Kaepernick+Nike Inc – It’s a Big Deal

Last week we heard that Nike Inc. had selected NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick as one of the main faces for its 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign. The deal is rumoured to be a huge figure but the terms were not disclosed. Kaepernick first signed with Nike in 2011.

Some have welcomed the Kaepernick/Nike deal, whilst the anti-Kaepernick coalition condemned Nike for this “unpatriotic” deal. We now learn that Nike has supported Kap during his current unfair “ban” from the NFL which started in early 2017.

Media narrative is a strange thing sometimes. The liberal media and supporters are all over Kaepernick and praising him over his social activism. He has received multiple awards and plaudits for his activism. Today the left deem Kap a hero.

But the said liberal media/political establishment quietly blocked out coverage of when Kaepernick first started kneeling at the start of NFL games during the final months of the Obama administration. During that period Kap’s stance was deemed a side issue for the media as he had in one statement pissed off both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton supporters in the run up to the 2016 US Presidential elections.

“I mean, you have Hillary who’s called black teens or black kids super predators. You have Donald Trump who’s openly racist. I mean, we have a presidential candidate [Hillary Clinton] who’s deleted emails and done things illegally and is a presidential candidate. That doesn’t make sense to me, because if that was any other person, you’d be in prison.” – Kaepernick, 2016

I have long admired Kap for his activism. I do not agree with all his statements but that’s besides the point. He stood up when many others in loftier positions – especially those lazy politicians – have stayed silent for too long on blacks  and the unfairness of the criminal justice systems.

I am disappointed that Kap has been black balled by all the NFL team owners for his activism. It is a shame that the players did not even threaten to down tools for one week in solidarity for Kap.

However, last season the kneeling during the playing of the US national anthem was over played by the NFL players. Yes, protest occasionally but not before every match. They are pissing off those fans who view NFL matches as their weekly escapism from the realities of life for 3 hours.

The constant kneeling by players diluted any impact to their protests and what the players were actually standing up for. The kneeling/sitting down during the playing of national anthem became the story not the issues they were protesting about. Any effective protest has to have an element of surprise just as Kap did back in August 2016.

Kaepernick has not done himself much favour since first taking the knee with fellow San Francisco 49ers team-mates such as Eli Harold and Eric Reid. Sadly Reid too is now out of a NFL job. Harold has recently moved to play for the Detroit Lions.

In 2017, Kaepernick should really have done more one-on-one interviews with the media to get his concerns across more effectively.  At least Eric Reid appeared on The View.

Kaepernick , Reid and Harold have always said their protest is not about the flag or US Armed Forces. But their enemies deliberately ignore this reasoning and are quick to condemn these players at unpatriotic Americans.

So the current outrage this week is mainly because Kaepernick is getting money and the anti-Kap brigade are just on envy street. As they must have hoped for Kap to suffer and fall on hard times following his ban from the NFL.

I am glad Kap is getting this money and we know from his previous voluntary work that he will put some towards noble and worthy causes. Kaepernick could use his positive standing to discuss his concerns with those men and women in power on Capitol Hill and indeed the White House.

The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) has come out in support of Kaepernick. But why has the CBC not held extended discussions with Kaepernick?

One of Kaepernick’s biggest concerns was with how the US criminal justice systems deals with black people. Especially the levels of police brutality.

Yet there has been White House discussions in 2018 about prison reform under the leadership of Democratic strategist Van Jones and Trump son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Given his own work with former prisoners this forum should have included Kaepernick.

Since 2012 Nike is said to have paid over $1bn to be the official uniform provider for the NFL. This deal was recently extended to 2028. So NFL and Kaepernick are Niked together.

  1. Why did Nike not publicly commend Kaepernick during his initial protest and subsequent ostracizing from the NFL?  
  2. Did Nike quietly prevent Kaepernick’s initial stance to protect their own image? We know how sponsors can get nervy about any political controversy attached to their brand.
  3. As a major sponsor of the NFL, why did Nike not flex its financial muscle to “discourage” the NFL from virtually banning Kaepernick? 
  4. Should the public have a right to know how much Kap will be earning from this new Nike deal? Yes.

Kap’s new Nike deal is not based on any recent performance on the field and all to do with his activism. Then it is only fair -and out of his own goodwill – that Kaepernick should share headline details of the contract with the public.

Kaepernick-Nike-Ad-sg-img

Release the terms?

 

 

 

Advertisements
Posted in Colin Kaepernick, media, NFL, sports | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

David Lammy – GQ’s Politician of the Year for Windrush. How Come?

Image result for DAVID LAMMY GQ

Labour MP David Lammy was recently named Politician of the Year by GQ Magazine’s Men of the Year Award ceremony.

GQ explained that they gave Lammy the award for his work on the Windrush scandal. There has been lots of praise in media land for Lammy getting this award. Great PR job by GQ for Lammy.

Fine, give Lammy the award but please do not no use the Windrush scandal as the basis. There is not a single one of the 650 MPs who deserves any credit over their reaction to the Windrush scandal; an issue that’s be affected the Afro-Caribbean community for 2 decades.

