triumph over adversity after she was pulled from the campaign on the eve of the election suffering with ill health and on the back of a vicious racist campaign against her in the right-wing press and on social media.

Her great work as an MP for the last 30 years should not be underestimated. Diane Abbott has done some stellar work in multiple posts and has been a beacon of inspiration to the black community and young black women in particular.

With five new black Parliamentarians on board this represents the progress many activists and lobbyists have been calling for and which Operation Black Vote director Simon Woolley is right to be upbeat about when he said: “In many ways this is a great testament for multicultural Britain. More talented BAME faces will help transform Parliament and inspire many more to believe that we all have a voice and a place in our society.”

There were many firsts last Thursday which made us all proud. Chi Onwurah retaining her Labour seat in Newcastle Central was the first result to be declared in the whole United Kingdom and Eleanor Smith capturing the swing seat of Wolverhampton South West, closed an unpleasant chapter as it was here Enoch Powell had made his famous ‘rivers of blood’ speech warning of the impending migration of African and Caribbean people to the UK.

And how proud we are of Marsha de Cordova, who is registered blind and worked for a charity for the visually-impaired, winning her seat in Battersea, the former Tory stronghold in south London.

Last week from this column we reiterated that registering to vote and turning out to vote are the only things that politicians truly understand and the right to vote is a privilege not to be taken lightly.

The fact that there are now 51 black and Asian minority members sitting in the House, with 18 from an African and Caribbean background, this sends a clear message that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

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