“The Black Charter is reasonable if just want to deal in the world of words but if you want to come down and do something practical you have to beef it up with resources.
Although the Black Charter is fine, it usually ends up in the rubbish bin when it reaches to the shop front level. The TUC should employ for example a race advisor who can advise the TUC on to actively put the Black Charter into practise.”
Black Britain 9th July 1996
“It is important to understand the complexity of South African society. Few of those who have not visited the country can appreciate it. I had only a slight taste of it in a few weeks, but I know that it is an extremely complex situation.
At the moment, South Africa is very volatile. It is not unlike a boiling pot, because to take off the lid suddenly without turning down the fire would be to risk the escape of a cloud of steam that would scald all those people—of whatever colour—who are gathered around it. The task that faces Mr. Mandela is to turn down that fire so that successful negotiations can ensue. It is precarious and challenging, and such an undertaking needs the full understanding of hon. Members here.
I have no doubt whatsoever that the Mr. Mandela whom I was privileged to meet is equal to that task. He exudes a strength, calmness and authority that is remarkable in a man who has been incarcerated for 27 years. He is astonishingly without bitterness, but remains standing full square behind the principles for which he has sacrificed so much—the principles of a non-racial and democratic South Africa, in which black and white people alike can share equally. It is clear from what he has said since his release that he is a responsible and wise statesperson, who is now ready to play his part in steering South Africa into the future, and who knows full well how perilous and inflammable the scenerio is.”
“Neither must we rush to destabilise the position, as the Prime Minister has done, by pressing for the removal of sanctions. The demand worldwide is that sanctions should stay until the pillars of apartheid are removed. To remove sanctions now would be the height of irresponsibility. It would strengthen the hand of the South African Government against the mass of the people who have already given so much to reach this position, and who are already at a disadvantage in any future negotiations.
If the British Government really want to find a way forward, they should be helping to ensure parity in the capability of both sides to negotiate. It seems that the Prime Minister wishes to see the mass democratic movement going naked into the negotiating chamber. Mr. Mandela and the mass democratic movement are already at a gross disadvantage. They do not have the backing of a vast army of civil servants or all the paraphernalia of diplomacy that the South African Government clearly have. They have few resources. Their key personnel are scattered throughout the world, subsisting in impoverished exiled communities.
Our Government should therefore compare their attitude to South Africa with their attitude to the restoration of democracy in eastern Europe. There, they have given £25 million to assist the process of democracy. They should therefore come to the House with similar proposals for funding the democratic forces in South Africa.
Britain has done enough damage in South Africa. Let it now be bold and positive. Let us put our money behind all that we have mouthed about supporting the oppressed people in South Africa. The soundest investment that we can make is to ensure that, when there are future negotiations, those people are properly prepared to play their full part.”
(Question – “I live in Hackney which is a neighbouring borough to Tottenham. The general feeling among youth of my age of all racial backgrounds is that police harassment in that area is very out of line. Do you think that there is anything that can be done about this?
“If I had a magic answer we would have improved the relationship. Unfortunately I think that to some extent the Metropolitan Police almost fight against any effort to try to improve the relationship between young people and the Police. Recently in Tottenham – and I know the Hackney situation and I know Trevor Monerville and all the people who have suffered in Hackney as a result of Police action – recently in Tottenham we have tried to establish links with the Police. We actually set up a good relationship with local Police officers and young people but this was broken because they transferred the local Chief Superintendent out of the area. So it is almost as if someone is working against trying to have a good relationship. But I think that the way forward is by having the young people meeting directly with Police Officers, the Chief Police Officers not subordinates, not the people on the beat but the Chief Police Officer on a regular basis and ironing out things. Also by Police accountability….these are very serious questions and I don’t want people to get the wrong impression. I think the way in which we can improve Police relationship, not just with young people but the community, is by making Police accountable so at a regular meeting between the Police and people of the community, people can tell the Police what are their priorities. The Police have their own priorities and people have theirs which are different, and I think you need to bring them closer together.”
“The immigration issue is difficult because we are not clear as to the facts and figures. What I am sure about is that immigration laws are class laws because I have never heard of any rich black person, for instance, having any difficulty coming into Britain. It is only when you are poor that people begin to ask questions at the ports and so on. I believe reluctantly that there has to be some measure of control, but I think there are a number of things that need to be done apart from looking at the whole question of racism in controls we need to look at why people are coming to Britain. The reason why people have virtually exploited the natural resources of those countries. So that when we look at the question of trade, look at the question of aid and make sure that those countries have enough resources so that people could stay there.
I am sure people would rather stay in the sun, thank you very much, than to come to a cold windy climate. For them to come here, there must be some extraordinary circumstances. So perhaps we should be looking at relieving those circumstances so when we talk about immigration we talk about it in terms of the whole question of the third world and the whole question of black countries”