It’s all well Lammy delivering powerful comments on the Windrush scandal in Parliament. It’s all well Lammy being the so-called political face of the outrage. But Lammy was there on the government benches when many of the victims were deported or imprisoned under policies drawn up by Labour.

We now know so far that at least 164 Windrush victims who were imprisoned/deported under the Windrush scandal. Half of those affected happened under the Labour government.

In 2006, then Labour government under Home Secretary John Reid went after non-EU migrants  in a major way following policy errors over EU migration. Then Prime Minister Tony Blair ignored warnings that any EU membership expansion would lead to a huge flow of people into the UK from newer member States such as Poland.

Labour got their forecast figures so horribly wrong and the growth of migrants from countries such as Poland angered many British folks and gave rise in popularity to far right groups such as the UK Independence Party (UKIP).

Labour reacted to their blunder in a sneaky  fashion and began targeting the Afro Caribbean community and thus some of the Windrush generation were caught up in this new sweeping policy; under the “non-EU migrant” tag.

Hence the birth of the Windrush scandal under Labour and exacerbated by the policies of then Conservative Home Secretary Theresa May’s policies.

Past winners of GQ’s Politician of the Year Award include Sadiq Khan, George Osborne and Jeremy Corbyn. The award may indeed be some curse given the political fallout that has since marred those previous winners.

I just find it disrespectful of GQ to heap praise on any UK politician in relation the Windrush scandal.

The only individual in the UK that deserves any credit for exposing the Windrush scandal to its full extent is The Guardian’s Amelia Gentleman.


Dogged by the uncertain over BREXIT negotiations, 2018 has been a crisis year for British politicians.

Conservative Prime Minister, Theresa May has been rocked by BREXIT-infighting, Windrush scandal, Cabinet resignations, party rebellions, NHS and growing violent crime.

Labour Party Leader, Jeremy Corbyn has been under siege by many of  his own MPs who want rid of him before any general election.  Corbyn has had to withstand weekly coup attempts and a clearly coordinated daily media onslaught. Corbyn has had his own problems over BREXIT, with many of his own pro-EU MPs angered by his approach. Labour’s Anti-Semitism row that has severely engulfed Corbyn leadership.

How May and Corbyn are still leading their respective parties is indeed a miracle. Should May and Corbyn manage to see out 2018 as party leaders, then some media/political body should give them a joint special award just for their political survival skills.

But overall, the Politician of the Year so far for me would be Penny Mordaunt who took over the Cabinet role of Secretary of State for International Development in late 2017 from the disgraced Priti Patel. Mordaunt was also appointed Women’s and Equality Minister.

A seasoned hardline-Brexiteer, pundits were surprised by Mordaunt’s promotion to the Cabinet. But Mordaunt has hardly put a foot wrong and has brought respectability back to a portfolio which was severely tarnished under her predecessor .

Mordaunt has called out against China, Saudi Arabia and spoken up for trade with sub-Saharan Africa. A smart performer who has exceeded expectations and has quickly become an influential member of the Cabinet. One to watch when May bails out.

Posted in Immigration, politics, uk politics, UKBA, united kingdom, WINDRUSH | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

David Lewis 1923 – 2018

cap 001

Wilton David Lewis

1 April 1923 – 29 June 2018

Affectionately known as “Mass Wilton”, “Bredda Lew”, “Daddy Lew”, “Missa Lewis” and in his younger days…”Bishop Twenty Nine

My dad died in the early hours of 29th June in his room after a short illness – pneumonia. But what a life this Jamaican man packed into those 95 years?

Jamaica: 1923 – 1948

Daddy Lew was born in Woodleigh, near May Pen, Clarendon to Theresa Amanda Brice and Ebenezer Joseph Lewis. Both of whom were “cultivators” working on tobacco fields. Daddy Lew’s father died shortly afterwards in October 1923 and his mother returned to live in her home district of Davis, Bannister, St Catherine. Daddy Lew never knew any of his father’s relations. He grew up in Davis with 2 brothers and 2 sisters, all of whom are now deceased.

Daddy Lew attended Ludford Market Trust School (known today as Old Harbour Primary) and by all accounts was well read. But Daddy Lew’s formal education ended abruptly at age 13. As he had to assist his mother sell fruits and coal 28 miles away in Kingston. In those days they would head to Kingston via a hired horse and cart and slept on the streets of Kingston ahead of market days.

At school Daddy Lew was well known for assisting fellow students with their home work. He would also help those in the Davis community – of all ages – with any letter-writing and read correspondence and newspaper articles to them.

Daddy Lew’s upbringing was very poor and hard. The little things I take for granted today were non-existent during Daddy Lew’s early life. e.g. The first time he slept on a real bed was when he was 27. Hence the life he subsequently provided for himself, his family, relatives, friends and acquaintances is to be commended.

After leaving school, Daddy Lew worked as a mason and carpenter. He dug wells across southern Jamaica. By then his first daughter Sybil was born. Although I never knew of her until 1986 when I was 19.

In 1948, Daddy Lew began a relationship with his future wife – and my mum – Mae White (affectionately known as ‘Miss Telsee’). They were together for 62 years until she passed away in 2010.

