The Conservative Party are at the centre of a race row after being accused of ‘airbrushing’ out pictures of ethnic minority candidates from their campaign literature in areas where they are opposing the BNP.
Only a few days after Conservative leader, David Cameron pledged to fight racial inequality in the black community by tackling funding discrimination against black businesses, the two-faced tendencies of British political parties when it comes to race has reared its ugly head again.
According to an article by Toby Helm and Anushka Asthana in the Observer yesterday, Tory campaign leaflets in areas where they are fighting the BNP shows only the pictures of their white candidates, leading to allegations that non white candidates were deliberately removed, a claim that the Conservative Party denies.
While the Conservatives claimed that when the posters were made a full list of their candidates had not yet been updated it contradicted the fact that the names and telephone numbers of their non white candidates appeared on the literature, indicating that the Tory party has resorted to race politics to win votes.
Simon Woolley, the national co-ordinator and founder of Operation Black Vote has already expressed his disappointment in these revelations saying, “There is a clear intent from the Conservative party to airbrush its candidates out of these leaflets. It is extremely disappointing, given that the Conservative leadership recognises the power of the black vote. This is pandering to prejudice. You can either confront race hatred or pander to it, as they are doing by having only white faces on their material.” (Observer: March 21)
While Labour MPs have ceased on this scandal to attack the Tories there is evidence that they will also resort to racist politics to win votes. In July 2004, Labour’s campaign in the Hodge Hill parliamentary by-election could have been mistaken for the BNP.
Labour sent leaflets to white voters saying, “Labour is on your side—the Lib Dems are on the side of failed asylum seekers”, and “Lib Dem MPs voted against Labour’s Asylum and Immigration Bill. Lib Dem MPs said failed asylum seekers should continue to receive state benefits.” (Socialist Worker: July 2004)
What summed it all up was the fact that Labour had flags of St George on every leaflet suggesting that they will invest in racist campaigning when it suits them.
While organisations like Operation Black Vote try and encourage black and minority ethnic (BME) communities to register and use their votes to influence the political process, stories like this only confirms why voting turnout within BME communities, specifically the Black British community is poor.
Two main points has come from this article, the first point is that if BME communities are to be encouraged to vote there needs to be a political party which they can see as an alternative to the three mainstream parties, such as the Respect Party for example; and the second point is that political parties have by their own admission proven that racism is still a problem in Britain by their constant race campaigning tricks which they sell to white voters.
Emphasising the first point, if BME communities are to be involved in politics then Operation Black Vote must provide an alternative to the three mainstream parties which has shown time and time again that they cannot be trusted.
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