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Give Lammy some love

STANDING TOGETHER: Tottenham MP David Lammy, centre, with members of the Windrush generation last month, has played a huge part in fighting for people’s rights – but has been subject to criticism and abuse

TOTTENHAM MP David Lammy has just endured another week of the most horrendous abuse from so-called internet trolls. Like shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, Lammy is on the frontline of racist social media vitriol which the authorities seem to be ineffectual in dealing with.

It’s an unacceptable situation. Nobody should have to suffer this kind of attack.

To suffer such threats in the course of carrying out your duty as an elected official must be demoralising. Not least because you have to restrain yourself while at the same time protecting yourself and your family from the haters.

And, of course, if you’re demoralised, not only are you going to be unable to carry out your duties in representing your constituents, but you’re also more likely to sat “stuff it” and jack it all in to go and get a job earning some real pea in the City instead.

Which, in the case of David Lammy or Diane Abbott, would mean even fewer black MPs in Parliament at a time when the system needs desperately to crank up the numbers so that it can legitimately claim to be truly representative.

That, after all, is how it gets its mandate. The fewer and fewer black MPs in Parliament, the more and more the mother of all Houses of Commons seems remote, out of touch and illegitimate.

We know why some black MPs get more than their fair share of online abuse. We know it's because they are prepared to stand up and be counted and because they tell it like it is about the black man and woman's condition in Britiain. And there are many people who don't like to hear that.

We get that. Indeed, the abuse is almost a prerequisite of the job of a black MP who is real and repping the constituency from whence they came.

Show me a black MP who isn’t getting more than their fair share of abuse and I’ll show you an MP who isn’t black enough in policy, an MP who ain’t doing their job and ain’t speaking on our behalf.
Because if they were the racists could not resist the abuse or refrain from the invective.

All this is nothing new. This kind of abuse to demoralise us has been there throughout our African history. Since the missionaries came, passing out Bibles in Jesus’ name.

But the part I cannot get my head aroun dis why we, the black people who someone like Lammy is trying to represent, are at the front of the queue to join in the abuse.

Again, this is nothing new, but being fooled to hate your black brothers and sisters one hundred years ago is one thing, but to despise our one another nowadays is genocide.

After all this time surely Lammy’s done enough now to earn his stripes and to be hailed “Caesar well met” by the community.

And yet, trying to get people to big him up is like trying to get a bly from a copper who doesn't like reggae.

Look at all the things he’s done lately. Was it not Lammy who, by showing his outrage over the scandal of the Windrush generation deportations, got the Prime Minister and the government to do something about it at the expense of the now former Home Secretary. And then last week there was a double whammy from Lammy.

First he stuck the boot into the toffs among his fellow MPs who went to public school, saying that they were not in touch with what inner city kids go through when they are too scared to walk their streets – or, in his words, when they are ‘sh*t-scared’ to walk to school.

And then the very next day, he took issue with Oxford University’s admissions policy which saw, yet again, only a handful of black Britons admit- ted to that venerable, but arguably institutionally racist seat of learning, where real power lies in this country given that most of our prime ministers have been educated there.

About 15 years ago when both Oxford and Cambridge were getting flak in this very newspaper for their lack of diversity, I remember getting two phone calls, independent of each other, in the same week - one from Cambridge University and one from Oxford University.

Both callers wanted advice on how to attract more black student candidates. I later went to a meeting with Cambridge on the subject. I never heard back from Oxford. Make of that what you will. It does not surprise me that, today, Cambridge is the Oxbridge university of choice for black students.

Lammy was right to bring these up as issues because he has got the public ear at the moment.

As the whipping boy of the right wing press, he knows that newspapers like the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail will cover the issues that he brings up of injustice against the black community, if only to make a mockery out of him and, in so doing, opening the eyes of many of us to the reality of the black condition.

The condition where we don’t stand much of a chance of getting to the corridors of real power in this country because an educational institution sees to it that the hegemony continues and that MPs on all sides of the House of Commons should not be ruling over the affairs of young black boys trying to maintain on our inner city streets because they have not walked in their shoes or talked with their voice.

So why ain’t Lammy getting the love from us? Why ain’t we protecting him from all the abuse he’s getting? And not just Lammy but, like I say, Diane Abbott, too?

Why are we not standing by those of our MPs who are saying it loud, that we’re black and we’re proud?

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