United States: 1950 – 1955

During the early 1950s, Daddy Lew went on the farm-work programme to America and worked in the States of Florida, Indiana and Wisconsin. He always said that was the toughest job he ever did.  After finishing his farm-work stints in the United States, he settled back in Jamaica. By then his kids Elaine, Lloyd and Monica were born.

Daddy Lew purchased his first property (5 acres) in the mid 1950s at Bannister, near Old Harbour, and made plans to put his family – including his mum – to reside there. Even in those days it was deemed unusual to see a black man purchase such a large property in that area; as most of the flat land in Old Harbour and surrounding areas were still owned by white and Jewish extended connections of former slave owners.

Daddy Lew found life unsettling back in Jamaica and decided to try his luck in England in 1956 as part of the Windrush Generation.

England: 1956-1974

In London, he worked as a cleaner and painter for a number of companies. Not long after, Miss Telsee joined him in England and they were married in Willesden, North West London. The newly weds settled in Kilburn, North West London where their fourth child David was born in 1959 and me in 1967.

Both Daddy Lew and Miss Telsee held two jobs each. Their double jobs meant they hardly saw each other as they saved and eventually bought their first UK home in Torbay Road, Kilburn in the early 1960s. Some rooms were rented out to generate extra income. Today, Torbay Road houses are valued at an average of £1.2m.

torb1

Torbay Road, Kilburn in 2013

By the late 1960s their kids Lloyd, Monica and Elaine (all educated at St Jago High, Jamaica) also joined them in London and completed their tertiary education. But by 1974, Miss Telsee decided it was time to return to Jamaica for good.

This was an unusual decision given many Jamaicans were still desperate to leave Jamaica and find employment overseas. But my mum chose to go against the norm and return to Jamaica. Thus mum and Daddy Lew “retired” to Jamaica at ages 43 and 51 respectively. A massive risk at the time but in the end mum’s decision paid off as the couple spent another 30 plus years together in sunny Jamaica.

[In a way we had no choice at leaving London in 1974 as my mum sold the house without even telling Daddy Lew. Mum could be impulsive at times when it came to big decisions.]

Daddy Lew went along with the decision unwillingly but he was far from happy. As he had finally secured a permanent job at the London Underground Transport Service and (more importantly for him) he was just called up for jury service at the world famous Old Bailey Courts and he was really looking forward to attending.

My brother David was not happy either as he had had dreams of playing professional football in England. Some of his former team mates and rivals at junior football included the late Cyrille Regis, Laurie Cunningham, Steve Gatting and Ricky Hill. All of whom went on to have long successful football careers.

home 001

Early 1970s – Kilburn, North West London

Jamaica: 1974 – 2018

Back in Jamaica, Daddy Lew painted houses and developed his 5 acre farm. He and Miss Telsee were landlords for properties they owned in Bannister and Pembroke Hall, Kingston. They were an ideal team with mum being the outspoken one and Daddy Lew the quiet doer.

Daddy Lew took a keen interest in the development of his former school, Old Harbour Primary. He was an active member of the local Parents Teachers Association (PTA)  At one stage he was Treasurer.

During the late 1970s and 1980s Daddy Lew would purchase land and hire building contractors on behalf of family and friends still based in the UK. As he and my mum encouraged their UK based friends and family to own property in Jamaica in preparation for retirement.

Daddy Lew loved discussing politics and religion. He loved debating life with members of the Jehovah’s Witness fraternity; which was a sight to behold on Saturday mornings.

Sports Fan

Daddy Lew loved sports. He played cricket, football and rode in local cycle races. During the 1940s he would ride 28 miles from his home to Sabina Park to watch the West Indies play test cricket. In England, he was one of the few black men in the 1960s and early 70s, brave enough to withstand the racist chants and attend live football matches.

In the 1960s and 1970s Daddy Lew was admired in Kilburn’s Afro-Caribbean community for taking young black kids to their first ever football matches to see the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham and my QPR. 50 plus years on those same kids talk glowingly of those days spent with Daddy Lew at football games.

Daddy Lew’s favourite football team in England was Aston Villa.  His favourite football player was England’s Johnny Haynes. He saw the greats play live including  Jimmy Greaves, George Best, Eusebio, Bobby Charlton, Johan Cruyff and Bobby Moore.

Whenever the West Indies cricket team toured England  (1950-70s) Daddy Lew was always there at the matches played in London at Lords and the Oval. He saw all the great English, Australian and West Indian cricket teams of that era. He would also take kids to cricket games too. Some of whom were once pictured in the papers surrounding the great Sir Gary Sobers at Lords.

Family Man and Friend to All

Daddy Lew had a strong Christian faith and was attending both the Anglican churches at Old Harbour and Davis from the 1920s. He was a lay reader and would conduct sermons in his younger days in Davis. Hence the “Bishop 29” pet-name he was given by his friends.

Daddy Lew loved his family in his usual quiet way. He was never one to show emotions or drama. But he was reliable and thoughtful to those in need.

During the 1950s-1970s, Daddy Lew and Miss Telsee assisted dozens of relatives and friends emigrate to England. The couple assisted with travel expenses, getting them into schools/colleges and finding accommodation. The couple made it a priority that the first thing most of these new immigrants did when they landed in the UK was enroll at Kilburn Polytechnic.

