(FinalCall.com) – With elections less than three weeks away, and the first major televised debate on April 15, political campaigning is in full swing in efforts to sway the British electorate.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the Labour Party has never won a national election as leader of his party. With the British economy suffering and involvement in an unpopular Afghan war, and many political officials mired in scandals, he and the ruling Labour Party face a tough road to victory in the May 6 elections.
According to a recent ICM poll published in The Guardian, Mr. Brown and Labour with 31 percent of the vote trails the Conservatives’ 37 percent, led by its candidate David Cameron of The Tories.
The Conservatives, famously the party of former Prime Ministers Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher, hope to ride the youthful image of the 43-year-old Cameron to victory. It would be their first national election win since 1992.
The Labour Party, seeking a fourth term in office, has recently even enlisted the support of former PM Tony Blair to directly attack the policies of Mr. Cameron and the Conservatives.
On April 13, Mr. Cameron spoke out against the negative campaigning of the Labour Party saying they have “nothing positive to say” and are bereft of new ideas.
“Does anyone think we’re going to crack crime by one more Criminal Justice Bill or one more police officer funded? We’re only going to do it when the country comes together; when shopkeepers stop selling alcohol to kids; when we bring up our children properly; when we unleash social enterprises and charities to improve our communities,” said Mr. Cameron.
Mr. Brown, who became prime minister in June 2007, after the resignation of then PM Tony Blair, is missing no opportunity to gain votes. Busily campaigning, he missed the major Nuclear Security Summit called by U.S. President Barack H. Obama.
Claiming to have the plan to “rescue our great nation,” the anti-immigration right-wing British National Party, led by Nick Griffin, has been called racist. However, in recent weeks, support has grown, and it appears as if many of the leading political parties have adopted some of their rhetoric. Until recently, the BNP had a Whites-only policy limited to “indigenous Caucasians.”
“Once again, only the BNP has mapped out policies and solutions to the immigration invasion which are perfectly in line with voter concerns,” Mr. Griffin said. “All the other parties are in favour of immigration, either through the fake ‘points-based’ nonsense, a ‘balanced migration’ con trick or some other subterfuge,” Mr. Griffin said.
“It makes my blood boil to see the politicians coming out with lie after lie trying to ‘justify’ their Afghan war–especially when we all know that the only reason our boys and girls are there is to allow a consortium of greedy oil companies and banks to build a gas pipeline through Helmand.”
There is another factor leading to the uncertainty surrounding the national election, and that is the candidacy of Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg. Typically, the perennial third-place party and found in alignment with the center-left Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats could find themselves lining up this year with the youthful Cameron. This is important because no party appears poised to win an outright majority. Some political analysts say the Liberal Democrats could play the uncharacteristic role of kingmaker in the election.
Other political parties have remained critical of the two leading parties maintaining that the two parties are really just two sides of the same coin.
“Labour is soft on the bankers. The Tories are the bankers,” said George Galloway, the Respect Party parliamentary candidate for Poplar and Limehouse in east London in a statement. The Respect Party is really the only political party to have spoken to an agenda dealing with Britain’s ethnic minority population.
“We’ve successfully defended public housing, championed the concerns of local residents and fought to keep open services. As we’ve done so, we’ve brought people together across our diverse communities against those who would seek to divide us one from another,” Mr. Galloway continued. “Respect will work with all those who want to defend living standards and services against those who want to make working people pay for an economic mess that is not of their making.”
Operation Black Vote, the UK’s leading group in encouraging Black Britons and groups to participate in the democratic process are readying for what they hope will be a large political rally on April 28 themed: “Black Britain Decides” at The Methodist Church, in Westminster.
According to organisers, the support of Africans, Asians, those from the Caribbean and other ethnic minorities could be critical in determining who wins. Top candidates Brown, Cameron and Clegg have all been invited to speak at the rally.
A coalition of at least 30 Black and anti-racist organisations have been proactive in placing an agenda before the British electorate by launching a Black Manifesto at the end of March. According to a web site on which the manifesto was released, it “aims to place race equality and the eradication of poverty at the forefront of this spring’s election campaign and the government’s policy priorities.”
There are many issues critical to Black Britons that need to be addressed, such as the implementation of armed patrols in Black neighborhoods, the criminalisation of Black men through extensive DNA gathering, and the focus on gangs and crime in the UK, which in most cases is a code for a war on Black neighborhoods. As it relates to many from Jamaica, Africa and other parts of the Caribbean, the immigration issue is critical. Additionally, another important issue is the status of Muslims and Islamic organisations in the UK who have come under attack in the media and been targeted by members of right wing White supremacist organisations.
Glenroy Watson, general secretary of the Global Afrikan Congress said most of the candidates are too preoccupied with the UK’s economic conditions and the anti-immigrant issue to really address an agenda dealing with Black Britons and the ethnic minorities. He made no distinction between any of the leading political parties. “There is an undercurrent of racism among all those parties,” said Mr. Watson. “Clearly they are using it as a racist tool because when they talk about immigration, they are not talking about Eastern Europeans who are visibly White, they are talking about non-White people,” he said.
Calling Operation Black Vote “a very needed and a very necessary aspect” of Black and ethnic minority voter mobilization, Mr. Watson said that more needs to be done and members of the Black community need to “step up” and claim a portion of the political system and nation in which they pay taxes to counteract the political forces that want to prevent them from obtaining political power.
“Their message is correct, in the sense that if the so-called ethnic minority community works together, they can be a force to be reckoned with,” said Mr. Watson. “It is not an accident that we do not have the representation that really is necessary.”
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
Which way for Black Brits in 2010? (FCN, 04-12-2010)