Order! Black Lawmakers Praise Race-positive John Bercow

But can they tag a Diversity, Equality Agenda to his Successor?

By Thomas L Blair, 12 September 2019 ©

The outpouring of political sentiment by prominent Black lawmakers David Lammy and  Dawn Butler for the departing John Bercow, Speaker of the British Parliament is unprecedented.

They heaped praise on his hitherto unheard of chairing of debates on institutional racism, diversity and social equality. Qualities widely acknowledged as Mr Bercow announced his resignation by October 1st.

BERCOW — A BRAVE VOICE IN RIOTOUS AND SCANDALOUS TIMES
Lammy praised Mr. Bercow,  who also heads the Commons Representation and Inclusion Committee, as “A welcome voice in this noisy world of moneyed oafs belching their jingoism, he brings style, civility, and Shakespearean rhyme. A true freestyler”.

He applauded Mr Bercow’s “exceptional bravery in recalling the House to debate after the riots of 2011.  And granting my urgent question that allowed the revelation of the Windrush scandal that involved people with Caribbean backgrounds”.

“Thank you, also, for appointing Rose Hudson-Wilkin as the Chaplain when the establishment might have preferred a different choice”, said Lammy [of the Church of England priest of Jamaican heritage].

POSITIVE ON RACE EQUALITY
Dawn Butler, Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, recognised Mr Bercow’s positive qualities. “Parliament… [is] ranked as one of the best 100 employers at the race equality awards; that is because of your guidance and leadership. And thank you for appointing Rev. Rose”.

“We have also had the first Muslim Serjeant at Arms and the first female Clerk Assistant of the House, and young people being allowed to debate in this Chamber has come under you, Mr Speaker.

“There are also all the charity events that you have held in Speaker’s House. She recalled the Windrush gathering and Black History Month. I could go on about all that you have done to modernise this place, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart, Mr Speaker”.

BLACK LAWMAKERS CAN SET THE AGENDA FOR THE NEXT SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE

Praising the retiring Mr Bercow cannot be the end of the matter. The future of aspiring Black British and minority ethnic communities is far from secure.

Therefore, the task of Black British parliamentarians of all stripes is clear. Harvest the Bercow equality agenda, developed in his game-changing 10 years in office. Tag it to his successor and signal broader ideas –about the nature and authority of a Speakers’ power for good.

SOURCES
David Lammy, Dawn Butler and John Bercow in Points of Order– in the House of Commons at 3:46 pm on 9th September 2019 and mySociety They Work for You

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Prof Thomas L Blair is a leading digital provider of informed actionable insights on Black British people and their homelands in the African Diaspora. His Chronicleworld Weblog chronicleworld.co.uk  founded in 1997 is honoured in the British Library’s archive of “social, historic and culturally significant web-based material from the UK domain”.

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