Today they are generations of Afro and Chinese Caribbean descendants across the UK, Canada and US who may be unaware of the impact that Daddy Lew played in their own development.

Daddy Lew loved giving back to the people from his community. He assisted many young people with their education expenses. A stranger came to our home recently to pay his respects and told me Daddy Lew paid most of his daughter’s final year tuition fees at University just a decade ago.

While I lived in London over the decades, Daddy Lew would write me every 2 weeks. Whether I had responded, you knew an air letter was coming. He always had stacks of air letters stashed in his room. Even into his early 80s some of Daddy Lew’s family friends would ask him to dictate letters on their behalf.

Daddy Lew was well respected and loved by many who came into contact with him. He was admired for his calmness and quiet disposition. He was never one to speak negatively about anyone. That role was left to my mum.

In England he developed friendships with people of all races in particular those from the Irish and West African community.

It is hard to believe that as landlords in 1960s London, my parents managed to rent rooms to people of all races include whites. Daddy Lew’s only vice in London was popping to the legendary Kilburn Irish pub – Biddy Mulligans – every Friday for a pint of Guinness.

47570021

Paper Man

Daddy Lew loved reading the newspapers and up to 4 years ago he would go out each morning to purchase the Jamaica Gleaner. He was a radio man and loved listening to RJR’s Hotline and also controversial talk-show host Wilmot Perkins. In the weekdays whenever it was 7am, 8am, midday and 5pm  you knew not to disturb him while he was listening the news. Especially the BBC World News.

Daddy Lew believed in hard work and keeping oneself active. He had an unbelievable work ethic. He never did naps. Never. He was always doing something.  He was known for walking the 2 miles back home to Old Harbour after working on his farm in Bannister with his big blue Adidas bag filled with the fruits which he would share with neighbours. These daily walks may explain why doctors were impressed by his strong heartbeat even as late as his last check-up in March 2018.

 

dad20

Animal Lover

2010 – 2018

Daddy Lew was hit hard by the loss of his partner/wife of 62 years, Miss Telsee in 2010, his older sister Ruby in 2011 and especially his son David in 2013. All of which understandably had a major effect on his spirits.

Caring for Daddy Lew over the last 5 years was not always easy for me, but it was such a rewarding experience. It made me appreciate those who care for the elderly on a professional basis.

Until 2 years ago, Daddy Lew had a superb memory. Inspired by the numerous ancestry-type TV shows, I asked him hundreds of questions about his life and roots. He was the main human source that inspired me to research and develop a family tree. Today, I can retrace his and mum’s ancestral roots back to the early 1800s. One of my proudest achievements.

The manner in which Daddy Lew passed away in his bedroom on the morning of the 29th June was the way he lived his life in my eyes. Dignified.

Daddy Lew was the most generous man I knew. He never once told me of his kind gestures to others. His generous actions were told to me by my mum, relatives, friends, my former schoolmates and strangers.

He was the calmest person I ever knew. Never flustered. When once at school I had got in to serious trouble and was suspended, he just told simply me never to do it again. Daddy Lew’s reaction made me respect and love him even more.

The first time I was ever told that Daddy Lew was seriously ill and near death was in 1994 due to cancer. Yet through his resilience, belief system and positive outlook he gave us a further 24 years of his goodwill, hard work and charm.

If Dad was able to see this blog right now he would simply say. “Gary,That’s far too long”. As he was never a fan of lengthy tributes. Sorry dad.

But when you have lived for 95 years and packed so much into a life that started from such poor and humble beginnings…

Your story needs to be written and shared.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

18 July 2018 – Bye Dad

Posted in jamaica, jamaican, sports, united kingdom, WINDRUSH | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Windrush Day – Poor Timing?

The British government announced that 22 June will be declared Windrush Day. In their press release they stated..

[“A national Windrush Day will take place on 22 June every year to celebrate the contribution of the Windrush Generation and their descendants.”

“The event will be overseen by a body of British Caribbean representatives and a Windrush Day grant of up to £500,000 will be available each year to charities and communities seeking to hold commemorative and educational events.”

“events, including the following:

  • National Service of Thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey
  • AGE UK Windrush 70 tea party hosted by Lambeth Council
  • Phoenix Dance Company performance of Windrush: Movement of the People at Lambeth Town Hall
  • Commemorative ‘platinum’ pin badges designed by Brixton-based design group Champion Agency to be distributed at key Windrush 70 events throughout the country”

Some leaders in the black community has welcomed the government’s plan

“Windrush Foundation Director Arthur Torrington said………..The announcement of a national Windrush Day is a moment of great satisfaction. It will cement in the national consciousness the important contribution of those who travelled from the Caribbean to Britain 70 years ago to build a better life and participate in making Britain a stronger nation.”]

I cannot see any point for this Windrush Day whatsoever. The speed by some in the black community to welcome this announcement is just baffling. Given the current Windrush scandal – exacerbated by PM Theresa May’s decisions – is so far from being resolved anytime soon.

Why now?

Accepting such a token gesture by the government is a scandal in itself. The Afro-Caribbean community should be demanding answers and resolutions to the Windrush scandal, ensure the victims are compensated fairly and find out what the government intends to do to repair the long term damage caused to the many victims.

