As Obama hits the ground running is there a British Obama?

Questions now arise all over the world.

It was historic. The win of a man who was not white, an African-American some call him, he, himself, uses the word American.

Barack Obama wants everyone to call themselves who are from the USA – he doesn’t like the hyphenated term. It divides people. I can see why – I have always advocated the same thing. I am not British-English – I am English. My nation is England within the union of Britain. Should I take on the term English-Canadian? I think not. If I do take Canadian citizenship I will be Canadian – that’s it.

But, by the by.

With this win, as historic as it is – you also have to look at the US that he is inheriting from Bush. And it is not a pretty sight.

Obama is getting on with the job he was elected for. There is no honeymoon this time around.

I have been reading many, many pages on the web – and it does concern me that some have said that there is institutionalised racism in Britain – this is stopping an Obama from happening there. But is that right?

Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, told the Times the problem would not be voters but the political “machine”.

Even someone of Mr Obama’s talent would struggle, he said, to overcome Labour’s “institutional stranglehold on power”.

Labour said it had a “proud record of promoting ethnic minority candidates”.

For my part I can say this: I do not care what colour skin you have – I do not care what religion you have or practice. If you can do the job then do it. But that also means that I would not tolerate a PM who hid behind his race or religion – that isn’t what I elected him to do.

But Trevor Phillips says that it is the political machine that would stop an Obama, a British one at least. I have to disagree.

Britain has moved a long, long, long way away from racism. There are patches – but that is how it is in any given nation. You can look at Zimbabwe – would that country ever elect a white president again? Possible – but I doubt it.

Mr Phillips told the Times: “If Barack Obama had lived here I would be very surprised if even somebody as brilliant as him would have been able to break through the institutional stranglehold that there is on power within the Labour Party.”

What does get me at this point is Mr Phillips is using the Labour party. An attack such as this is, well, surprising. The Labour Party that I used to belong to was always accommodating of anyone – it really didn’t matter who you were. White, Black, gay, straight, man, woman. It did not matter – does Mr Phillips know something that we all don’t know? Or is it a political attack on The Labour Party?

I am no friend of that party any more – far from it. The Conservative Party I could see as being more akin to not taking on a person as leader due to colour – certainly not the Labour party. The LibDems would welcome, I believe a person who could do the job.

“[The Conservatives] are less democratic. They are happier to impose candidates on the local parties.”

Mr Phillips went on to say that he opposed all-black shortlists for parliamentary candidates because it would be difficult to define “black” or to decide where they should be imposed, but he said action was needed by all parties.

“Any positive action has to be based on giving people who are already competent a bit of an edge,” he said.

This is where I draw the line. A person who is not white be given an edge because they are not white is, to me, as aspect of discrimination. I don’t like it in any case. Yes, a level playing field – I don’t have a problem with that – why would I?

I think that Mr Phillips has it wrong this time and I do think he is forcing an agenda that isn’t there.

Last month Mr Phillips warned more help was needed for areas where there was a “white underclass” which had been “neglected” by existing equalities policies.

And in 2004 he argued multiculturalism belonged to a different era and that all citizens should “assert a core of Britishness”.

Now that is inclusive – and I would back that 100%

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About Bolshy

Blogging in the ether to see if that elusive literary agent or publisher wants some new talent.
This entry was posted in Blogroll, Blogs, Comment, Liberal, Media, Personal philosophy, Politics, Sociology and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

0 Responses to As Obama hits the ground running is there a British Obama?

  1. museditions says:

    Mutts of the world unite! (I refer to the President-elect’s comment that his family was looking to adopt a dog from a shelter which often has dogs which are “mutts like me”.)
    His campaign team had “zero” meetings concerning his race. Hallelujah, doesn’t need to be an issue. I believe the UK can do this, too. After all, they had Disraeli as PM long ago. Other kinds of people cannot be far behind. 🙂

  2. John McCain says:

    Is there a British Palin, too?

  3. sunderkatwala says:

    Phillips is arguing from anecdote, not evidence: new analysis of parliamentary selections shows very strong progress to fair chances and a level playing field, especially in Labour. So he is wrong on race.

    http://fabians.org.uk/general-news/general-news/obama-uk-politics-ethnic-penalty

    But a Parliamentary system is different to a Presidential one – and doesn’t throw up an Obama (or Palin) for PM so quickly
    http://www.nextleft.org/2008/11/real-barrier-to-british-obama-or-palin.html

  4. If nothing else I think Mr Phillips’ comments reignite a not unimportant debate. The fact of there being only 15 members of parliament from ethnic minority backgrounds is itself a figure worth highlighting. It seems strange that he should cite the “institutional stranglehold” of power within the Labour Party in particular, however, when 13 of those 15 are current Labour MPs. Unless of course he was simply referring to the fact that the Labour Party, as the current party of power, could most immediately offer up such a candidate for Prime Minister. Either way, if the little controversy his comments stir up serve to draw once more into the public arena a still relevant issue, I certainly shan’t be first in line to vilify the man. How else do things get done in this world if not without some good old-fashioned polemic to stir the spirit and galvanise a bit of healthy debate. John Stuart Mill would be proud that his legacy lives on.

  5. plaintain1 says:

    Other than what is happening in parliament, generally/ I think that racism is still a factor in England, and it is still a taboo subject to discuss. Put it this way, i dont think an Obama happening will happen in my life time. It’s the children of today, who dont have a problem calling themselves British, and who are audacious enough to hope, that will run for election.

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