“We need a Fresh Start for a Future MP for Brent Central”, writes Cllr Patrick Vernon
I understand and appreciate why Sarah Teather has resigned as a Lib Dem MP. As a former Minster she realises that her party has no moral compass on social justice in fighting for the rights of local people in Brent. It is a pity that she did not give the opportunity for a Labour Candidate to fight against her in the 2015 General Election so local people can decide on her record as a MP since 2003 and her role as a Coalition Government Minster. Although Teather has successfully defeated three Labour Parliamentary Prospective Candidates in the last ten years may be this time her luck was running out!!!
Some people have said that they should be a by election as she may not be committed to Brent over the next 20 months. I guess this is up to Sarah to decide but I do think she does have a duty to organise a public meeting to explain to her constituents her intentions as the current local MP.
The Labour Party cannot assume because Sarah Teather is stepping down that we will automatically win the seat again. With the new Brent Central seat there was a notional majority of 19% which Labour was defending. However, we lost the seat in 2010 with Dawn Butler with the third biggest national swing against Labour. The Lib Dems had an 11% swing against Labour making it worst election result in London. Nevertheless, in the local elections Labour had 21 gains in Brent thus regaining control of the Council and making it the best result in London.
According to political analysts and pundits they noticed unprecedented tactical voting which was ultimately based on the personalities, campaign coordination, track record and responses to the MP expenses scandal by Butler and Teather.
This tactical voting also had an impact on the Black vote as it deserted Dawn Butler and Labour for Brent Central but not for the local council elections. The lesson for all of us to learn that as a community we can be our own harsh critics as we place even higher expectations on African or Caribbean MPs or Councillors to deliver and work for the community. This perspective has been reflected in the last several Voice Editor’s Forum and articles on this subject since the beginning of this year.
The recent Operation Black Vote report on how the BAME vote can make a difference for the 2015 General Election further highlights the analysis for Brent Central below ( see link to full report ) that the BAME and particularly the African and Caribbean vote will be event more crucial than 2010.
With a 2010 majority for the Lib Dems of 1,345 votes there are approximately 61,909 BAME Voters out of 98,180 populations representing 61.2% of the Brent Central population. A further break down splits the Asian voters to 24,186 and Black voter 28,591 with the African population being the largest BAME group in the constituency.
Thus the ‘black representation pressure’ will not go away for 2015 which means as potential black elected representatives we have to work twice as hard to gain the respect and ownership of the black vote. I guess this inverse law has always applied to black candidates working in an rural or significantly large majority white population where you also have to work twice as hard to break the voter ‘glass ceiling effect’ of challenging racism, stereotypes and assumptions around professionalism and experience.
Thus for Brent Central along with other important BAME seats it is not good enough to be a Black PPC you need also to deliver with a good team supporting you.
For the 2015 election a number of potential candidates including myself are putting ourselves forward as a prospective candidate for Labour in Brent over the next several weeks. Local party members need to decide who has the personality to engage with local residents, track record working in Brent and leadership skills to build and mobilise an election campaign. The campaign needs to based on social justice, equality and fighting against the growing inequality facing local people along with the massive cuts, welfare reform, tackling youth unemployment, real affordable homes, police accountability, better state education, early years provision, and stopping the destruction of public services by the Coalition government. The selected candidate also has to demonstrate being transparent, accountable with integrity to restore confidence as a public servant to the community.
The Labour Party now has a real opportunity to draw a line over the last ten years and have a fresh start in selecting a new candidate that reflects and represent the cultural diversity and character of a great borough steeped in history with a future that we can all aspire and work towards.
Pic credit: brent.limehouse.co.uk