With all these burning issues still unresolved it is rather bemusing for this patronising suggestion to come up at such an inappropriate time. Again, I am baffled how some have been so receptive to the Windrush Day idea. Some Labour Party MPs have rightly questioned this decision and its timing.

 

  • Exactly how many of these Windrush linked British residents were detained?
  • How many were deported?
  • How many (if any) ended up in mental institutions?
  • How many passed away?
  • Did any suffer major illnesses while in detention or following their deportation?
  • How many lost their jobs and homes?
  • Has compensation terms been finalised?

The public is still yet to know the official findings on the death of Jamaican Carlington Spencer while at an Immigration Detention Centre in October 2017.

This Windrush debacle is the biggest scandal to affect the Afro-Caribbean community in my lifetime.

  • Do we really need the launch of a Windrush Day when victims of the scandal are still suffering?
  • How can we accept this Windrush Day concept from the same people who made the lives of many Windrush residents a 21st century nightmare? 

If you have been following the responses by Ministers and officials at the Home Affairs Select Committee hearings you will know how callous, unprofessional, evasive and careless the department over its handling of this scandal.

Posted in british politics, Caribbean, human rights, Immigration, WINDRUSH | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Seaga’s Highway to Jamaican Immortality?

In Jamaica recently, the North-South Highway (opened in 2016) was renamed after former Prime Minister/Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) leader Edward Seaga. The decision to rename the highway in Seaga’s honour was made by current Prime Minister and JLP leader Andrew Holness. Initial suggestion came from Energy Minister Dr Andrew Wheatley. In February Holness had renamed the state-run PetroJam corporate office ‘The Edward Seaga Building’.

The official Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) was livid at this new highway name-change. The PNP felt that a decade ago – when he was Opposition Leader – Seaga was so dead against the construction of the highway and thus felt insulted by Holness’ decision to honour his former mentor.

Edward-Seaga-1-640x425

l-r Edward Seaga, Patricia Holness, Andrew Holness

Some PNP supporters protested at the renaming ceremony. They suggested that the highway be renamed in honour of former Prime Minister/PNP leader Portia Simpson-Miller. They felt Simpson-Miller was more influential in getting the highway plans into action. Why always politicians eh?

I am not a fan of politicians being planted with such endorsements. I was never a fan when the highway from Kingston to May Pen was renamed after former PM and PNP leader P.J. Paterson back in 2015. It all smacks of political self-adulation of the worst kind.

IMG_20180616_221630.jpg

l-r Omar Davies, Portia Simpson-Miller, P.J. Paterson

Since gaining independence from the UK in 1962, elected Jamaican politicians have had this insatiable urge to name major landmarks after their political buddies and heroes. Their supporters are happy to go along with such partisan endorsements.

Whether it be airports, highways, bank notes, buildings or education institutions political leaders are quick to reward their own in this self indulgent manner. Most of them honoured being men.

[At Petrojam’s renaming ceremony Holness said the gesture to honour Seaga “is our way of saying we love you, we cherish the work you have done and we have to find more ways to symbolise it”.]

These actions gives a sad perception that only politicians are worthy of such grand adulation, when their contribution to Jamaica is no better when compared to others in the field of say education, agriculture, science, sports, music and the arts. We can easily surmise that it is the politicians of the 1960-1990s that created the platform for Jamaica’s decay into today’s violent society.

If you lived through the political violence of the 1970s and 1980s you do have to question if any politician (PNP, JLP or Communist) from that era deserves the highest of public honours.

In 1976, Hasley Crawford won the 100m Olympics sprint gold and the Trinidadian government renamed their National Stadium in his honour. Donald Quarrie won gold and silver (behind Crawford) at the same 1976 Olympics and a minor secondary school in Harbour View, Kingston was renamed in his honour.

Yes, there are few roads named after the occasional sportsperson, educator and musician. Some statues too. Yet it is the political class that seem hell bent to have their names enshrined above any other professional group.

Most local bank notes today are named after politicians. Not one of the many high achieving sport personalities, writers or musicians has come close to having their name on a bank note. But there is hope from the younger generation given what happened to current JLP Cabinet Minister, Mike Henry.

Mike Henry has been Member of Parliament for his constituency of May Pen for 38 years. In 2016, there were plans to rename a school in Henry’s constituency – Denbigh High – in his honour. The suggestion came from stakeholders in the local community. During the consultation process current and past students objected to the proposal under the slogan “Denbigh High Forever, No Change!”

In the end Henry saw this objection and asked for his name to be withdrawn from the proposal. Henry has been indeed one of the very few Jamaican politicians who has spoken out on issues affecting black Jamaicans such as reparations and to legalise medicinal marijuana.

The next new bank note issued should have the name of a person(s) from the music or sporting industry. It’s high time the National Stadium is named after a sporting figure such as Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce or Usain Bolt.

Maybe consulting  the public is to way forward before naming future landmarks. But will the political class have the guts to give up this authority?

