Many constituents are contacting me about the Black Lives Matter movement. I’m appalled by the killing of George Floyd and distressed to see the violence escalating across the USA, which has caused shockwaves across the world and here in the UK.
Sadly, it is a reality that racism is still endemic across the globe, and whilst I’m proud to be Bedford and Kempston’s first BAME Member of Parliament, representing residents long since proud of our multiculturalism and diversity, there is still racism in all our towns and cities.
Whilst the most obvious acts of overt racism may be less common in UK society today, more subtle forms of racial bias are still prevalent. What is clear from the strength of feeling across UK communities distraught by George Floyd’s death, is that if a person can lose their life because of their race, then we are still very far from achieving equality.
I am pleased that Labour leader Keir Starmer used Prime Minister’s questions last week as an opportunity to express our anger at the death of George Floyd and ask that the Prime Minister uses his relationship with President Trump to call for urgent reform. Despite the lack of an answer from Boris Johnson, it is my sincere hope that the Government will use the UK’s influence to demand change.
Until we can be sure no more BAME individuals will face discrimination, when there is no chance of being murdered because of the colour of your skin by somebody in a position of power, we must keep pushing for the complete elimination of racial bias across all institutions, workplaces and the community, and combat this ignorance through discussion, education and legislation.
It is shameful that the UK continues to supply tear gas and rubber bullets to the USA which were used by the police against peaceful protesters. I have signed a letter from Dawn Butler to the Government calling for an immediate suspension of all export licences to the USA that are linked to riot related items, and signed the Early Day Motion #520 with the same call to action. Emily Thornberry MP has written to her opposite number Liz Truss, the Shadow International Trade Secretary on the same issue and you can read her letter in full. We as a country must take a stand against injustice.
More widely it is important that we continue to support the BAME community. The publication of the report into the effect of Covid 19 on BAME individuals showed that people from minority backgrounds are more at risk to the virus. I am concerned about the lack of recommendations in the report. Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, has said that his department will now be looking at practical solutions but this is yet another delay. I can assure you that my Labour colleagues and I will press for these recommendations to be released as soon as possible.
I urge those who are feeling the desire to act, to channel this determination into a force for good. It’s always been simple and should never be controversial, black lives matter.