(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”
“We are talking about a systematic system which deliberately took black people, no other people, black people from Africa to the Caribbean and exploited them there, and as a result of that a lot of things that we know today stem from this and that has to be corrected”
“(One last question… to Bernie Grant as one of the founders of ARM [African Reparations Movement]. Why is this the most important thing to be dealt with by black people given all the other things we have heard about in the last few weeks; unemployment, police and so forth)
I think that it is important for us to make sure that our history is correct. I think that our ancestors demand that the truth be written about what happened in the Middle Passage and what happened during colonisation and enslavement – number one. Number two – I think it is important for our young people to be able to understand where they fit in the scheme of things in this country and the rest of the world.
(Is it more important at this present time than their inability to get jobs, their treatment by Police and so forth)
I think it is as important as that and I think that at the background of these problems lie the relationship between Africa and what happened in enslavement and colonisation and Europe and Britain in particular. And I think if we are unable to crack that particular nut all these other things; Joy Gardner, Condon’s statements etc, none of these things will be solved unless we are able to solve that fundamental difference”
The following are three extracts from this lecture with transcripts:
“That war (the first Gulf War) wasn’t supported because a number of us felt that war was the first of the neo-colonialism or neo-imperialism wars that we expect to be fought over the next period. A number of us felt that there is a new world order in the offing particularly with the end of the Cold War.
Some 50 of us in the House of Commons, all Labour MPs, registered our objections to the Gulf War because we felt at that time that it was a racist war. We felt at that time it was a war about oil, that it was a war where the countries of the north, the countries of the west, wanted to show and demonstrate to the world at large that they have huge arsenals”
“When I came here in 1960s we had to fight the Teddy Boys and so on. We fought in Notting Hill and we had to fight. Then things changed and we made a bit of progress and we stopped the fight against people like the National Front and British Movement. And everyone thought we made progress. We had a few Councillors elected and the odd MP or two, and people thought oh well we are moving forward. But we are finding that now, not only do we have to get back to defend ourselves in Britain, we have to defend ourselves in Europe as well”.
“I would like to say to any Labour Government that will come in, and I am sure that Labour will come into power, that when you go to Europe you have to do the reverse of what the Conservative Government is doing. You have to fight for your black citizens because when you fight for the most oppressed, when you fight for black people, you are fighting for working class people. You are fighting for people who are oppressed all around the country, because if black people are a1t the bottom of the ladder and if we can fight to get them to move one rung up the ladder then everyone above them also moves up one rung of the ladder apart from everything else. So I believe we will see a change in Britain. I believe that change will come only when a Labour Government is elected, and I hope that you will be there along with me fighting to ensure that we do have the return of a Labour Government. That we do see not only an end to the poverty and deprivation that persists, and an end to racism in all its forms. Thank you very much.”
“Mr. Bernie Grant (Tottenham): Has my right hon. Friend had the opportunity to see the recent Channel 4 documentaries on slavery, in which it was stated that one in five white people in Britain have the blood of African slaves running through their veins? Similarly, people from the Caribbean have white blood running through their veins. I do not want to worry him, but my mother’s maiden name was Blair. Perhaps I should refer to him as my right honourable relative.
My question relates to the past 1,000 years, 400 of which were taken up by enslavement and 200 by colonisation. There has been no acknowledgement of the contribution made to the wealth of Britain, Europe and America by millions of African people. The Guildhall and other places in London have monuments to the slavers, not the enslaved. Will my right hon. Friend set the historic record straight? Will he apologise to people of African origin, living and dead, for the part that Britain played in the transatlantic slave trade?
The Prime Minister: I am happy to acknowledge the pain and suffering of people who were enslaved in times gone by. I was in Hull recently, in the constituency of the Deputy Prime Minister, which was once represented by William Wilberforce. Many radical politicians in this country fought against the slave trade. I should like in particular to acknowledge the massive contribution made by Afro-Caribbean and black people in this country today, and to say how much we value and treasure it. One of the great things that has happened in politics in the past few years is that every political party in this country is now committed to a multiracial, multicultural society. We owe an awful lot to the pain and suffering of those people who went before us.”
15 Audio cassette recordings of Bernie Grant’s meetings, interviews and speeches dealing with a variety of local, national and international concerns. Relates to issues such as the Labour and Heritage Race Equality Conference, ‘Caribbean Report’, and many tapes featuring Bernie Grant on ‘Talking Politics’.
Here is a clip from BBC’s Any Questions in 1988 with Bernie’s reply to a question about policing:
15 Audio cassette recordings of Bernie Grant’s meetings, interviews and speeches dealing with a variety of local, national and international concerns. Includes key items such as the Brixton Reparations speech delivered by Bernie Grant in Nov 1993; profile of Bernie Grant after the 1987 Election; and ‘Caribbean Magazine’.
7 Audio cassette recordings of Bernie Grant’s meetings, interviews and speeches dealing with a variety of local, national and international concerns. Includes items such as Bernie Grant’s parliamentary questions re the Local Government Bill [6 Jul 1987], and re government policy towards South Africa [18 Dec 1987]; recording [dated 28 Nov 1991] concerning the Tottenham Three; and recording of Bernie Grant’s interview with ‘The Voice’ [dated 23 Feb 1995].
15 Micro Audio cassette recordings [and one standard size audio cassette with enclosed note] of Bernie Grant’s meetings, interviews and speeches dealing with a variety of local, national and international concerns. Includes key items such as Bernie Grant’s West Indian Centre Reparations speech; African National Congress tapes; Interview with the Haringey Advertiser; Interview with Turkish Post [dated 25 Mar 1992]; recording of Bernie Grant on the telephone with Minister Louis Farrakhan [Nation of Islam]; interview of Bernie Grant on the ‘black issues’ Australian Broadcasting Programme entitled ‘Awaye!’ [31 Aug 1996]; and tapes of the Hackney Reparations Rally [dated 20 Dec 1993]. Also includes associated annotations and notes.