We Do Need Other Official Heroes

It is one of the reasons from my school days at Glenmuir High (in Henry’s constituency) that I was never wholeheartedly a fan of the National Heroes ethos in Jamaica, where we have placed only 7 (6 males) people as worthy of Jamaica’s highest award of national recognition.

Why has Jamaica not bestowed National Heroes status on the likes of The Wailers, Usain Bolt, Louise Bennett-Coverley, Mary Seacole, Una Marson, Dr Heloise Lewis, Sir Arthur Wint and some of those Jamaicans who were involved in both World Wars?

If in the 500 plus years of Jamaica’s colonial and independent existence we can only come up with just one female (Nanny of the Maroons) as worthy of Jamaica’s highest recognition, then the island has a serious problem with how its history is being told. Especially as we all know it is our mothers and grandmothers who have been (and still do) the real backbone of Jamaica. Worth noting that none of Jamaica’s current National Heroes was born in the 20th century.

Marcus Garvey was officially named Jamaica’s first National Hero in the 1960s. But can we really downgrade the significant work of his two former wives Amy Ashwood Garvey and in particular Amy Jacques Garvey when compared to Marcus? Both wives are treated in popular culture as footnotes when their own work should be elevated more widely.

As Amy Jacques Garvey once said in 1926..“The Negro woman is the backbone of the race, but it is not natural that white, yellow or brown men will give her full credit for it, when her own men are too narrow-minded to tell it to the world.”

As with the naming landmarks issue, maybe the criteria for achieving National Hero status needs to be reviewed, modernised and allow the public to have their say.

 

Posted in jamaica, jamaican, usain bolt | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Windrush Generation Let Down by All of Us

Quite rightly the Theresa May led Conservative government deserves the public outrage hitting them now over the Windrush scandal.

In 2013, when then Home Secretary Theresa May drafted her immigration policy there was not this tumultuous outrage happening today. But while some raised concerns too many others ignored the severity of May’s proposed legislation.

Even the then Labour Party under Ed Miliband displayed little resistance which was no surprise. As a number of his owns MPs were there in government when Labour developed their own draconian immigration policies to impress the xenophobes.

The idea of making West Indian born long term UK residents stateless was sneaky cruel legislation that should never had passed the first hurdle in parliament. Then Prime Minister David Cameron and his deputy Nick Clegg must take some of the blame as they had the authority to block May’s plans.

  • Should David Cameron also apologise as May has done?
  • Why did it take 5 years for this scandal to finally explode in the government’s face?

Last year I found it hypocritical when there were protests on UK streets over Donald Trump’s immigration policy. Where were they in 2013 and  2014, 2015 2016 when long term UK residents were facing deportation and clear denial of their basic human rights?

So in recent weeks the scandal came to a head thanks especially to The Guardian’s Amelia Gentleman.

The Conservative government’s apology was more corporate than heartfelt. It means nothing and is a clear signal they were covering up their incompetence. Home Secretary Amber Rudd has looked clueless.

In the past such a huge scandal would immediately cost ministers their jobs. But chief architect May and Rudd seems safe. As the Daily Mail, Telegraph, BBC, Murdoch papers, political pundits are helping the government deflect from the scandal. As they fear the collapse of May’s minority government could leave the door open for Jeremy Corbyn. Can May really sack Rudd over a scandal that she and then Immigration Minister Mark Harper championed?

0006LWNU7FKJ1JLG-C122-F4

Rudd and May – new additions to the Home Secretary’s Hall of Shame?

Labour Party Culpable?

Labour Party MP, David Lammy made some powerful remarks in parliament to Amber Rudd which has gone viral. He has been one of the public faces of anger since the scandal broke.

But where was Lammy’s voice in 2013? 2014?…in 2016? when the immigration legislation was going through parliament? Better late than never?

Why did only 6 Labour MPs (incl. Diane Abbott & Jeremy Corbyn) vote against aspects of the 2014 Immigration Bill? Why did the other 250+ Labour MPs abstain? Incl. David Lammy.

BBC 2013: Labour backs Theresa May’s immigration plan.

We can not forget how the Tony Blair and Gordon Brown Labour governments themselves developed immigration policies that were very anti-Jamaican and draconian at times. Some Labour government ministers and MPs were even condemned for their own right wing rhetoric on immigration.

e.g.  Immigration Minister Phil Woolas and Trade Minister Margaret Hodge. Hodge earned plaudits from the far right British National Party.

Despite these underhand anti-Jamaican immigration policies, UK governments have never stopped unashamedly raiding Jamaica for its best nurses and teachers. I am certain this recruitment approach by Britain will again intensify following BREXIT.

The last 17 years has seen some law-abiding Jamaican immigrants dragged from their home or work place and locked up in detention centres for months, only to be released with no further action taken. No apology. No compensation for loss of earnings.

Some of them;

  • such as Carlington Spencer died in detention in October 2017,
  • had their passports confiscated by the Home Office for over 5 years; which made it difficult to find employment or even to just leave to visit sick relatives,
  • lost their life savings thanks to exorbitant fees charged by unscrupulous legal advisers,
  • suffered severe depression,
  • were wrongfully deported long before the current Windrush scandal was exposed.

Silent Voices & Leadership

I am disappointed that too many high profile figures within the Afro Caribbean community kept quiet over the years. But the biggest disappointment for me has been the response by successive Jamaican governments.

