Posts Tagged ‘European Elections’

Black British Politico John Archer’s Address to African Progress Union

May 31, 2019

I think for most of us outside the Black anti-racist movements, this country’s Black history and its tradition of Black activism against racism, imperialism and exploitation is largely unknown. It’s overshadowed to a large extent by the inspirational American civil rights movements of the 1960s, and its heroes and heroines. Towering figures like Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Rosa Parks. A few Black British anti-slavery activists from the 18th and 19th century, like Olaudah Equiano and Mary Prince, are known to a certain extent, as well as the Crimean War nurse and heroine Mary Seacole. But that’s it. And I think for most mainstream Brits, Blacks and other non-Whites only entered politics and got elected to public office in the 1980s with Diane Abbott, Bernie Grant, Paul Boateng and others.

But Black and Asian activism goes right back to the 19th century, and Britain has had elected BAME politicians since the early 20th century. The BBC 2 series, Victorian Sensations, mentioned two in the second episode of the series broadcast Wednesday night, 29th May 2019. Victorian Sensations is about the massive scientific, social and political changes that shook Victorian society in the 1890s. Last week’s was on scientific advances in electricity and Roentgen’s discovery of X-rays, which revolutionised medicine. The pioneers of X-ray examination, however, paid a terrible price for their research in skin cancer caused by their machines. One British pioneer ended up losing the fingers on one hand, and another arm was amputated completely.

This week’s edition was on ‘Degeneration’, and the late Victorians’ fears of racial, social and imperial decline. This covered the ideas of racial decline in H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, Francis Galton and the birth of the eugenics movement, aimed at preserving and improving British biological stock; the controversy over the New Woman, liberated Victorian ladies, who dared to move out of the traditional female domestic role and pursue masculine hobbies like cycling; Hans Nordau’s book, Degeneration, Lombroso’s Criminal Man, and the fears about mental illness, which resulted in entirely blameless people banged up in lunatic asylums for the most trivial reasons, like a pathetic young man, who was incarcerated for masturbation. It also covered Oscar Wilde, the Aesthetic Movement and the Decadents, including Arthur Symonds, Havelock Ellis and the first sympathetic scientific research in homosexuality. But one of the most interesting pieces in the programme was right at the end, when presenter Paul McGann spoke to a modern Black activists about two Black British activists, who came to Britain from the West Indies, and founded pioneering Black anti-racist movements. One of them was Celeste Matthews, who became a Methodist minister, and founded a Black rights magazine attacking imperialism, Lux.

Another pioneering Black rights activist, who gained public office later in the second decade of 20th century was John Archer. He was elected Mayor of Battersea in 1913, becoming the first person of African descent to hold public office in London. In 1918 he became the first president of the African Progress Union, a post he would hold for three years. This was formed to promote ‘the general welfare of Africans and Afro peoples’ and spread knowledge of Black history. There’s an extract from the speech he gave at the Union’s first meeting in Colin Firth’s and Anthony Arnove’s great anthology of British radical writing and activism throughout history, The People Speak: Democracy Is Not A Spectator Sport (Edinburgh: Canongate 2013). This runs

The people in this country are sadly ignorant with reference to the darker races, and our object is to show to them that we have given up the idea of becoming hewers of wood and drawers of water, that we claim our rightful place within this Empire … That if we are good enough to be brought to fight the wars of the country we are good enough receive the benefits of the country … One of the objects of this association is to demand – not ask, demand; it will be ‘demand’ all the time that I am your president. I am not asking for anything, I am demanding. (p. 189).

Unfortunately we really don’t know about the great history of Black activism in this country. Victorian Sensations gave a small glimpse of this on Wednesday, and I’d like to know more. Not only is this worthwhile in itself, as a piece of British history that’s been unfairly neglected, but we also need it to combat that growing racism that’s spreading across Europe and which has resulted in Farage’s Brexit party getting 36.7 per cent of the vote in the Euro elections last week.

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Another Angry Voice Urges UKIP Voters to Go Green

March 23, 2014

Rail Nationalisation Green

The Angry Yorkshireman has posted up yet another excellent, provocative piece. Entitled ‘Why 73% of UKIP supporters should actually vote Green’, the Angry One from the county of great cricket shows that the majority of UKIP supporters would be far better off voting for the Green party than with UKIP. Why? As I believe the Angry Northerner has already pointed out, the rank and file UKIP supporters have economic views that are the direct opposite of those of the party’s leadership. 78 per cent of them want the energy companies renationalised and 73 per cent want the rail service renationalised, according to a Yougov poll.

UKIP’s leadership, on the other hand, are more in favour of privatisation and Neo-liberal economics than the Tories. In fact one blogger – possibly the Angry One again in a previous article – referred to their policies as the Tories on stilts. If UKIP gets into power, then it really will mean the complete privatisation of the last remnants of the NHS and the education system, and the destruction of whatever’s left of the welfare state. This is basically what you’d expect from a party, many of whose politicians defected from the Right-wing of the Tory party, and which is funded by Tory donors. And, it might be added, whose predecessors include the Referendum Party of the obscenely rich and sinister James Goldsmith.

Most UKIP supporters reject their economic views. They only vote UKIP because they want Britain out of Europe.

And, as the Yorkshireman shows, the Green Party shares their scepticism. The Party has been an opponent of the Eurozone because of the way it forces a single economic policy on very different countries with very different economies. They also support a referendum on Europe because of the ‘democratic deficit’ at the heart of the EU. Legislation comes from the Commissioners, for example. It cannot come from the EU parliament itself. He supplies a series of quotes from the Greens which amply show their opposition to the EU, its Neo-Liberal economic policies, and its authoritarian, anti-democratic legislative policies. These quotations include this statement:

“Whilst the Green Party is opposed to the objectives, structure and policies of the EU as currently constituted, as long as the U.K. remains a member of the EU the Green Party will stand in elections to the European Parliament and elected Green MEPs will work for fundamental reform of the EU from within.”

He therefore recommends anyone serious about opposing the EU and ending the dominance of Neo-liberal orthodoxy over the current political consensus should vote for the Greens in the coming European elections in May 2014. These elections are held according to proportional representation, so there are no wasted votes. It’ll also be an excellent way to punish the Lib-Dems. At the moment the Greens are behind them with 6 per cent of the vote to the EU, while the Lib Dems have 8 per cent. If the Left-wing majority within UKIP, or even a few of them, switch to Green, this could end and the Lib-Dems be kicked into fifth place. On the other hand, he warns that if more people vote UKIP instead, we’ll have one or two more UKIP MEPs, who’ll either defect to the Tories like Marta Andreassen, or get kicked out of the party for spewing sexist bilge like Godfrey Bloom.

The article’s at: http://anotherangryvoice.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/73-ukip-voters-green-party.html.

Go and read it. And if you want to send a clear message to the political class of Westminster that you are sick and fed up of Neo-Liberalism, and cannot see any point in voting Labour, then I would certainly recommend voting Green, or including the Green party as your second preference.