Many Jamaicans have been damaged greatly at the hands of the UK’s immigration bullying tactics and you never heard any public outrage from Jamaica’s elected officials with the possible exception of Mike Henry.

Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness was asked – recently on British TV – by Piers Morgan about how long was he aware of the Windrush scandal. Holness’ response was “2 months” ago. I was gobsmacked at Holness’ answer, given that Windrush scandal stories were in the public sphere from as far back as 2014. The cases of Neville Mckenzie (2014) and Lloyd Bogle (2015) appeared in the Jamaican media.

If Holness spoke truthfully then he should question the effectiveness of his entire High Commission team in London. Holness must reprimand his own Foreign Ministry for being so out of touch with these serious issues in the UK.

Who is our Joanna Lumley?

Governments in today’s pop culture tend to react swiftly whenever high profile figures, celebrities condemn on any of their policies.

A perfect example was in 2009, when British actress Joanna Lumley stood up for the residential rights of some in the Gurkha community who themselves faced deportation from the UK. Lumley became the public voice for the Gurkhas and used her reputation to great success. She publicly embarrassed then Immigration Minister Phil Woolas and forced a u-turn from the government.

Joanna+Lumley+Phil+Woolas+Gurkha+Campaigners+dI29gVbv0pwl

The Look of Loathe: Joanna Lumley confronts Immigration Minister Phil Woolas over deportation threats to the Gurkhas 

Just imagine the British government’s reaction if a Usain Bolt, a Lenny Henry, a Naomie Harris or a Beverley Knight spoke out forcefully in 2013 over May’s immigration proposals.

Bolt had spoken out against British tax laws and had refused to race in the UK. But David Cameron bowed to pressure and amended the tax laws that allowed Bolt to race there once again. Indeed some of Bolt’s relatives were part of the Windrush generation.

For the past 2 decades too many in the Afro Caribbean community stood still and allowed Labour and Tory governments to demean the contributions of the Jamaican community in particular. A contribution that goes back 400 years.

What Next?

  • Debates in the House of Parliament continues and the Home Affairs Select Committee has started their own investigations with public hearings. In these open forums we are learning more on the incompetence of the Home Office and in particular Amber Rudd; who was clueless of her own department’s removal targets. The victims in all this I am certain will be invited to speak at the select committee hearings.
  • High profile figures from Britain’s Afro Caribbean community need to get more involved publicly. Yes, some may fear being black listed or lose sponsors if they do so. But their voices and leadership is needed on issues such as immigration, deaths in custody, education, jobs, violent and youth crime, reparations, economy or police corruption.
  • The government in the past week has taken steps to correct the injustice petered out to the Windrush generation. Sounds promising but the Afro Caribbean community must scrutinize the governments new proposals, check the fine prints, keep up the pressure and challenge without delay.

5 years was too long for the Windrush scandal to be exposed and shame the Conservative government. But this is not only a scandal for the Conservatives, but also for the Afro Caribbean community.

We should have demonstrated more resolutely from 2013, when it became clear that May’s proposals would affect the Afro Caribbean community the hardest. We didn’t bombard MPs, Ministers and the media with our concerns. We did not protests in our tens of thousands outside Parliament or the Home Office. Our leadership and campaign throughout this episode was pathetic.

We should have fought back stronger with our messaging and activism from when the Jamaica immigrant-bashing first started under the Blair government and has continued up to today.

For that, many of us in the Afro Caribbean community – including me – also need to say sorry to the victims of the Windrush scandal.

Updates since 7 May

  1. Rudd has been replaced as Home Secretary by Sajid Javid who promised to do everything for those affected. But..
  2. Labour Party’s motion for the government to release all the background Home Office papers over Windrush was voted down by the government. Of the the 258 Labour MPs in Parliament only 180 supported the motion, meaning approximately 78 abstainedhttps://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2018-05-02/division/3EF4C05B-49AA-4A0D-B42D-B8704A4429DC/Windrush?outputType=Party
  3. Gretel Gocan, 81, was stranded in Jamaica for nine years after she went to the island for her sister’s funeral in 2009 – and was wrongly refused entry..
  4. The past 13 years Hubert Howard has tried repeatedly to persuade the Home Office that he is in the UK legally, having arrived here in 1960, aged three, with his mother. His repeated attempts to obtain a British passport were rejected, and as a result he lost his job and was denied benefits, leaving him with no money to live on. More significantly, he was unable to travel to visit his mother in Jamaica before she died.” – The Guardian 11 May 2018
  5. After visiting Jamaica for his sister’s funeral in 1998, Windrush victim Ivan Anglin was given two days to pack up his life
  6. Vernon Vanriel came to the UK in 1962.  Trapped in Jamaica for 13 years…This week he learned he could return but, ill and destitute, wonders how he will afford the fare
  7. Family of a Windrush citizen who died after being told he was in the UK illegally and sacked from his job have walked out of an inquest over the coroner’s refusal to make the Home Office an interested party in the hearing.

 

Posted in BBC, BREXIT, British Labour Party, british politics, Caribbean, Current affairs, david cameron, england, Immigration, jamaica, jamaican, jeremy corbyn, labour party, politics, theresa May, uk politics, un, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

May’s Russian Bluff over Salisbury

The political fallout from the alleged nerve agent Salisbury attack against former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia should never have happened. The diplomatic mess caused by Prime Minister Theresa May is embarrassing. Not that the wider British public would realise this thanks to pro-May coverage in the media.

Accusing the Russian government and expelling diplomats thereafter – based on flimsy evidence – was incompetence of an amateurish level. That the media, Tory MPs and some backbench Labour Party MPs fell for the spin from Downing Street was entirely predictable.

The minute May first disclosed news of the alleged Russia government involvement you knew she was hiding something. The truth. The fact that she was not willing to share any hard evidence with colleagues and Jeremy Corbyn was classic May.

During her time as Home Secretary senior staff would complain of May’s bunker-type mentality and withholding key information and decisions from even her own junior ministers and key relevant staff.

The classic May is – make a big statement then retreat into the background leaving others such as her media friends to spin information to crazy levels.

In Parliament, Jeremy Corbyn, Labour Party leader, was correct to challenge May’s assertions of the Russian government’s involvement. Most of the British media, the government and Labour backbench MPs mocked his stance. Labelling him a traitor, not fit to become PM and a Vladimir Putin stooge.

But Corbyn – like many of us – has seen much too often where  governments and law enforcement officials have got their initial claims on high profile incidents so wrong. e.g. Hillsborough,  Manchester bombing, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Jean Charles de Menenez, Jill Dando, Rachel Nickell, Stephen Lawrence etc.

The minute Theresa May started to use safe terms like “high likely”, “culpable”, “might”.. you knew there was no solid evidence.

There is no way May would have allowed Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to speak on her behalf if the Russian evidence was solid. Why would May give her arch rival that media space to speak and take the credit for handling this ‘crisis’? Amber Rudd would never had allow it.

Given the alleged foreign state sponsored incident happened on British soil,  Home Secretary Rudd  – who has oversight over national security – has said very little. The last time Rudd directly accused the Russian government was early March. Ben Wallace is Rudd’s junior minister responsible for national security matters, he too has been very silent.

My old Home Office instincts tells me this was a political game that quickly got out control. The fault lies not with Amber Rudd but Downing Street. Hence the silence from Rudd and Wallace: and why in recent days Rudd has deflected from Salisbury and promised to target wealthy Russians residing in the UK.

The reason why the May government is not receiving any flak for this diplomatic blunder is because the media hates Jeremy Corbyn. The media would rather play down a diplomatic incident, than to ever admit that Corbyn’s cautious instincts were correct.

skynews-salisbury-poisoning_4250208

  1. How is it that over 125 countries did not join May and expel any Russian diplomats?
  2. Why did May say that the Skripals’ health was in such danger that they might never fully recover? Only for days later both came out of intensive care and recovering well.
  3. Why has the UK prevented Russian Embassy officials from visiting the Skripals in hospital? Why have they denied a visa to Yulia’s cousin Viktoria to visit them from Russia?
  4. Why has May blocked international observers from inspecting the alleged nerve agent?
  5. Why has May and Amber Rudd  said very little in Parliament over the past 14 days?
  6. Why did Boris Johnson claim that he was told by government scientists at Porton Down that the source of the nerve agent used was Russian? Only for the Chief Executive to deny such claims?
  7. Why has there been no joint press conference held by May, Rudd and Johnson to answer media questions?

The government will never admit to their error of judgment as that would be political suicide. So expect May, her ministers and media pals to play out this false narrative right up to the May local elections.

The public will never know the truth on what really happened in Salisbury and how the May government came to their conclusions.  As the government will invoke “national security” to keep such details from the public for an eternity.

The media and Downing Street will step up their anti-Corbyn attacks. This is understandable given the background of some of May’s closest advisers at Downing Street who include:

  • Robbie Gibb (former editor of BBC Politics and Sunday Politics)
  • Kirsty Buchanan (ex Daily Express)
  • James Slack & Liz Sanderson (ex Daily Mail)
  • Dylan Sharpe (ex Head of PR for The Sun)

Full marks to Corbyn and the Labour front bench for standing their ground and challenging Theresa May directly over Salisbury. After the Iraq lies the public has a right to question their government on any statements relating to serious national security issues.

Since 2002, when it comes to national security matters I rarely believe any official statement by ministers. But the skeptics like me would feel more accepting if the media heard directly from Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, head of Scotland Yard’s Counter Terrorism and Andrew Parker, head of MI-5.

Labour MPs who supported the government’s assertions – because of their hatred of Corbyn – should be ashamed of themselves. This was not the time for them to make such a decision out of sheer personal spite.

So in essence Theresa May instigated a diplomatic crisis – with the most prolific nuclear power – where the fatalities were a cat and 2 guinea pigs.

The Salisbury affair just does not make any rational sense. May and the media knows it too.

TMP

May vs Putin – Guinea Pig Diplomacy

 

 

 

 

Posted in Boris Johnson, britain, British Labour Party, british politics, Current affairs, england, great britain, journalism, media, russia, UK, uk politics, united kingdom | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment